Almost every day, I hear from a client who's worried. Heck, some are even scared. Some have legitimate concerns. But more and more are calling with what I consider distractions.

We all get distracted -- and it's more likely when we're in a siege mentality. With economic pressures, new competitors and other circumstances, it can be hard to stay focused on the activities that make the difference between success and failure. The irony, of course, is that keeping our eyes on the prize is the very thing we need to be doing.

Smart business leaders pay attention to what's happening around them, so I'm not suggesting we put blinders on. But thinking we need an action plan for responding to every new development is a no-win situation. First, the emotional cycles involved in the reactionary mindset are exhausting. Few of us make good decisions when we're tired. Second, creating response plans takes time and resources. If we're responding to the wrong things, we eat up time and resources that would be better invested elsewhere. Finally, while we're spending time on the wrong thing, our competitors may be chipping away at our competitive advantage and/or building their own. Ooph.

Are you being reactive? Are you getting derailed by shiny objects? Take some time to think about the most important things you need to accomplish this year, this quarter, this month and this week. Write them down, and put this list right along side your longer term business goals. When something comes up, take a minute to evaluate the development against your goals. This simple act can help you put the new circumstance in perspective and make a smart decision about whether to react or not.

This is the process we use here at The Word Factory. While it's not foolproof, it makes it more likely that we'll make better choices about where to spend our time and money.