How to use “not now” to propel your business forward.

When you’re a creative and curious entrepreneur, damn near anything can look interesting at first glance.  The problem is that your creativity and curiosity create fertile ground for Shiny Object Syndrome.

You know how it goes: You’re focused on one of those Quadrant Two, important-but-not-urgent tasks when something else catches your attention.  For whatever reason–it looks more fun or easier or just different–you drop what you’re doing and go follow the new Shiny Object.  The consequence is that you derail progress on the original important activity even though you know it will move your business forward–if you ever get it done.

Sometimes the idea/training/possibility that seduces you is an unproductive distraction that doesn’t deserve your time.  On the other hand, it may be something that really can have a major positive impact on your business–at some point.  The problem is that you have only so many productive hours in a day; just how many important projects can you effectively manage at once?

This is where the magic phrase “not now” can save the day (as well as your sanity and focus).  “Not now” keeps the door open for considering the potential value of the new possibility, while at the same time it keeps you on track with what you’re already working on.

How “not now” keeps your productivity high

When you give yourself permission to say “not now” to productive-but-not-timely activities, you accomplish several things:

See you later by sachabSince “not now” means “maybe later,” you’ll want to develop some type of system for keeping track of those good ideas for future consideration.  The best way I’ve found to minimize the risk of losing these ideas is to keep a running list of them.  I happen to use a hard-copy notebook; some people find a spreadsheet works better for them; yet others might prefer a simple document they can update in a word-processing program.  The absolutely crucial element here is to designate a single place in which to gather ideas for future consideration.  This enables you to avoid the trap of thinking “I have to jump on it now or it’ll be lost to me forever.”

What are some things you can safely choose to do “not now”?  How will refusing to dilute your energy and focus get you better results?  How have you already successfully used this strategy?

(By the way, thanks to sachab for posting the “see you later” sign in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

This entry was posted in bottom line, business development, counterproductive, entrepreneur, focus, productivity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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