One of my largest issues with running my startup on the side of my regular job has been finding time to give the startup the focus that it deserves. At least during hours where I am not on my regular job and my energy is not too low.
Using vacations, as mention in an earlier post, has really been a great asset to me, where I have been able to be massively creative and productive. By doing the creative work during vacations, I have been able to mainly focus on maintenance type of tasks during the times where my regular job has been tough. Unfortunately, the vacation time is limited and I have therefore been forced to become very disciplined with the few hours I have available.
The key thing to allow myself to stay disciplined is to make sure that I can avoid distractions. I have found 5 things what has helped tremendously in doing that and that can hopefully also help you.
5 tips for avoiding distractions
1) Remove my phone from the work area
Unless it is completely essential in my work, I always put my phone in another room and keep it muted. This then keeps me from hearing or seeing notifications, calls and emails, which otherwise tends to knock me out of my flow.
2) Close down unnecessary programs on the computer
This means both Outlook as well as Dropbox and the like. This again keeps me from getting distracted by visual notifications. I also try and avoid using the browser unless I really have to, as I otherwise would tend to be overwhelmed with the need to check my email, read a news article, check social media, play a game and so on.
3) Set up your work area in a place where you can be alone and alert the family that you need some hours without distraction
In my case, I have an office, I tell my girlfriend that I need to finish some work, and in case we need to do something afterwards, I let her know when I expect to be finished. This sometimes has the added benefit that she bring me a cup of coffee during my work, which is always nice, even if that is also a small distraction.
4) Deal with potential distractions prior to getting started
I try and make sure that I have finished anything which could be a potential distraction or take up some of my focus before I start working. This could both be things which I know might become an issue I need to deal with during my work or things which might cause my mind to wander, which could be anything from figuring out what to get for dinner, answering urgent emails or fix the noisy fan. Of course, doing these things might cut into the actual time that you set up to be productive in, so to a certain degree you need to balance the level of distraction that they could create with how much time it would take to fix. The best thing would be to solve these things during the hours where you would anyways not have the energy to do any serious work on the startup. This could, for example, mean thinking ahead and solve the potential distractions after work during the week so that you can be fully focused during the time that you have set aside for working on the startup during the weekend.
5) Work on things which can get you into a flow
If the work permits, I often try and work on tasks which are a bit larger and more complex, as this helps me to get into a state of flow. When in the flow state, I tend to be more productive and less prone to distractions.