If you’re a busy business person looking to start a side business or do some internet marketing for your existing company, then you will be faced with the challenge of trying to get lots of work done in short amounts of time.
Your ability to do this will come down to many things, but one of the most important aspects is just how effective you are at focusing and holding your attention for long periods without interruption.
In other words, you need to be able to sit in front of your computer and write 3,000 words in a row or to spend 2 hours straight responding to emails and chasing links and leads.
Problem is, most of us are not well practised at sustaining our attention in this way and most of us will struggle not to get distracted by TV, games consoles, Facebook or calling friends for a chat.
Fortunately, understanding the way your brain works can help you to get a little more work done.
Introducing the Salience Network
You are constantly switching your attention and changing from one thing to another. Sometimes this is conscious, while other times it is a kind of knee-jerk reaction that your body does for you – such as when you hear a noise or notice movement.
Our ability to change and hold our own attention is called ‘executive attention’ according to psychologists and is controlled by the ‘dorsal attention network’ (our conscious attention) and our ‘ventral attention network’.
To decide what is important, the brain defers to another specific region called the ‘salience network’. Our salience network meanwhile responds primarily to biological signals that are tied to our most basic survival needs – things like hunger, fear, surprise, and curiosity are what drive us.
Using This Information
So, what does this have to do with the busy internet marketer? Well, it shows you how you can regain control over your brain.
First: avoid signals that will steal attention away from your focus and remember that many of these are biologically driven. That means you need to avoid sudden loud noises in your environment, movement or flashing lights. Likewise, though, it also means that you need to avoid feelings of discomfort, of being the wrong temperature or of being hungry. All of these things will appear to be more ‘salient’ as far as your brain is concerned.
The other tip is to try and remind yourself why you are doing the things you are doing and to find that emotional drive. It’s not easy for the brain to think of typing as being highly important, which is why it’s so easy to get distracted. Your job is to remind yourself then what typing really means: it means eventually having access to all the resources you could possibly want, to feelings of success and reward and to the freedom to go wherever you want.
Keep your eye on the prize and always remind yourself why the thing you are doing is so important.
Why Working Non-Stop Doesn’t Lead To Your Best Work
Many people get the idea that performing their best work on projects and tasks requires them to work non-stop on it, outside of possibly a quick bite to eat and maybe sleeping for a few hours. However, employing such a practice in completing your projects and tasks will likely lead to lower-quality work and damage your profitability, credibility, and reputation.
When you go with a “work at all costs” mentality to get your tasks and projects done, you suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. If all you’re doing is working non-stop, you are taking time away from eating healthy, working out, spending time with family and friends, doing leisurely activities, and getting enough sleep. All of these missing factors will likely lead to a reduction in your work quality because you need to have a well-balanced life to continue producing work at a high level.
If you stop eating meals, you don’t get the proper nutrition you need to stay healthy and focused on your work. If you don’t exercise regularly, your health will suffer, both physically and mentally, leading to a decline in your work quality. If you stop spending time with family and friends, you’re likely to become bored with your work and lose focus because work is all that you’re doing. If you stop doing leisurely activities, you’ll become even more bored with your work, lose focus, and even become resentful of your work because it is all that you are doing. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to focus enough on your work to make it of high-enough quality to where it stands out and gets you noticed by your employers, your peers, your customers, and/or your target markets.
Living a balanced life where work is part of it, not all of it, is key to producing your best-quality work. Being dedicated to your work and your business is a good thing; being obsessive about it to where you exclude and neglect everything is not. You will suffer damage physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or socially from neglecting other areas of your life to focus more on your work, and your work quality will suffer over time. In addition, you won’t be happy with working all of the time and doing nothing else, so much so that you may even resent your work. Therefore, having a healthy balance of work and other aspects of life is key to producing your best work on a consistent basis.
How To Make Efficient Work Fun
In order to succeed in today’s fast-paced, content-driven world, you need to be efficient at creating high-quality work, information, and products. This means that you can’t be taking longer than is necessary to complete tasks and projects at a high-quality level. If you take longer than is necessary, you won’t be able to produce as much as you could, thereby negatively impacting your profitability and even your credibility and reputation. However, being able to work efficiently all of the time can be challenging for many, due to the constant struggle. How can one continue to work efficiently for long periods of time?
One good way to ensure you can work efficiently for long periods of time is to make that work fun. You may be wondering, “How do I make efficient work fun?” You can make efficient work fun by challenging yourself to continue producing work at a high-quality level AND doing it as efficiently and quickly as possible. You can challenge yourself to continue becoming faster and better at producing high-quality work in a short period of time.
Keep track of the amount of time you are spending on each task of a project and see where you are doing well and where you can improve. See what tasks are slowing you down to where you are not as efficient and work to improve those areas. Think about what is causing you to slow down when you do certain tasks – is it just that you’re not that proficient with them and you need to improve your skill to complete them or is your mind wandering while you are doing them, causing you to slow down? Figure out whether it’s a skill-based issue or a focus-based issue that is causing you to slow down and work to improve that area to improve your overall time in completing projects.
You can reward yourself when you perform high-quality work in a short period of time, especially when you complete a project even faster than you anticipated. You can treat yourself to extra time off, spending time with family and/or friends, doing a leisurely activity, buying an item you’ve been wanting, etc.
This is how you can make efficient work fun- treat it as a challenge to get more high-quality work done in less time. Keep track of how long it takes you to complete tasks and projects and identify areas where you slow down. Reward yourself when you perform as well or better-than-expected and continue to improve the pace that you work so that you can produce more high-quality work in short periods of time for maximum profitability.
There is a big difference between working hard and working at something you love. When you love what you do, how long or how hard you work at it does not come into play.
When you have fun doing what you love, time stands still and in some cases, almost does not exist.
Are you working at something you love?
There are many different types of distractions that can have a negative effect on your work and how efficient you are. In this article, we look at those you can control and those you cannot.
Identifying the distractions that are currently having a negative effect on you, will provide you with the opportunity to do something about it.
Types of Distractions You Can’t Control
In virtually any line of work, you have distractions that you must overcome. An entrepreneur will especially have distractions that he/she will have to overcome. Some of these distractions are ones that you cannot control but still must find a way to overcome them.
For instance, if you have a family, especially with children, you cannot directly control what they do with their time. Sure, as a parent, you can set ground rules on what they can or cannot do, but like anyone with free will, they can choose what they want to do, including not following the rules.
This means that they can make noise, such as playing loud music, and other distractions that can hinder your concentration and focus on your work. Additionally, there may be times when your spouse wants to run the vacuum cleaner or other equipment to clean the house; obviously, you have to take time to keep your house clean and tidy, and this often involves noise.
So, what as an entrepreneur who works from home can you do? Well, you can talk to your family about how important a quiet environment is to your work and find a way for all to be satisfied with the arrangements you set up regarding work and noise. In addition, you can use earbuds or cotton balls to help cut out the noise that is made and that is unavoidable.
If you have pets, they may also make noise to wear earbuds or cotton balls can help to cut out the noise as well. Additionally, it may be wise to keep them out of your work area if possible, then spend some time with them on your work breaks and when you are not working.
Other distractions that are out of your control include neighbors working in the yard (such as cutting their lawn, trimming hedges, etc.) and your landline phone ringing. In both cases, using earbuds or cotton balls can do much to reduce the noise and keep your concentration level high on your work. If you use an answering machine on your landline phone, you may wish to turn the volume down or even to mute so that you don’t hear any messages that are left on your answering machine.
Some distractions you can’t directly control, but you can find ways to overcome them. Whether it’s talking to your spouse and/or children about the importance of a quiet environment, keeping pets out of your work area, and using earbuds or cotton balls to help reduce or eliminate noise you can’t avoid, even distractions you can’t control can be overcome so you can keep your focus on your work and produce the highest-quality work in the shortest time possible.
Types Of Distractions You Can Control
In virtually any line of work, you have distractions that you must overcome. An entrepreneur will especially have distractions that he/she will have to overcome. Some of these distractions are ones you can definitely control.
In this day and age of social media, virtually everyone is on Facebook and even other social media networks (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) constantly. These sites will continuously have new content being posted from all of the users on these networks, and these networks are configured to alert you instantly whenever there is new content available on the network.
It’s human nature to want to know what is going on with family, friends, and/or fans/followers on social media networks. Therefore, whenever you get a notification that you have new content posted or a new friend request, you want to check what it is or who it is.
Unfortunately, this will take your focus away from your work. Thus, you have the ability to not log onto your social media accounts while you are working on tasks and projects. Leave your social media accounts to your breaks during work and/or when you are not working; let your family, friends, fans, and followers know this policy so that they understand why you don’t respond to their content as they post it.
A similar approach can be employed with your email accounts as well, such as Gmail and/or Hotmail. Both of these email accounts give you notifications of when new mail arrives or when a person wants to chat with you. You can stay logged out of those accounts when you are working, or you can choose to be logged in and mute or deactivate the notification features of when you receive new email or a new chat request. It would be wise to keep the window behind your work or minimized on your taskbar (if you are working on a computer) to ensure your focus remains on your work, not on your email account.
Turning the notifications and ringer off of your mobile phone is another distraction you can control. This way, you stay focused on your work and not lose concentration on what you are trying to accomplish.
Therefore, the distractions listed above are ones you can definitely control to keep them from slowing you down when you are completing tasks and projects. It is up to you to take the initiative and stop these distractions from happening so you can produce the best-quality work you can as efficiently as possible.
Take the time to identify the distractions you come across on a daily basis so that you can determine what is having a negative effect on you. Then put actions in place to prevent this from happening in future.
Procrastination is something that can ruin your day, damage your career and negatively impact on your relationships.
Often, we laugh about procrastination as though it were an amusing habit and sometimes it can be. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t also incredibly destructive. Imagine it’s 4pm and you have work you desperately need to finish by 5pm but you can’t stop browsing Facebook or making trips to the kitchen for cups of coffee.
What happens? One option is that you end up going home very late and lose out on time with your family. Another option is that you end up not finishing the work and starting the next day incredibly behind.
Either way, this is a serious problem.
So, what can you do about it? Here are a few tricks that can help.
Start the Most Enjoyable Task First
One effective way to reduce your proneness to procrastination is to take on the easiest/most enjoyable task first. Our natural inclination is very often to handle the most difficult task first and to that way get it out of the way.
But if you’re struggling with motivation, then this is going to be a big up-hill struggle to get yourself to commit.
Instead, if the first task is something easier and more fun, then you’ll find you can work more easily without being distracted. And once you’ve done that, you should be in a slightly more work-oriented frame of mind.
Make it More Interesting
Procrastination often comes from one simple fact: the job you should be doing is boring. Hence you would rather be doing something else.
One simple solution is to make said task more enjoyable or interesting. This might mean turning letter stuffing into a game. Or it might mean providing yourself with a little stimulation: I will often write articles while watching videos on silent just to ensure that I have a bit of stimulation.
If you’re writing, then try to make the topic more interesting so that you’ll be less likely to be bored. If you’re bored writing it, then it’s probably not going to be great to read!
Finally, note that we are much more prone to procrastination when we’re tired. Why? Because will-power requires energy.
When you take that energy away, it becomes much easier to be distracted or interested with other things. Give yourself more energy by sleeping better, by eating supplements that boost energy levels and by avoiding stressful events wherever possible.
If you want to upgrade your brain like Eddie Mora from Limitless, then unfortunately you won’t find it to be as easy as taking a single pill. Instead, you’re going to have to look at more arduous and lengthy strategies, including such things as brain training or improving your overall health.
If you choose to go the brain-training route though, there is one especially effective and ‘easy’ method that you may find helps you to see the kinds of results you’re looking for. That method is to focus your training on working memory. But what does that actually mean?
What is Working Memory?
The traditional view of memory split out capacity for storing information into three separate categories. Those were: working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.
Short-term memory was described as containing all the information that you remember for a while, but that would ultimately be ‘sent to trash’. This includes such things as people’s names, or what you had for breakfast. Long-term memory meanwhile includes all that information that you will remember indefinitely: the names of your friends, the night you proposed, how to tell the time etc.
Working memory, based on this description, was effectively your brain’s equivalent of RAM. This is where information would be stored that would only be required for a very short amount of time. The most popular example is a phone number that you are going to write down.
In turn, the working memory – based on the traditional view – could be broken down into a ‘visuo-spatial scratchpad’ where we would visualize things and a ‘phonological loop’ where we would repeat things to ourselves in a bid to not forget them.
Today though, psychologists are recognizing that working memory has much more in-common with visualization in general. This is our ability to internalize information, whether that’s memory, imagination or something else.
In short, this is our ability to create a representation of the world whether for predictive purposes or something else. In conversation, this means keeping track of what’s been said and what’s next. In sports, it means knowing where everyone is on the pitch. When working, it’s what allows us to multitask and switch between different things. This is nothing short of crucial for your ability to work quickly and effectively.
How to Train It
The good news is that there is a proven method for increasing working memory and that is to train using something called the N Back test. Use this and you can gradually improve your ability to hold information in your mind with incredible results.
When you are trying to build a successful social media page that will help to sell your products and build you a big following, what’s important is to try and ‘sell the dream’.
So what does that mean? It means focusing on you value proposition.
A value proposition meanwhile is the way in which your product or your service can change people’s lives for the better. What is it that people should get from your product if all goes well? The old saying goes that you don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads!
This is to say that people don’t buy hats because they want to wrap fabric around their heads – they buy them for an end goal that will make life a little more comfortable. Your product and your service are more than the sum of their parts.
The Emotional Hook
This is even more important when what you’re selling has an ‘emotional hook’. The ideal example here is the ‘Make Money Ebook’. This is just a PDF with lots of words, which in itself doesn’t offer that much value.
So the value proposition is tied to what those words can do for the person. And of course this means that you’re going to help your readers to become richer.
More than that, you’re going to help them end the stress of debt and you’re going to help them to be more attractive to the opposite sex. They can go on lots of holidays and buy nice watches that make them feel more confident!
That’s the emotional hook and if you were trying to sell the product on a sales page, that’s what you’d focus on.
In social media, you don’t want to be so ‘on the nose’. Instead, your objective will be to focus on the lifestyle that is associated with the product you’re selling and to promote this through your channel.
How to Sell the Lifestyle
So how might you do this? A quick look on Instagram will quickly show you how people are selling fitness products and clothing: they do it by creating a lifestyle and sharing images and videos of themselves working out, or just looking generally attractive in their clothes.
And this helps to gain them followers who want that lifestyle and who want to live vicariously. And it also generates a lot of sales – more effectively than any on-the-nose marketing attempt!