Woman resourcesDoes this phrase sound familiar to you? “I don’t feel like working, why don’t I just… {insert the most appropriate diversion}.”

Whether you then decide to organize the closet, clean out your email inbox, or alphabetize your bookshelf, what we convince ourselves is a fair and productive trade-off is actually the enemy of accomplishment and counterproductive to maintaining an entrepreneurial business.

Why Diversions Are Bad for Business

Left unchecked, little diversions side-swipe the best of us and redirect our attention away from getting our work done. Your ability to complete your business’ lengthy to-do list, often times solo, is a necessary condition for success, whether you’re just starting out or in the midst of growing your business.

Why are we tempted to engage in non-core work tasks throughout the day? The answer is simple: it is easier and less painful to allow ourselves to become distracted from what we set out to do, than to do the work itself. Work takes effort, focus and determination. It’s hard. Starting your own business can be thankless, it can persist for weeks or months without traction or recognition, and it can be downright unrewarding. In patience-testing scenarios like this, wouldn’t you rather do the laundry?

How to Stay Motivated When You Start a Business

Learning to manage diversions with routine can be one of the most helpful tools you have. Establishing a daily routine of work helps to ensure diversions are kept to a minimum. Routine puts positive parameters around what seems like an endless series of tasks making your checklist less daunting. Try a few of these suggestions next time you are feeling distracted:

Determine prime work time: Determine when you do your best work and create a work schedule around this time. Then, commit to uninterrupted work during this period on a regular basis. If you have a full-time day job and are building your business during your off-hours, it might mean two hours of focused work three evenings a week plus a day on the weekend. If it means a full eight-hour day each day of the workweek before your rowdy children get home from school, get started as soon as you have a quiet house to yourself. Cater to your own scheduling needs, and you’ll maximize productivity–which is a key way to stay motivated about working.

Write To-Do Lists: The actual work that needs to get done can be broken down into a series of tasks. These tasks are best organized in a list where you can cross off items as they are completed. Not only does crossing a task off provide a sense of achievement (a small win), it helps keep checks and balances on how you are progressing. At the beginning of each week (either Sunday night or Monday morning) list the tasks you want to accomplish for the week and break up your list for the week into a list for Day-1. During the week, revise and update your tasks until they have been completed.

Post your “Routine”: Write out your routine and post it on the wall in front of where you work, so you look at your routine all day. Posting your routine is also a helpful reminder of what you have to do on a day where you are feeling antsy and frustrated.

Block off time: Organize your routine into blocks of time. For example, Monday and Wednesday between 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. is devoted to identifying and establishing partnerships. Tuesday and Thursday between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. is devoted to writing.  For each block of time, the only task you should be doing is what you have assigned.

When All Else Fails: Print this article, stick it to your wall and read it every day (as part of your routine) or as a reminder to yourself of the importance of routine until it becomes second nature.