How entrepreneurs can stay focused during hard times

Whether it’s political turmoil, a covid pandemic, or a natural disaster – current events can make it tough for entrepreneurs to stay on task.

Solo entrepreneurs have additional challenges because there’s no boss demanding we turn off the 24/7 television news channel or quit checking comments in our Facebook feed. To be successful, it’s essential that entrepreneurs figure out how to balance being informed with sustaining our businesses. During times like the last week — anticipating and then watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine — staying focused can be tough.

Putin invades Ukraine

The most poignant part, for me, was watching men say goodbye to their wives and children as they fled Ukraine for safety reasons. My heart breaks for these women and children and their new lives as refugees. Same thing when watching the brave men and women who have become citizen soldiers defending their homeland.

How to regain focus after upsetting news

One of the perks of being a home-based entrepreneur is that we have control of our time. This means that we can choose what we focus on. Since there is no boss telling us to turn off the news and get back to work, we need to create that structure for ourselves. Over the years I’ve gotten better at getting back on track after upsetting news. Here are some of the ways you can regain focus in hard times:

  1. Get the facts. Media hype drives advertising dollars. Everyone in the industry — traditional and online media — benefits from keeping you glued to their channel. Find a couple of trusted experts and websites that you can access for information. Do your best to avoid everything else.
  2. Revisit your goals. We’re all in business to make money and, hopefully, make a difference in the world. Go back and read your mission statement. Take action to align your day with your mission. Recognize that creating economic security can ultimately give you the resources you need to help people in distress.
  3. Add structure to your day. If you can, design your day with regular work hours where you are 100 percent focused on the tasks at hand. When your thoughts move toward current events, tell yourself that you’ll think about it after 6:00 PM.
  4. Limit your social media. Unless your job requires you to monitor social media, limit the time you spend scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Unfollow anyone who creates angst in your life. Catch up on political posts and your college roommate’s dog photos after work hours.
  5. Monitor your background noise. If you like working with sounds in the background, stay away from the news. Instead, choose music, positive podcasts or TV shows that are more uplifting.
  6. Take a break. If you get drawn into a controversy, take a deliberate time out. Meditate. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Work on a hobby for an hour. Do something that gets you into a different headspace so that you can continue to work.
  7. Switch gears. Accept that there will be days when you’re upset and distracted. This is a great time to change focus and pull out mindless paperwork, clean your office, or catch up on email. It won’t be your most productive day ever, but it will still be a success.
  8. Change your location. Now that covid restrictions have been largely removed, consider working from a local coffee shop or library. Avoid using WIFI.  Get caught up on your reading or work on an engaging project that distracts you from your feelings.

How to stay informed and run your business

There is a balance between following current events and running your business. To create this balance, you need to set policies that keep you from being distracted by the news. Here are some things that have helped me:

  1. Don’t check news until the end of the day. If the news is going to upset you, wait until the end of the day to be informed. The stories will still be there (including updates that occurred while you were working) and it won’t negatively impact your day.
  2. Get the news in a way that works for you. My husband is a news junkie. He starts his day with a TV news channel, listens to National Public Radio in the car, and loves to have TV news on in the background as he winds down from work. This does not work for me. I have a much better day when I avoid the news altogether and read selected online news sites after my workday is over.
  3. Leave activism until the end of the day. In the past I’ve phoned legislators early in the day, as it’s something I don’t like doing and I want to get it over with. However their lack of response infuriates me and my productivity takes a huge dip. I’ve learned that I need to make these calls in the late afternoon, so the results don’t impact my productivity.
  4. Have a plan. Decide on your priorities and the resources you have available for your business, your civic responsibilities, and your family. Schedule this into your calendar and keep your commitment. You may choose to help Ukraine by donating money, praying, or calling legislators and demanding more government action. If your mind starts to wander toward world events, remind yourself of your planned actions and get back to work.
  5. Take care of yourself. There is so much hatred in our world right now that it’s easy to forget about self-care. However you will not be of value to anyone – your family, your business, or your community – if you burn out. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep.

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How entrepreneurs can stay focused during hard times
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