Getting things done you don’t like doing

Hole in the wallWhen you’re doing something you love the time flies by and you get that sense of achievement that makes you feel good when you complete your project or task.  When it comes to getting things done that are either something you don’t like doing or is outside your comfort zone it’s more likely that you will engage a range of strategies:

  • Procrastination – do it later for a whole range of reasons from ‘I’m tired’ to ‘there are lots of other things that are more important’.
  • Lack of concentration – which makes it all seem much tougher and perpetrates your belief that it is a difficult and unpleasant task.
  • Hiding the task – how many times have you put the paperwork to the bottom of your pile of papers?  How often have you ‘forgotten’ to add it to your to do list? 

Am I immune from these avoidance tactics?  Nope – I’m human too!  So why am I writing this?  It’s about changing your strategy.

Any sensible business person knows that if a strategy isn’t working then you need to change it, dump it and/or create a new one.  Most of us don’t do that when we’re in full avoidance mode so here is a system that may help you:

  • Make a list of all the tasks you are currently avoiding or regularly finding yourself not doing.
  • Attach a rough time required to complete each of these tasks.
  • Make a note of what it is that you dislike so much about it (this is for you only so you can be totally honest – if you think that the reason is because you’ve got to understand something that seems complicated to you and makes you feel dumb, write that down).

OK – you should already be feeling a bit better at having faced your challenges head on.  Next step ask yourself about each task:

  • What would happen if I didn’t do it at all?  If this is your monthly accounts the answer is likely to be a fine from HMRC eventually, but some things really don’t have to be done.
  • Is there a system I could create for this so I can do it one step at a time?  Writing yourself instructions often simplifies complicated things and gives you a structure in which to work.
  • Who do I know who might show me how to do it better?  What could I trade with them to get their help?
  • Who do I know, or could get to know, who does this kind of thing for a living?  How much would it cost to outsource this work to them?  If it takes you two hours and it takes an expert 40 minutes, isn’t it better to pay for 40 minutes of their time and earn money doing what you are good at in the two hours?

Go on – try it, you might be surprised at how much ‘stuff’ you can clear and how much more energy you’ll have to do the things you love to do.

Being an expert

Are you an expertEvery one of us has a level of expertise in whatever we do to earn a living, whether you work for yourself or you’re an employee.  If you’ve read Michael Gerber’s The EMyth Revisited you’ll know about the downside of taking your employed expertise into self-employment.  Running a business requires a whole raft of skills – that are not necessarily what you were good at before.

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for years about companies that promote people from the area of their expertise into management and then fail to train them in the skills of management.  They end up losing their best performers and getting mediocre (or worse) managers.  So what is your expertise?  How much time have you given to thinking about it?

Most people are good at what they love to do, simply because they are prepared to invest time and effort into developing that skill.  The other side of the coin is that you tend to skim over the things that you dislike doing, so you never get any better.  If you’ve never considered what really rocks your boat get a piece of paper and start your ‘things I love doing’ list.  It doesn’t have to be finished in one sitting, you’ll find yourself adding to it over the next few days – maybe longer.

The next step is to think about how you can end up doing more of the things you like and less of the things you don’t.  Everyone is different and we all like different things – there are people out there who love doing some of the things you would rather not do.  If you’ve ever worked in a team of people who all have complementary skills you’ll know how good it feels to be able to do what you’re good at and know that other people are dealing with all the other stuff – and enjoying it too.  That really is a win-win situation.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t do the things that you don’t like, but consider doing more of what you do like and find ways to get the other things done.  You know other experts – in some of the things you would rather not do – how about collaborating and swapping skills or even paying for someone to do the things that drag you down?  Now there’s an idea – use outsourcing or contractors to get work done that would take you longer and kill your motivation.  Does it make sense?  Of course it does, that’s why I have an accountant, an administrator and an IT support company who deal with all that stuff that frustrates me.  I do what I love – isn’t that the best way to be?

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