How to be Productive in a World Full of Distractions

I’m an organized person. I need to be organized otherwise I feel that my life is in chaos. Scraps of paperI’ve always been able to define an end goal and break down the tasks that need to be completed in order to attain that goal. I am able to prioritize tasks and assign deadline dates. I’ve always been pretty good at getting things done. I have to be – I’m an independent entrepreneur.

My business is visual communications. I create storytelling images and films for corporations and non-profits. I market myself to buyers who commission still photography and video production for that market. These buyers work for ad agencies, in-house corporate agencies, non-profits or publishing companies.

My business has changed dramatically since I opened shop over 3 decades ago. The possibilities and tools that are available to small independent entrepreneurs to use in their marketing strategies are endless. The problem is the vast amounts of opportunities ends up being a double-edged sword because it overwhelms most of us. There are endless ways to target a global audience through, social media channels, electronic ads, online portals/websites/blogs, emailer promotions, print promotions, print and online directories……….the list goes on and on.

It simply becomes overwhelming and seemingly impossible at times, for me to address all the needs of a small business, to keep our business afloat. What I’ve found is that it’s never been more important than it is now in our tech driven culture, to be organized and focused and not succumb to distractions.

Here are some tools that help:

Basecamp – essential management tool if you’re collaborating with others.

Wunderlist – organize your personal/business life. Notes, notifications, reminders, due dates and share lists with colleagues and family. Free

Post Planner – If you or your company engages their audience on Facebook, this app saves you time and boosts engagement. Schedules your posts – finds content.

Sweet Process – Do you feel like you have to learn all over again, every time you do the same things? It could be a workflow for creating emailers for example. This app systemizes and records your process. Essential in employee transitions.

Magical Pad – Organize – be more productive – get things done. Projects, Tasks, Brainstorming.

StayFocusd – Are you super distractible and find yourself spending hours on social media and not getting anything done? Perhaps you should install this app if you are a Chrome user. It will limit the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.

What’s Your End Goal?

Do you ever feel stuck – like you just can’t quite make it to the finish line?  This can happen for a number of reasons – your plan wasn’t well thought through – your perfectionism has stopped you – you don’t see the big picture or you can’t break down the details – or maybe you never had a goal to begin with.

The one thing I try to do whenever I think about embarking on a project is to define my end goal – “What are my expectations?”  White Sands, New MexicoWhen I make myself think about my end goal, it forces me to clearly define it.  This allows me to assess my underlying motivations, cut out the chaff and move forward to stay on target and reach the finish line.

Sounds simple, but the problems arise when I let other people sidetrack me from my original goal.  For example: when I was working on the trailer for              Opening Our Eyes, I posted my work in progress on Vimeo and shared it with friends and colleagues.  Many people offered up advice and solutions according to how they wanted  to see the story to unfold.  Some suggested that my daughter and I (the filmmakers) should be more present in the trailer and in the film itself.  Some thought we shouldn’t be in it at all.  At one point I started to incorporate everyone’s suggestions and ended up with a trailer that was neither here nor there.  I had lost sight of my own end goal and I needed to step back from the edit, the technology and the influence and ask myself  “What is it I’m trying to say?”

Well intentioned people in our life can easily distract us from our own purpose and before you know it you’re not living the life you are meant to live and you can’t understand why you’re not getting anywhere.  When this has happened in my life’s journey, it’s usually taken something “bad” or “good” to take place, that stops me in my tracks and makes me step back from the noise and ask myself “What is my end goal? – Where is it I’m trying to get to?”  I don’t always have a clear answer but at least I’ve taken notice of the question.

I think that’s the key – to take notice of how you’re living your life and if you are on the right path.  Goals come and go and it’s all those little unexpected surprises that life throws at you that determine the outcome.  We can’t control everything in our lives but we can take notice of where we are going and ask ourselves “Is that the destination we are bound for?”