Download as MP3
(If this link opens a new player, click the three dots on the player and choose ‘download’)

The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast Episode 104: How to keep focused with your vegan business. Productivity in a distracted world.

In a hyperconnected world filled with a constant stream of distractions, making the time and focus to tackle the important tasks that will move your vegan business forward can feel like an uphill battle. Especially when customers and suppliers are constantly trying to hijack your inbox with their own agendas.

In this episode, David shares practical, hands-on strategies that will help you conquer those crucial business to-do lists. From taking charge of your devices and notifications, to banishing procrastination and perfectionism.

And the ultimate ‘secret’ you need to get focused? Tapping into the passion that fueled your decision to embark on this vegan business journey in the first place.

Please also subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch the video version of this podcast.

With huge thanks to our amazing vegan sponsors:

Vegan Accountants
Use an accountant that understands your ethics and mission as a vegan business

The Vegan Publisher
Transforming business owners or entrepreneurs into bestselling authors

MAD Promotions 
The vegan PR agency. Dedicated to getting your vegan business in the news


If you have a vegan business, you have found your tribe

Here to support and inspire you to build a successful vegan business. Create a free account to get access to our weekly content – or join our paid monthly membership to get access to our full support community and online events.

Episode transcript:

Hello and welcome to episode 104 of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast with myself David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe. And if you have a vegan business, or are thinking of starting one, then Vegan Business Tribe is here to support and inspire you not just to build a vegan business, but to build a SUCCESSFUL vegan business.

So what’s been going on at Vegan Business Tribe this week? Well you might have seen that we’re just starting to announce our first speakers for Vegan Business Tribe Live in November at the London Olympia. And you do not want to miss this – two days of live speakers, panels and workshops to help you grow a successful vegan business as part of VegfestUK. And last year it was absolutely huge – most of the sessions were standing room only and we’re wanting to go even bigger and better this year. And Vegan Business Tribe Live is part of Vegfest UK, so not only do you get access to our stage and area, you can make a full weekend of it at the UK’s biggest and best vegan consumer show.

And the great thing about doing something like Tribe Live is getting to meet so many of our Vegan Business Tribe members in person. People who I’ve only ever spoken to on Zoom at one of our online networking meet-ups, or in our Community Hub, and last year we had members who had travelled from Canada, from Europe, just to come and see us live. So get the date in your diary – Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th of November 2023 at the London Olympia for two amazing days of vegan business advice, support and networking. And to keep up to date on speakers and sessions as we release them, just head to the website at and click on the Tribe Live tab.

And hopefully, I’ll get to meet some of you there too!

OK, so let’s get into our topic or this sessions, and today I want to talk about something that comes up time and time again in our business clinics, and that’s about being able to focus. It is so easy to get distracted in this world we’ve built for ourselves, there is so much going on that just carving out that time to get an important task finished, or to stay focussed on the things you need to do to move your business forwards… it’s hard. At times it can seem almost impossible. Sometimes, it’s hard to even clear the mental space to work out which are the important tasks, and what’s just people trying to hijack your agenda through your inbox.

But I want you to picture this: you wake up every morning with a clear sense of purpose, knowing that your business is not just driven by profit (because we need to make money to make a change in the world right?!) but also driven by a larger mission. You picturing that? Feels great doesn’t it. Well, if you’ve got a vegan business, then you’ve already got that. That’s likely why you likely started your business in the first place – but have you forgotten that?

Every day, 200 million land animals are killed to be eaten around the world. 200 million will be killed today, 200 million more will be killed tomorrow and every day after that. To put that figure into context, if you killed humans at the same rate that we kill animals, then every single person on the earth would be dead in less than 40 days. That is our current food system. And if your vegan business is indeed your form of activism, then that’s what you are fighting to stop. What more do you need to focus and motivate you that that?

When you have a vegan business, lives are literally at stake.

For you, the vegan mission is more than just a trendy buzzword or a marketing strategy; it’s the reason we do what we do. And when you connect with the reason you started a vegan business in the first place, it becomes a massively powerful tool for staying focused. It becomes the driving force that pushes you forward, especially when you’re faced with the challenges that you are always going to face in business.

Remember how passionate you were when you first turned vegan. It’s important to keep connected with those feelings to remind you why you are doing what you’re doing. So if you are struggling with your focus at the moment then the very first thing to do is take some time to reflect on why you started this journey. What inspired you to start a vegan business? Or even what inspired you to go vegan in the first place? Was it a personal health journey so now you want to help others improve their lives? Was it seeing the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and so wanting to do something about it? Or was it that anger, that burning desire to change our relationship with animals that you felt when you were first faced with your own hypocrisy about what you were eating and funding? You know, when you first realised that the only way that you could have milk in your latte was because the baby cow who the milk had been intended for had been taken out of the picture.

Whatever emotion it was that made you want to make a positive change in the world, you need to keep connected to that. Use it to keep focussed on what you set out to achieve and the change you want in the world.

So how do we do that? How do we keep that connection to the cause? Well, just listening to me talking about it now is doing that. Surround yourself with a community of like-minded individuals who share your values, like the other vegan business owners you’ll meet on our member networking meet-ups. Go to vegan events such as Vegfest and Vegan Camp Out and listen to the speakers. Connect with those people who are also on a mission to create a fairer, cruelty-free world to remind you why wanted to have a vegan business in the first place.

And continuously educate yourself about the vegan movement and its impact. There is a vegan influencer for everyone: maybe you connect with someone like Joey Carbstrong and his direct style of street activism, or maybe you prefer Earthling Ed’s more considered and academic approach. Or maybe you’re into fitness, so you might go watch some of the activism videos our Vegan Business Tribe members Steve and Mel from Vegan Muscle put out on YouTube. It’s hard to argue with Steve about where he gets his protein from when his arms are as thick as your thighs!

It’s really important that you keep reminding yourself why you started your business in the first place. Go join a couple of animal saves if you get the opportunity, attend a vigil or go spend some time volunteering at a sanctuary. The more knowledge you acquire, the stronger your conviction becomes and the more focused you’ll be on achieving your business goals.

And remember to celebrate those vegan milestones and victories along the way. Building any business is not easy, never mind a vegan one, it requires dedication and perseverance. So take a moment to acknowledge your progress and the positive impact you’re making. How many people have you touched, how many seeds have you planted in your customers’ minds, even if you don’t advertise your business as being vegan? Maybe you’ve even started a few people on their own vegan journey – do you keep track of your own ‘vegan count’?!

So yeah, this is all really good stuff. But I can almost hear you shouting back at me that you get it: if you keep connected to the vegan cause then you’re going to have more motivation, you’re going to have this burning desire that you can use – but your inbox is still full every morning. You’ve got notifications going off all the time, and everyone is demanding meetings and Zoom calls. So, practically, how can we get better at this?

Well the first thing is that we need to know what we need to focus on. If you don’t have clear direction of what you need to achieve to move your business forwards, then it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of everything that lands on your plate that day. You have to remember that not all tasks are created equal. There are going to be some tasks in your business that are going to really move your business forwards and trying to clear your inbox probably isn’t one of them. They are the tasks that require you to clear your desk and spend deep time doing the work that only you as the founder of your business can do, to move your business forwards.

And you probably already know what these tasks are. It might be setting up that marketing funnel or automation system that’s going to half the time and effort it takes to get customer enquiries. It might be that planning day to map out your new product offering. It might be writing those training guides so that your team don’t need your daily input to run the business. It might be researching that new technology that you know is going to make your business more efficient but you don’t understand. Or it might just be getting that VAT registration paperwork done so that you can move to the next level of earning. Whatever it is, it’s likely to be a task that will a chunk of time that you don’t feel you have, a task that you’ve probably been trying to set time for it in your diary for months and the kind of thing that you’re probably going to struggle with if you keep getting broken off every ten minutes.

So your first job is to identify these tasks and separate them from those that are simply part of the day to day running of your company. You can likely already name two or three tasks in your business right now that are going to move it forwards, things you have already decided to do but you haven’t got them done yet. These are the things that are actually going to get your business to the next phase. So commit to them, put a date in the diary when they need to be done by – because if you don’t, then they are going to become the things that are holding you back.

And one tip for this is to tie these tasks to an event. When I’m doing one-to-one coaching, which is something we do with a small number of our members, I will always try to tie a big ‘to-do’ to an event like a vegan fair or a business expo. For example, if we’re looking to launch a new product or service, then I’ll get the business owners to commit to launching at a certain event. Because no matter what excuses you might come up with, no matter what happens to your motivation, the date of that event doesn’t change. You might find yourself working until three in the morning the day before to get your new product ready for launch, but the task gets done by that date!

OK, so now we know what needs to be done, how can you change how you work to improve your focus?

First, let’s start with your working environment. Your physical surroundings have a real impact on your ability to focus and be productive. A cluttered and chaotic workspace is just a reflection of what’s going on in your head, right? So we need to make sure that you’ve got an environment that’s conductive to this kind of deep focus. And it might be that you need to have somewhere seperate for this kind of focussed work that’s away from your normal desk. Even though I’ve got a perfectly good office at home, I still use my local co-working space if I’m writing a new course or need to focus on a task. It’s always absolutely spotless because they have the cleaners in every day, it’s in a modern office space and there are always one or two other people there with headphones on just getting on with their work too. So, take a look around where you normally work. If you’re sat in a chaotic environment right now, what can you do to create somewhere where that is free from distractions and signals to your brain that it’s time to focus. Personalise the space and make it somewhere that you genuinely enjoy being in.

Noise-cancelling headphones are also the most amazing invention and I really recommend them. I quite like doing work in cafes and coffee shops, but I can’t do it without my noise-cancelling headphones blocking out the distracting conversation at the next table!

And speaking of distractions, it seems like everything is constantly trying to stop you doing what you are doing and look at something else instead. Our electronic devices are programmed to try and get as much of our attention as they can.

Do you remember back in the 90s, there were little electronic devices called Tamagotchis? They were a massive fad from Japan – these little plastic eggs with a really basic blocky black and white display on them. A little creature hatched on the screen and the idea was you needed to keep the create alive for as long as you could so that it could grow. You had to feed it or it would starve, you had to play with it or it would become depressed – and THAT’s what our phones have become now. Tamagotchis. If I don’t use my phone for a few minutes it starts trying to get my attention. I can be sat there trying to work and my phone will keep pinging away at me to tell me it’s just made a new college of some photos I took yesterday, or asking me if I want to leave a review of that place I went to last night, or telling me that an item I was looking at is now on sale – and it just never stops.

But the great thing is, you CAN control all this. Technology’s default setting is ‘distracting’ but you can change that. It doesn’t matter if you have an iPhone or an Android, you can turn off notifications, you can set times when your phone will hold everything back because it knows you are busy. The same for your computer, most now have a focus mode, just Google how to turn it on and it will revolutionise your working day. All those emails and social media likes will still be there when you’re finished for you to catch up on, but your computer won’t keep constantly reminding you.

There’s also productivity apps you can use to block access to certain websites for a period of time. So if you find you keep jumping onto Twitter or can’t keep yourself from checking the news every ten minutes, then block those sites for an hour whilst you’re trying to get something done and you will soon train yourself out of it.

Use the technology we have to create the space for deep work and to allow you to focus – and you can use the same tools when you’re trying to switch of from work too. Don’t forget, at the end of the day, your phone still comes with an off button.

Once you’ve created this great environment for focussing, next you need to get better at your time management. And this is something I absolutely love, because effectively managing your time allows you to maximise productivity without having to find more time to do it. If you can mange your time and focus, you can generally get twice as much done in the same period of time that you normally would.

So take a few moments at the beginning of each day or week to map out your priorities and schedule. Identify the important tasks that are going to move you forward and allocate dedicated time slots for them. When I’m doing this myself, usually I will schedule tasks in for the start of the day making the important task the first thing I do. Otherwise, as the day moves on, things drop in to your inbox, people ask for quick phone calls, other tasks take twice as long and you’ve got to the end of the day and not done that one important thing you really needed to tick off your list today.

Another tip for time management is to batch similar tasks together. Have you ever had a day where you know you’ve got a Zoom call scheduled mid morning and it just kills your day? You think it’s not worth starting a big job because you know you’re going to have to break off for that Zoom call in an hour or so, or you spend time thinking and prepping for the meeting even though you probably don’t really need to. So instead of breaking your days up with meetings and being really inefficient, have a day of the week, or a couple of half-day slots, that are your meeting days. I do this every Wednesday. So if you want to book a chat with me then great, I’ll send you a link to my calendar to book in a call. But you’ll find that link only lets you book calls in on Wednesdays between 8.00am and 8.00pm and it will only let you book for 20 minutes. I absolutely cram my Wednesdays full of meetings, I book them in back to back. And not only does that actually give me more available meeting slots than most people, but I don’t have time to be worrying about the next meeting until I’m in it. And then the rest of my week I can focus on work. And sometimes people come back when they have been trying to book a meeting, and they say, “Oh, I was hoping to talk to you tomorrow but your link only has slots available for Wednesday”. And I cheerfully respond, “That’s right! If this Wednesday isn’t a good match then I can see I’ve got quite a few space slots next Wednesday too!”

It’s not just meetings, grouping other activities is really useful too. If you check your email throughout the day it will hijack your agenda for that day. Tasks you already had on your list get superseded by an email that has just dropped in. Whereas setting an hour at the end of each day to clear out your inbox means that the tasks that you NEEDED to get done got done, and many of the things that dropped in screaming that they were urgent have had a few hours to breath and mature in your inbox to take the sting out of them.

And finally, I recently learned another great technique from our friend Daniel Morgan Jones, and Dan is a very successful vegan entrepreneur and autism influencer, and he introduced me to the concept of what he calles ‘cinema mode’.

And I love this, because imagine you are going to see a film at the cinema. That’s a period of time when you pay attention to one single thing, the film in front of you. You really focus for a couple of hours, you don’t get up to stretch your legs and make a cuppa, you don’t check your phone, you sit still for 90 minutes, or two hours, and just concentrate on what’s in front of you. And I love this concept of ‘cinema mode’. Because if you know you’re going into a situation where you’re not supposed to be checking your phone for the next two hours then you just turn it off, or you put it away in your bag. When you go into the cinema, you make sure you’ve brought a drink with you so that you don’t have to go get one half way through. You make sure you go to the toilet before, you might bring some snacks in with you. So why not do the same if you really need to focus on a task for a couple of hours? Treat it as if you are going into the cinema to watch a film; let people know you’re not going to be contactable for the next couple of hours, turn your phone off, fill your water bottle and just focus on the task in front of you for the next couple of hours.

Self-awareness also plays a crucial role in being able to focus, and you might find that you naturally have ‘peak’ productivity times. We all have periods during the day when our energy levels are higher and our focus is sharper. For some, it’s the early morning hours when the world is still quiet, and the day holds promise. For example, I do most of my content writing really early in the morning if I can. For others, it might be the evening when the distractions of the day have subsided. Take notice of your own energy patterns. When do you feel most alert, creative, and productive? Understanding your peak productivity times mean you can schedule the important tasks into those times, meaning you’ll be more able to concentrate on them.

Routine also plays a really important part in this. You can train your brain to get ready for work and focus. For example, you might get up and do a workout or meditate for 30 minutes, and that daily routine gets your brain in the zone and ready to focus on what comes next. French surrealist artist René Magritte used to work from his studio at home, but to start his day he would put on his bowler hat, kiss his wife goodbye and leave his home by the front door. He would then walk around the block and come back into his house by the back door and then go into his studio, which was his way of telling his brain it was time to work. At the end of the day, he would repeat the process in reverse: leaving by the back door, walking back around the block and then greeting his wife and hanging up his bowler hat as he re-entered through the front door!

You might create a personalised ritual or routine that signals the start of your focused work time with mental cues that prepare your mind for the task at hand. It could be something as simple as lighting a scented candle, playing a specific song, or taking a few deep breaths to center yourself, or it could be, like René, by going for a ten minute walk. By consistently performing this ritual before diving into your work, you condition your mind that it’s time to focus.

And then finally, sometimes a lack of focus is just procrastination! Sometimes, the reason that you jump on that email that just landed in your inbox isn’t really because it’s urgent, it’s because it’s letting you put off the big job that you need to build up motivation to do.

So look to see if you can break down your big important tasks down into smaller manageable ones that can be done separately. If you’ve got something that you think needs a full day to do, and you just never seem to be able to book that day out, then break that task down and tackle it incrementally instead. So if you’ve got a proposal to write that’s going to take you half a day, break it into smaller tasks so that you can fit them into smaller individual chunks of time. This is something that Mitali Deypurkaystha from The Vegan Publisher teaches – she can help you write a book in three months, regardless of what time you think you have, because she separates planning the book to writing it. This way, the actual writing you can break down into blocks that you fit in when you have half an hour here and another hour there. And you can do this for anything, use online project management tools like Trello to break the task down and then work through those tasks in order as and when you can so that you complete the bigger project incrementally.

Another common roadblock is perfectionism – you know, where you strive for something being perfect and get trapped in an endless cycle of revisions and self-criticism. To be honest, from my experience perfectionism is just a lack of confidence, it’s a delaying tactic. I’ve known people revise their website three of four times before launching their business, and it’s not perfectionism, it’s because they feel more comfortable constantly revising their website than actually launching their business. So instead of aiming for perfection, shift your focus to progress and improvement. Whatever your business, the company you have now isn’t the company you’re going to have in three years time, perhaps even in six months time! It’s going to evolve, it’s going to change. You will discover new opportunities and find new customers, so any time you spend trying to get ANYTHING perfect is just wasted time – because it’s going to change anyway. So whatever you are working on, just aim to get it good enough. Know that it’s going to keep evolving and changing anyway so just get it done and move on.

OK, so we’ve covered a lot today. So let’s finish off by having a bullet-point run recap of what we’ve just learned about how to focus.

1. Remember why you first started a vegan business in the first place. Keep connected to the cause, get to know other vegan entrepreneurs and business owners, and remember those 200 million land animals that lose their lives every day and your burning desire to do something about that.
2. Identify and prioritise your key tasks: Separate out the tasks that will truly move your business forward and schedule the time in to make them happen. Consider creating an immovable deadline, such as committing to launch something at an event so that you have to hit the deadline regardless of whatever else happens!
3. Create a conducive working environment: Your physical environment has a huge impact on your mental state. So make sure that your workspace is organised and free from distractions. Consider having a separate area for focused work if necessary, or buy a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones!
4. Take control of your devices and notifications, don’t let them become a Tamagotchi trying to get your attention all day! Set focus times so they know not to distract you or use apps to block access to distracting websites.
5. Effective time management will mean you get more done in the time you have. Do the important tasks first to avoid getting sidetracked. Batch similar tasks together, like scheduling meetings on specific days, to minimise disruption.
6. Understand your natural peak productivity times. Take notice of when you feel most alert and focused and plan the tasks that need the most focus to match.
7. Establish routines to signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. Maybe you’ll meditate for 20 minutes, or maybe you’ll walk around the block wearing a bowler hat like René Magritte!
8. Overcome procrastination and perfectionism: Break down big time-swallowing tasks into smaller actions and complete them incrementally. And accept that things are going to constantly evolve and change in your business, so just get something to be good enough and then move on!

And that is it!

So this has been a really interesting topic today, and one that we need to embrace. Remember what we said at the start – your vegan business is your activism, so you owe it to the cause to do the things that are going to make your business more successful so that you can make a bigger impact.

And don’t think you are the only one doing this. We have hundreds of vegan business owners just like you as part of our Vegan Business Tribe community over on the website, and they want to support you, they want to collaborate with you because they are on the same mission that you are. So if you are looking for your tribe, go sign-up at where we will help you take your vegan business to the next stage.

And before we wrap up, just a reminder to check out our sponsors Vegan Accountants, The Vegan Publisher and Mad Promotions, and please remember to subscribe to the podcast or our channel and also make sure you are signed up to our mailing list over on for our free weekly email.

I really appreciate you giving up your time to be here, but now go, bring about that vegan world, and I will see you on the next one!



Subscribe to our weekly email!

Join our mailing list to receive free content, podcast episodes, offers and invites to exclusive events!  Unsubscribe at any time in a couple of clicks.