By Dawn Shuler
No matter how much you love your business and what you offer, unless you’re terribly disciplined or have deadlines, your default activity is rarely to do what you “should” do: work ON the business, make those follow-up calls, rewrite the copy for the website, apply for the keynote speech, etc.
Heck, you “should” be scheduling that time and blocking it to get those big tasks done. By “big,” I mean the stuff that’s going to move your business ahead, establish you as an expert at a bigger level, bring in more money.
What I’ve seen many a client and business owner do (and I’m guilty of it myself at times) is to actually schedule that time (yay!), but then quickly and almost gleefully give away that time to something else: a client who calls with an emergency, the email that just landed in the inbox two seconds ago, bookkeeping, laundry, dishes.
Why do those things come before the big tasks that you KNOW are important and you really do want to do?
For one, those other things are calling at your attention, nagging you, so you might tell yourself that you’ll do a better job if those nags are quieted. But the list of nags must be quite long because those big to-do’s just keep not getting done.
Secondly, you might be afraid of taking that next step. You’re not where you want to be in the project. It’s stalled. You want it to be perfect, compelling, and impactful, and you’re afraid it’s not. Or it feels hard to get started, so it’s much easier to do other things.
And – here’s what you might be afraid of the most – maybe you don’t want to go to the next level in your business enough more than you want to answer the emails, take a shower, get dressed, make the bed, and do the dishes.
When I was teenager in Texas, I’d get up in the summer early and go run. The heat, no matter how early in the morning, was oppressive. Step outside, and one hits a wall of heat. Yet, I’d invariably get up and go run in that awful furnace. Why? Because I’d rather do that than deal with my parents when they got up in the morning. Running in the godawful heat was preferable to being around my parents. I would rather run.
Now, that’s somewhat of a negative example, and you probably think of those “big” tasks in your business as positive.
So what do you need to create so that working ON your business deeply IS the default activity and it is THE thing you would rather do than anything else?
1. Be aware of what DOES get in the way. Pay attention. Are they always the same things (chores like cleaning the house, work tasks like returning emails, etc.) that you do instead of the bigger business projects?
2. Understand why you would rather do those things. Are they nagging items? Are they delaying tactics? Are you afraid of something?
3. Just do it. Make working ON the business more of a routine, and then it’s harder not to do it. Kind of like brushing your teeth. You do it every day. The day you might miss, you run that tongue over your teeth, and you’re constantly reminded that you didn’t do it that day. So work ON your business regularly, and it will be harder to not do it. Maybe every Friday morning or the last week of the month. Make it as routine as you can.
4. Set up rewards. Yeah, it might seem childish, but it works. Don’t schedule that massage until you’ve reached the goal of rewriting certain pages on your website. Don’t eat the piece of chocolate until you make five follow-up calls. Your spouse cooks dinner if you send out that proposal. Make it so that you WANT to work on the big biz stuff because of what you get after you’re done.
5. Visualize the end of the rainbow. What if you finish that rebranding? Wouldn’t you feel great to be able to hand out business cards with the new website? You’d be so far along – farther than you are now. You don’t have to see to the end of the ultimate rainbow (an entire finished project), just today’s little rainbow.
6. Make working on your business pleasurable and fun. Don’t want to sit at your desk and work? Go outside with your laptop or – gasp – a notebook and pen. Get a chocolate malt and enjoy while you draft your proposal. Go to the park, the beach, the mountains, a tea room, a cool coffee place…. some place gorgeous and inspiring. However you design the pleasurable and fun aspect, only do those things when you work on the business. So save that chocolate malt only for your working-ON-the-business times.
7. Set concrete goals. It’s a lot easier to work on a project with a measurable goal in mind instead of just do it until….whenever. And, as soon as you hit that concrete goal, you are done!
8. Think of your project as an adventure. What if this proposal actually got accepted and you gave a rockin’ speech? What if you decided to rebrand and be cutting edge? How brazen can you be and get away with it?
It’s a blend of figuring out what gets in the way as well as thinking about what you could do so that you really want to work on your business – and not do anything else.