How do you break that cycle of “analysis paralysis” and stop getting nothing done in a day or an afternoon? I am an expert at crisis management. When I have one major problem to tackle, I can bring all my super powers to bear and manage through that crisis. Where I struggle is when I have a list of dozens and dozens of little things that are all fairly important, but no one item stands out and so it’s not obvious where to start. And so I start looking at a few of them, and the “tire spinning” begins. I start to look into one or two, but I don’t have that normal drive to power through “minor” things to the extent that I dedicate the attention to complete the task, because that first task is related to that fourth task, but is kind of the same as the third task. So, I end up starting three things and finish none by the end of the day.
If you ‘re like me, you already have done the basics of created some sort of tracking system, you probably already have prioritized or ranked these many tasks in your job jar. The issue is they are all ranked about the same. They all need to get done, but they don’t really wow your entrepreneurial problem solving skills and so they don’t get solved and the tasks don’t get complete and your day is wasted, and if you’re like me… you hate wasting time because time is money and if you’re wasting time, you are not making money.
These are some things I have been working towards introducing slowly to break that cycle and wanted to share that with you.
1 – Change of Scenery
I don’t know what it is, I have what I feel is a pretty great work space. I have a great view out of my 2nd story window, I get fresh ocean breeze flushing my office daily, I have access to world-class Nespresso coffee, I can pump some carbonated Sodastream water, have huge fancy monitors and a fast computer, and relative peace and quiet to work all day long without interruptions.
But even then, working in he same spot all the time becomes familiar. We stagnate. So, this trick I have done for years, and it’s an easy thing that anybody can do.
Move your butt and go somewhere else. Change your surroundings, temporarily. Pre-COVID I would wrap up my laptop and head to a coffee shop, sport my Beats and rock on to some tunes and just being in a new surrounding was electrifying that got me reenergized and I would notice a shift in myself that would make some of those tasks in my job jar stand out differently and I would rock them until done and head out back home when finished.
Other suggestions are:
- Move to a different room in the house
- Go to a public library
- Find a picnic table in a nearby park
- Rent a hotel room for a day and work there
- Go to a bar
2 – Time to look at outsourcing
This is something more recent on my list. I have noticed that a number of my items on my list are actually things I don’t personally need to do myself. I have some procedures for a few of these tasks now, and have done enough of those tasks that I could show that to someone as examples of what I expect as a final work product. So, for me, I am looking into outsourcing these tasks:
- Financial bookkeeping – I can do this, and do it fast, but it’s not something that makes me money so I can probably let this go
- Content production – Sometimes there are thoughts I have and ideas I could see value in sharing some content. Such as this post. I am writing this myself, but I am thinking it would be handy to give a list of topics to someone along with some angles and bullet point perspectives, so that they can write a first cut that I can take over and wordsmith into the final masterpiece. So that way I can put my voice and thought into content that has my thoughts but speeds up the production process… and then I can pass that on to others for video creation and editing.
- Product sourcing – I have search and sourcing criteria now, I don’t need to be spending time doing all the hard core sourcing. I do need to work on new sourcing criteria but can train someone to do the rest.
- Procurement – I know what I want to buy, know how to buy, but I don’t need to be doing the buy and don’t need to be doing the data entry to track that purchase or followup on those items arriving.
- Listing management – I now have a Shopify website, and am on two marketplaces outside Amazon, and I need someone to manage the listings on those different sites now in a way that won’t upset Google for thinking MY content on other sites is a copyright violation on MY Shopify site.
3 – Time Tracking
This comes in two parts. First, I highly recommend you start tracking your time. If you’re not measuring, you’re flying blind and have no idea how much time you are spending on your business tasks. Check out TimeDoctor..com . (Not an affiliate).
What this tool does is runs in the background on your Windows or Mac. (I think they have a mobile app too, but I”ve not started using that yet). You can setup some projects and tasks on their web console, which show up in this desktop app. It tracks how long you’ve been working on that particular task. It works well enough and I have learnt a few things about my time:
- I work about 250 hours a month. The usual work-month is about 168 hours per month.
- Where I spend my time has been a great big revelation to me.
Setup some good categories for you and run it for a couple weeks. Then I recommend doing this:
- Review the breakdown of how you spend your hours. Decide on how to BUDGET your time (by hours or by percent of time). This will give you a guideline to spend more on THIS and less time on THAT. This has helped me keep a watch on some things and stop doing some other things almost entirely. Super helpful in directing your attention in the right ways that help shape good work behaviours towards excellence.
- Buy the software (or one of the other similar types that are out there), and keep using it. Review your time every couple weeks.
- After you have used it for a month, and if you currently have or are exploring the hiring of staff or virtual assistants, you can begin to expand the use and have them use it too. It’s a great way to keep everyone honest, and keep people’s attention on the right things.
4 – Get some Dice
Looking at your list of tasks, you may need something totally radical to break the cycle and break through to your success.
I have done this and it works. It’s stupid, but it works.
Pick 6 random items. Number them 1 to 6.
Litterally grab a 6-sided dice. Roll it. Do that task. Take yourself out of the decision making process, and focus on execution. I have done this and it’s also a way to just move past the over-thinking-it’ness that can happen.
5 – Get someone else to pick
This is another thing I do. In my master list of tasks, I have unique numbers on each of the tasks. I will take some Post-It notes, and write the ID numbers on the back of 5 Post-Its, then stick them on the wall. I can then ask my wife to randomly pick one. Then I do it
So, experiment and if you like these ideas, give them a try or share them with others.