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Posts Tagged ‘Balance’

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.

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.

Break Free, Part 2 – Taking the Next Step

Even when we feel we're stuck between a rock and a hard place, we still have to move forward!

Even when we feel we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, we still have to move forward!

 

 

All too often, we set goals at the beginning of a new year and then about mid-March, we realize that we are nowhere close to reaching those goals. We’ve thought a lot about those goals, debated them, thought about what the next step should be, and wondered if we really have what it takes to succeed. I’ve been thinking a lot about simply moving forward (see last week’s post). I’m here to tell you that yes, you do have what it takes, and it’s simpler than you think: all you have to do is take the next logical step.

I’ve been meeting with some prospective clients recently who were so excited about their new 2014 goals and the plans to reach them; I could hear the possibility in their voices. When I ask them about the progress they’ve made, I’ve seen surprise as two things happen:

  1. It sinks in that they haven’t been keeping track of their progress, and;
  2. They realize that they have made very little, if any, progress and it’s almost 25% through the year.

Blah.

Before I give you my tried and true strategy of getting out of this position, let me just state some assumptions:

  • The goal is their own goal, not their spouse’s, a parent, or a goal declared by an “expert”;
  • The goal is big enough. We hear about “big bodacious” goals; that’s a nice catchy phrase, but if it’s so big that it paralyzes you, it’s not much of a goal;
  • The goal is small enough. I love big goals, but if we can’t see any path from where we are to our stated goal, it might need to be downsized. As Goldilocks famously said, “This one is just right.” Personally, goals ought to teeter right on the line of scary and exciting. Reaching those goals is a rush for motivated small business owners.

If those assumptions are true, the strategy is simple:

Just take the next logical step.

Repeat.

When I’m feeling stuck, or just not sure what to do with the next hour, I ask myself that simple question, “What’s the next logical step?” It’s usually asking a question, sending an inquiry, writing a first draft of something – all simple, doable actions. If the next logical step requires some research, give yourself a time limit or it’s easy to get lost in the infamous “Internet research”. 20 minutes is plenty. If you find yourself fast-forwarding to possible outcomes of that one single action, bring yourself back to present and remind yourself that you are only focused on that one action.

Find a goal that’s right and true for you and focus on just that one next logical step. We’ve heard the message many times, but it’s true: every journey does begin with a step. All you have to do is keep going. 

 

Break Free: 5 Tips to Break Out of “Stuck-ness”

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For some reason, I was having a hard time truly accomplishing anything of substance this morning. I hear this from my clients often, and it can sometimes last for days and weeks. Here is a quick list you can go through to move from being “stuck” to being in overdrive.

  1. Recognize your “stuck-ness”. Try to figure out what is blocking you from moving forward. Common blocks are boredom, the need for a decision (you may not have enough information), or being overwhelmed with chaos.
  2. Take 30 minutes to resolve your block – set a timer if necessary. Clean up the clutter, get the missing information, or take a walk around the block.
  3. Decide what one action will most move you forward. Figure out the one next action and do that one thing. Tout à fait fini (over and done).
  4. Create a ritual that defines your overdrive mode. Could be a special chair, location, or a cup of joe, whatever will tell you when THIS happens, I move forward and get stuff done.
  5. Just start whatever you feel stuck around. Don’t worry about completing it (yet). Get started – you never know where you might end up.

I’m sitting in my special writing chair, got an iced tea by my side, and I started an article by just writing the pieces that I felt confident about. You’ll never guess what happened: I finished the article and then decided to help someone else who might be having a stuck moment, too, by giving you this step-by-step guide to moving from stuck-ness to overdrive.  

Another Snowy Day…4 Ways to Make the Day Productive

Don't let snow days keep you down. Stay productive and positive with these four tips!

Don’t let snow days keep you down. Stay productive and positive with these four tips!

Another snowy day. Schools, government offices, and businesses are shut down here and throughout as much as a third of the country. I’m having a hard time focusing with my kids and husband home, and the front walkway is beckoning to me to clean it off. Shoveling is gratifying to me because I have a goal, I can watch my progress and see what is still in front of me. On a day like today, my desk cannot compete. I’m going to have to pull out all the stops to accomplish something today. Here’s what I do to stay on task:

  1. I’ve made a short list of four actions I want to complete today, plus a “bonus”. I could try to tackle five times that and probably feel frustrated when I don’t complete it all; instead, I’ll be happy with these four important tasks well-done. I’ve chosen these four because they all move my business forward. I am especially excited about one of them because I think it will surprise a client and help them move forward quickly.
  2. I’ve accepted that interruptions will occur and have planned for them. There is solid research that backs up the value of taking breaks every 90 to 120 minutes. While I often struggle to take breaks, today I am embracing them.
  3. Set up a reward system. As soon as I finish this post, I know that I get to go shovel. I can’t wait!
  4. As part of my four action items, I’ve outlined with which I want help from my team members, my in-house IT department (aka my dear husband), and even my children. Sure, I could do most of them more quickly myself, but my work gets completed more quickly and we feel like a team.

Tackle your work like you would shoveling; set a goal, monitor your progress, and enjoy the accomplishment. Now I’m off to the front walkway! 

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.