Don’t get me wrong, we all have to do things we might hate from time to time. I had a rude reminder of that last Friday when my Golden Retriever puppy brought me a not so delightful gift of a dead bird and I got the “fun” of cleaning up a room full of bird carcass and feather.
UHG. Not my idea of a good time.
But, I was home alone and there was no one to rescue me from doing what had to be done. Bird clean up was all mine and I hated every single moment of it.
But it got me to thinking, how many of the activities and chores in our lives and businesses do we really love?
We talk a lot in creative entrepreneur circles about designing the business and life that we dream of. Those dreams don’t usually include the day-to-day boring tasks that make us weary and drain our energies and yet, we still do them.
Some of them, like dead birds and accounting, still have to be handled, though I highly recommend finding someone else to take over both of those tasks if at all possible and at the first available opportunity.
The rest of this un-fun stuff that takes up your time and energy, how important is it really?
In coaching creative entrepreneurs, I have repeatedly seen the same three themes come up time and time again.
- Clients who are no fun and suck the life out of you.
- Projects that are too complex for your skill set that frustrate, exhaust and deplete you.
- Mundane tasks that take too long and keep you away from your creative gift.
All three of these categories are keeping you from the success that you could be having right now! I am talking about you, the start-up business who hasn’t gotten the resources yet to hire someone to do all of your unpleasant tasks. You don’t have to wait. You can begin right now to shift away those un-fun catagories and move toward having a business you can enjoy right away.
Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?
Clients who are no fun and suck the life out of you:Bar none, this is the hardest lesson for new business owners to learn and sometimes it has to be re-learned a few extra times before it sinks in. You do NOT have to work with stingy, selfish, rude, mean, uninteresting, unmotivated and undelivering clients. EVER. Here is the problem that you are probably running into:
You don’t realize you are working with the undesirables until they have snuck up on you half-way through the project. That might seem like a perfect example of “Why do these things always happen to Me???” But the answer is that you have not taken the time to create ideal clients and then qualify your potential clients to be sure they fit.
How to work with only clients you enjoy.
- Figure out which clients you enjoy working with. Figure out WHAT you love about working with them. Who is your ideal client, the one who you are excited to go to work to work with? Make a written list.
- Identify the type of people that you DON’T love working with. What is it about them that makes work a drudge? Make a list. Knowing what drains your energy and enthusiasm is a very important piece of clarity to have.
- Create a Qualifier System. This can be a series of questions, a list of policies on how you work, A phone or email interview, or more likely all of the above. The key is to identify the key good and bad issues with potential clients before you take them on. And Here is a hint: If the red flags start flying, step back! You do not need to take on that client. Repeat after me: Bad Clients cost too much money and suck the fun out of life!
Projects that are too complex for your skill set that frustrate, exhaust and deplete you.
- Re-evaluate. Just because it seemed like a great idea at the time, doesn’t mean that right now is the right time to be taking on that project. Creative Entrepreneurs love to START new projects a heck of a lot more than they like SUSTAINING them. Ask yourself: Is this something that is sustainable, will I get bored quickly maintaining this? Ask: Would this project be better served by finishing some of this other stuff piling up? Consider rescheduling this when you can focus on the training to do it right..
- Hire. Take a good look at the project. If it is above your skill-set, can you find someone to educate you on the most efficient process? Or do you need to hire someone for one part of the process that will make the project more joyful? Do you need a designer to help you get the look you envision? You may not need – or be able to afford- to hire someone for the entire project, but can you take the pieces that are above your current skill set and get some help?
Mundane tasks that take too long and keep you away from your creative gift.
- Automate, automate, automate. That can mean hire an assistant, but it doesn’t have to. You may want to get some help in figuring out systems to make life easier so that the task handles itself. With every new project or system that you create in your business, ask yourself, is there a way that this can happen hands free without my needing to manually do it myself. The answer is probably yes.
- Batch Time and Tasks. For a lot of owners, mundane tasks tend to be procrastinated and hang over their heads for the rest of the week. They cloud up the fun stuff and suck the joy out of business. By scheduling them in Timed Batches, you can thwart the devil of procrastination. Deb and I get a lot done in a week without the help of an assistant. Automated systems help that to happen, but for the tasks that still must be done, we set aside times to focus on that, get it done as efficiently as possible, and then move on to the good stuff. Knowing that we are going to get the boring stuff out of the way first and then get to look forward to doing all of the fun parts of the job for the rest of the week, motivates us to get it done. We don’t let it hang over our heads mucking up the good stuff.
Focus on the Fun
I have teenagers. When I suggest that a task or project needs to be done, I am often met with, “Awe, that’s no fun!” and a considerable amount of foot dragging. They want life to be a party. They would much rather be part of the “Good Times” than the “Drudge Club”.
Do you blame them? At what point in adulthood, did we buy into the belief that, ”If it feels fun, it must not be real work” and, “Work is SUPPOSED to be hard!”
Stop listening, and take a cue from the kids.
Find the fun in your business and focus on that, do your best to minimize, re-evaluate or eliminate the drudge. You aren’t making money on your drudge list, your future lies in your passion list. This isn’t irresponsible, it’s good business sense!
And…I promise, you will fall in love with your business all over again.