Is the year already rushing by you? Where has the time gone? You haven't started on your list of vital tasks. January was gone before you even completed your planning and budget for the year. This is NOT the way you wanted to do it this year. So, what's the deal anyway?
A couple things may be going on here. One is the leap you took when you went from employee to owner. If you are like most contractors, you were happy working in the trades. One day, someone, most likely a friend or relative, asked you to help them with a little project. Before you knew it, you were in business. What you didn’t realize then, was at that very moment, your job description changed radically.
The leap, from tearing out a wall and adding a room, to running your business, is a long one. For one thing, you are comfortable and competent tearing out walls and adding rooms. Doing a performance review, analyzing financial information, and getting active in your trade association, pushed you out of your comfort zones and into new territory. Your job went from bulding, to running a business that happens to involve buidling.
You must now balance the time spent working on projects with the time spent working on your business. When you took the leap to business ownership, you added at least the following to your job description:
1. Determining the company’s mission and annual strategic plan, and communicating both to your employees.
2. Developing the annual budget and regularly reviewing your financial information.
3. Managing the personnel needs of the company, from finding and keeping people, to determining personnel policies and benefit plans.
4. Creating and implementing a marketing plan to assure adequate work.
5. Staying abreast of industry trends and issues and participating in industry associations.
Indeed, ensuring your company’s success is now the main purpose of your job.
Yet, even when we know what our job is, when we confront a new, difficult, or uncomfortable task, we avoid it. We procrastinate.
We rationalize avoidance by saying we are too busy doing other important projects. But planning and budgeting is vital. To help concentrate your energy on these vital needs you must prioritize your "to do" list and your time.
An effective way to do this is by having a weekly appointment with yourself. Every week, take an hour, close your door, turn off your phone and pager, and then make a list of everything you need to do. Keep in mind the above job description. Then, prioritize this list and plug the activities into your calendar. The goal is to make sure that the vital tasks of running your business get on your list and into your week. Think in terms of ANALYZE (make the list), PRIORITIZE (rank by number), and PLAN (plug the activities into your appointment book).
Then, just as you're organized and think you're ready to go, sure enough, procrastination strikes! We procrastinate for different reasons at different times. The key to eliminating procrastination is correctly identifying the reasons why you procrastinate. You can then attack and solve the right problem. Some of the reasons we procrastinate and what to do about each are:
1. You are a perfectionist: Time-limit jobs. Determine final product parameters at the beginning and stick to the plan.
2. You're worried about how to start or the outcome: Be specific about your worries. Establish what you need to get started. Set a game plan and stick to it.
3. You find the task boring: Create rewards. Shift activities--a boring one followed by one you want to do. Do the boring task first.
4. You're faced with an overwhelming task: Subdivide parts of large tasks. Do one, then do the next. Delegate some of the work.
5. You're forgetful: Put what you need to do, whom you need to call, where you need to be, all in your appointment book. Keep lists.
Make an appointment with yourself right now. Make your "to do" list. Include planning and budgets. Prioritize it, and get it into your week. This will help you see whether you need to hire, where you need to delegate, or how you might need to restructure roles in your company. Remember, the well-organized company you want, starts with taking the leap into your owner-role and doing the job, whether you are comfortable there or not.
Like to learn more? Get Linda Leigh Francis' book, Run Your Business So It Doesn't Run You.