Many business people end up in a quagmire of low-grade activity, or appear to be running round and round on the hamster wheel, unable to see beyond the 400 emails in the inbox, the landfill site of an in-tray, the bumper-to-bumper meeting jam that represents their diary.
And there are a number of reasons why the quagmire is getting deeper:
> Capability Paralysis
Technology and an increase in overall skill levels in so many areas, mean that business people, and particularly in small businesses, are now more capable of performing far more tasks than ever before,
Because they can, they do.
The capability of doing too much leads to overload, both on a day-to-day basis, resulting in procrastination, and also at the strategic level, resulting in dispersed focus.
It’s also natural for people to default to the most comfortable tasks. Often that makes them feel busy, even though it is not necessarily what they should be doing.
This is particularly prevalent in the current climate where the ability to do more yourself appears to represent a financial saving. Many suffer from paralysis as a result of excessive capability, unable to move forward and grow.
> Technological Obesity
The Procrastination Pandemic is heightened as we now experience more distractions to displace focused work patterns.
We all thought that technology would be part of the solution. And it could be.
But instead of making life easier, an ever growing dependency on all flavours of gadgetry, provides an opportunity to defocus. Couple this with the Pavlovian responses to the email alarm bell adding to the constant calls for attention, and it’s easy to quickly sink into micro-management, and further into the quagmire.
> The Multi-tasking Myth!
The chances are that whilst many think they are juggling several tasks at once, they aren’t– they are simply doing multiple tasks, and that’s not the same.
Performing many tasks, all interspersed with each other, prevents paying full attention to each task individually. It might seem as if you are being super-efficient to do lots of things at once, but whether you are actually giving full focus and achieving the results needed in the most important areas is arguable.
> The Donna Syndrome
At the end of one of my seminars, a business-woman approached, let’s call her Donna (on the grounds that’s her name). Mid-thirties, 15 years in her organization, doing well. BUT bogged down, very busy, and saying: “I hate my job now. When I started it I loved it, but over the years I’ve come to hate it.”
Further discussion revealed, as I challenged her assertion, that she still loved the key elements of the job. In fact she was still passionate about doing those things which she was actually really employed to do. “Ah, so”, says I, “You actually Love your job.” You see, it’s the quagmire she can’t stand.
Love the job, but hate the quagmire, becomes “hate the job”. What most people hate about work is the way they are doing the work.
It can be the same for business owner-managers too… especially if they lose sight of the reasons they set up the business in the first place. Often, they can find themselves doing low-profit work, serving the wrong sort of clients for their real skills, frustrated at being unable to provide their true value, their best service, for clients who love what they do and with whom they love working.
If you feel you’re in a quagmire, isn’t it time to find a way out?