Several years ago, I led a workshop on Time Management for a group of passionate business women – authors of romance novels. I spent a few hours with them on this topic as it was something that many of them were struggling with.
Despite their passion for writing and the best of intentions being made, many of them found they did everything other than write even though they had the entire day to work. A number of them had incomplete manuscripts they just couldn’t finish; and the rest were too busy with ‘life’ and just too exhausted to write.
As busy business owners we surely can relate to this. Maybe not with writing, but with incomplete business-building/development tasks or even clients’ work that remains unfinished day after day (or in many cases for weeks and even months).
Can you relate?
To be honest, I know I do – all too well, unfortunately, especially if I don’t regularly implement three key things.
What are they?
Here are the three things I shared in my workshop that for many of the workshop attendees was a light-bulb moment. They were suddenly able to see what was really keeping them stuck from completing tasks as well as how they could get back on track with their writing.
I’m sure you’ll find them just as helpful as I do and the workshop participants!
1. You’re suffering from the “I’m not good enough” syndrome
How many times have we said this to ourselves?
This statement (which is driven by a lack of self-belief) can stop us from even starting the project, or will have us checking our work, over and over again until it is perfect.
Yes, this is otherwise known as the perfectionist syndrome.
Problem is – it’ll probably never be perfect, because the bar we set for ourselves is just too high.
The lack of self-belief was one that many of the writers in the workshop could relate to. In fact, one woman came up to me after the workshop to share her epiphany. She realised that time management was not really the issue – she was struggling with her self-belief. And this was what was causing her to do anything and everything but write.
Another writer had been editing her manuscript for quite some time and was still only half way through the first half. It wasn’t that she was having issues with time management – she didn’t have the confidence or the belief that what she had written was good enough, and therefore she was stuck on the endless cycle of editing and re-writes.
Perfection is paralysing and will cripple your business if you let it.
Here are three things that I have found helpful in getting out of that crippling ‘perfectionist’ mode.
- There is no such thing as failure – there is only feedback.
When something doesn’t quite have the outcome that I expected, it doesn’t mean that I have failed. It is only providing me with feedback that I should change some things and try again so that next time I can get a better outcome.
- Go for completion – NOT perfection.
Finish the task at hand, edit it once, and then let it go. If you don’t, like the writer I described above, you’ll get stuck in the endless cycle of editing and re-writes and never get anything launched.
Go for completion!
- You ARE good enough. Just DO IT!
Stop doubting your skills and strengths – it’ll only continue to cripple you.
How often do we look at other people and admire their work, only to feel totally inadequate with what we are doing?
Stop measuring yourself against other people and start measuring yourself against your personal best!
You ARE good enough and so is your work. Get it out there into the hands of the people you were meant to work with! Ok?!
2. You’re not creating a supportive and encouraging environment
Ever tried working in an environment where you just couldn’t concentrate? Perhaps the area was just too noisy. Or you could see the unwashed breakfast dishes beckoning you, causing you to feel a little guilty or the distracting piles of paperwork (and goodness knows what else) scattered on your desk and throughout your office.
Unfortunately, I can relate to all three scenarios, and if you can too – no wonder we can’t concentrate and get anything completed.
It’s not our lack of time management skills, it’s our inability to set up a workspace that will enable us to concentrate and be productive.
Here are three things that I have found helpful in setting up an encouraging environment:
- Clear the deck first so there are NO distractions
Clear away the filing; have the dishes done; put your phone on silent (or divert it); and create a relaxing space where you can concentrate and get your work done.
The world (i.e. your emails and social media connections will still be there when you get back!)
- Choose a space and make it yours!
Do you have a space you can decorate with inspiring paraphernalia – a space where you can close a door and just sit with your own thoughts?
While many of you may find this difficult, particularly if you have young children around, one of the women (a multi-published author) commented she had written many-a-chapter of her now published books in the toilet.
Now I’m not advocating you set up your office in the loo, however, if you don’t have a dedicated office try to find a spot in your house where you can shut away the noise and hustle and bustle of the family.
- Change location if you need to
Sometimes, despite having points 1 and 2 in place, I just can’t seem to get motivated. So I have been known to go outside and sit by the pool out in the sun. Or even at my local library or café. It works!
3. You’re lacking structure and/or discipline
While many of my clients love to create an environment that allows them to be spontaneous and flexible, without structure or discipline – you’ll end up doing a myriad of other things and NOT what you intended to do in the first place.
It’s amazing how ‘just 5 minutes on Twitter can turn into an hour of idle chit-chat. Or “I’ll just quickly respond to this comment of my Facebook wall” can turn into a group conversation that extends into an hour-long (or even longer) discussion about anything and everything other than what you were supposed to be working on.
While relationship building is important – is chit-chatting to friends and/or family (or even colleagues) about your weekend really going to get you closer to your business goal?
Often those so-called mini interruptions turn into longer interruptions and by the time you return to your work (or even get started) – you’ve lost your train of thought. Or you just don’t feel motivated to do anything anymore. Therefore the task you had intended to finish – is still incomplete.
Here are three things you can do to avoid disruptions:
- Create a structure that includes your prioritised to-do list and a deadline by when you are going to have this completed – and stick to it!
- Schedule this task during the best time of day when you know you are at your most productive
- Turn off all your distractions including your phone, tv, email, social media platforms, and anything else that can easily distract you.
There you have it.
Important steps to get you back on track so that you can complete all of the items on your to-do list.
What about you? Do you recognise that one (or all) of these three things is what is stopping you from getting those tasks completed and off your to-do list? Which step are you going to implement to help you better manage your time and get things done?