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One More Thing…

timemanagement_runnerI must have been bitten by the “One More Thing” vampire at an early age; it seems like I have always tried to get just one more thing done or, perhaps, that’s only been since I’ve had kids, but that’s another story for another day.

Those bitten by the One More Thing Vampire are driven to accomplish just one more thing before they leave for an appointment, before they begin the more important project. The satisfaction of crossing off one more to-do item is just so compelling! I’m sure there is a burst of some feel-good hormone that goes along with those to-dos being crossed off. Regardless, continually fitting in “one more thing” can cause us to feel stressed and can actually be a detriment to our business. Let me share a client story.

This client has a long to-do list and always feels behind. What’s most worrisome is the idea that there might be some critical task on the list that he’s forgotten about, which drives him to keep trying to accomplish one more thing. While we are working on better task management and systems to decrease the worry, we also want to eliminate the One More Thing syndrome, which has caused him to be late and even miss many appointments. I asked him to experiment around an upcoming meeting; he agreed.

It all started with accepting that he would not finish all of his to-dos (do we ever, really?) and would leave early. Biggest step, right there.

He arrived a few minutes early and he spent 1-2 minutes reviewing names of the people also attending the meeting and what he knew about each of them. Connecting their name with his visual memory of their appearance helped a lot.

He met some of the other attendees on the way in, and was able to confidently greet them by name. He said that set the tone of the meeting.

During the meeting, he said that he felt more confident and comfortable, which led him to participate and contribute more to the meeting.

As the meeting ended, he was invited to lunch by 3 of the 4 key attendees.

Not bad, for an investment of a few minutes. And, a return much higher than finishing one more to-do on his list.

If you recognize yourself as having been bitten by the One More Think Vampire, try this exercise:

The next time you’re tempted to tackle just One More Thing, ask yourself this question:

How will I most move my business forward today: by tackling this to-do, or by arriving a few minutes early/working on this other strategic (but harder, for you) project/calling it a day?

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

Just Say No!

I’ve received a lot of email in response to this week’s newsletter about Fighting the Time Vampires, especially the Super-Hero Time Vampire. Many of you recognized yourself and that’s a great start. If you’re ready for the next step, putting a stop to your time being sucked away by trying to do all things for all people, let me give you a script to put an end to it. Try these out the next time you find yourself about to take on one more task:
• I’m sorry, I can’t add that to my plate right now.
• No (yes, that is a complete sentence).
• I’d be happy to help another time.
• That sounds like a wonderful cause/event/activity but I’m afraid I won’t be able to participate.
• Phew! I can hardly keep my head above water! Try me another time.
If you need help with what is already on your plate, try these out:
• I could use your help right now.
• I have too much on my plate right now. Would you help me with (be specific, especially if it’s a family member)?
• I’m struggling with all that I have to do. Would you give me a hand, please?
Simple, right?
Choose one or two that you feel comfortable with, that you can say in a charge neutral way – that is, without sarcasm or aggression in your voice, without the “charge”. Write these phrases down and post them where you are most likely to say “yes” to something, such as near the phone or your computer.
I really want you all to have a rewarding and relaxing summer and the easiest way I can help you do that is to help you all say “no” to tasks that don’t fall into the category of “rewarding” or “relaxing”. Give it a try just once and you’ll discover that the world doesn’t stop, that you still have friends, your business is still successful, and that your employees still love coming to work with you.
Go ahead, just say “no”.

The Myth of the Ever-Growing Small Business

takeabreak1Small business owners can have a bit of a one-track mind: gotta grow, gotta grow, gotta grow. I was meeting with a client the other day, tweaking her sales formula and updating her scheduling process. She has been on a rampage growing her business and told me about all the work she had scheduled for the summer. There was something in her voice…she sounded a bit wistful. So when she asked me, “What’s next? What do I do next?” I said, “Maybe rest.” Her reaction astounded me.

The relief was apparent on her face, and she said, “You mean I can take a break? I don’t have to always be growing and expanding?” She, like so many small, growing businesses run by energetic owners, thought that business growth needed to be at a constant incline – up, up, up. I drew an incline with a short plateau, and then an incline again. I explained that growing a business is much like physical training; intervals of hard training interspersed with short rest periods, allowing the body and mind to rejuvenate and to be restored. Growing a business takes energy – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – and your energy stores need to be filled.

Scheduling a slow-down doesn’t necessarily mean coming to a complete stop. Here are some examples of how clients have used intentional slow-down periods:

  • Update a customer service delivery system
  • Step up the service to existing clients
  • Write
  • Creating a new service offering
  • Fun, even playful, networking events

Is it time for you to plan a slow-down? If you’re tired or envy those who tell you about their summer plans, consider how you could benefit from slowing down a bit. Understand the potential consequences of not slowing down, and build a safety net if necessary. Define an end-point so that your business slow-down doesn’t become a business melt-down. Then, go float in a river, hike a mountain, or just read a beach book.

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.