Every entrepreneur wants to know how to improve productivity and focus. When you combine a new routine, a hundred balls to juggle and the challenges of working on your own, it’s a recipe for losing focus and feeling overwhelmed. Entrepreneur Rosemary Ikpeme realised this, and decided to create something concrete that would help – inventing MYnd Map MY Journal, a tangible, visual and creative 90-day road map to a productive, happier and more successful life.
Psst - we're celebrating female entrepreneurship on 8th March at a London meetup. You can buy tickets here.
Tell us a little about the journey that led to you starting up your business.
I’ve always seemed to have business ideas, but have never really pursued them - one reason being fear. I was raised to believe that you need security, which comes from working your way up in one company. I had to challenge that mindset. After experiencing restructuring in the last three companies I worked for, I eventually realised just how unsecure having a job can be. The biggest shift came when I felt that, regardless of how well I was doing in my career, something was missing. When the idea came to me to of putting together a solution, full of all the lessons and tools that have helped me through some very difficult times, I simply couldn’t ignore the call this time around. That’s what MYnd Map is all about; helping to change and readjust any mindset that poses limitations and holds you back.
What are three important tips or techniques for staying focused you learnt when creating your product?
Articulate your reason why
What is your reason for creating this product and starting this life-changing journey of building a business? It’s vital to know this.
This question is so important because you will go through times where things become challenging. Times when people will say things that shake your belief in your product or business. Having a strong enough WHY will keep you grounded and focused on your goals, enabling you to see the bigger picture. Many times, when things get a little tough, I have to remind myself why I decided to follow this idea in the first place. I remind myself that MYnd Map MY Journal will be a source of inspiration for people who, like me, have felt unhappy at some point in their lives - but could not put a finger on why. Perhaps they’ve forgotten, or didn’t allow themselves to dream or even think of other possibilities. This thought makes easier for me to keep going and stay focused.
Putting pen to paper is the best way to get thoughts out of your head. It removes distracting thoughts, and helps you to focus on what needs to be done. There is a vast amount of scientific evidence indicating that writing in a journal helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also a fantastic way to practice mindfulness. I find that, when I write, great ideas also come to me, which I attribute to clearing some space in my mind to become more focused and open to ideas. Doing this for as little as five minutes a day can greatly increase productivity.
The 80/20 rule
If you’re like me, you will have many days where you are endlessly ticking tasks off your to-do list, but it never seems to reduce. Worst of all, you feel incredibly unproductive at the end of each day. This is where incorporating Pareto’s 80/20 rule will help you to stay focus and motivated. The Pareto principle states that roughly 80% of results come from 20% of action. Therefore, there are certain activities and actions that, once taken, will get 80% of the results you desire. Once you get into the routine of doing this, you will stay focused on the important tasks, feeling less overwhelmed and more productive.
What are some of the areas where start-ups commonly waste time?
I thought that, being a start-up, you should be able to do everything, and enjoy doing everything. I wanted to be the designer, marketer, sales person, researcher, IT and social media person. This left me frustrated, because I wasted far too much time trying to learn things I wasn’t good at doing, and honestly, didn’t enjoy doing. I felt swamped with an endless to-do list. I would end up putting things off and procrastinating. It was a vicious cycle.
We are so fortunate to be able to utilise affordable services offered on sites like Fiverr, Upwork and many more. I now delegate time-consuming tasks (or tasks that require expertise), freeing up my time to actually get the important things done, planning and expanding my business ideas while dealing with any last-minute deadlines in a calm and productive way.
How can activities like the ones in your journal benefit start-up founders?
There are many MYnd Map MY journal features I believe will benefit start-up founders: here are three that comes to mind.
- The journal allows you to break down their goals into 90 day chunks, followed by monthly and weekly chunks. It makes building a successful business a simpler process, allowing you to easily track whether are on target, or if you have to make any changes along the way.
- I believe the colouring element is also a very important tool for founders. We may find it difficult to take time out to be present, because we have so much to do and even more on our minds. The journal’s hand-illustrated images not only act as inspiration, but by colouring them in, they help you focus and be more mindful in a fun and creative way. My research found that 80% of people agreed that they make their best decisions when they are focused. 62% believed that colouring relieved stress, and a further 51% stated that it helped with creativity. Adding this into your routine will engage both left and right hemisphere of your brain, allowing you to make better decisions while being more creative.
- Working on a start-up will consume most of your time. However, that does not mean you need to neglect other important areas in your life. Through journalling you are able to visually set out which areas in your life you need to dedicate more time to, while setting business, personal and relationship goals. Most importantly, you’ll realize how much you can enjoy this journey, while celebrating milestones and much more. I have found that, when I have a big goal to achieve, I get tunnel vision and neglect other aspects of my life. The key to having a successful start-up and life is to maintain harmony and balance. Once this is sorted, the journey is less hard work – and far more fun.