11/14/2013 11:23 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

7 Tips to Help You Stay Focused When There Is Too Much to Do

Most micro business owners experience periods where there is so much to do that it can be really difficult to stay in control of your time and get everything done -- like the first time you take on a major contract! Suddenly you find yourself juggling all your smaller clients, perhaps struggling to look after them as well as you used to. At times the pressure to keep up with the different demands on your time can be relentless!

A workload that stays consistently high may be the first sign that you can't avoid outsourcing any longer, especially if you don't want to risk losing any customers!

But if you know your high workload is only short-term, why not try the following tips to help you stay focused and get everything done?

  1. Work with your natural biorhythm. Whether you are a morning or evening person, do your important work tasks when you know you're feeling alert.
  2. Always do the most important thing first; this can take the pressure off you later, and also help with concentration.
  3. Stop reacting to everything that happens. Responding appropriately may not mean having to jump straight into action just because something has landed on your desk or in your inbox, or because you 'should' be carrying out certain tasks at specific times.
  4. When concentrating intensely during important tasks, it pays to have a break after about 90 minutes. This allows your brain to have a rest, as you continue with some less intense tasks. These may include answering email or returning calls. Having a hot drink at this point may then also help you return to more intense 'focus time.'
  5. During your 'focus time,'avoid distraction from browser windows that don't need to be open. Turn email reminders off, in fact why not close your inbox and even put your mobile on silent. Reducing other external noise (if possible) can help too, since your brain may thank you for not having to deal with interruptions, and you don't lose the adjustment time your brain needs to help you switch between tasks.
  6. Set a timer for social networking tasks, or for reading articles (whether this is part of your work or not). Decide on a length of time before you start -- just 15 minutes of totally focused time can be very effective.
  7. If you are stressed by having too much to do, it helps to write everything down. Particularly at night, when people often lie awake, feeling overwhelmed and anxious, taking notes of your concerns or writing a list can relieve your brain of some of the 'weight' and allow you to get the sleep that you need.

So, by using the old adage of 'more haste less speed' you will actually be improving your effectiveness, end overwhelm and find your overall work performance increasing.

What helps you to stay focused? Please share your tips with other readers below.

Ute Wieczorek-King is founder of Success Network, a business support organization for female solopreneurs and micro-business owners.

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