How to stay focused on your job when you’d rather be working on your business

Planning to start your own business, but not yet at the point where you can resign from your job? Find out how to stay focused and motivated at work, even if you’d rather be working for yourself.

So you long for the day when you will be able to run your business full time. But what if that day is far off? It’s all well and good fuelling the entrepreneurial fire in your belly, but until the day you’re ready to say goodbye to your day job, you still need to perform (and enjoy what you do).

So how do you stay focused and motivated in your job now, while you wait for the right time to quit? How do you find the enthusiasm and energy to continue your career (and ensure you don’t get fired!)?

How to stay focused on your job

One woman who knows just how this feels is Chichi Eruchalu. Now she’s sharing her six best tips with us to help you stay focused on your job – even if you really don’t want to be there right now.

1) Revisit your vision and your focus on your end result

What is the life you are trying to create for yourself? WHY do you want to have your own business? Where are you now and how will you get there?

When you imagine your self-employed dream, what does your life look like? How will you spend your day? How many clients will you have? And where will you work?

Take some time to write out and describe what your dream day will look like, right down to the things you see, hear, feel and smell. It is your vision that will drive you and keep you energised. It will be the compass to direct the actions you take and when.

If you don’t have a vision board, it’s time to create one and visualise the new life you are creating for yourself. Keep a small momento on your desk which represents the life you are trying to create for yourself and every time you see it you are reminded of what you are working towards.

When you find yourself starting to feel discouraged, lacking in motivation or focus or fed up, go back to your WHY.

2) Reframe what your job is and focus on the benefits

For a long time I was really frustrated that I had to go back to work after maternity leave. I didn’t want to be there, I missed my children and lacked serious motivation.

But then a friend I respect encouraged me to reframe what my job was about and see them as my ‘biggest client’. She also reminded me that what I focus on expands, so if all I am thinking about is how boring my job is, then my job will continue to be boring. I should actively seek to make it better.

With that realisation I decided to take a different perspective, and created a statement to help me reframe my job. Because even though I may not want have wanted to admit it, there were a lot of things I could be thankful for.

This is what I came up with:

I am thankful for my job at X As my biggest client, they allow me to fund my freedom business, purchase a home for my family, provide a stable income and exercise my faith daily as I walk towards being a full time entrepreneur and debt free.

In this job I am learning patience, efficiency, organisation and how to get comfortable interacting with people face-to-face. 

I will work smart and use my time well. I commit to showing up everyday and having a positive attitude.

Now over to you: what does your job allow you to do? How can you reframe it positively?

3) Identify ways your job can help your business

Despite how it may feel some days, your time working now isn’t wasted. If you look carefully there will be plenty of opportunities to use your time now to help your future business – from acquiring and bedding down new skills and making the most of work-based training, to building a valuable network of contacts. 

My job as a project manager allows me to run meetings, manage projects, manage stakeholders and speak face-to-face to people on a regular basis. I also have opportunities to mentor and coach people outside of the office in a scheme my employer is part of which helps complement my coaching business.

In addition I have recently just had the opportunity to be editor and designer of the department magazine. This allows me to bring my creative skills into my work, which is something I don’t get to do given the nature of my organisation.

So look around you. What things can you bring into your job that will help you become a better entrepreneur and allow you to keep ‘sharpening the saw’?

4) Think like a CEO – get support and accountability

Running a business on your own can be lonely. So seek out community and surround yourself with people on a similar journey who can motivate and encourage you. I have a group of my mastermind sisters who just ‘get it’ – I don’t need to over explain myself when I am having a bad day.

Equally with the added responsibility of your 9-5, having someone to keep you accountable is key. A good coach will keep you focused and on track, ensuring that you don’t get sidetracked and that you are using the time you have to get maximum results.

Putting your CEO hat on, if you are still doing all the things in your business, it’s time to start outsourcing. It doesn’t have to be lots of hours a month, but start with some small tasks – things you don’t like or don’t enjoy. Also think outside of your business too. Not a fan of cleaning or ironing? Getting help here will allow you to focus on your business.

In what ways will you start to get support inside and outside your business?

5) Have set times for doing things and maximise the time you do have

There is no such thing as free time. Neither is there such a thing as time management. You can only manage yourself, so get smart and maximise the time when you are not working.

This includes mornings, lunchtimes, commute times, evenings and weekends. YOU decide what time you want to commit to your business and then maximise it. Always carry around a to-do list of small, quick tasks you can complete when you get dead pockets of time, such as waiting for an appointment.

If get up at 5am, after I have done my morning routine I will spend at least an hour on my business before I head to work. On my commute I will reply to emails or post/comment on social media. At lunch time, I might plan out a blog post or other content ideas. You get the idea.

If you haven’t planned out your schedule to figure out what hours you realistically have available to work on your business, that should be the first thing you do, so you can start from an honest baseline.

When you have clear time set aside for your business, it frees you up to devote your full attention to your job when you are at work. Rather than panicking that you should really be working towards your entrepreneurial dream, you can relax, knowing that you are taking steady steps towards your business in your free time.

6) Create your exit plan which includes writing your resignation letter

If you want to leave your job, make a plan. How much savings do you need? How much money do you need to be earning, consistently? Do you have any debt you need to pay off beforehand? Will you have some savings? What actions do you need to take?

Next make a decision on your leaving date and write it in your diary. Write your resignation letter and date it for that date. Hang your letter somewhere where you can see it every day.

And start to take action towards it.

Need more help to start a business?

You can read more advice on starting a business in these articles:

Chichi Eruchalu is a business coach and income strategist for women ready to break free from their 9-5 and turn their passion into profits. Find out more on her website