No More ‘To Do’ Lists
In a desperate attempt to keep control of my life I have now adopted a ‘Don’t Do’ List policy. It should be easier to stick to the ‘Don’t Do’ list but actually it is still pretty tricky.
So, in no particular order…
Don’t Email First Thing Or Last Thing Each Day
Don’t email before 10.00am or after 4.00pm. Emailing first thing screws up the day as you get distracted beyond belief. Emailing last thing screws up your sleep pattern – it can wait till tomorrow!
Don’t Check Emails Regularly
Check them at set times, say 10.00am and 3.30pm, ie not often. You must define one important/key task for each day and that must be your first priority. Email addiction will destroy your business and screw up your brain.
Don’t Answer Calls From People You Don’t Know/Recognise
Never ever answer a call unless you know who it is from. You should have a PA or virtual PA screening all your calls. Let them know who you will and who you won’t speak to and instruct them as to how to handle the various different types of call, eg keynote speaking enquiries to Trish…, Consultancy enquiries to Lesley and so forth.
Because we create our own businesses around ourselves, we end up being involved in way too much. You should be designing the business so that it operates without you.
Try putting autoresponders on your email that say “I am out of the office but consultancy enquiries can be dealt with right now by Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)1225 851044 and keynote speaking enquiries can be dealt with by Trish on….” You could do the same with your direct line answerphone if you don’t have someone to filter your calls for you.
Just stop talking to people you don’t know – the call is probably for their benefit and not for yours!
Do Not Turn Up To Meetings ‘Just In Time’!
This is known as Lombardi Time.
The great Hall of Fame football coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, invented a strategy that he recommended to his coaches and players.
Lombardi Time states, “Show up for every important business meeting 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled meeting time.”
The idea is to use the 15 minutes to catch your breath, collect your thoughts and pre-plan what you want to accomplish in the meeting and how you’ll go about it.
I hate being late. If others are late I consider it the height of rudeness (can’t they be bothered/organised…).
If you look closely (because you arrived early…!), you’ll see people arrive at meetings, and this will tell you a lot about the way they lead their lives.
Don’t Work With (Or Employ) Energy Sappers
This one is also ‘stolen’ from Clive Woodward. From time to time we all work with energy sappers/zappers and don’t we just know it! They seem to squeeze every last ounce of passion and excitement out of any project. Their mantra is some permutation of:
“Well, if that’s what you want to do…”
“I don’t really see the point of…”
And don’t the energy sappers just love the “they” word. “They did this…”, “They do that…”
Oh how I hate these people! They become high-maintenance (and usually low-profit) because of the damage they do to your own immune system. Their stress and negativity-dumping behaviour sucks the very lifeblood out of your most precious asset – your enthusiasm.
Replace all energy sappers with energisers – it is as simple as that!
Don’t Build The Business Around Yourself
In the early days it’s great to see those emails and texts for you – you are important and wanted. However, this excitement soon turns into an addiction. Your definition of success starts to depend on how much you are needed. Wrong! (unless you want to be the bottleneck in your business).
Try to design the entire business model with the sole intention of getting it to operate without you. Or do you enjoy working 24/7?
‘Start with the end in mind’ is what Steven Covey says. If you intend to get out of your business at some point then you need to design the whole thing with that endpoint in mind. Otherwise you end up as the tiredest person in the graveyard!
Don’t Carry a Blackberry 24/7
The world will not grind to a halt if you are not there to take every call. In fact, customers might treat you with a bit more deference if you ration your available time with a little more respect for what is really important.
Don’t Play It Too Safe
The riskiest thing is to be safe… Very good is bad… because no-one notices it.
Don’t Be Reasonable
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” GB Shaw
So, are you being reasonable? As Paul Arden says, “Most people are reasonable; that’s why they only do reasonably well.”
Don’t Get The Negative Feedback Habit
We spend 95% of the time focusing on the 5% of things in our businesses that don’t work… and only 5% of the time focusing on the 95% of things that really do work.
If we do screw up we already know about it, so let’s recognise the mess and get on.
When things go wrong there is no point dragging the team into the boardroom to dissect and analyse every action made that (may have) contributed to the poor result. It is far better to take the team into the boardroom when things have gone well to dissect and analyse every action made that (may have) contributed to the good result, ie get the team to focus on what they are doing right.
If you get/see what you focus on then it seems mad to focus on what’s gone wrong and it seems obvious to spend more time looking at what really works.
Don’t Take It All Too Seriously
No-one enjoys working with a bore… and while we are at it…
Don’t Forget Why You Are Doing This In The First Place
When you are on your deathbed you will not say “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”. Get real, have fun, laugh and lighten up!