Finding and maintaining focus is a challenge in any business, but particular for those running a blog. We’re bombarded daily by distractions, many of which are closely related to our work. We check in on our blog Facebook page and then get lost checking our own feed and reading through conversations in our blogging Facebook groups. We take a training class to learn a new skill, then are bombarded with emails and advertisements for additional training. We hear what others are doing and think we’re behind. We think we need to be doing as much as other bloggers, so we start off in a million different directions.
With all the distractions, how can you find and maintain your blogging focus, so you can actually achieve your blogging goals?
The 2 Essential Ingredients to Maintain Your Focus
Without focus, we lose momentum on our goals and risk losing passion for what we’re doing. We become overwhelmed with too many projects, too many distractions, too many concerns about not measuring up. I’ve found two essential ingredients to maintain my focus as a blogger. (PS – these aren’t just for bloggers, either. Try them for any area of your life that needs focus.)
#1 – Make a Focused Plan
Without a plan, you don’t know where you’re going. Yet, the plan can’t have a million unrealistic projects on it. Last year, I had a fantastic-looking plan, all mapped out over the year with tasks and deadlines. I was organized and ready to tackle it all. Except the plan had too much on it and I quickly became overwhelmed.
Decide on a narrow focus. What is the one key thing you want to accomplish next? Are you dreaming of starting a blog? Then, make that your focus. Do you want to grow your email list? Make that your focus. Do you want to add one income stream to your blog, write a book, or start booking speaking engagements? Choose one opportunity and make that your focus. Do you need to build up your body of work? Make writing your focus.
Describe your “why.” Once you’ve selected a focus area, get clear on why that’s your focus. Write down the reasons. What are the goals you’re trying to reach through this focus area? Be as specific with these as you can. This plan is just for you, so be open and honest with yourself about the “why.”
Define an action plan. What are the next 3-5 steps you’ll take toward these goals? You don’t need to map out a complete plan from here to there, but at least define the very next steps you need to take. Be specific here, too, with details to help you measure progress, such as numbers and dates.
Detail the plan on a calendar. Once you have the high level plan defined, put it on a calendar. I like to start with a high level view of the year (or maybe the next 4-6 months). Make sure the plan is realistic and you don’t have too much stacked up at the same time. Then, take the plan down to lower levels. Plan out the individual months, then detail task plans for each week so you have a daily plan of what needs to be accomplished.
Let’s look at an example:
First, define your key focus area, goals, and action plan. This doesn’t have to be for an entire year. Maybe it’s your focus for the next three months. As you complete this plan, set aside time to plan your next key focus area and action plan. Below is an example for someone who wants to focus on growing an email list.
Once you have this plan defined, put it on a calendar. Keep this calendar visible throughout the year and check off accomplishments as you go. Adjust as needed through the year, filling in later months as you get closer and can better define your next areas of focus.
From this high level plan, drill into each month and week, creating detailed action plans to keep you on track.
Want these planning templates? Sign up below and I’ll send you the Powerpoint templates I use for defining focus and planning my year, months, and weeks.
#2 – Give Yourself Permission to Say “No”
As you work through this planning exercise, you may be tempted to add more into the plan. After all, there’s plenty of space on the worksheet for more boxes, right? A full plan with lots of tasks and deadlines might look great, but is it realistic? The second crucial ingredient to maintaining your focus is to give yourself permission to say “no.”
Issue yourself a mandate that you MUST say “no” to anything beyond what’s defined in your plan. This will be critically important to help you more confidently say “no” as new opportunities present themselves. If you struggle here, script your “no” statement and have it ready.
“Sorry, but I can’t take that one right now. I’ve got too much on my plate and I need to stay focused. That sounds like a great opportunity, but it doesn’t align with my key focus area right now. Maybe later, when I’m in a different season.”
As an example, if your focus is list-building and you find yourself considering a training course on Pinterest promotion, just say “no.” That course might be fantastic and be a key component to growing your blog, but it’s not your focus in this season. Putting your time and focus into that course right now may distract you from your goal of list building. So, move on and stay focused.
For each new opportunity you find, evaluate it against your focus sheet. Ask yourself these questions before you say “yes.”
- Does this align with my key focus area and goals?
- Will saying “yes” prevent me from achieving the plan I’ve made? Will it take too much of my time and focus?
- Is this what I need to do right now or is this something I can come back to later when it better aligns with my focus?
How will you get focused?
Which next step will you take to get focused and stay focused? How will you manage the overwhelm? I encourage you to download these planning templates and make a plan. Get clear on your one key focus area right now, define your goals for that focus area, and create a manageable action plan. Then, put that plan on a calendar and get to work. Give yourself a mandate to say “no” to anything not on that plan.