What Do You Do?
When I go out and talk to business people, I hear them talking about all the things they do from day to day. They talk about the problems they have and their frustrations with a whole variety of things they do. Invariably I find myself thinking: why do they do these things in the first place. As an extreme example, if you had your hand in a flame and it was burning, you would move it wouldn't you? So why not do something about the things that cause you stress and frustrate you?
What do you actually do for a living? How do you or your organization actually make money? What are you core skills? These are questions all of us should be asking ourselves all the time. I'd like to make a friendly bet with you. I'd like you to stop right now and make a quick list of your core skills. Now make a second list of the ways you actually make money or gain benefit. Please just take a quick 5 minutes and do this. When you are done, take a few more minutes and make a list of the things you actually do during your working day. Now comes the bet. I bet if you compare the lists you will easily find several things you do regularly that have nothing to do with your core skills.
Did I win the bet?
The point to this exercise is to make you aware that you do a lot of things every day that you are not well suited to and that don't actually earn you money. Just about now you are probably saying "yes but these things need to be done". That is probably true. I say probably because I'm pretty sure you will find something on your list that really isn't all that important. Something you keep doing out of habit that you have just stopped thinking about it.
There are so many things we spend time on that are neither enjoyable, necessary or revenue generating! You will be amazed when you stop and analyze your activities, at how much of your time and energy is spent on these tasks. Now is probably a good time to break these tasks down into categories. Look back at your list and sort them into things that don't need to be done, things that are questionable and finally, jobs that need to be done but are not your core skills. Interesting exercise isn't it?
Half the battle is just being aware of the things you do. When you are aware of them you have a fighting chance of eliminating or reorganizing the real time wasters. The other half is figuring out the best way to get the other tasks done. The ones that you are not suited to, the jobs that frustrate you, the jobs you dislike and that depress you and cause stress.
Let me ask you to do another little exercise. How much money do you want to earn? Now, how much is that by the hour? Finally, let's have a look at our lists and think about whether someone would pay you your hourly rate to do these jobs for them. Sort out the list again into jobs that are worth your hourly rate and ones that are not. You should be starting to see which things are at least financially sensible for you to do yourself and which ones are obviously not.
Life is not all about money. Now that you have a reasonable idea about which of your frustrating little jobs are worth your hourly rate, let's look at it from another perspective. There are some things that cause us so much stress that they are generally counter productive. You hate doing those jobs and they foul up your day. They ruin your mood and frustrate you. Does this sound like a good space to be in? Do you think you are operating at your best when you feel like this? Unless you have a lot more discipline than the average person, the answer is pretty likely to be no.
A friend of mine that I talk things through with occasionally frequently straightens me out with one simple approach. When he catches me complaining about something I hate doing, he asks me if I feel good. Of course I say no. Then he says to me that it's okay to carry on if I like feeling bad but if I don't like feeling bad I might consider stopping. At this point I usually laugh and stop complaining or I feel pretty stupid. I mean, he's right isn't he? All I have to do to improve my mood and perhaps even my life is stop doing the things that upset me.
It's amazing how simple it is. We just have to be aware of what we do and make some conscious decisions about whether it makes us happy or is sensible for us to do. I think most of us are such creatures of habit that we forget that we actually have the ability to change the things that bother and frustrate us.
Here is a specific example I'm going to use because it is such an important issue. One of the big things people take on that tends to be really time consuming, frustrating and potentially devastating, is looking after their own computer equipment, software and all the related jobs it entails. It also happens to be one of the jobs that almost none of us are properly trained for and consequently we are just not good enough at it. Computer technology has become incredibly complex. Increasingly these days, technology is so important to our method of earning a living that we simply must get it right to succeed. So you really should be asking yourself if it makes any sense to be doing it yourself, shouldn't you? Why would you want to take on something so important to your success when it is pretty likely not on your list of core competences? This happens to be an example where the fact that it costs you more than your own hourly rate to get it done, might not even matter
So let's summarize. There are many things we do that have such a negative effect on us that they are simply not worth doing. There are even some things that we should not be doing simply because they are just too important to us and we are not really competent to do them. If we get someone better suited to the job, to do it for us, we will probably discover that we are enjoying what we do to make a living again and perhaps even improve our lives in general. We may even find out what we have been missing!
One last thing I'd like to cover is the mental arguments that inevitably arise whenever this subject is raised. Here are a few examples;
· "I can't afford to get someone else to do it",
· "I know I hate doing it but I don't trust anyone else to look after this",
· "I've always done it this way".
I'm sure there are plenty more you can add to this list. It is essential that you address these thoughts and not just accept them. Otherwise nothing will change. The things that are having a negative effect on you will keep on holding you back.
This article is all about being aware. I am not trying to tell you to re-create your whole new universe with a big bang. I am however, suggesting that you can get great results by occasionally reviewing the things you do.
Ron Hughes is CEO of Adapt Information Technology, one of the longest standing Internet businesses in the world. He is also a public speaker and frequent contributor of articles on a variety of subjects. Ron welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit http://www.wowdesk.com for information on how to have your own secure, personal office on the Internet.
The Hughes Boys - http://www.getexperts.com
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