Philie Group Blog

Four Steps to Help Focus and Overcome the Noise in Your Day
By Mike Philie

There’s no shortage of day-to-day business impediments, in any business, but particularly in the printing business. Your day is consumed by people issues, clients, equipment and productivity challenges, and outside suppliers and business professionals. And that’s on a good day.

Seems like everyone is looking for a portion of your time. The first thing that you know, half the day has passed, and you haven’t worked on any of the things on your action list. And while you may be a bit frustrated, you’re happy that you’ve been able to help folks and solve problems throughout the day. That’s OK if your role is the help desk, but if you are the senior leader responsible for guiding the company to great heights, your results may leave you feeling underwhelmed. So, how do you get back to the things that you are uniquely qualified to do?

Why It’s Important

It’s important to stay focused on your tasks the best you can. If you don’t accomplish these, who will? Remember, you should be working on the things that only you should be doing. One way to stay on task is to prioritize the action items you’ll work on today. This can be affective whether you’re a senior manager or in a sales role. Here are four main areas that you could focus on.

  • Key initiatives or key accounts: Make sure to carve out time to work on the most important issues of your day. These are usually bigger projects, or time-consuming account strategy issues that are often brushed aside until another day. Don’t do it. Starting your day on these can be a great way to jump-start your day.
  • Daily hot list: You’ll have some daily hot list items that need to be addressed today, and every day. These are unavoidable and are important steps to making the trains run on time within your operation.
  • The windshield: What do you see as you look through your windshield? You might have new opportunities with clients, staffing concerns, or general business issues that are off in the horizon. They are not hot button issues today, but they will be soon. Allocate chunks of time so that you can be working on these on a continual basis.
  • The rear-view mirror: Lessons learned. What did you learn yesterday that you can take and apply today? As rushed as each day can be, it’s important to take note of what’s working and what’s not working. A goal you may consider is, how can you be a little bit better today than you were yesterday? If that’s on your radar, you’ll be paying attention to the little things so that you can learn and improve every day.

Dare to be Different!

Be confident as you break out of your comfort zone. After all, if you want different results, you’ll have to try different things. Don’t inundate yourself with a mile long laundry list of action items, that you know you’ll never accomplish in a day. Work with a list that you can complete today. When tomorrow gets here, start a new list. You can use one page of your notebook, or better yet a 3 x 5 note card that you can carry around in your pocket. I know that many will prefer to keep this list on their laptop or their phone. If that works for you, fantastic. If not, break out the number two pencil and a stack of note cards and you’ll be set for the next 30 days.

Share What You’ve Learned

You may go through some trial and error as you narrow down the best format for keeping your areas of focus in front of you. That’s OK, and it’s to be expected. Try this for at least 30 days though, give it a good effort. This is as much about staying focused on the main areas of your business, as well as it is about changing your behavior and creating new habits. This newfound discipline may well in fact, contribute to your being the leader your company deserves.

After 30 days, take what you’ve learned and teach it to someone else. Sharing your successes and how you overcame any impediments that you incurred will go a long way to helping someone else on their journey to greatness.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


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