3 quick and easy ways to run your tank dry
Most of us would agree that running a business requires a fair amount of energy. You can probably identify activities that charge you up—as well as activities that suck all the life out of you.
But if you’re concerned about having too much energy and enthusiasm for your work, here are three quick and easy ways to deplete that excess energy and replace it with an overwhelming desire to curl up in an inert blob in the nearest corner.
Energy Sucker #1: Put too many items on your To Do list.
Some entrepreneurs are positively gifted when it comes to using this tactic. They can’t decide what’s really important for them to work on, so they put everything on their To Do list and mark each item as a top priority. Naturally, they don’t get to everything in any given day.This is a highly efficient energy-sucking technique, because it zaps you in no fewer than three different ways.
- First, it makes you feel like pond scum because you crossed off such a small percentage of items from your list.
- Second, it gives you a jump start on feeling overwhelmed tomorrow, because you can simply transfer all of today’s undone items to tomorrow’s list.
- And, third, it keeps you from doing really significant work because, in your desire to cross something off the damn list, you probably default to those small, basically meaningless tasks that are easy to do and make you feel accomplished without actually having accomplished anything.
Energy Sucker #2: Put off uncomfortable or intimidating tasks.
This tactic is brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness. By ignoring an activity you know needs to be addressed, you can attack your energy and confidence from multiple directions simultaneously.
- You erode your confidence every time you ignore the piece of paper, item on your To Do list (see Sucker #1), voice-mail message…
- The activity looms bigger and scarier every time you think about it and do nothing, which makes it even more likely you’ll keep ignoring it, which will make it bigger and scarier…
- You give a small problem lots of time to grow into a huge problem.
See? The very definition of simple and effective energy sucking.
Energy Sucker #3: Embrace Shiny Object Syndrome.
One of my personal favorites.
All you have to do is give your forefinger free rein to click on whatever interesting links come your way. Whether it’s a friend’s new picture posted on Facebook, an intriguing new “productivity” tool, or a passionate exchange in a LinkedIn group—there are literally thousands of items that can seduce you away from the work you intended to accomplish today. And once you look back at the end of the day and realize you have no idea where you spent your time, whatever energy you have left will rush out of you like air from a pricked balloon.
It’s a thing of wonder and beauty.
These three powerful tactics—creating a Too Much To Do list, ignoring uncomfortable tasks, and losing focus—are highly counterproductive behaviors which have become habitual for many entrepreneurs.
It’s one of life’s major unfairnesses that bad habits seem to be much easier to develop than good ones. Unfortunately, one innate characteristic of habits is that we typically don’t recognize when we’re acting from habit rather than from conscious choice. (How many times have you pulled into your driveway and realized you weren’t conscious of driving home?) That means we can get really, really comfortable behaving a certain way—even if we’re getting lousy outcomes from that behavior.
Confidence + focus + productive habits = success.
If you’re curious about what it would be like to start developing habits that would boost your energy and improve your results, here’s how to do a 180-degree turn-around on those three energy suckers.
Energy Booster #1: Choose no more than five items for each day’s To Do list.
Yes, I know: Ouch!
While I’m not going to claim that pain is good for the soul, I do claim that forcing yourself to identify the five tasks that will most significantly contribute to your clearly stated business goals will be good for your bottom line.
How does checking out that picture on Facebook help you make money? Do you really need another app for your smartphone? And what will it accomplish to add your two cents to the LinkedIn discussion that’s devolved into an online cat fight?
If you can’t say how an activity contributes to your goals, you get to not do it. Period.
Energy Booster #2: Swallow the damn frog!
My paraphrase of this oft-quoted recommendation is this: If you have to swallow a frog, do it first thing so your day can’t do anything but improve. In other words, get that big, scary, uncomfortable, I-don’t-wanna! task off your (short) To Do list right away. When you turn this into a habitual activity, you benefit in so many ways:
- You nip problems in the bud—and small problems are invariably easier to handle than big ones.
- You experience a huge swell of relief to have it behind you, especially since (in my experience), the actual doing of the task is far less scary than the anticipation of it.
- Your increased confidence and energy makes you eager to tackle your other activities for the day—and optimistic about the results. (Positive self-fulfilling prophecies are a great business-development tool.)
Energy Booster #3: Stay awake.
I don’t mean physically awake, but mentally awake. Any time you turn your attention to an activity, ask yourself:
- Is this an important item that’s on my To Do list?
- If not, does it truly deserve a place on the list? And does it need to go on today’s list?
- Is this going to directly contribute to my bottom line?
- Is this contributing directly to one of my clear business goals?
- Do I know why I’m doing this?
If you answer “no” to any of those questions, then the activity in question is a shiny object you get to ignore. Yes, that’s often easier said than done, so the question then becomes: Do you value that shiny object more than you value a productive day and an ultimately successful business?
What are some energy suckers you’ve encountered as you run your business? How did you turn them around so they became energy boosters, instead? Please don’t be shy about sharing your critical success factors with the rest of us!
And if you realize you’re the poster child for energy-sucking habitual behaviors, maybe you and I should think about going on a first date.
As a consultant and coach who specializes in showing my entrepreneurial clients the right things to do and how to do them (not to mention holding clients accountable for their actions and inactions), I provide challenge and support, cheerleading and butt-kicking to get you on the path to actually achieving those goals you say you want.
The only way to really find out whether we’d make a fabulous team is to get acquainted with a no-risk-to-anyone phone call. Whether the decision about working together turns out to be “yes”, “no”, or “not now”, we’ll both be confident that it’s the right decision.
Maybe it’s worth 30 or 40 minutes of time to find out if this is the first step in developing some powerful new success habits.This entry was posted in effectiveness, productivity and tagged implementation, productivity. Bookmark the permalink.