How can hardworking and curse be in the same sentence, you ask? I bet if you’re an entrepreneur grappling with second stage issues, you’re familiar with this phenomena already. Chances are you got to where you are in part, by being hardworking. And that’s a good thing. You’ve been picking up the slack, noticing what needs to be fixed, spotting the opportunities for growth, all-the-while getting up earlier and staying up later to take care of it all. You’re getting better at squeezing more in to your calendar. You skip lunch when duty calls.
And at some point, you run out of hours in a day. Or energy. Or both. And that’s not such a good thing.
Hence, the Hardworking Curse.
The only way to fix it is to do less. To change your mindset from hardworking to something new. I personally found the idea of working smarter, not harder pretty laughable when in this quandary so I understand if you’re equally doubtful a shift is possible. During that time I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” with such disdain, I completely missed all the neat techniques for learning author Timothy Ferriss shared. But I wouldn’t have remembered his tricks anyway – my decreasing ability to retain the volume of stuff I was reading and exposed to in meetings was getting frustrating. Sound familiar?
I’ll also bet you’re hardworking because you’re driven, and it’s hard to imagine achieving what you want by shifting gears. Don’t fret – I’m not talking about work-life balance kind of stuff – that’s a bunch of bunk for another article. I’m talking about simple, practical stuff you can start doing today.
It’s all about choosing a new lens.
Start asking yourself: What are the 3 most important things I can get done today?
Yes, I know there are somewhere between 20 and 100+ things on your list that must get done today. I get that three sounds ridiculously luxurious and ludicrous all at the same time. Stick with me for another couple of minutes, and I’ll explain.
Yes, you probably will still have to do the vast majority of the stuff on your list today. This won’t be an overnight makeover. (Sorry.) The point here is to get your head up above water long enough to identify three things that will help you reach your long term business goals, and make sure those get done, even if something that’s been nagging you could get done in five minutes has to fall off your plate for the day.
If you don’t have time to figure out three things, or fit them into your already overcrowded day, that’s ok. I get that you’re already strapped. Start with one. The point is to start thinking about things differently. And once you do, I’ll bet the natural rewards of your new focus will do the rest.
What are your three things today?
- If it’s hard to figure out the three things, having a framework to figure it out will help. I recommend using any of the one page plan templates out there which I’ve written about here: Using an Operating System for Your Business
- If you’re like the idea of choosing three things and want to learn more, there’s a whole school of though about prioritizing work called Kanban for you to explore. I personally think the best guy to learn from is Jim Benson.
- If you want a dashboard for your three things, you can go the Kanban route with AgileZen (what I’m using) or a similar tool which visualizes your priorities for the day/week/month/quarter called Teamly.