AskPat 168 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, hey. What up, everybody? This is Pat Flynn, and welcome to Episode 168 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me. As always, I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week.
If you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com and you can get a t-shirt out of it, just like Stuart did for today's question.
So, let's get right into today's question from Stuart.
Stuart: Hi, Pat. This is Stewart from the E-Commerce and Small Business Guide. The other day, I started the day with some great hopes of achieving the goals that I'd set for myself, and unfortunately I was interrupted by a couple of small issues that took me away from my program. But when I came back, I found that I just couldn't quite get back into the swing of things. I started on my to-do list, but nothing that I did ever got finished because little problems arose. I became frustrated, and then rather angry with myself for not being able to focus on what I was doing. So, my question to you is, what do you do when you're faced with situations like that? How do you get back on track, and keep all the goals that you want to keep that day? Thanks for giving me the chance to ask the question.
Pat Flynn: Stuart, thank you so much for the question. This is a very, very, very, very, very, common problem. I've experienced it many times before, and I still do. It's one of the things that holds a lot of people back, getting distracted. You have these goals. You wake up with these things that you want to accomplish in mind, and then by the end of the day, you look at your to-do list and you're like, “Wow, I hardly did any of this.” Whether you realize it or not, oftentimes it's because other things that were unplanned get in the way. It can be really difficult, because those things can often take up most of the time, but even if they don't, they take our time and focus away from what we should be doing. Then, it's really hard to get back into it.
I have a couple kids, and I used to work during the day, and I'd be into something and focused, and all of a sudden, my son would knock on the door, and be like, “Daddy, daddy, let's play.” I'm like, “Okay, well, you know I'm going to be working until 2:00 p.m., so another hour. Just hang out with Mommy a little bit,” and all of a sudden, I forget where I was, and I'm trying to transition back into the focus that I had, and it just never comes back. So that's why I actually avoid those distractions now by not even trying to work during the day, so most of my time is done at night in my office, because my kids are asleep. There's no chance that anyone can interrupt me, except in an emergency situation. So, I'm able to focus, and I don't even fight it anymore. So, that's the first strategy, is just pay attention to what those distractions are, and minimize those as much as possible. For me, it ended up being a complete schedule change, but it's worked out for the better. I actually work better, and am more creative at night anyway, so that worked out. Plus, I can be there with my kids when they're awake, and be there 100 percent with them. So, that's the first thing, Stuart. Understand what your distractions are. Keep note of them. If they come in every time, perhaps there are some things you can do—if they come in every day, or every week, for example, there might be things you can do to stop that from happening, or having somebody else help you. If you have an assistant, or perhaps these distractions are email related, you could have somebody manage your email for you so you don't even get those distractions, or they can give you those distractions at certain times. With email, specifically, I know that was a huge productivity killer for me, because I would answer one email, then I'd be like, “Okay, I'll answer one more,” and to answer that one it would take minutes. I just wouldn't remember where I was, and it would be hard to get back into things.
So, email specifically, one tip I have for email, if email is a distraction or is getting you behind with your work, check in at certain periods of the day. Schedule it into your calendar. That's the best tip I can give you, because there's some sort of implied delay in the response. It's not like a doorbell where someone's at the door, and if you don't answer they're not going to be there anymore after 30 seconds, right? It's like a voicemail, and email is just a fancy way to organize other people's priorities, and you have to start with yours. That's the best tip I have for you, and not necessarily to have a to-do list. I actually don't have a daily to-do list. Although there are things that I want to accomplish each day, it's not a list of things that I want to do in all different parts of my life. It's lists of things I have to be done in a certain order, within a certain project. A prioritized project that is at the top of my list, and within that project, prioritized tasks, and within those tasks, that's all I'm focusing on. My goal during the day is just to make progress, make progress within that specific project that I'm working on. That is what leaves me at the end of the day feeling like I had a win. Even though there might be other things to do, at least I know and I feel happy at the end of the day, knowing that I accomplished that sort of one thing, or I made progress on that one thing that I wanted to do. There's a really cool app I've been using lately called WinStreak, and there's sort of this coaching that goes behind the app, but I haven't done the coaching. I do know that it feels cool to feel like you have wins during the day. It allows you to add in the cool things that have happened, or the things that you accomplished each day, and that motivates me to keep moving forward. So that's a great way for me to wake up and know sort of what I should do next, and to sort of understand what would help me consider myself with a win during the day?
That's another strategy that a lot of people do. They just have the sort of—you know how baseball teams or football teams, they have the win/loss column? You either won a game, or you lost a game. Well for each day, just consider, did you win it, or did you lose it? And what going into that day would make it seem like a win to you? I don't have a to-do list. I don't have to-do lists. I have a prioritized list. To-do lists are a little bit deceptive, because they can be a list of just anything. The list is usually created in the order that you thought of them, not necessarily the order that you should be doing them. If you do create that to-do list, prioritize them. Put the ones at the top of the list the ones that are most important, the ones that cannot not be done. Again, keep track, and also consider what would help you determine whether you end the day on a good note, and just do those things.
In terms of distractions, one thing that helps me, is whenever distracted, before I do anything else—if I'm in the middle of something and I get distracted, I just spend a couple seconds just remembering and being conscious about where I was. That couple seconds as I'm getting distracted that is just for me. It's not a, “Hey, can you hold on a second?” It's really quick. It's like, “Okay, the last thing I did was this,” and make sure that when I come back, that's where I come back. Oftentimes we get distracted, and we are literally just in focus mode and then snap right out of it. Then we try to come back to it, and we're like, “Okay, where were we?” Sometimes it just takes a little bit of talking to ourselves, maybe even leaving a Post-it note or a note to yourself if you're having trouble with that. So, just remember, “Okay, where were you when you left off?” That way you don't have to waste time thinking about that, and getting back into it. You'll have, and remember how you were feeling at that time.
Also, I like to sort of walk around a little bit, if I get distracted. Sometimes it's best for me to take a walk, or do the dishes, or something useful, something that gets the blood pumping or the hands warm, or something like that. Because that allows me to spend a little bit of time thinking about getting back into the situation. That was a tip I learned from Yaro Starak from Entrepreneur's Journey. He said, “Hey, before you start to do your work, do your dishes.” I was like, “That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard,” and then I tried it, and it's the most awesome tip ever. So, try that out whether you get distracted, or you're just starting your day: do the dishes, or make your bed, and that way you will have accomplished something. It's the small, little wins that keep you motivated to keep going with your own business stuff. That's one thing I like to do when I get distracted with my work, and that happens sometimes. I'll get a Skype message during the night when I work, and I'll get out of focus. Then I'll just get up, walk around the house, get a drink of water, do a couple dishes, or clean up little things here and there. And then during that, because those are sort of mindless things to do, I'm thinking of, “Okay, where was I? How can I pick back up?” Then, usually, when I come back to my computer, I'm more than likely going to go right back into work mode. Those transitions are really scary, and that's my way of sort of conquering those sort of time-sucks.
So, yeah. Those are the tips I have for you, Stuart. I hope that helps you out. Just remember why you do what you do. I think more than anything, that's going to be the biggest motivator for you, and might help you get back on track much faster, is just—a lot of times this work that we have, and our long to-do lists, or our long lists of priorities and tasks within or projects, it can be daunting. It can be a huge, overwhelming thing to look at. Yes, of course, if you see all that stuff that you haven't done yet, it can be hard. But also remember what you have done, and why you're doing what you do. For me, it's my kids and my family, and financial security, and things like that. That motivates me to get rid of the distractions that were my own fault, like opening emails when I shouldn't have, or falling into a YouTube hole. That gets rid of those, but the outside distractions, they're going to come. They're going to come. But remembering why you do what you do, and also remembering what you were doing before you get back into it, and being conscious about that will help you sort of get back on track much faster.
So, again, Stuart, hopefully that's helpful to you. An AskPat t-shirt is headed your way. For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com. Thank you so much for all the support, and the only thing I can ask of you today, is if you have time, head on over to iTunes and leave a review and a rating for the show. Give me your honest thoughts. It's completely motivating for me. I read every single review that comes in, and I do have the ability to see those review in every country as well. So, it's not just US; so whether you're listening to this overseas, I'd love to hear from you. So head on over to iTunes, find AskPat, and leave me some words of encouragement or constructive criticism if you have it. I'm always here to improve.
So, yeah. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you, and as always, I like to end with a quote. Today's quote is from Miguel de Cervantes, and he says, “Urgent necessity prompts many to do things.” I love that quote, and there's a lot of different layers with that. I think if you're thinking about a sales page, it could determine sort of what your copy is. What is the urgent necessity of your customers or your website traffic, and how can you deliver the solutions that you have in your head to them? What methods are you using to do that? But it could also be in terms of this particular episode today. What is urgent and necessary for you to complete? What are the things on your to-do list that are sort of just fillers, things that perhaps are just hidden procrastinations?
So, hope you enjoyed this episode. Let me know what you think. If you go to Twitter, you can tweet about it specifically, #AskPat168. Hope to hear from you, and I'll talk to you soon. Peace.