There is so much to do. I am so overwhelmed. I can’t keep up.” I hear this a lot, or some variation of the above.
And if you’re someone who doesn’t find yourself saying those words, I know you’ve heard it from others.
I don’t want to be too hard on anyone, but the truth is this:
It’s not that things are overwhelming or that there’s too much to do. (Well, yes, there are lots of options on what to do, but…) the real problem is that people do not have a strong enough focus on what they’re doing and what they want to get done. In other words, distraction abounds.
Often that comes from lack of clarity. “I’m not sure what to do so I’ll get out there, do a bunch of stuff, and see what happens.” Or, “I’m not sure what to do, so I’ll eat a piece of chocolate cake or devour some chips!” Or, ““I’m scared, but I can’t say that, not even to myself.”
Definitely not a good recipe for success when it comes to book publicity and marketing — or anything else for that matter.
People want to feel productive. I know I do, and I’m confident you do as well. We want to feel that what we do matters. We want to make a difference. We want to sell more books. We want to be visible in media. We want to feel that we’re making progress.
These are all relevant and doable goals. However, the number one problem tempting all of us is distraction.
Ever find yourself checking Facebook only to find that an hour of your precious life has disappeared? It doesn’t have to be social media, it can be anything that entices you and pulls you away from what you say you want to get done.
OK, so how do we do this?
Over the years I’ve have been in business, I have fallen into patterns of distraction from time-to-time. The good news is that I came out of it, and learned from each experience. These tips work for me, and I believe they will work for you too.
Tips for avoiding distractions and staying focused on your goals:
- Figure out your plan and make it fun. What do you want to do over the next year? Do you want to plan a speaking tour? Are you beginning your pre-publicity process? Are you figuring out the marketing you want to do for your book? Are you creating a social media plan? Is blogging part of your future? Has your book already been published and you’re figuring out the next phase of marketing and publicity? Once you know where you want to be one year from now, then you can map it out.
Suggestions: Get a giant wall calendar and hang each month up on your office wall. Put as many months up as you have room for. Paper Source has a nice one. I know many a thought leader that uses this very system, although they may not admit it.
Intelligence is knowing what tool to use and when. Sometimes low tech is better than high tech. Don’t fall into the idea that you must only use high tech apps and tools. Use what works for you now, be open to new ideas, jump when it makes sense to do so, and if you want to actually use a real calendar, then use it. Don’t worry about what others think.
- Begin with the goal in mind. Where do you want to be in one year? Then work backwards. Where do you want to be in 11 months? 10 months? 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. It’s only when you know where you are going that you can begin to figure out what you need to do on a daily basis.
Clarity is everything. If you are clear on what you want and how you’re going to get there, then it’s simply a matter of figuring out the tactics and doing them, step by step. You will get there.
- Pay attention to your mind. When does it want you to distract you? And what activities is it waving in front of you? Is it checking social media? It’s one thing to plan to post daily and then do so; It’s another to post daily and then hang out for a couple of hours watching cat videos.
- Turn off notifications. Everytime your phone beeps, a text, FB post, IM, or whatever, it distracts you. It is calling out to you saying, “I am something very special. You must pay attention to me now.”
Oh, really? It can wait. Shut them off.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that it takes a typical person 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. That is a long time!
Turn off those notifications if you want to get your agenda items done.
You know distraction is big business when there are tons of apps made to help you. For android phones, some helpful tools include:
And for iPhone users:
- Self Control
- Freedom – Reduce Distractions
Here’s an article listing numerous apps that can be of help you.
Remember, you can also toggle notifications to “off” on your phone. Just go to settings and look for this option.
- Focus on how good you’re going to feel when you get this “to do” item done. I use this one a lot. I find it very motivating to know that delicious feeling of crossing something off the list. Sometimes I feel that wonderful feeling when I begin actually doing the task in anticipation of its completion. To me, that is the best of all worlds.
- Set an egg timer (or a digital timer) for 20 or 30 minutes. This is another one of my favorite techniques. Pick a “to do” item, set the timer for 20 or 30 minutes, and then just dive in. The only rule is that once the timer goes off, you have to stop. You can’t continue no matter how much momentum you’ve created that makes you want to keep going. This is because then your subconscious mind won’t trust you to stop (and therefore may not let you start.). The beauty of this technique is that you start racing the clock to get as much done as you possibly can before the bell rings. It works like magic!
- Give yourself a reward. What will you reward yourself with when you finish the task? A break? A walk? Whatever it is, it should be fun and very motivating for you.
- Decide what you’re going to get done and give yourself a deadline.
I’m an early riser, so my workday begins when most people are in their deepest sleep. This works for me, and you want to do what works for you. It doesn’t matter when you get up, just that you highlight the top three items you must complete that day. “I must get these three things done today no matter what,” and then declare what time you will have them all finished. 10:00 a.m.? Noon? Before end of day? I suggest you make it a lofty goal. Make it so you have to stay focused on what you want in order to get it done during the timeframe you gave it. Then I get to work.
Usually I devote my blog and the Savvy Sunday News to specific actions to take for book publicity and marketing. However, unless you really master distractions and your own focus, all the tips in the world won’t help.
I want you to feel clarity, focus and very productive each and every day. I’m happy to share what works for me in hopes it will also work for you. Give these tips a try, and then let’s celebrate. Oh, and if you have any favorite tips for staying focused that haven’t been mentioned here, please let me know and we’ll add them to the list.
To your success!
P.S. Delighted to say the NonFiction Authors Association asked for my take on creating your email list. Thanks for including me!
Clarity: For Book Marketing and Publicity to be Successful, Get Focused!