Is damage control ruining your business?
There you are, minding your own business, when all of a sudden something blows up in your face: Your hard drive crashes, despite your anti-virus protection; your usually reliable shipping company goes on strike, leaving customers without the products they ordered; the water pipes freeze when the temperature plunges below zero, flooding your offices when they burst.
We’ve all been there. It’s called “stuff happens”, and all you can do is leap into damage-control mode to deal with these unexpected crises the best you can.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are harmed less by these genuinely unanticipated events than they are by a constant state of damage control. In other words, damage control is, by default, the way they run their businesses.
How’s that working for you?
Procrastination creates avoidable crises.
Damage control by default is horribly costly in terms of increased stress, not to mention decreases in energy, time for business building, productivity, and revenue growth.
Continual damage control is an indicator that you may be sabotaging your success in a variety of ways:
- you wait until a deadline looms, then have to scramble to get the job done (often with mediocre or even poor results)
- you let unpleasant activities (e.g., responding to customer concerns, paying bills, etc.) pile up so much that molehills become mountains – with significantly greater negative consequences
- you ignore the old-time saying that goes, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you’d better have time to do it over”
If damage control is your normal state of affairs, it may indicate that:
- you’re unclear as to what activities are truly important, i.e., mission-critical
- your lack of focus causes you to flit from one task to another, rarely implementing one fully and effectively, and all too often overlooking a potential problem until it’s blossomed into a full-blown problem
- you fear committing to a course of action because you don’t want to make the “wrong” decision
By this point, you may be squirming a bit to realize that a lot of your time, energy, and – very possibly – money are being sucked away by operating in continual damage-control mode. There is good news, though, and it’s two-fold: One, you have a lot of company, and, two, there are a number of ways of getting out of this counterproductive habit you’ve fallen into.
Step One: Become aware of how you’re sabotaging yourself.
Awareness of what’s not working always precedes positive change, and an easy way to develop it is to ask yourself the following questions and note which get a “yes” answer:
- Do I frequently find myself thinking “I’ll get around to that later”?
- Do I often know what my ultimate decision will be, but put off acting on it?
- Do I make do with ineffective and inefficient systems, processes, and technologies?
- Do I put off tedious tasks so long that they become problems?
- Do I tell myself, “Oh, it’s not so bad the way it is”?
Step Two: Identify the behaviors that are costing you the most.
While any of the above habits can derail your success, it’s doubtful that all of them are equally damaging. Since you don’t want to procrastinate on doing damage control on your damage-control habits, choose ONE habit and concentrate on shifting yourself out of damage control and into maintenance mode for that particular habit. Once that one’s under control, you can tackle the next.
I recently had an experience that was a wonderful case in point of how continual procrastination leads to continual damage control, which gets ugly fast and often produces its own set of problems.
I’d volunteered to help a local non-profit move items from a storage facility to their main building. I was told that there would be at least one other person there to work with me.
It turns out that the storage facility was the garage of a house being leased by a supporter of the non-profit; she had allowed the organization to stash items in the garage. The owner’s lease on the property was up at the end of the month, and she had been reminding the director of the non-profit for nearly six weeks that the garage needed to be cleaned out prior to the expiration of the lease.
Apparently the organization’s director is fond of procrastination habit number one (“I’ll get around to that later”). She only put out a request for moving help three days before the lease ran out and, needless to say, this was too short a notice for many people to be able to help.
So…Come moving day, there I was by myself, faced with loading chairs, bookshelves, bed frames, and assorted other stuff. I did what I could safely do, then went back to my office to get more of my own work done – leaving behind half a garage of items that need to be gone within about 48 hours.
Considering the stress and potential monetary costs of her procrastination, the director would have done much better to apply strategy number three, below.
Step Three: Flip what’s not working.
I (and my clients) find it very helpful to identify the diametric opposite of any behavior that’s getting in the way of progress, then start implementing that opposite.
For example, had the director flipped “I’ll get around to that later”, she would instead have chosen to address the task now. All it would have required was for her to set aside just 10 minutes the very first time she was reminded about the lease deadline; in that time, she could have drafted an email requesting help and prepared to send it to people well in advance so they could book it into their calendars.
There are almost always multiple ways to flip a counterproductive procrastination habit. The trick is to find one that works for you, then commit to it.
Is this resonating with you? Have you jumped on one particular self-sabotaging habit that has led you to operate in perpetual damage-control mode?
Or are there so many habits you see playing out in your daily activities that you have no idea where to begin to get back on a productive track? If that’s the case, I have some ideas that can help.
My specialty is showing overwhelmed entrepreneurs how to cut through the crap that’s slowing them down, so they can focus on their mission-critical activities and start making the money (and the difference for their clients) that was the reason they went into business in the first place.
Is that something I can do for you? Probably. But is it a good idea? No way to tell unless and until you and I get acquainted.
If you think it’s worth exploring the possibility of working together, simply go to my calendar to sign up for a no-charge, no-risk, get-acquainted call. By the time we’re done with it, both of us will be confident that – whether our mutual decision is go, no go, or go later – we made a smart decision.
(By the way, if you find yourself thinking, “I’ll get around to that later”, might I gently encourage you to ger around to it now?)This entry was posted in effectiveness, procrastination and tagged effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.