November 2nd, 2023

When it comes to productivity, there are a lot of things that can slow you down as a business owner. There are employee issues, customer concerns, marketing issues, and a whole slew of other fires that pop up on a daily basis. But, for the majority of us, there is one productivity killer that beats all others in terms of time and resources lost, and that is escapist behavior. I have worked with thousands of business owners who use email as a place to hide from the pressures of strategic challenges or intimidating conversations. Personally, when I get stressed, I often wander the aisles of my local Staples, buying office supplies that I don’t really need. Still other business owners will escape by looking for a simple problem at work to solve. And others turn to television or social media as a distraction.

Where do you go when you find yourself overwhelmed or stressed at work?

The best entrepreneurs intentionally choose escapist behaviors that at worst cause no harm, and at best actually serve them and their companies. So the first step is to discover where you currently like to go when you are feeling overwhelmed, and then figure out how you can change those behaviors.

Television

Whether you’re watching it on a 70-inch television or a seven-inch tablet, TV still holds its spot as a time addiction that robs business owners of hours each week. Time that could be invested in reading a book, enjoying your family, or even getting a better night’s sleep. I have even seen a business owner or two install a television in their office to watch while they work, which would understandably make a huge impact on their ability to deal with complex problems and strategies. If you must use a screen, replace this behavior by watching educational videos or listening to a podcast from a leader in your industry.

Social Media

While I do think social media serves a real purpose for a business, too often it can take on a huge portion of the business owner’s attention, costing her flow and larger blocks of time within which she could have been creating real value for her company.

Remember, the real cost of a quick interaction on social media isn’t the five minutes it takes to do it, it’s the 15 to 30 minutes it takes you to get back in the flow of what you were doing before you got lured away. Instead, you could dedicate a set time every day or week to monitor your accounts or, if you are able, delegate social media tasks to someone else on your team.

Email

Email is another distraction that on the surface seems harmless. After all, it’s an integral part of how modern business is conducted. But most business owners would agree that email is a major impediment to creating real value for their business, even as they cling to the belief that they “don’t have a choice,” and that they have to keep on top of it. But do you need to check it every few minutes? Does a quick inbox check lead to a quick social media check? And how long does it take to get you back on task after you check your inbox? All of these things can prevent you from focusing on the larger issues in your business. Instead, set aside a few blocks of time in which to work your inbox. This will give you quiet blocks to focus on building your business without the need to constantly be online.

You don’t control escapist behaviors with sheer willpower, but you can put the power of environment, insight, and habit to work to help free up more time in your day — so you can do the things that really matter to your business.