Too much on your plate?


We all have a lot on our plates these days.  Everyone I talk to responds “Busy!” to the question, “How are you?” It is a good sign that people are busy. The economy is improving.  Business is picking up for almost everyone I know.  So what do you do when you are too busy? Start by looking in the mirror.

I am willing to bet that many of the things on your list of to-dos are there because of you. There are two general causes. The first is not taking the next step. One of the most popular books on self organization is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. In his book, he discusses at length the idea of identifying and doing the next step. Get out your list. Focus on the items you seem to be struggling with. Identify the next step for each of these items and get on them!

Secondly, and probably the most problematic, is indecision. A while back, Mark Suster wrote a great post titled “Avoid Decision by Indecision.” It is a very accurate view of indecision as it relates to start-up companies and those who finance them. From one-person companies to major corporations, the challenge of indecision is immense.  You must identify the items on which you are procrastinating. I can guess the categories these items will fit into: employees, spending a lot of money, bad news and upset customers. These items are the cause of your full plate.

Each time you take something off the plate, one of these issues returns to your plate to fill the space. If you have a problem employee, deal with them. You know in your heart the issue will not go away on its own. Deliver bad news immediately. If you wait, others will spend too much time wondering why you withheld the news in the first place and not focus on going after the problem. Upset customers are a today problem. There is no tomorrow with an upset customer, unless you want them out there telling everyone else how bad you are.

Finally, if you are working on a spending money decision, try this process: Decide the time horizon for this decision. Does it need to be made this month, this quarter, when? Gather all the facts you have. List out the (reasonable) facts you do not have and when you will have them.

When is the key. Many times we put off large money decisions because we are waiting to know more. If the data is coming soon, great. If you have no idea when the facts will be available, you’re just delaying. You have to take on the decision with the facts you have.  Do not fall into the trap of waiting for facts that are not going to arrive!

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