I wish I had taken a before picture.
For the past two weeks the first thing on my to-do list has been “Clear Desk”. I know what a crowded desk does to me. When there are piles of things around me I can’t think, I avoid, I worry. I wonder just what scary things lurk in the piles? What do I need to deal with that I’m forgetting? Every time I start working on something I’m forced to push things out of my way and get annoyed with myself.
I have a lot to do and this wasn’t working. It was time to make it happen.
I remembered a conversation I had with one of my clients earlier this week. She needed to go through some boxes that she had in storage. We talked about the things that she was likely to uncover while going through them. We came up with a few questions she could ask herself to help guide her decision making. Even though she was going through things and I was essentially going through a pile of ideas (and tasks) I gathered everything up into one pile and used exactly the same questions to help guide my decision-making. Read more
I took a look at my to-do list and realized I had become a victim of “one of these days”. My list was a dumping ground. It was full of great ideas that had passed through my mind at some point. The majority of the ideas had no action plan associated with them and my list was so overwhelming that I didn’t want to look at it so nothing was getting done.
Chaos to Cash Strategy
Take control of your to-do list. Before you add anything to the list, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if this doesn’t ever get done?”
Here’s my challenge to you…take a look at your to-do list. What things do you need to remove and which do you need to highlight and start taking action on now? Let me know.
My client and I were talking about a challenge that she has been having around growing her business. She is an accountant and is often under tight deadlines. On top of the “deadline” work there is constantly other new work coming in. She works hard to make sure that all of her clients’ work is done; however, the marketing, business growth and day-to-day admin work often fall through the cracks. On top of that she was feeling unfocused and that she was just chasing after deadlines all day.
I like to categorize these activities as “IN” your business, “ON” your business and “ADMIN”. Unless you continually move these three areas forward you will not have a sustainable business.
In an ideal world you’ll have plenty of support to help you, but the reality is that at the end of the day a lot of it simply falls to you to do. So how do you do it?
Here’s a straightforward approach my client and I came up with.
- At the end of each day review your “to-do” list and identify your top priority in each of these three areas (“in” your business, “on” your business, admin).
- Be sure that these three things are very specific and are single tasks (none should take a full day on its own). If you’re thinking about a project, be sure to identify the part of the project you are doing.
- Create a list with ONLY these three things on it.
- Review your list at the beginning of each day and get to work focusing on these three things only.
- Review your list around lunchtime to make sure that you are still moving these three goals forward.
- At the end of the day reassess and plan out tomorrow.
After we created this plan I shared some bad news with her…it wasn’t only her “in”, “on” and “admin” activities that weren’t getting done. She was neglecting herself too. We agreed to add one more category to the list…”PERSONAL”. What was one thing she wanted to do for herself each day? Some ideas we came up with were spending time reading a book, playing with her dog, gardening, taking a long bath and enjoying a dinner with her husband.
She’s been doing this exercise for a week now and is finding herself much more focused. She also said that she’s spending time “ON” her business and doing admin work each day.
Here are a few tricks she’s learned to make sure the system works:
- Hang the list up so that it’s visible and refer to it often.
- Don’t overload any one area.
- There are times when one area seems to get short-changed. As long as you move each area forward a little bit it’s okay. Just shift that balance back the next day.
What four things are on your list for today? Share it and make it happen!
He was feeling overwhelmed and unfocused. There were so many things he wanted to do. So many events he wanted to go to. So many classes he wanted to take. So many opportunities he wanted to take advantage of.
I asked him what his overall goal was and he told me simply…he needed to communicate with his clients and prospects regularly. I asked him what additional information or skills he needed to do that. His response, “None.” I said, “It sounds like you are trying to fill gaps that are already full.” His response…laughter.
My comment hit home. He was being drawn like a bee towards honey. There was more to know, more to do, more, more, more. However, every time he added more knowledge he grew his to-do list with another bunch of items that seemed to never get done.
Sure we can all do more and we can all learn more; however, first we need to do what we already have OR decide not to do it.
So what did he end up doing? Read more
I was speaking with a client earlier today. She was feeling overwhelmed. She was getting ready to go on vacation for a week. Had tons of follow up to do. Had tons of new work to do AND was seriously behind on just about everything because her internet connection had been down most of the week.
We talked about a lot of things during our call and about half way through our conversation I asked her if she was still feeling overwhelmed. Her answer “YES!” I asked her a single question. “Do you know WHAT work needs to be done before you leave?“ She said she did not. AHA…we found the problem! I had her get out a piece of paper and pen and write down everything that was spinning around in her brain. She spent the next minute or two writing. We reviewed what she had written down, added a few things (it’s always that way, isn’t it?) and took a few things off. Finally I asked her what she thought. Her response, “Wow, it’s not as bad as I thought. I can do this. I’m feeling much better.”
Here’s what happened. She had so much going on in her mind and was working really hard to keep track of it all. She even told me that she had planned to write it all down but didn’t have a chance; it would take too long. By writing it down and gathering all of the information in one place it became visible. Her mind could no longer make it worse than it was. The unknown became known.
I was at a party recently and ran into a woman I’ve known for years. She is a friend and a former client. As we stood talking over a tasty treat she told me that, despite the work we’ve done together, she still procrastinates. I replied…”Yeah, me too.” She looked at me, shocked and said, “I can’t believe it. You do so much! There’s NO WAY, you procrastinate.”
So here’s the cold hard truth. Yes, I procrastinate. In fact I’m a master procrastinator and I’m not alone. According to studies done on procrastination (I wonder how long those took to complete!) 95% of all people procrastinate. My personal belief is that the other 5% of the population are lying. Oh and according to those same studies, 25% of us are chronic procrastinators. Yes, you can put me in that 25%.
Just because everyone procrastinates does not mean it is okay. Procrastination is bad for business, bad for profits and bad for you.
It’s kind of obvious that procrastination costs us time, energy and money and I can give you a lot of examples about how, but there are two things that are even worse that we tend to forget.
1. You’re being selfish. The people who we are “supposed” to be helping don’t get the help that they need. You know the book that you’ve been meaning to write? Well, the person who needs to read it can’t. You know that person who you met at a networking event that you’ve been meaning to follow up with about your program? Well, that person isn’t getting the support they need to move forward. Read more
I bet plenty of the things you do are “no brainers”. You are psyched to them and have no problem doing. Then, there are the “other things”. It could be picking up the phone and calling a prospective client, writing an article for your ezine, creating a program that you’ve been meaning to do forever or something “easy” like answering a single email.
These are the things you know you’re “supposed” to do but somehow never get around to doing. The things that you put on your to-do list time and time again but never cross off. Or you plan to do just as soon as you get a 3-hour block of time.
The problem is that when you don’t get around to doing these tasks you, and your business run, the real risk of stagnating or maybe not even starting. You don’t create programs, you don’t bring in new clients, you don’t market your business, and you don’t bring in income.
Here’s the cold hard truth…no amount of wishing will get these things done, you need a plan, but not any plan because we both know that you’ve made plans before. You need a plan that takes you into consideration. Who you are, what needs to be done and what is the best way for YOU to do it.
Here are 7 strategies that my clients and I use regularly to help us get ourselves motivated and moving. I encourage you to try a couple of them so that you can carry through and finally cross those “shoulds” off of your to-do list.
I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that we live in a world with endless possibilities and opportunities. The bad news is that all of these possibilities and opportunities can get overwhelming and you may find yourself not accomplishing anything.
Different people have different reactions to all of the options. Some people end up freezing and doing nothing, while other people may jump from one thing to another in an effort to get everything done. The end result is the same…at the end of the day you wonder where the day has gone and marvel at how little you’ve accomplished and how much more there is to do.
Since there are so many things that my clients and I either want to do or feel that we “should” do, we sometimes create one of those “brain dump” lists to get everything out of our brains and into one spot. I wish I could simply wave a wand and accomplish everything on my “brain dump” list but I can’t because the reality is that we only have 24 hours a day.
Maybe it would be different if the list was stagnant but it isn’t. Somehow the universal law of to-do lists seems to be to always add more than you can possibly cross off. If you try to do everything all you’ll manage to do is engage in a race against the clock that you will never win and you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and in the end, unproductive.
When I see this happening either for myself or my clients it means it’s time to Read more
Have you ever said:
- I don’t have time to do it right now.
- I’m already overwhelmed; I can’t add anything else to my plate.
- There aren’t enough hours in a day.
- One of these days…
- Maybe tomorrow…
These are the words of your dreams wasting away. Not pretty, huh?
What happens is that despite your intention to follow your dreams and create the life and business you want, you get sucked into the day-to-day and end up putting your dreams on hold “until tomorrow”.
I’m sure you have a perfectly “legitimate” reason for putting your dream on the back burner but let’s face it…none of us have forever, and if you don’t start acting on your dream it will simply die with you.
So what can you do about it?
I’ve spoken to a lot of people about their dreams. Turns out there are a lot of reasons why dreams are put on hold but it boils down to four themes. Here they are along with what you can do to turn your dreams into reality.
Theme 1: You don’t have a clear vision of what you want.
Here’s the deal. Many of us have vague dreams. The more specific you can be about what you want, the easier it will be for you to do it. People have told me told me that they want to start a business but don’t know what type. Or that they want to attract clients but don’t know what programs or services they’d provide. It doesn’t matter how big or small your dream is…the more specific and clear you are the better.
I speak with entrepreneurs like you about their businesses every day. What I’m hearing is that you’re not satisfied. You know you need to spend more time marketing, you want to attract more clients and create new programs. In short, you want to grow you business. BUT…
…You procrastinate, you get side-tracked by other “important” things and you don’t get around to doing the things that will make a real difference in your business and improve your profitability.
So I ask you…why spend more time, energy and money to learn how to market and grow your business if you’re not getting around to doing the work?
I have created a quick and easy program called From Procrastination to Payday. It is designed to enable you to DO everything you’ve already learned and DO what you know you already should be doing.
Click here to learn more.
Here’s the bottom line. No amount of training, coaching or education is going to help you grow your business UNTIL you stop procrastinating and start doing.
It’s time to stop putting off for tomorrow what you can get paid for today!
From Procrastination to Payday…Join me!