When the boss loses focus, things fall apart. They fail to address issues proactively, cease to anticipate all of the outcomes stemming from a problem, and aren’t able to provide solutions needed for those issues. As an entrepreneur, staying focused and performing at a high level every day is incredibly challenging. Context switching and distractions make this even harder.
All-in-all, losing your ability as a leader to stay sharp means certain things can slip such as losing sight of your vision and goals, procrastinating, not holding people accountable or praising them when needed, missing deadlines, being indecisive and overall just demonstrating poor leadership behavior.
This is every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare — and without the right guidance and tools — can easily become a reality. To help you tackle your never-ending to-do lists, and remain focused when it counts most, we asked experts who are well-versed on the topic to give us their top tech to help optimize workflow and stay sharp. It’s worth noting that Google Calendar came up numerous times as a top app to help with focus, but there are plenty of other lesser-known gems that entrepreneurs swear by too. Check them out:
- Voice messages to yourself are a great option when you get burnt out from writing
These clips allow me to easily understand tasks especially on days when I check out on reading and writing. Also, Google Drive. Aside from making notes on the Google Docs, you can also see reports and real-time activities of your team. Google Sheet also allows me to filter and make decisions.
2. Use your inbox as a to-do list
The trick I use is to have a global “inbox” which I add “things to do” to on an hourly basis. That way, my head is clear, I do not keep things in my short-term memory, and I can go on every now and then to pick things that need to be done. Every weekend, I sit down for an hour or two and organize the list to remove items, merge items, or simply add more context to them.
– Lazhar Ichir, founder of BETANDBEAT, a platform educating responsible gamers worldwide.
3. Trello and Google Docs help teams stay organized
Trello is a free project management tool that makes entrepreneurs organized. There are various cards inside the tool where one can add comments, upload files, and even make checklists. Google Docs is very helpful when multiple people work on the same file. Everyone can add or remove the text they like, and what they feel is correct, they can add that also.
– David Reid, sales director at VEM Tooling a global mold manufacturer.
4. Assign end dates to tasks and use apps built to relax your mind to help your brain focus
Entrepreneurs have their hands full with multiple pieces of work simultaneously, and sometimes things get out of control. These people should make a list of tasks they would want to achieve in a specific period of time. Consider using free mind relaxing apps, which consist of mind games that can help train your brain to focus on activities. These activities are specifically designed to improve one’s focus. These games are continuously being updated to challenge their cognitive abilities.
– Zephyr Chan, a growth marketer for direct-to-consumer brands, and founder of Better Tools, a wellness blog for Millennials.
5. Use PandaDoc, a web and mobile app for creating, sharing, and tracking documents online
Businesses of all sizes use PandaDoc to improve workflows, insights, and speed while delivering an amazing buying experience for their customers. PandaDoc offers an all-in-one document automation software to streamline the process to create, approve, and eSign proposals, quotes, templates, purchase orders, presentations, and contracts.
– Darcy Cudmore, marketing manager at Quoleady.
6. Make lists, and know when you’re at your best
Making lists and prioritizing is always a good first step to trying to stay centered and focused. A list of prioritized goals can help you to better see the picture and to stay focused on the tasks at hand. Many people are also visual learners, so seeing all of their work tasks in front of them can help them to visualize how to go about accomplishing them.
You should also, as a leader, know what time and days you are most productive. This can help you to determine what to finish and by when, and to get more accomplished without being distracted. If you know for example that the evenings are busy because you have other outside commitments, then plan to not do any work then or you will become discouraged and lose sight of the goal.
– Sean Chaudhary, an entrepreneur and CEO of Alchemy Leads.
7. Don’t think ‘good’ or ‘bad’ — think ‘growth opportunity’
The best way for entrepreneurs to stay centered is to consider each negative or positive experience as a growth opportunity.
– Austin Fain, owner of Perfect Steel Solutions.
8. Say ‘no’, take breaks, and do what you’re good at
Understand the limits of your capacity, and don’t go beyond them. Always schedule breaks from the grind. Taking breaks can help with focus and enhance productivity in the long run. As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats. What are the parts of your job that you love to do and do well? These are your rock-star tasks. If you enjoy your work every day, you’ll avoid burnout, so do what you’re good at so that you can succeed over time.
– Erin LaCkore, founder of LaCkore Couture, an artisanal jewelry brand.
9. Streamline tasks to keep employees focused
By making sure that you are working on related tasks simultaneously, everyday tasks become much easier to execute and allows better focus when going through them. For example, if you have tasks like writing a blog post and a newsletter, doing these tasks in an ordered succession means you will not have to switch hats or thinking style.
– Aaron Masterson, founder of Local Furniture Outlet.
10. A smartwatch helps you avoid social media distractions
Most people think that smartwatches are for health and fitness purposes, but technically smartwatches can help their users to stay sharp and focused about their work. Using a smartwatch, you won’t need to use your phone more to see notifications. Also, it may limit you to browse more on your social media, which is the main problem why most of us cannot get our job done. A smartwatch is a must, not just for your hand but also for your task.
– Dan Belcher, founder and CEO, Mortgage Relief.
11. Multiply yourself, and tame those brainwaves with an app
If you want to stay focused, find people that you can trust. Someone with the same passion as you and train them with the right skills and mindset to help your business thrive. As for tools, personally, I’ve been using the Brain Waves — Binaural Beats App to help me get more focused on my daily tasks. Especially when I’m writing business plans, emails, or even when I want to relax. The binaural beats help the brain to relax and support people to increase their focus, decrease anxiety and enhance their meditation state.
– Ewen Finser, CEO of TheDigitalMerchant, a website for finding strategies and tools for online business.
12. Meditation and keeping a journal can help clear your head
I suggest two very simple yet powerful things, the first one: meditation. Even if you’re not the most spiritual person, taking a few minutes for yourself to clear your mind will leave you feeling like you have a blank page to start all over again. The greatest ideas to improve your business could also come after meditating.
The second one is having a journal, specifically a bullet journal, which is an organization system in which you track your tasks and plan out your days as you go. It’s like a planner meets a journal; there is no right or wrong way to do it, you just need to write out what you feel, what’s important for you, your goals, and even personal errands.
– Sam Shepler, CEO of TestimonialHero.