Being an entrepreneur means that you’re well-experienced with trying to get lots of things done. With so many moving parts and everything resting on your shoulders, juggling important priorities comes with the job. However, just because it’s present doesn’t mean that you can’t work on improving how you get things done.
I know how easy it is to be overwhelmed by with many to-dos, which is why I figured out three simple ways to help manage it. While daily operations can bring a new set of challenges all the time, working on these three areas will help you be better at handling anything that comes your way.
Stop Being a Perfectionist (i.e., Get it Done!)
I used to obsess about every little thing and want it to be perfect. At first, perfectionism may seem like a good trait, especially when you’re developing your business plan and organization. Paying attention to details and refusing to stop until they’re right seems like it should help you succeed, but the fact is that it’s only slowing you down.
As Harry Truman once said, “imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.” When you’re a perfectionist, everything can slow you down. Rather than settling for “good enough,” and moving forward, you’re stuck in an endless loop of small challenges that take up way more time than they should.
I know that it can be challenging to let go of your habits, especially if you’ve been a perfectionist your whole life. However, as an entrepreneur, I can tell you that it’s far more valuable to move forward and get things done than it is to have them exactly right. The fact is that you can make adjustments and changes as you go, but if you’re always waiting for the perfect moment, it will never arrive.
Simply put, perfection is an excellent ideal to strive for, but don’t let it bog you down.
Most people have heard stories about how Steve Jobs was an unrepentant perfectionist. He micromanaged Apple from the early days and would get irate if people prevented him from getting his way. While that drive and passion may have helped him get the company off the ground, it was this (among other things) that led to his ousting by the board of directors.
Although he did wind up returning, he had to temper his perfectionism to make it work. If he hadn’t learned to let go of things and trust in the process, not the details, then he never would have made Apple what it is today.
Make Repetition Your Friend.
When you’re first starting out in your business, you’re kind of inventing the wheel with each new process and action you complete. Whether it’s creating a branded invoice or processing an order, you have to figure out the best way to do it that works for your company.
This is where repeatable actions can help you succeed. Every time you do something new, you want to figure out a way to streamline it so that you can repeat the success next time. If something isn’t working, then obviously you want to make changes, but don’t think that you have to reinvent the wheel with each new process or action.
An excellent example of this is templating. Whether it’s invoices, emails, or other documents that you use for your business, creating templates is going to save you a lot of time and hassle. The more than you can create organized repeatable models (both physical and structural), the easier it will be to build on a foundation of success.
When you come up with systems like that, you can focus your attention on what matters, rather than getting bogged down with details. Again, it’s crucial to keep moving forward, so don’t let something simple like drafting an invoice or sending an email keep you from getting to the next task. Repetition is currency when you’re an entrepreneur. If you can repeat success over and over again, then nothing will stand in your way.
Dabbawallas in India
If you’ve ever been to India and seen the Dabbawallas in action, you’d be astonished by how well they work. For the uninitiated, these are delivery people who take lunches prepared by families or catering services and deliver them to hungry workers every day. They serve hundreds of thousands of people daily, and yet the odds of making a mistake are less than one in six million.
How do they do it? A rigid system of checks and balances that uses repeatable steps to achieve success. While they utilize technology now to make things even easier, the system is mostly the same as it was when the business first started in 1890. When you have to deliver food to 200,000+ people, you can’t afford to spend time reinventing things. If it works, keep doing it.
Learn as You Go
Finally, there is a temptation to spend as much time learning new skills when you’re first starting out. I know because I was signing up for every webinar, course, book, or anything that would help me in one of my new startups. While accruing knowledge is always a good idea and highly recommended, it’s not beneficial if it takes up too much of your time when the knowledge will not be immediately applied (noticing a theme here?).
As with everything else, your time is valuable, so it’s much better to be efficient than it is to be a guru of something you don’t need now. Thus, when it comes to learning new things, focus on what you need to do and know right now, rather than absorbing it all at once. For example, if you’re trying out a new CRM system, don’t worry about learning all of the different facets of the program right away. Figure out what you need to know immediately to get up and running quickly, then build from there.
Take a look at your list of prioritized to-dos. What knowledge do you need to get your highest priority done? That should be your learning focus right now. Even better, you can accomplish what you need to do in parallel with the learning.
When my team and I were working on Facebook ads for the first time. One monitor displayed the Facebook course and the other monitor displayed our ad account. As we learned, we actually set up our first campaign. No wasted time just sucking up new knowledge with no relevant purpose to help us accomplish what we needed. Plus we benefited, from the hands-on experience. While it would be nice to have all of that knowledge at hand initially, the hands-on experience helped us to shore up our understanding of Facebook and accomplish a significant task. Over time, you will accrue everything you need to know and more, all without missing a beat.
About the Author: Michele Thompson Rosario, CEO of Bright Effects, helping entrepreneurs get clients, get traffic, and get results.