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I am the owner of a small software development business, and most of the time I will have two general tasks to perform:

  1. The task of managing my company, usually it has to do with talking to my staffs on what's going on, discussing the problems they face, dealing with new recruitment effort, and in some occasions a bit of programming and so on. Usually the tasks here are urgent and deserve my immediate attention.
  2. The second task has to do with new opportunity exploration. As I am looking towards expanding my company business ( either in a different market or different field), I will have to dedicate time for research. Usually I do my research online. This is an important task, perhaps more important than day to day running of my company as far as the long term survival is concerned, but this is not really pressing for me.

I would usually work on company management in the morning, and exploring new opportunity in the afternoon. The problem now is that, the morning session work will often "spill over" into the afternoon's. After I work on my company stuff, I can't just immediately switch my mind to concentrate on the second task, namely new opportunity exploration. This, couples with the fact that the online exploration is more lax ( I found that I can be easily distracted to read hacker news or reddit or just mindlessly surfing around, all in the name of "research"), and less urgent, means that the second task gets less attention than it should.

But researching new business opportunity is an equally demanding task by itself and it requires 100% dedication to succeed. I just can't give it that. Juggling between these two tasks, I feel that I have no more energy to work on the new business opportunity task anymore.

Anything I can do to improve my productivity and to give the researching new opportunity task the attention it deserves?

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Can you allocate those tasks to different days? I personally never do game design and programming on the same day, because they require different mindsets. Could you do Task 1 on Mon-Thu and Task 2 on Friday and such? – Muz Feb 8 '13 at 4:39
@Muz, I afraid that won't be possible, as I would have to attend to daily routines without fail. – Graviton Feb 13 '13 at 2:06
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are at least two separate issues here.

The easiest is reddit and hacker news: disallow access to them during specific work hours, or set up task-based rewards that can re-enable access.

For me the next easiest is the task switch. Eat lunch in-between. Exercise. Read a chapter of Dostoevsky. Don't try to switch immediately; "restart" your work day–you're basically describing two four-hour work days, so treat it like that.

For me, pomodoros give me good bite-sized chunks, although I tweak timing based on my needs. One issue with new business development is that there aren't always concrete goals: it's not like you can say "Implement Feature Xyz".

IMO it's important to create a small set of concrete goals that are related to whatever task(s) you're doing, but especially when it's very open-ended. For example, you could set a number of cold-calls to make, or research what software/companies are active in a particular business space, etc.–whatever is the most relevant to what "new business development" means to you.

Track your activities at regular, or irregular (or both) intervals. For example, try pinging yourself every 15 minutes and throw a couple of words into a popup window, or use an app like Tagtime that hits you up at random intervals. This does two things: holds you accountable for your time, and draws you back into whatever task you think you want to be doing in case you drifted off or got sidetracked (e.g., enforced mindfulness).

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