One recent afternoon my son was talking to me about his day at school. Amidst our conversation he was busy throwing a rubber ball that was attached to a cord and then to his arm via a Velcro wrist strap. We wrapped up our conversation and I sat there watching him for a few moments longer. He enjoyed simply throwing the ball and then catching it with both hands as it rocketed back toward his body.
He must have thrown it two hundred times over the course of our conversation and as I watched him. I know that he loves sports and anything that involves throwing, catching or hitting something round. I also know, however, that throwing the ball was a convenient way for him to put off doing his homework.
I know because I have done the same. As a child I always looked to do something that was fun and engaging rather than something boring or that required hard work. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I have the same tendencies. I know that I should be finishing up a client report but first I am going to check my email. Or I need to record the next episode of my Busyness TV show but instead I sneak in a few quick posts on Facebook or head over to ESPN.com to check out whether the Detroit Tigers won the night before.
I am not alone. My actions are representative of how we as humans are wired. I see the same in almost all of our clients. We generally gravitate toward things that are easy and fun or to something that we feel like doing at that particular point in time.
The issue, however, is that if left unattended our human wirings and the desire to do what we want to do takes a stranglehold over our day. Have you ever had a day where you worked from early to late, skip meals (and bathroom breaks, too) and yet that evening did not feel as if you had accomplished anything?
This feeling is a symptom of our busyness. It hits us when we fail to take control of our daily actions and instead let our actions control us. We spend our day busy; this means that we are engaged in meaningless action as opposed to spending our time on specifically designed actions that move us closer to our intended results. Here are three things that you can do to help keep yourself focused on the right actions.
- Be intentional – the key to producing extraordinary results is to seize control of your day by being proactive about your actions. In order to know what actions to take you must first identify what it is that you want to accomplish. For instance, the actions necessary if you intend to build a rocket to blast you to Mars are much different from the actions required to drive thousands of visitors to your website. You will gain great clarity in this small little mindset shift to always think about what you intend to accomplish and then take actions that help you get there.
- Take short, focused action – interruptions and distractions are a major source of busyness. Once you have identified the actions to take, plan your day so that you can take those actions in short, 15-minute Action Units (AUs). During these periods of time, shut down email, Facebook, your phone and anything else that has the potential to distract you. If you have a task that will take 4 hours to complete, break the task into 16 AU segments and work on them in blocks of 1 to 4 AUs at a time.
- Reward yourself – Do not even try to work at peak capacity for a continuous 8-hour block of time. In between your AUs, take a few minutes or even a full AU to recharge, refresh and reward yourself. Engage in a non-work activity such as a walk, workout, reading a book, or wrestling with your son (this is a common one for me). Be sure not to let your “reward time” turn into a “reward day” unless you specifically intend to take the remainder of the day off.
Your challenge as an entrepreneur is to stop bouncing that ball. Grab it. Hold it. Stick it in your pocket. Stop buying every training product, service, or moneymaking concept that is offered to you. Work on being intentional, taking focused action, and reward yourself for knocking off AUs. When you do these things you will move quickly from where you are right now to where you want to go.
Dr. Brad Semp, aka The Busyness Doctor™ offers a free download of his Busyness Manifesto at http://Busyness.com. As the host of the Busyness TV show, Dr. Brad works with individuals, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 500 corporations to combat busyness by designing ideal action to produce intended results.