How to stay focused working on your own

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Many accountants can be one man bands – either running their own businesses or being the only member of a finance team in smaller organisations. Working alone and staying productive, creative and focussed every day can be challenging.

We are swamped with more channels of information than ever before and busy schedules, however with some great habits and tricks, staying productive means more can be done in less time.

Solo entrepreneur Jo Gifford gives us her top tips on how to stay focused working on your own: 

1. Work on the one thing that will move you forward in your day. Do that thing first.

2. Take control of your own schedule. Ringfence time to be creative, to work on key projects and to work on some admin tasks.

3. Step away from the email. If you need to stay focused and on task, leave the email alone for a while. See if you can check it just once or twice a day, and definitely don’t get distracted by it when you need to get on with a task. Also, keep your emails short and sweet – the three sentence rule that packs a punch.

4. Work in chunks and 10 minute workouts and consider bulk processing tasks while you are in the zone.

5. Step away from the phone. Let your voicemail pick-up, for the block of time you need to complete the task at hand. I use Skype Spinvox, which texts me when a message is left on my business number. You can also use Speakpipe for WordPress, and set expectations for how and when people may contact you in your email autoresponder.

6. Take time off – it makes you work (and, of course, live!) better.

7. Focus at Will is a brilliant web based app that plays music designed to make your brain work better. Neuroscience and all that. I love it.

8. Go offline to brainstorm, then photograph your notes. Sometimes a pen and paper and a cup of coffee is still the best way to go, so try going wild with your mind maps and lists, then photographing them for later ( I use Evernote for this).

9. Plan your work schedule around your productive times and how you naturally work; I like to write in the morning when I am energised and fresh.

10. Activate your tried and tested creative zone and working mindset; once you know what kickstarts you, do it!

11. Connect with someone who inspires you. Buzz a friend or associate who you know always makes you think. Let them know they can do the same for you, and have a mini brainstorm together.  Sometimes setting up a more formal mastermind group session is just the thing to keep you on track.

12. Gather some fresh stimulus; pay Pinterest or Slideshare a visit. Or, even better, browse something offline to get your mind away from distractions. Better yet – get out and about into the real world.

13. Get out and about. A change of scene and working environment alters your stimulus, allowing your brain to think in a different way. Step away from your desk, take your laptop somewhere else and feel the difference.

Take charge of your schedule and communications as much as you can for an easier, more productive, working experience.

How do you work best?

What stops you from being productive?

Jo Gifford mentors solopreneurs to tell their business story online and to work in smarter, creative ways on

Jo Gifford mentors solopreneurs to tell their business story online and to work in smarter, creative ways on

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