As a small business owner and leader, your mind is the very core of your business, and its health is paramount to success. The human brain is a wonderfully complex and powerful entity, but too few small business owners know how to optimize their minds and sharpen focus to unlock their full potential.
And, let’s face it – with more distractions than ever before and ever-shrinking attention spans – it’s only natural to have a cluttered mind and a reduced ability to concentrate. Fortunately, if you want to get a leg up on your competition, there are several simple techniques and practices you can employ to whet your brainpower that have an impact on your business.
Restrict Your Smartphone and Media Diet
First things first: cut the digital junk food out of your smartphone and media diet. Be conscious whether you browse to entertaining, yet distracting, websites from your laptop, or accidentally find yourself burning hours on your smartphone.
If you’re a social media junkie, I would highly recommend downloading an app that sets daily time limits and allotments; plus, some time management apps even allow you to disable social media for certain periods of the day. In addition, you should also delete any game apps on your phone. Not only do they waste time, but notifications from these focus-crushing apps act as a sirens’ call that sucks you back into your smartphone’s screen.
Furthermore, I would recommend using an ad-blocker. Ads these days are so highly targeted that they’ll display things you are genuinely interested in. As such, you’re much more likely to click on them and lose focus on the task at hand. Restricting distractions from your smartphone and targeted advertising is crucial for maintaining a sharp focus.
Get Significant Exercise
Like it or not, you need to get regular exercise to maintain mental clarity (I can already hear some of you groaning). Exercise may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it provides a cornucopia of benefits. According to a study at Oregon State University by Dr. Stewart Trost, physical activity has been shown to improve concentration.
But the sharper focus isn’t the only reason to incorporate an exercise regime into your weekly routine. Exercise also improves overall fitness and aids weight loss. Plus, it helps to decrease the risk of diseases and bolsters your cardiovascular health, and even promotes positive self-esteem.
Meditation may not be for everyone, but you should consider it as a tool to declutter your mind and sharpen focus. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes per day, it still has a positive effect on your mental health. Often, people worry about a million different things that don’t exist and aren’t going to happen.
All of that negativity and worrying reduces small business owners’ ability to focus. There are different ways and reasons to meditate; however, emptying your mind and taking deep breaths for a predetermined amount of time is a great way to keep yourself centered.
Moderate Alcohol Intake
Some business owners drink with colleagues, partners, and prospective partners as a way to unwind, foster unity, and enjoy themselves. Other small business owners find that a few drinks at the end of an especially challenging day help take the edge off. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, alcohol has a lot of negative effects on the body and mind.
Sure, there are some health properties in some types of alcohol, such as resveratrol, which is found in red wine. But too much of a good thing will leave you hungover and sluggish, with a foggy, cloudy mind. Moderating alcohol intake is necessary if you want to perform at your best with a clear head.
Get At Least Seven Hours of Sleep Each Night
Sleep is everything. If the average amount of sleep is eight hours per night, the average human being spends an entire third of their lives sleeping. As a small business owner, you may be chuckling at the idea of eight hours of sleep, because hectic and demanding work schedules may not allow for such a luxury.
Nevertheless, you should try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. I’ve heard people brag about how they can run on only four hours of sleep per night, but that’s a laughable idea at best. Your body and brain need rest each night if you have any hope of performing at your best.
Adopt a Healthier, Nutrient-Rich Diet
Dieting isn’t typically at the highest priority for most people. Though people start with the best intentions every time January 1st rolls around, most don’t last more than a week or two before they start eating junk food again. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is loaded with refined sugars, processed ingredients, preservatives, and other substances that have a negative affect on your body.
But why start a diet in the first place? Well, most people’s primary concern when changing their diet is weight loss. Believe it or not, your diet doesn’t only affect your Body Mass Index (BMI), but also your mood and ability to focus. According to Harvard, certain foods are linked with better brainpower and an improved ability to focus. For example, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, tea, walnuts, and more are associated with enhanced mental fortitude.
Clear Your Workspace of Distractions
A clear desk supports a clear mind, but a cluttered desk both negatively affects mental focus and deteriorates productivity. Knick knacks, food, soda cans, trash, toys, entertainment devices, tablets, small electronics, and other types of clutter make it difficult to focus on your work.
You may or may not want to impose a clean desk policy on your employees, however; that depends a great deal on the company culture you are trying to create. But for the sake of your personal mental focus, keeping a clean desk is a no-brainer.
Use Headphones and White Noise
Some people can read a challenging book like War and Peace or Infinite Jest on a rambunctiously loud New York street corner without any difficulties. They have the innate ability to tune out everything around them. Still others, however, find that even slight distractions – such as the faint yapping of the neighbor’s dog outside – cause them to lose focus and have to start over from the beginning of the paragraph.
If auditory distractions make you grind your teeth, there are two easy solutions. The first of which is noise-canceling headphones. Earplugs may suffice as well, though most people find the foam on the headphones more comfortable than earplugs. Additionally, you may want to incorporate white noise into your auditory blanket to drown out outside noises. Gentle and quiet fans are a great source of white noise, though you can find a seemingly endless supply of white noise on YouTube – such as the sound of a thunderstorm.
As a small business owner in a window treatment marketing company, I can’t shake the feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Zig Ziglar, however, once wrote, “Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem – we all have twenty-four hour days.” Clearly, the ability to identify your direction and focus all of your thoughts on it is imperative to success. If you’re having trouble focusing, use the aforementioned techniques to whet your mental concentration.