“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
Memorial Day in the US marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Depending on your business and your business model, the fact that we just celebrated Memorial Day could be great news and signal the start of your busy season, or it could be the sign that the lazy, hazy slow summer months – and slow sales – are here too.
My daughters’ last day of school was actually the Friday before Memorial Day this year, earlier than it’s ever been. As a Mom running a consulting and speaking business from my home office that means rearranging my work schedule to accommodate theirs. It also could mean a whole host of new excuses why my work might not get done on time.
My life has no lack of valid excuses. Last year I battled lung cancer and worked fewer than six months of the year. More health challenges carried over into this year, too, unfortunately. Yet in the past 18 months I still found a way to become a best-selling author; create and sell two new webinar training programs; write a new keynote speech, which I also created a marketing plan and marketing materials for, as well as delivered for the first time; honor every speaking engagement I had; write a new book and DVD training program; and write most of what (hopefully) will become my next best-seller. All while also raising my two daughters alongside my husband and tending to our family’s needs.
If anyone could have had excuses to not get anything done, well, here I am. And don’t get me wrong… that book that I wrote most of? That was due to the publisher too long ago. Thankfully I have an understanding publisher, but that book is on the priority list. Along with about 15 other things. And now it’s summer break for my kids from school, today it’s raining, and I’ve got to figure out what’s for dinner along with all the work stuff. Yikes!
When I want to get things done, no matter what’s happening in life, here are the tips and strategies I use that work for me to get past the excuses.
- Block Time: This one is easy, but if we forget to do schedule time for a specific task, it’s too easy for it to fall to the bottom of the list. Don’t just schedule “work” time and “home” time; but turn your tasks into meetings with yourself and use that time to get whatever task done by the end of the appointment.
- 15-Minute Sprints: Sometimes I get to a point in my schedule where I’ll set aside time for blogging, or writing in my book, or reviewing another book and writing an endorsement, but then even that task seems big, so I keep myself on target by setting an alarm, keeping email shut down, letting the phone go to voice mail, and focusing solely on that ONE task for 15 minutes. No refilling my water or tea, no running down the hall because I remembered something… just focus!
- Have a Master List: Every once in a while I find that I have a few minutes here or there and rather than fritter away those minutes on Facebook or in LinkedIn groups, I keep a master list for a number of different tasks. For example, I have a list of articles I want to write, videos with quick tips I can create, specific blogs I like to visit to comment on, or people I want to connect with. I also have larger projects going on with the tasks mapped out for me so even if I only have a few minutes, I can add a few sources to my book’s bibliography or write the list of action items for participants in my next program, or proofread one of my articles.
- Be Strict about Getting Things Done: As a big idea person, it’s easy for me to want to jump from one big idea to the next. But if I did that all the time, I’d never get any projects done. The opposite is true if you’re a small details person – you could get stuck forever fixing little things so that a project is never complete (know anyone who’s been writing the same book for 10 years?). For big idea people like me, you can use the next big idea as the reward for finishing the current project. For the detail-obsessed, choose a time and date to say whatever’s done by then it how it’s going to be and work to get it done. Either way, if you have to hire someone to help you reach the goal, do it.
- Public Accountability: When I need to get something done, I tell people I’m working on it. A LOT of people. I will often pre-sell a course or a book in order to force myself to get it done. I announce it on social media. I tell my accountability partners. I tell my husband. Nothing makes me work harder than having to make sure I make good on my promises. And when family and friends ask how a project is going I can proudly report that it was finished!
Speaking of public accountability – here’s your chance. What project are you working on that you WILL finish? Share it in the comments below and then come back and tell us when it’s DONE! Will you take up the challenge? Go!