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Are you too busy to be successful?

Lessons from Dorie Clarks book “The Long View” Part 1

Rejection is part of every entrepreneur’s life. The proposal that is not accepted, the call that is not returned, the blog that attracts little interest, the client who terminates a contract. But if you believe social media, stories in the press, courses that offer instant income, you could feel that everyone else has the secret to success figured out and only you are struggling to gain traction.

Maybe you tell yourself that you need to work harder, put in longer hours, expand your social media presence, start podcasting, writing a blog. These activities take time, and it is likely you are hustling as hard and as fast as you possibly can. You do not have time to breath, let alone think. Even though you know it’s not right, you focus on execution and the short term.

What can you do about it? Dorie Clark suggests you adopt strategic patience. Strategic patience is the ability to do the work without any guarantee of success, to toil without accolades, or recognition.   To accept that things will take longer than you expect. It is writing that blog when no one reads it, to test your ideas and eventually develop a following. You will not be able to see progress on a weekly, monthly, or maybe even on a yearly basis. Big goals are not achievable in the short term. But most things can be achieved in the long term and your efforts will not be incremental, eventually they will be exponential.

The first step is clear the decks and create White Space for yourself.

Why are you so busy that you cannot find the time for things that are important? Research has shown in some societies, generally Western orientated societies, that busyness is equated with higher social status. If we are busy, we are in high demand and we are being sought after. We tell folks we are super busy, and make sure they know it.

Busyness can be an anesthetic, when we are busy there is no time to ask ourselves the more difficult questions. Do I know where I and my business are going?   As a solo entrepreneur busyness may create an illusion of success, you are earning more as you spend more time at work. But trading dollars for hours limits your earning potential. There are only 168 hours in a week, and you cannot work all of them. In the corporate world busyness is often equated to dedication and commitment. While post covid face time is less obvious, jumping on a zoom call at 8:00 PM or answering an e-mail at 5:00 AM creates the same illusion.

It’s probable that there are many inefficiencies in your day, things you put up and probably do not even know it. If you allow your working hours to expand, you will likely never address these inefficiencies. Things like tasks that should be delegated, but which you do yourself because training someone will take time. But if you adjust your priorities to focus on what is important to you, you will no longer accept these inefficiencies, you will take action to eliminate them.

You should ask yourself

  • Why am I doing this task at all? Can someone else do it? Or should it be done at all?
  • Where should I focus my effort to get the greatest return?
  • If I was starting fresh today, would I choose to continue to invest my time in this project?

David Allen, author of the well-recognized productivity guide, “Getting Things Done” says “You do not need time to have a good idea, you need space. And you cannot think appropriately if you do not have space in your head” You do not need to set aside hundreds of hours for long term thinking, but you do need to give yourself time to think. Agatha Christie is quoted as saying the best time for planning a book is when doing the dishes. Today many of us craze input. We constantly look at social media, scrolling for hours through Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram. I watch folks during my commute staring at their phones. Give yourself time to produce some output. I make it a habit not to look at my phone during my commute, instead I let my mind wander. Occasionally an idea for developing my business comes to mind. Then I need to find the time to act.

But how to find that time? Back to David Allen, people push Dave to reveal his favorite productivity tool. His answer almost always disappoints them; it’s a calendar. “You want to determine what is most important and you schedule that soonest in your calendar. Whatever is less important you schedule further out. What is not important at all you do not schedule at all. You get rid of it. You delegate it. You say no to it. If you start operating from a calendar rather than a to do list, you take back control of your day”

 This is solid advice that I have been using for several years now. The problem with a To Do list is that there is no time element. You list all the things that need to be done but do consider the time needed to get each task established. I start with a to do list and then transfer this to a calendar blocking out the time I estimate I will need to get the task done. This usually shows I do not have the time to do everything I think needs to be done. This forces me to drop some items off my to do list and following Dave’s advice I eliminate the least important tasks.

I use Planner Pro for my Calendar tool. It provides a to do list and well as a calendar that\ syncs with all my other calendars. And I make sure not to schedule more that two thirds of my day for those pop-up meetings or calls that inevitably arise during the day.

If you would like to purchase Dorie Clark’s The Long View please click my affiliate link below. It will not cost you anything and will provide some funds to keep this website going. Thank You.

The link will take you do the Kindle version which has the lowest cost. it is also available in hardback and as an Audiobook, read by Dorie Clark

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