Yesterday on my knitting blog I posted about having more ideas than time to get them done. It happens to creative types (including entrepreneurs) quite often. This week I have been trying to pull it all together.
The sabbatical I took for re-focusing my efforts on this business endeavor officially ended on Sunday, so Monday I was back at my regular desk with all of the regular distractions. The time away allowed me to break some unproductive habits, opened space for some creative thinking and allowed me to focus on a bigger plan. So all-in-all I would call the sabbatical a success even though it got off to a rough start. The result is I have lots of ideas I want to implement, but a limited capacity due to the normal constraints of time, money or both. Even so, this week I was able to make serious strides in pulling it all together before the end of the year by utilizing a variety of tactics. Confirmed success remains to be seen, but I remain confident.
One of the biggest challenges in managing your business on an ongoing basis is deciding when it is time to make a change, particularly when it comes to selecting the software and apps we use every day.
It is so easy to get comfortable with something we use every day that we will often overlook the challenges or work-arounds that we have in place to truly make it functional. Also, researching alternative products takes time that may not produce any useful results. Or, when you find a new option, then you need to take the time to make the migration, learn the new tool and implement new processes based on new capabilities. Much of the past week I have been doing all of the above. As such, I have been thinking about the criteria that I use when evaluating new software options. Ultimately the final criteria used for each evaluation will be slightly different, but even so, there are 5 questions you should ask before making a change in software.
Hiring a consultant can be a risky venture, but it also can have huge benefits. The trick is knowing when is the right time, how to utilize their services and who you should hire in the first place.
Most of what I sell is my knowledge, insights and expertise. With the exception of a few years where I was employed in IT management, the bulk of my whole career could technically be described as consulting (even the speaking and teaching aspects). So it might seem obvious why I would be pro-consultant. But I don’t always believe that hiring a consultant is a good idea. Instead, I have an understanding of when hiring a consultant is a good investment and when it is not.
I have run my business affairs for as long as I can remember around my task list, calendar and – as soon as it was widely available – e-mail. It has been my method of organizing my day, ensuring priorities and projects are completed and very few (if any) details fall through the cracks. But was I keeping an empty inbox? Not quite.
The challenge has been to update and modify my behaviors as new technologies are developed and become widely used. Although I have done reasonably well in the realms of my task list and calendar, e-mail has always been a bit of a challenge. When I first started using e-mail, it was the exclusive domain of business people sharing “important” business information. As time marched on, it became more prevalent for personal correspondence to the point that today it is often our primary mode of communication. The result is an inbox that contains dozens, hundreds or thousands of messages; keeping an empty inbox, then, seems like fiction.
Activities we engage in on a regular basis are often described as habits. But before they become habits, we must first develop a discipline of repeated activities. This is where recurrence can come to the rescue.
Most of us develop a habit of brushing our teeth while we are young, but rarely does that occur without some level of nagging from our parents. They are critical in providing the discipline and accountability for us to develop the habit. As we move out on our own we have to find new methods for developing habits. Whereas self-discipline is the method we use for personal habits, there are often repeating tasks that are critical in developing a business that runs smoothly. Recurrence is a feature that is available in a variety of program and applications. When utilized properly, it can develop new patterns, reduce time spent on administrative tasks and free up mental energy for more creative endeavors. Recurrence features save time not only in your business life but in your personal life as well.
For as long as I can remember, my productivity has been guided by two things: my task list and my calendar. However, these two items have rarely truly been managed in tandem.
I would set appointments with clients, for meetings or personal activities and then the time I had left was available for my task list. For some of my job positions (particularly some of my first jobs) this actually made sense. But as I moved up in management it probably was not so wise. And now as a solopreneur, it is even less so.