Are you consistently inconsistent?
A friend of mine recently called to tell me he hadn’t been getting my weekly blog posts, and he wanted to check and make sure he was still on my mailing list. He said he was bummed to miss out on the blogs because I’m “the most interesting writer [he’s] ever read.”
Kudos! Compliments! Words of affirmation! [Insert happy dance here.]
Unfortunately, I had very little time to bask in this wonderful feedback. I felt compelled to confess that – perhaps, just maybe – he hadn’t received the notifications because I hadn’t written any for several weeks. [Insert beet-red face here.]
Apparently I’m dealing with a wee bit of a consistency problem.
Now it’s true I was doing a lot of work on three separate break-out presentations I presented at a recent major women’s conference. It’s also true that I’m up to my adenoids in putting together my first book to be published on Kindle.
And none of that matters.
If I say I’m doing a weekly blog post, I damn well get to do a weekly blog post. I know – KNOW – that, given equal quality, consistent action trumps inconsistent.
Every. Single. Time.
If this rings any bells for you, welcome to the club.
But the On Again Off Again Club is not one any successful entrepreneur aspires to. If you’re ready to quit, here are some tactics that will help. [Note to self: Read blog post. Act on it. Repeat.]
1. Team up and conquer.
I’ve said it before and will never stop saying it: An accountability partner is a priceless business asset.
I currently work with three fabulous women: Lisa Novak, of Cedarview Marketing, on Monday; Nancy Tierney, of Firecracker Communications, on Wednesday; and Jennie Morton, of Herringbone Freelance, on Thursday.
We talk at the top of the first hour, say what we commit to accomplish, hang up, and get it done. In the rare cases where we don’t focus on the stated activity, we get to confess it and buckle down better in the next hour.
I’m guessing it’s time for me to find another weekly accountability partner whom I can ask to hold my feet to the figurative fire for working exclusively on my blog. I have Tuesdays and Fridays open; any takers? (And in case you’re wondering: I’m not joking.)
2. Pick a date and time to do recurring work and get it in the damn calendar.
How many times do we (and I’m speaking from the choir, here) get to hear this before we do it consistently?
I had been using my Wednesday accountability session for blogging, and then I opted to use the time instead to prepare for my speaking gigs.
Being the efficient type, I managed to shoot myself in the foot two different ways with this single decision: I messed with success by shifting away from blogging every Wednesday for Saturday publication, and I failed to get back into the blogging groove. Error times two. Sigh. (Nancy, I’m blogging during our time next Wednesday.)
3. Stop kidding yourself.
Optimism is a good thing, but not when you use it to kid yourself.
If you know there’s a task that needs doing and you tell yourself you’ll “get to it later today,” think again and do a modified Nike on yourself. Just do it. Now.
Consistency is key to creating successful outcomes.
For example, if I head to my yoga room first thing in the morning, I get my yoga done. I find if I do virtually anything beforehand – get something to eat, put a load of laundry in, even just make the bed – I dramatically decrease the likelihood of getting my full practice in. It’s in everyone’s best interests for me to make an exception for letting the dogs out and making a potty run myself, but that’s it.
This is an example of tool number four.
4. Decrease your resisting factors.
In the 1940s, social psychologist Kurt Lewin developed a change model known as force-field analysis.
Lewin viewed change as being acted on by two opposing forces: driver forces, which support or promote the change, and resistor forces, which oppose it. He found that, in many cases, it’s easier to facilitate change by decreasing the resistors than by increasing the drivers.
In my yoga example, my resistor forces are anything that can pull me into non-yoga activity, such as household chores or some “quick” work task (and don’t even get me started on the black-hole resistor known as email). I know this, and I make a conscious choice not to tempt or kid myself by saying, in effect, “I can stop anytime” if I get started on any of these distracting activities.
If you can identify forces that cause you to resist doing any given task on a consistent basis, you’ll be half-way to identifying how you can lessen those resistors and enjoy more success getting the job done well and consistently.
5. Chunk it down.
This tactic, especially in conjunction with the preceding one, is a huge help in dealing with the overwhelm many entrepreneurs face and which can make it challenging to change on-again-off-again activity into consistent – and productive – activity.
When you think about what makes it tough for you to regularly _______________ (blog, exercise, record deductible mileage…), chances are you can make it less tough by chunking the activity down into smaller pieces.
So, rather than think that “I have to write and publish an entire blog post”, I can think in terms of, “I’m going to spend 15 minutes identifying the topic and creating some bullet points about the content.” Once that’s done, I can move on to fleshing out the content, then to choosing an image to illustrate my points, then to cutting-and-pasting into my website…Each of which steps individually sounds much less onerous than “write a blog post.” (For a terrific illustration of this principle of “baby steps”, watch this brief clip from the movie What About Bob?)
6. Get out of your ruts.
Sometimes resistors and inconsistent activity can be the result of having gotten into a rut. You know what that sounds like: “This is how I’ve done this forever; therefore, this is how I will do it forever.”
How’s that working for you?
If you’re facing a consistency challenge, maybe it’s time to consider a new way of approaching the on-again-off-again task.
For example, if you or somebody you know is huffing and puffing to blog consistently, you/she/I could get creative and consider the following options:
- create or update a spreadsheet where you gather all blog topic ideas as they occur to you
- outsource the actual publication of your written content (if you often find yourself at war with technology)
- do a portion of the blog post each day, rather than in one big clump (for example: Monday – choose topic and outline content; Tuesday – write first half of content; Wednesday – finish writing content; Thursday – choose and upload graphics and review copy; Friday – cut and paste into WordPress or other blog platform)
- instead of writing the post, consider speaking it: record yourself on a platform such as Free Conference Calling, then have someone transcribe your spoken word so you can publish it online (this can get spendy, so it might best be saved for your soon-to-be Kindle best-seller)
- switch from a written log to a video
Will some of these de-rutting options be uncomfortable? Probably. The question is, which discomfort is more acceptable: doing something a new and possibly more effective way, or missing the opportunity to get your message out to the people who need to hear it most?
What’s been your experience with being consistently consistent? Is it an ongoing challenge, or does it come easily to you? Please share your helpful tools and strategies in the Comments section below. You’ll be a hero; I guarantee it!This entry was posted in productivity and tagged effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.