Lack of focus is the biggest downfall for most screen printing shop owners. Attention and long-term focus are not out of reach, but you must take steps to prevent getting bogged down with day-to-day tasks.
Here are 12 actionable things you can do to keep yourself focused on the valuable long-term tasks in your screen printing business:
1. Track your actions
Write down what you intend to do for the day. If you do something else, write that down too. “I make a to-do list on my phone, but when the day starts, those tasks can take a long time. It’s a tug-of-war for my attention and time,” Steven Farag, Campus Ink, says.
So, why do this? You’ll learn how much you’re getting done and where your energy is going.
2. Use time and space to your advantage
Where and when are you most productive? “My most productive days might be on the couch or in a coffee shop,” says Farag. With loads of distractions to capture his attention, he has to choose the time and space to do his work, carefully. “I’m a late-night worker. My best work is at 2 a.m., but I’ve found that super early morning work is the best I have. When it’s quiet. When there are no distractions. I’ll just knock out big things. Answer a lot of emails. Answer important emails. Get ahead of the chaos.”
3. Leave the shop
When a day goes well, leave the shop around noon. Does that sound scary?
Farag explains how he talked himself into this: “Let it go. See what happens. The employees don’t want an owner that is always over their shoulders.”
Use that time to focus on the things that can deliver value. You’ll also discover the areas that need improvement.
4. Be accountable to the team
“The self-awareness [that you’re a small business owner] is crucial. If you don’t write down your tangible goals for the next 90 days and create some accountability, you are not accountable to anyone,” says Farag. That sounds like freedom, but the truth is that you are ultimately accountable to your employees and the model for meeting goals that you establish.
5. Go into do not disturb mode
Whether on your iPhone, laptop, or Android device, silence your alerts. “During Campus Ink’s busy season, I had 2,000 different notifications a week. I didn’t want to miss anything, so I’d turn on every notification,” Farag says. Try unplugging and muting certain things that aren’t of the highest importance. Dole out responsibilities to others during this time.
6. Use browser plugins
Need to focus for a while? There are a couple of great browser plugins to help you with that. Try these productivity tools for Chrome:
7. Accept your limits
As much as you want to be, you’re no superhero. “We want to be superheroes and attend to everyone’s needs,” Farag says. “That superhero dilemma is tough because you have to stop and put things on paper, and tell people they’ll be in charge of certain things.”
The Pomodoro Technique is an excellent technique for getting a lot done through short bursts of work. It’s not always best to sit down and try to work for hours on end. Pomodoros are 25-minute chunks of time where you consciously focus on one task. Typically, it will take multiple “Pomodoros” to get something done. You may even start saying things like, “That’s a 5 Pomodoro task.”
8. Use software to stay organized
Keep your screen print shop organized. Simplifying a series of tasks like the screen printing process is no easy job. The earlier you implement systems and processes, the sooner you can grow and delegate.
9. Read Traction and implement its advice
We can’t recommend Traction by Gino Wickman enough. It’s chock full of exciting exercises. Skip the audiobook and buy the paperback. You’ll want to draw all over this book thanks to its fascinating, almost coloring-book-like diagrams and worksheets.
10. Document everything
Write down the questions you get a lot. These are the ones that you can get the most value from by crafting apparent solutions: checklists, standard procedure guides, comprehensive visual instructions, etc.
Why? It’s hard to manage multiple people. You can only really directly manage about eight people before you’re sloppily handling everything else. Sales, front office, pre-production, and printers—they’re all going to you. They need you to have solutions ready. Merely keeping a FAQ or a spreadsheet with questions you commonly encounter can help a lot.
11. Be self-aware about how you’re treating your time
“Big companies have executive assistants. These are amazing people that keep the executive on task. They can protect their time as well. If you look at a large company, someone has to filter their emails. The CEO cannot physically be everywhere at once. There needs to be a little firewall around them,” Farag explains.
It’s necessary to create a strong barrier for yourself sometimes. Don’t be afraid to protect your time and say no.
12. Know the focus formula
Poor delegation and inadequate understanding of the business
Lack of self-awareness about how you’re spending time
Reduced focus on what matters most