Blocking out noise to focus

Distractions can divert you from your core message and business purpose

Photo by: yellomello, fotolia.comNoise could be on my mind today because of the contractors who are tearing out a tile floor the level above my office. Or because of the gale-force winds that have been ripping through Denver and keeping us up at night.

Yet, I have found a way to sleep in spite of the howling, and I am now at my desk writing in spite of the loud bangs and crashes above my head. So, it got me thinking about the various forms of ‘noise’ that can happen in our daily business lives.

As communicators and news lovers, I think PR people and writers can be especially prone to allowing noise to seep in and distract us from our core work and purpose. We want to be in on all the conversations, we want to participate in the latest Twitter chat, and we don’t want to miss out on the next big trend. That desire to be in the know can lead us down any number of rabbit holes and, when we come back to our original task, we wonder “Ok, now, what was I doing?”

Right. What are you doing? What is the purpose behind your work today? If you can’t come up with an answer, then it’s time to start at the beginning: strategy.

You don’t need to spend days at a retreat to come up with this strategy, but you do need some time away from all the ‘noise’ that distracts you. Sit alone quietly or grab a few key team members and discuss some answers to the question: “What is the purpose of our work?”

(Check out these articles for some inspiration to help drive this conversation: “Purpose: The Secret Ingredient that Drives Business Success,” Forbes; “5 Tips for a Useful Mission Statement,” Inc.)

Once you have given words to your reason for existing – once you have named your purpose – you can put those words to use for you. Those words begin to have meaning and can give you focus as you put them into practice.

For example, if you own a cupcake shop and you have decided that your purpose is to “share the joy of crazy flavors and killer frosting with the best community in the world” (I may or may not be craving cupcakes right now), then those words should guide your decisions about where you spend your time and what information you share.

Your time and your messages will focus on interesting flavors and perhaps the sources of those flavors. You will focus messages on your local community, why you chose to live and work there, and how your business fits into that vibe. You will not waste time talking about the noise of celebrity gossip or the latest national political debate. Stay focused on your purpose and let it drive your communication decisions.

Of course, as your business grows and evolves, your purpose may change. Be sure to revisit it once in awhile to ensure that it both sums up and inspires your work.


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