Text on picture of quilt: What situations in your business might resemble this pattern

What situations in your business might resemble this pattern?

There’s this pattern I see in myself and some of my clients.

You’ve had an excellent idea for your business, and you want to make it happen quickly.

After all, this is something that will offer lots of value to your people, and it also promises to result in extra income.

You push the other projects and tasks you had planned for aside and start working on this new thing you’re really motivated about.

But it doesn’t take off the way you expected it to. 

You thought it would be a slam dunk! Instead, you have very few people involved and your other goals, projects, and tasks have taken a hit.

Initially, it looked like you were doing something super productive for your business, even if it was a bit of productive procrastination (head over here for the productive/unproductive procrastination definitions).

Upon reflection, it seems it might have been more of an unproductive procrastination situation.

Next week I’ll share how to avoid it. This week, let’s look at what’s really going on.

If you’ve done this, know that you’re in excellent company.

The reasons I’ve fallen into this pattern are many of the same reasons I’ve seen my clients fall into this pattern.

One reason is I need to learn a new skill in my business (or a new level of that skill) and I cannot figure it out on my own. And rather than finding someone to teach it to me, I come up with a brilliant way that I think might circumvent needing to learn this vital business skill, but it doesn’t work. Now I’m more frustrated because I feel like I’ve wasted a month or more of my time, and I still need to learn that skill.

Another reason is if I’m not getting the interest or engagement I want around something I’m doing. So, instead of looking at what I can adjust or add to have the interest or engagement I want, I do something completely new that I think will result in that interest or engagement. What ends up happening is people are confused about what I’m doing, I still have to promote the new thing (and often I’m doing it the same way I was promoting the other thing), and I end up with even less interest or engagement. Then I’m frustrated and annoyed and feel like I’ve taken five steps backward.

There are lots of other ways this can manifest itself.

The basic formula is:

  1. I want to avoid this thing in my business
  2. I create a distraction that feels exciting and promising
  3. It doesn’t go the way I want
  4. I feel frustrated and further behind
  5. I either repeat the formula OR do the thing I’m avoiding

What situations in your business might resemble this pattern?

Next week I’ll share how to recognize this pattern and put a stop to it.

How can I possibly prioritize?

But everything I need to do is important! How can I possibly prioritize?

How do I easily start keeping track of my to do’s when I haven’t been for a while?

I’ve read both these things over the past week in various places (or versions of them).

Let me share a story about a woman named Anne with you.

She wanted to have a successful business, be involved in organizations she believed in, and spend time with her family.

And she believed that it was super important to be super productive. How much could she get done in a day?!

She worked in her business during the day, attended various committee meetings in the evening, and spent the remaining evenings with her husband.

Anne productively drove herself right into the ground.

She started to dread going out at night to any committee meeting. And anything that needed to be done for those committees? She complained to herself all the way through it. They were cutting into her family and business time! How dare they!

But it was all so important. And they were counting on her. And she secretly felt that no one could do the job as well as she could, so it was important for her to continue – despite how frustrated she was with it all.

And it got to the point where she realized something needed to change.

So, Anne looked at everything she was doing and realized that she wanted to be doing a better job. But her heart wasn’t in it. Slowly, Anne stepped down from various committees and commitments. Keeping only the ones she was most passionate about.

Anne looked forward to the free time that would now appear in her schedule, but it never appeared. She still was super busy and everything was still important.

And she was spending more time procrastinating, and then beating herself up for procrastinating when there was so much to do! And she was so very tired.

Again, she realized something had to change – and she had a strange thought – What if instead of asking, what’s the next thing to do, she asked, what will support my productivity? And when she did that, sometimes she was surprised that the answer wasn’t the next thing on her to-do list, but getting a glass of water, going for a quick walk or meditating.

My point? Sometimes we make it so much more difficult than it has to be. We think we have to do it all and we don’t. And if we try to, we’ll end up frustrated, overworked, and oh-so-tired.

So, a quick answer to the questions we started with:

  1. But everything I need to do is important! How can I possibly prioritize?
    What on your list will bring you income? This includes tasks 2 or 3 steps away from generating income.
    What on your list has to be done in the next 24 to 48 hours?
    Tasks that meet both of those criteria are your highest priority tasks.

  2. How do I easily start keeping track of my to do’s when I haven’t been for a while?
    What are your three most important tasks to complete this week? Write those down.
    At the beginning of each day write down what your most important task is and a task to be completed after that one.
    This will keep you moving forward and making progress.
    And keep a blank piece of paper under your daily list. On that piece of paper write down things that need to be done as they pop into your head. Keep it under your daily list so you’re not looking at a long list of things to do.

These are quick ways to start to get a handle on everything we have to do.

You can watch the Live Stream I did on this topic here.

Looking away by looking toward something else

The last two weeks we’ve looked at “looking away” here and here.

This week the theme continues!

Looking away sometimes looks like looking toward something else.

For example, you want to call that person you met networking earlier this week to set up a coffee meeting next week.

But then you remember these other things that have to be done before next week and you get to work.

Suddenly, it’s too late to make a phone call (I call this productive procrastination).

Did things get done that needed to get done?


Did the phone call happen?


Sometimes we distract ourselves with tasks – with those important to-do’s that simply must get done.

And when we take a step back, take a higher level view, we realize that the phone call probably would have taken under 5 minutes to make (maybe 10 if you prepped for it) and we certainly could have squeezed that time in (after all, how much time did you spend looking at unimportant emails or checking Facebook?).

While this example includes procrastination, looking away by looking toward something else doesn’t always appear that way.

It might be more subtle – reading or jumping into a conversation instead of taking some time to yourself to contemplate or changing the subject when a difficult topic comes up.

What do you find yourself looking towards when you might actually be looking away? Share in the comments below.

Procrastination you can use

I’m a worrier.  I worry about a lot of things. Things like: am I prepared for this, what if something goes wrong, will that work, will they like me, etc. And in response to my worrying, I tend to make plans.

For example, I worry about money, so I plan out a budget and do my best to stick to it. I worry about being bored on trips (especially on planes), so I pack plenty of things to do.  I remember going on vacation as a kid and having a whole bag full of things to do (and being small enough that it fit on the floor in front of me because my feet didn’t quite hit the floor).

In those examples, I’d argue that my worrying had a good result, I planned in order to avoid the situation I worried about.

However, what about those things that you can’t plan for? The worries of: what if something goes wrong or will they like me? What do you do then?

This is something I tend to circle back to, it just shows up a little differently as I grow. And there’s a quote from a movie I haven’t seen that applies:

“Fiddle-dee-dee!  I won’t worry about that today.  I’ll worry about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day!”
– Scarlett O’Hara

Procrastination you can use!  Imagine that.  So, next time you find yourself worrying about something ask yourself two questions: 1) Can I plan for it? 2) If not, can I worry about it tomorrow?  If so, repeat the questions tomorrow!

It sounds kind of silly, right?  Let’s take a look at two examples.

Will they like me?

  1. Can I plan for it? Well, no not really.
  2. If not, can I worry about it tomorrow? Absolutely.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 tomorrow!

What if something goes wrong?

  1. Can I plan for it? I’ve done all the planning I can do!
  2. If not, can I worry about it tomorrow? Yep.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 tomorrow.

The beauty of this is it gives you permission to stop worrying about it!  And a way to legitimately worry about it tomorrow (and in this case tomorrow never coming is a good thing!).

What do you do to stop worrying? Share in the comments below.

Things To Do, Low Motivation and 3 Questions

Ever had a day where you just wanted to sit in front of the TV or maybe curl up with a good book or take a nap? It’s not that you didn’t have things to do; it’s just that you didn’t feel motivated to do them.

These days happen to everyone. You can push through it, give in to it or take a look at why it’s happening.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re in this situation:

  1. Am I getting enough sleep?
    Many times low motivation is a result of too many late nights. Your body needs sleep to recharge. Try to get at least 7 hours, preferably more, of sleep tonight.
  2. What am I avoiding?
    Is there something that you’re avoiding? Another way to word this is: what am I afraid of happening if I complete this? Sometimes you have to dig a bit to figure out why you’re avoiding something.
  3. Do I have enough down time?
    If you’re always busy, whether business or family, you’ll wear yourself out. Your body and mind might decide that a day off is exactly what you need.

Go through and answer each question – especially if you’re not getting enough sleep. Why? Well, why aren’t you getting enough sleep? Answer the other two questions. Sometimes I find that I (or a client) am not getting enough sleep because I’m avoiding something or I’m taking some well-deserved downtime and missing out on the sleep.

For example, several years ago I had a job that I did not enjoy, at all. I regularly stayed up late and then got up early for work. I kept telling myself to go to bed earlier, but I didn’t. One night I realized I was staying up late because when you fall asleep, it feels like a few minutes later when you wake up. So, by staying up later, I was delaying going to work the next morning (ok, logically it might not make sense, but we don’t always do things logically).

So, I was staying up late to avoid work. Thankfully, that spurred some changes in my life at that time. Now, you might not be avoiding work. Instead you might be avoiding a particular task, a meeting or conversation or something else.

Once you know why your motivation is low, decide how you’re going to address it (what changes will it spur in your life). Meaning – if you’re not getting enough sleep, what can you do to make sure you get to bed earlier tonight? Basically, what’s your plan of action to avoid having this issue tomorrow?

But what do you do about today’s motivation low? Well, the plan of action might have given you some motivation, which is great! But it’s okay if that didn’t happen too. When your motivation is still low you have a couple of options left: push through it or take a break. Trust your intuition (or gut feeling) and decide what the best course of action is for you. It’s okay to decide to take a break. Sometimes that’s the most productive thing you can do.

What do you do when your motivation is low?