I think about “it” every day, but I just can’t seem to get “it” done.
I know how important “it” is to my business, but I just can’t seem to get around to “it.”
I feel stressed because “it” is hanging over my head.
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve got an “It.” We see our clients deal with this issue all the time. We define an “It” as something you know you need to accomplish because it will have a significant level of importance to your business but other things always get in the way of getting it done.
It could be something like updating your website, hiring your first assistant or salesperson, creating a policies and procedures manual, making a list of businesses you want to target for sales, or working on your elevator speech. We find they’re different for everyone, but everyone seems to have an It.
Business owners can come up with a lot of reasons/excuses for not getting around to doing their It’s (and we’ve been guilty of this ourselves). Things like, I’m always interrupted by employees. I’m waiting to gather some more information before getting started…I can’t fit it into my schedule…my dog ate my notes…and so on. All the excuses in the world don’t really matter because if it’s important, you’ve got to find a way to accomplish it.
In order to tackle your It, consider the following tactics:
Clearly describe your It. While business owners can nearly always tell you immediately what consistently hangs over their heads, many times their It has not been clearly defined. Start by putting it to paper. What exactly is it you are trying to accomplish? What would success look like? Ask yourself, “If I were able to get this task finished, how would my business or life be better?”
Define what’s holding you back. Be brutally honest about what is stopping you from starting on and ultimately finishing your It. If you’re honest, chances are the reason has more to do with you than outside factors. Maybe you’re a natural procrastinator; it’s not fun and you don’t look forward to doing it; it’s something you’re not good at doing; you’re a poor time manager; or you have difficulty delegating. Of course, it’s uncomfortable to admit that you’re probably the problem, but understanding why goes a long way toward finding a solution.
Set aside time. If you just keep putting it on your To-Do list, it probably won’t get done. Break down the steps required to finish the task and block those times on your calendar. Decide when you will be the most productive in working on your It. Early morning? After normal working hours? At 3:27 after your afternoon latte?
Set a reasonable amount of time to work on it. If you already know that your eyes will start glazing over and your brain will shut off after three hours, don’t set yourself up for failure by planning a six-hour work session. But if you can handle a full day and that’s what will be needed, rearrange your calendar and don’t let that time be derailed by something else. Be realistic and consider your own circumstances and personality. Do what is best for you.
Set up your environment. If you need to work on your It at the office, clear off your desk except that one open file. Turn off your cell phone and resist the urge to check your email. Instruct your staff that you need to be undisturbed except in case of emergency. Don’t jump from that task to do something else or allow yourself to be diverted until you’ve accomplished what you intended to do.
If you can work on it outside the office, find a place where you’ve got a comfortable work environment and can immerse yourself in your work. Our clients have worked on their It’s in coffee shops, home offices, cabins in the mountain, hot tubs, in their cars with tape recorders, and on airplane trips. Laddie’s favorite tactic for getting to an It is working in our office conference room on a Saturday. He takes his favorite snacks, plays good music, wears his jeans, only takes calls from Judy, and works until it’s finished.
Have an accountability partner. This can be another professional, a partner in your firm, a friend, an outside consultant, or your assistant. Explain that you need their help to hold you accountable for accomplishing a certain task or project by a certain date. Being accountable to someone else might be exactly what you need to stay on track.
If you find a way to get that “It” off your plate, you’ll have a profound sense of accomplishment and relief. So go get “It” done and celebrate your success.
Laddie and Judy Blaskowski are partners in BusinessTruths Consulting, Inc. and several other businesses, and authored The Step Dynamic: A Powerful Strategy for Successfully Growing Your Business. They can be reached at Judy@BusinessTruths.com.