As part of getting my microbusiness up and running, I tried to implement every “best practice” I could. But I found a lot of them–to be kind–not helpful.
“Learn speed reading” was one thing I was told.” Well, I have always read fairly quickly and I found my comprehension went down the more I followed “the rules” about how to read faster.
“Only handle each piece of paper once,” didn’t work for me either.
It turns out I am one of those people who can stare at something–like a piece of paper–19 times in a row and have nothing happen, but on time 20 the proverbial light bulb goes on and I have a new idea.
But the biggest thing that drove–and continues–to drive me nuts is the concept of time management.
Now, let me say two things right off the bat. First, intuitively, I have always ranked things I have to do in order of importance. (I didn’t learn that concept in business school. I learned it by being a parent.) Second, I am relentlessly focused on making my tiny business a success.
But with that by way of background out of the way, the problem I have with time management systems is that they assume everything is predictable and that you are going to know how your day is going to go from the moment you walk into the office until you turn off the lights at night. The business world of an entrepreneur is never predictable.
Now, this doesn’t mean you respond immediately to every new thing that comes across your desk, or drop everything every time the phone rings. You always need to stay focused on what the most important things are you need to accomplish. You can’t let the urgent overwhelm the important. Otherwise you will just lurch from crisis to crisis.
I completely understand why people do, however. In a funny way, it is simply easier. Someone is yelling about a minor crisis that they think needs to be resolved immediately; you deal with it, and once you have you think you have accomplished something. But, you really haven’t. You are simply back to where you started, before you knew the problem existed.
It is just another example of confusing activity with accomplishment, much like the constant meetings some organizations have. There’s the monthly staff meeting; the weekly department meeting and the daily “check in” with your immediate reports. These things sure do fill up your calendar; but no creativity comes out of them. There are, to keep with our theme, a waste of time.
But I don’t have a lot of meetings. And I can tell the different between something that is urgent and something truly important. I don’t believe I need any more rules than that.
Instead of following hard and fast rules, I would prefer to stay alert to possibilities that I can grab quickly to help my business grow.
And by making that decision, I have freed up a lot of time,