Processes and Procrastination

As we head towards the end of another week you may be thinking about what you can toss onto the piles on your desk or mark so that you deal with it next week and not today or tomorrow.  I’m familiar with the process, everyone does it to some extent. And to some extent it’s necessary to do because there are only so many hours in a day and while you may have something sudden and time-sensitive come up today, you may not have that tomorrow and be able to deal with things from today tomorrow.  The danger comes in when you never get to “tomorrow” and you keep having to put out fires and deal with emergencies today and never get to that other stuff you keep putting off.

The good news is that a portion of what you keep putting off can be handled by someone else.  You can get someone else to file the papers or place/pack orders or refill supplies or input data to a spreadsheet or program or app.  The bad news is, as you probably guessed, they can only do so much as they are not you. All that help is great to a point, then you have to step back in and choose or approve purchases, reply to clients, or confirm the data.

But what it comes back to is that you need to stop and realize that there’s a problem and you’re tired of seeing the problem day after day and not being able to do what you want to with or about it.  Maybe it’s as simple as changing the software, program or procedure that you do things with/through.  Maybe it’s creating a schedule and following it 95% of the time.  Maybe it’s just hiring someone to help out a few hours a week (on either the personal or the professional side).  But I believe that for many of the things that we’re putting off, there’s a simple solution that can make it much easier and much less painful to do the job and get it done quicker and with the results you’re looking for (or at the very least results which is something you didn’t have before).

If you’re struggling with the never ending search for tomorrow in your work or home, I encourage you to take an important first step before the end of the week.  Maybe it’s reaching out to an organizer or coach like myself who is local to you and getting the conversation going.  Maybe it’s taking 30 minutes to investigate other program/procedure options.   Maybe it’s sitting down with your team and talking about who’s doing what and who would rather do what and who can help you clear things off your plate (making things easier for everyone).   What will you do?

Reflection Time

I’m still doing some reflecting and considering as we work into this new year.   2016 felt like being in a cement mixer at times for some of us, it certainly didn’t seem like a smooth ride personally or in the world.  As I’ve been reading a number of posts at the end of the year and the beginning of this one, I identified with what a number of people were saying about the year that just ended and how they felt about it, what they ended up doing in that year and of course where they’re headed in this new year.

For many 2016 ended up being a year of personal growth, not so much professional, although plenty of people and companies did have a very successful year.  For some 2016 was so bumpy that it was hard to even identify or understand that until new year reflections happened.  So if your year was anything like mine, I’m going to encourage you to work through these questions over this week before you give up on your resolutions and/or before you make final decisions about where you want this coming year to go:

What was your best memory?
What was your worst memory?
What was your biggest accomplishment?
What was your most satisfying victory?

What goals do you have for 2017?
What relationships are you going to create or work on in 2017?
What do you want to stop doing in 2017?
What needs to most change in 2017?

Just how good can life get?
Will this be a courageous year for me?
What will make you happy?
What will you love?

As I do my own reflecting and consider where I’m taking things this year, I’d love to hear from you what you would like from me in this blog and/or in what I offer in my business? How can I best help you make more victories in your life and what are you struggling with?

Unfinished Business

As we get closer and closer to the end of this year we’ve talked about what to do with this week and how you can get ahead for 2017. For this last business post I wanted to talk about something we don’t really like to talk about: the stuff that doesn’t get done.  Often we talk about this stuff in terms of numbers of unread emails or unpaid invoices or bills to be paid.  But there are tons of other things we’ve got on our “I really need to do…,” “If I have time I’ll do…” and “Sometime I’ll…” lists.  It’s those items that I want to talk about today, especially those you’ve been putting off for years or those that you put off each year (and partially complete later).

First, know that sometimes you can just pitch it all and be done with it and there’s a really good chance you’ll never miss any of it.  I know, you may wonder what you’re missing out on, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just completely free yourself from it.  With physical items I think it’s best to go through things super quick because there may be a treasured family heirloom in the pile, but especially when it comes to emails, if it’s 5+ years old and you haven’t read it you can probably get rid of it.

But what about those to do lists?  I would go over them because there are probably potential clients you meant to get back to but haven’t, suppliers or joint venture partners you’ve been meaning to reach out to, marketing you’ve been meaning to do, marketers who you were thinking of hiring to help you or even mentors you’ve been wanting to reach out to.  Take a look at those lists and decide which of those are still things that need doing, and make the time over the next few weeks to accomplish them slowly but surely, maybe setting aside a couple of hours a week to tackle it.

Why? Because I’m reminded every so often how busy we are.  We have so much going on personally and professionally, that often we’re just doing the very best we can to keep things moving forward and some things just don’t get done as a result, even if they’re important to do.  Also, most sales aren’t made with the first contact, it can take 20 or more contacts in today’s busy world to make a sale or get that published piece in the paper or on that industry website or blog.  So I would encourage you as we finish out this year to commit to following through on what you’ve said you would do with your employees, customers and opportunities in your personal and professional life more in the coming days and year.  No, you won’t be perfect and won’t get it all done, but I know I already feel better just committing to do it, rather than thinking about adding it to another list.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This month one of the topics we’ll be talking a lot about is patience.  Sometimes it’s good and necessary to be patient, other times we should move quicker and/or let go of things quicker than we do.  Today though I want to focus on that classic saying about patience: slow and steady wins the race.  We’re all in a big hurry to get somewhere, get something done, meet someone or even be someone.  It’s not a bad thing to have a goal that you’re working towards and be really excited about getting there. In fact, that’s a good thing.  But sometimes when you’re excited about reaching the finish line you skip over essential steps in the journey, maybe even jeopardizing the end result you were hoping for.

Slow and steady means that first and foremost you’re taking your time to create and follow a checklist or list of steps.  It means that you’re making sure you’re doing things right so that the end result is what you were hoping for.  Cooking is a great example of the importance of slow and steady.  If you do any cooking you’ve probably tried to rush a few recipes, maybe by throwing in a “splash” of milk instead of measuring the exact amount the recipe (or box) calls for.  As a result you may end up watering down the recipe which could alter the other flavors you’ve added, causing you to either suffer through a not-great recipe, or try to fix it by adding other ingredients.  Your additions may help the recipe turn out great, or not so great, but if you had only taken a couple of extra seconds to do the measuring it would have turned out as expected and no fixing would be required.

Patience, and the concept of slow and steady, doesn’t mean that you have to stop.  It is more about being more intentional about the steps you take and how you do them than waiting and not doing anything.  If you’re waiting around patiently for things to happen, make sure that you’re not supposed to be doing things at a slow and steady pace, or that there aren’t other things you could be doing.  For example if you’re patiently waiting for a job (and filling out applications on a daily basis whenever possible and going on interviews), there are probably lots of things that you’ve been putting off doing around your home or in your life like balancing your checkbook, cleaning and organizing or exercising or hobbies, or even super relevant activities like learning things that can boost your resume.  So in between patiently doing and waiting for applications and interviews, get going on those other things because you’ll feel better about yourself and better care for yourself, and won’t feel as frustrated about not working because you’ll be using your time well.

Let’s take this month one day at a time!

Giving Thanks for Time

Today as we discuss being thankful I want to talk about something that I’m struggling with and you may be too: time.  It’s a tricky beast, isn’t it!?  Many of us spend a lot of time talking about it, berating it, bemoaning it and trying to squeeze every last second we can from the hours we’re given.  Some people do waste the time they have or don’t use it very well, but even they tend to talk about how little time they seem to have.

So why be thankful for time? Why talk about it on Monday instead of another day when we could talk about productivity strategies and time stealers (no worries, we will make time for this in the near future)?  Because time is one of the most valuable gifts, tools, opportunities and resources we have. It, along with health, is one of the things that we take most for granted.  When people are told they’re dying in the near future they often write and try to make it through a bucket list.  When people are on their death beds they comment that they wish they had more time to spend with those they’re leaving behind.  When people we know die too soon we say that we wish we had more time with them.

So as much as this discussions is about the value and importance of managing your time well and making time for the things that really matter in life like your health and relationships, it’s also about being grateful for the time that you do have.  We’re so blessed to be living in a day and age when we’re expected to live 80+ years.  I can’t imagine what it used to be like hundreds of years ago when the average lifespan was much less.

So this week make time to appreciate being alive, that you have the time to panic over and stress about, and do your best to use your time and life wisely.

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”   Seneca

A Legacy for 2016

The new year is here!  As you know I’m excited about what the year ahead holds, I’m always excited when we get this fresh slate in front of us ready to be colored on, used, worked with and tried out.  Yes, there will be failures and mistakes, that’s inevitable, but there are also lots of chances for improvements, redos and changes.  If 2015 wasn’t your year, you’ve got a new year to thrive in.

As we start this year I want to think about something that we don’t usually associate with new years: legacies.  With a new year, with the exception of making new years resolutions based on what happened in the past year or what we want to change from the past, it’s all about moving forward and new opportunities, not about dying, legacies or being finished.  A new year isn’t an end, it’s a new beginning, but if we take a moment to think about how we want to end the year rather than just what we think we want in the upcoming year maybe we’ll have a better chance of actually getting there this year.  No, you can’t anticipate all that the year will hold, but there’s a commitment that you can make: a commitment to do better each and every day.

It’s always my goal each day to do something that makes a difference in the world.  Maybe that’s donating to a charity, maybe it’s volunteering my time for children in need, maybe it’s giving advice to an entrepreneur just starting out.  Whatever it is my ultimate goal each day is to make the world a better place to live in for myself, my friends, my family and everyone else.  There’s no guarantee that you’ll make the right decision all the time or always do the right thing, we’re not perfect after all.  But you can commit to doing your best to make each day better than the last and always leave whatever part of the world you’re in a better place when you leave.

What will you do with 2016?

“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”  Jim Henson

Planning for Problems

As a business coach I talk with lots of business owners who are struggling. Let’s face it, depending on the day any of us could be struggling with something, whether it’s a frustrating customer, a product failure or a timing snafu that screwed with our marketing, plans or productivity. So the struggle is something that we all face, it’s not unique to just those of us who have physical businesses or are trying to succeed with an MLM. The thing that frustrates me most with business owners I talk with, as well as life coaching clients, is that more often than not there were plenty of red flags that showed up and were ignored and now they’re falling off the cliff without a parachute and expecting a miracle.

This month as we talk about health it’s important to recognize that health is done by sticking with healthy habits or changing bad habits into good ones. We’re not perfect, so more often than not we have work to do when it comes to our habits, and it’s not realistic to assume that we’ll ever attain perfection and not have things that we’ll have to work on.

The question of success comes in with when there’s something wrong, and in our reaction or response to it. Do we wait for all systems failure or do we make the time on a regular basis to tend to things so that it never ever gets that bad? I believe in yearly, monthly, weekly and daily maintenance rather than waiting for stuff to hit the fan. By preparing ahead of time, planning my day/week/month/year out, and leaving room every day for issues that pop up as well as personal time, I’m not facing an unmanageable struggle when bigger issues come my way and force me to move things around by a day or two. But it’s only because I’m prepared personally, financially, relationally, and business-wise that when issues happen I’m not usually dealing with as big of an issue, and I’m more capable of dealing with them if they are.

Your business and your customers depend on you to be on top of things. One of the only ways this happens is if you’re prepared and working ahead rather than catching up. You’ll accomplish more and feel better about yourself, your life and your business and be able to better serve your customers when you take the time to anticipate the issues and have fall-back plans for if they do appear.

“…that it is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.” Richard Whately

Financial Freedom

This month in our conversations about health, one of the areas we have to make time for is finances.  There are tons of great resources, programs, apps and people who can help you with your finances, and honesty, shame on you if you’re not taking advantage of it.  So today I’ve got just a couple of thoughts on finances, especially as they relate to living a healthier life.

1-know where you stand: I know it can be tempting to stick your head in the proverbial sand when you don’t want to think about how bad they are or that they’re not as you want them to be.  But avoiding them completely is not the way to a healthy bank account.

2-talk about it.  Especially if you’re in a relationship or you have kids it’s important to talk it over with your partner or a family member so that not only are you not bearing the whole responsibility of finances on your own, the important people in your life know where your accounts are and what needs to be paid each month in case of emergency.

3-save.  I know it can be hard to do this when you’re worried about bills, but if you don’t put even a small percentage of your money aside each month now you will struggle when it comes to emergencies and retirement, rather than having the peace of mind that you’re taken care of.  As little as 5-10% a month can make a big difference.

4-pay your bills.  This sounds obvious, but so many people put it off or avoid it that they get into trouble.  Pay your bills not only a few days early but when it comes to loans and credit cards always try to pay a little more than what’s required so you pay less in fees and get rid of the balance sooner.

5-spend wisely.  This is one of the hardest parts for many people.  It’s not about skipping the fun and treats, it’s about allocating a portion of your finances each month to that stuff and either spending it or saving all of it or a portion of it for something bigger like a trip.  The big key with spending wisely is planning and knowing how much you have to spend each month for all aspects of your life: food, home, transportation, kids, health, fun and emergencies.

6-ask for help.  I don’t know it all about money and there’s no way I would qualify as a financial planner so I know that one of the best things I can do for my finances is ask for help from those who are qualified.

7-invest.  We’ve talked about saving for the future, and part of saving is wisely investing some of your savings so that you’re prepared for retirement and end-of-life expenses.  While most people aren’t big gamblers and don’t go for high risks, some of those high risks can pay big dividends, so it’s usually a good idea to have some high, mid and low-risk investments depending on your risk threshold and life situations.  Again, talking with a financial adviser about the different investment options there are today is always a good idea.

8-take action. Don’t wait until you’re in deep debt or collections to try to make more money or fix your financial situation, start investing and paying down your credit cards and other loans and expenses now.  Contact that financial planner, invest in a course on finances, and ask for the help you need to make your financial future a strong one.

What are you going to do for your finances this weekend?

The Project of a Lifetime

This month we’re talking about teamwork and one thing that comes to mind when it comes to teamwork is projects. Now I know when I start a project I really want to finish it. I don’t like to leave things with unfinished and let them drag on endlessly, I like things to be finished. Maybe they won’t ever be perfect or polished, but I’ve done my best on them and am satisfied for the most part with the end result. However, there are some projects that can’t be completed in one lifetime.

I’m always amazed that a pyramid was able to be completed during the life of an Egyptian Pharaoh, they seem like such imposing and complicated structures, especially for the lack of technology and resources or tools they had back then compared to what we have now. We also just celebrated the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day, something that’s been in the works for some 400 years (if you consider that the Pilgrims landed in the US in the early 1600’s).  So this got me thinking about what their thoughts would be on where we’ve taken the country in these 400 years. Would they like what we’ve done or would they wish to be back in England and never have come over?

What do we do when faced with a vision or project that we know is impossible to complete in the time of our lifetimes? Do we work our hardest to set our successors up for success or do we give up hope that it will ever be completed?

Personally I think we owe the people who start something amazing a big debt because getting things started can be the hardest part of the process. Often once things are in motion it’s easy to keep them going, especially if the vision of the goal is convincing and enticing and worth the effort to make it happen even though the leadership has changed. It’s not about completing things for them but about completing things because they’re worth completing.

I encourage you this week to think about where you are in life and what you’ve got going, are your efforts and goals really worth it or do you need to do some course changes?

“My Dad was such an incredible person, and you have the option of just curling up in a dark corner and letting it all go or you have the option of standing strong, sticking together and carrying on what he lived and died for. And I think that’s what’s so important – to be able to carry on where he left off.” Bindi Irwin

5 Rules in Making Decisions

This week we’re going to talk about a leadership topic that isn’t just a challenge for the heads of companies, but for everyone who works there: making decisions. Here are 5 rules to help you make better decisions:

Don’t make uneducated decisions, but don’t ignore your gut either.
All decisions I make are made based on fact and feeling. Sometimes it’s 90% fact and 10% feeling, other times it’s more 60/40 or 40/60. But I don’t ignore the reality that I don’t know everything, and I take at least a few minutes to research and find out at least the basics of what I have to make a decision on. At the same time, a decision could line up great on paper but if I don’t feel right about it I’ll either ask someone else their thoughts or do a little more research, and then based on that I’ll either go with my gut and not move forward or go ahead with it.

Don’t waste time rehashing the past when what needs to be factored in is the present and future.
The past is an important consideration when making decisions, especially big ones. You don’t want to make the wrong decision, but if you only consider the past you’re missing out on the fact that it’s almost positive that things have changed since the past happened. Maybe we’re not talking extremes like 8 tracks vs mp3’s, but refusing to consider that things have changed and you need to adjust your decision making based on what’s current can make your decision a failure real quick.

Don’t (just) make decisions on popularity.
You’ve probably heard the jokes about lemmings who follow each other off the cliff if that’s the way the leader goes, so we know that what’s popular isn’t always the best decision. That’s not to say that the popular opinion knows nothing or shouldn’t be considered. Popularity shouldn’t be the only reason you make a decision, but it should be a factor.

Don’t make the decision by yourself but don’t try to involve everyone.
I’ve already mentioned bringing in someone when trying to figure out whether to go with gut or fact, but the majority of decisions we make in business affect others, like our employees, our partners, our boards and even our customers. So to make a decision that is major and affects a large number of people should be something that you review with or consult with them on before making the move. You don’t have to ask every last person that would or could be affected, but do check it over or get feedback from a representative sample first. Bringing them a few options is a great way to limit the discussion time and get to making a decision sooner.

Don’t take too long on making decisions.
Ultimately a decision is supposed to be the beginning of action, so if you wait forever while trying to decide what’s right you may miss the window of opportunity. You don’t have to chase down every lead, ask everyone’s opinion, research for weeks or agonize over what your gut tells you.  Instead limit yourself to a period of time in proportion with how large or important the decision is.

What decisions will you make and take action on this week?