Are you having difficulties getting things done? Perhaps one particular important task?
If so, you are not alone. I personally have experienced this, as have many of my clients. After talking with small business owners who have felt stymied, I have discovered four key reasons why many people get stuck.
First, let me share that I have not listed them in the order of predominance. Instead, they are listed in the order of importance.
Not knowing if the task will meet the ultimate goal is one of the sneakiest causes. Frequently, we go to a seminar or attend a webinar and learn about something new which the presenter guarantees us that if done correctly will double our sales. This can be anything from an effective postcard campaign to starting and maintaining a Pinterest account. Because she can prove it worked for her, we decide to give it a try. However, we may harbor secret concerns that it may not be right for our own small business. This sets in place a certain amount of indecision that undermines our ability to get the task done.
The best way to combat this uncertainty is strategic planning. In strategic planning, you clearly define the company brand, identify where you are now, and pinpoint where you want to go. Then you brainstorm all of the steps that will get you to your results. A good strategic planning process will use a process to assist you to rank and prioritize all of your options and guide you to focus on what is most important. The final result is certainty on how you should be spending your time to achieve your desired goals.
However, I have found that this is not always enough to propel small business owners to success. The next most important blockage is fear. The fear may be of being truly successful and how it will change your life. Or the fear may be that despite careful planning you may be wrong. (Gasp!) What if your desired results never materialize? And you waste time and money along the way?
In reality, your fear may be quite different. Regardless, it must be recognized and overcome before you will be able to move forward. For some people, it is as simple as closing their eyes, taking a deep breath, and then taking the first step. Others may need someone else to encourage them or talk with about it. Many of our fears are irrational or unlikely to materialize. Another person’s frame of reference can be useful in placing them into perspective.
I remember a painting project in my house that I had trouble getting done. I powered through all of the prep work, but when it came time to place the first drop of paint on the wall I had to call my best friend Pat for encouragement before I was able to start. In the end, I created a really neat effect and was grateful for Pat’s encouragement and faith in me.
I have found that for most of my clients the last two reasons are the most common. Many people understand what they want to accomplish but have difficulties in breaking the larger task down into smaller steps. As a result they feel overwhelmed or just unsure where to start.
I have found that brainstorming, either alone or with a partner is a great tool for overcoming this challenge. I recommend using sticky notes and placing one step on each sticky note. The steps are then easy to organize in the order in which they are to be accomplished. And if you find that the order is incorrect or a step has been left out, it’s fast and easy to just rearrange them as needed.
Finally, lack of prioritization can undermine even the most determined entrepreneur. Not prioritizing a task is frequently the result of one of the first 3 reasons above; that is why I have left it for last. For most people, if this is truly important to them, they will find the time, money or energy to get it done. However, some individuals are just very busy and find that despite best intentions it just keeps getting put off into the future.
The best way to overcome lack of prioritization is to schedule an appointment with yourself to work on it. So go to your calendar and block out 15 minutes, an hour, or perhaps half a day when you pledge to turn off all distractions, lock your cell phone in a drawer, and get to work. You may need to do this more than once; however, usually it gets easier to do over time.
What is holding you back from getting things done? And what step can you take today to move forward?