During Wintertime I always remember learning to drive in the frozen tundra that is upstate New York. I can still hear the jangle of tire chains as I would navigate my Mother’s orange Mercury Zephyr wagon over the ice and snow blanketed Route 9. The snow would come down so hard that you could only focus on the 5 feet in front of you. With a singular mission of making, it home alive (with no damage to car of course), you could not afford any distractions.

Being a business owner at this moment in time is a bit like those white knuckle drives down Route 9. The snowstorm is here, and you must be able to focus on the five feet in front of you. The challenge is that most business owners struggle with focusing on the five feet in front of them. The following are 5 tips for focusing on the 5 feet in front you and making it home safely to fight another day.

1. Focus on the Next 90 Days
Consider the next 90-days the 5 feet in front of you. Create a list of your current issues and prioritize which issues are the most important to be addressed within the next 90-days. Enlist your team, peers, friends, or family to help you. An outside view is always helpful. Pick one issue to focus on over the next 90-days. Once you realize that you are unwilling to pick one issue, pick no more than three. Put the remaining issues on a separate list called the “Parking Lot.” If you make it home safely, you can address those later. For each issue, identify what done or resolved looks like and list the steps you will take to get there. Monitor your progress toward resolving these issues on a weekly basis.

2. Keep a “No List” Visible in Your Office
Saying no to projects, issues, and tasks you are not going to do this quarter is as important as the ones you are going to work on. Put a giant sticky note in front of your work area, write the word “NO” in capital letters with a wide sharpie marker, and list everything you are not going to do the next 90-days. It will be hard but stick to the list.

3. Identify the 5 Highest and Best Uses of Your Time
Make a quick list of the activities you are currently doing. Create a column to right of list and rank your current activities in order of lowest to highest and best use of your time. Pick your 5 highest value activities. These are the activities you will focus on over the next 90-days. The rest of the activities need to automated, delegated, or put on your “no list” for at least the next 90-days.

4. Turn the Radio Off
Decide what is acceptable to feed your brain and body. For me to be at my best I need a big salad for lunch, lots of water, 20 minutes of guitar practice, and a long walk every day. Unfortunately, chips, social media, and watching the news does not make the cut. None of those support my 90-day outcomes and must go on the “no list.” Discern between the things that support your goals and those that deter your goals.

5. Create and Monitor a Simple Dashboard
Your car’s dashboard has many indicators, but when you are driving through the snow, you are only watching the road ahead of you and listening for unexpected changes in the vehicles handling. Nothing else matters. Pick a small number of things you can measure that will predict the health of the business and monitor these on a weekly basis. Speed up, slow down, or change direction only if necessary.

Conclusion
Winter is here and as a business owner you need to be very focused. Many of us are not where we want to be in our business, and it is easy to become distracted. Make it to Spring by staying focused on the next 90-days, saying no to less important priorities, and only spending your time on tasks that are the highest best use of your time.