I walked into a large manufacturing plant in Birmingham, I was only 23 (and looked about 12). It was one of my first meetings as a recruiter. Thankfully I was with my boss.
The person we met was larger than life and scared the hell out of me… “JFDI” she shouted, “that’s what I tell them, JFDI”… I didn’t have a clue what she was on about, was this another manufacturing terminology like LEAN!?
Jeez, she scared the hell out of me.
On the way home I sheepishly asked my boss what she was on about, he laughed – but at least I now knew!
Being a small business owner, you don’t really have anyone to talk to about stuff (I am looking for a mentor BTW so feel free to drop me a line if you can help!) and at times it can be hard because there are a lot of things you need to do that are outside of your area of knowledge or your comfort zone.
But if you don’t do them, no one else will.
I struggle with tasks that are detailed or that take hours of dedication to get done. My boredom threshold is very low – look! a squirrel! – and I am off in another direction.
Important things can quickly stack up and this does cause people undue stress, especially if you don’t talk to someone about it. You see this all of the time in a broader business sense as well, people who are great technical experts are often promoted into leadership or managerial roles, where they have to deal with people. Great salespeople now have to manage a P&L and struggle with the broader responsibility this brings.
I have found that there are various tactics you can use to ensure you deliver these things well and none of them will be revolutionary, but they might just help keep you sane.
Just f***ing do it!
Some things need doing, that’s just the way it is, no matter how much we hate them. Surprisingly, things we procrastinate over (because we don’t want to do them or don’t feel we are equipped to do them) get a bit easier once we start doing them.
The trick is to move quickly into doing and once you start thing get easier. I am not sure why this is, maybe it’s because of the reduction in stress for starting or you gain a bit of confidence once you realise it’s not as tricky as you first thought? But if you get going even after weeks of not doing it, it does get easier – I promise.
If I have a large ‘to-do list’, the obvious thing might be to do the tough stuff first. I quite often do what is easiest first as it gives you momentum and you can start to tick things from the list. Note: you can’t put the tough stuff off forever, so don’t use this as an avoidance tactic!
Plan stuff out
Without my outlook calendar, nothing would happen. FACT: if it’s not in there it 100% doesn’t happen. Ask my wife or my team! (I get ripped about this all the time at work, “ooh James are you going for steak tea tonight”…)
- Don’t however, use planning, as an excuse for NOT doing. I know lots of people who have a very pretty list that never gets done.
- Realise that some things just aren’t going to get done and don’t worry about it (learning to say no is a good step in the right direction).
- Set yourself deadlines or targets. If you work on your own perhaps ask friends or family to hold you to account. If that’s an issue, get an external coach and they will do it for you.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
I cannot stress enough that focus is the best way to becoming productive.
Think about things that are causing you stress, are outside of your comfort zone or that you shouldn’t be doing. Letting go is often the hardest bit.
- Find someone better than you at tasks you struggle with. This could be a virtual resource or someone in your team or even a family member or friend who is willing to help
- Use the people around you to help, support and give guidance on the parts of your role you shouldn’t be doing
- Utilise technology for routine tasks
I am still learning and am by no means an expert! Found this useful? What tips work for you?
To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.
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