Background of a white board with lots of messy math on it and with text on top "WHY things don't get done: Making things too complicated"

WHY things don’t get done: Making things too complicated

Welcome to Part Five in the WHY things don’t get done series. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Last week we talked about constantly reworking.

This week we’re talking about a similar topic: Making things too complicated.

One way we make things too complicated is by putting overly complex solutions together. The question is: Do you really need it to be that complicated and elaborate? You can always add layers to it after you know the basics work.

An example of this is a very long sales pipeline (they by this, then I’ll sell them this, and then this and then this, and THEN they’ll become private clients). If each piece is tested and converts for you, great. The problem comes in when everything’s new. Then if anything goes wrong in the process, everything breaks down.

In this example, start with what you ultimately want to be selling and work out the messaging and marketing for it. After you have that down, you can begin adding other layers.

Or your solutions might be overly complicated because you don’t have enough of the pre-work done. For example, don’t create a system that relies on you having an appointment scheduler and prevents you from adding appointments to your calendar until you do. 

I’ve seen clients not set up 1-1’s or sales calls with people because they were researching scheduling tools. Or they’d picked one and were lost in the details of getting it set up. Their time would have better been spent reaching out personally to people to get appointments on their calendar and creating a simple system around doing it manually. There are two main benefits of this.

  1. They start getting appointments/meetings on their calendar
  2. They learn what’s important to them in this process which makes choosing and setting up a scheduling tool easier

When we overcomplicate things and spend too much time putting together the perfect system, it feels like we’re being proactive and productive in our business. But instead, we’re avoiding the things that move us closer to the results (aka clients and income) we want in our business. 

The last example of this is overthinking an email or conversation. Perhaps it’s a follow-up email or call. Or maybe it’s asking someone to have a 1-1 with you. Or something else. Whatever it is, we can get lost in trying to find the perfect wording or feel like we’re being a bother, or create any other story in our head that stops us from moving forward because we’re overthinking it. 

So, take a step back this week and do a quick review for where you’re making something too complicated instead of doing a more straightforward task and moving forward.

If you prefer listening/watching, you can catch this on YouTube or in my free FB group.

Picture of planner/journal with text over it "'Tis the season of new planners"

‘Tis the season of new planners!

Planners for next year EVERYWHERE and there are so many to choose from.

There isn’t one planner that’s perfect for everyone (that’s why there are so many out there). 

To pick one that’s right for you, you need to know how you work best.

I don’t use a planner because how I plan my day tends to change based on what’s going on.

My more personal reason is I feel like I’m wasting the planner if I don’t use it EVERY day… But that’s an Evie quirk. Know your quirks and work with them!

Also, I love the idea of planners, but I know I work better with a spiral-bound 6.5×9.5 narrow-ruled notebook (or slightly smaller) on my desk. I like spiral bound because I can leave it open on my desk without it trying to close itself.

In the past, I’ve taken the ideas I liked from other planners and created my own. Or I used some of those ideas in my notebook.

When I was creating the first version of my system, I went to a couple of stores and just looked at all their planners. I made mental notes of the things I didn’t like and took pictures of the features I really liked.

When deciding how you’re going to manage your daily todo list, here are three things to consider:

  1. Do you want your list to be open next to you or closed?
  2. What are some of your favorite planner features?
  3. What are some planner features that you don’t like/want?

Also, trial and error are to be expected. You learn about what works and doesn’t work for you in every iteration.

If you’d like some help with this, reach out, and we can talk about your situation.

If you prefer listening/watching, you can catch this on Facebook or YouTube.

The importance of naming things and the 2 types of procrastination (they’re related, I promise)

Before I share about procrastination, let’s talk about the importance of naming things.

No, this isn’t about anthropomorphizing objects. This is about identifying what’s happening by naming it.

Most of the time, this is talked about in regards to feelings or a medical diagnosis.

Once you identify it (or name it), you’re able to better understand what’s going on, feel more in control, and ask for help (if you need it).

Especially with a medical diagnosis, naming it is very helpful. Once you identify the illness, you know where to focus your next steps.

Recognizing or naming patterns you fall into is also important.

A few years ago, I was at a family gathering, and I left feeling really annoyed with my sister. I realized I had fallen into a pattern from my teenage years and made an effort the next time I was with her to act like the adult I am and treat her like one (she’s only two years younger than me). If I hadn’t recognized the pattern/habit, I wouldn’t have changed it.

With your productivity, it’s super helpful to name how you’re most likely to procrastinate so you can recognize and change it.

Let’s name the two types of procrastination to help you with this.

The first is Unproductive Procrastination.

This is the one we generally think of when we talk about procrastination.

Unproductive Procrastination is scrolling through social media, getting lost on phone apps, watching your streaming service of choice (like Netflix or HULU), or watching TV or YouTube. Or any other unproductive things you might do instead of the important work you want to do.

The second type of procrastination is Productive Procrastination.

This one is super tricky because it makes you feel like you’re getting things done.

And you are!

BUT the important task that you needed to do DOESN’T get done because you spent so much time getting the less important things done instead.

I shared this definition with a client recently, and she said, “OMG, I do that ALL THE TIME! I didn’t even realize it!” The following week she told me that having a name for it was really helpful because now she sees when it’s happening and can change it.

Naming the patterns you fall into, especially around procrastination, can help you make changes.

I know everyone’s situation is different, so let me know if you want to chat about your situation.

AND if you have a question or topic you’d like to see in a future post, share it in the comments.

If you prefer listening/watching, you can catch this on Facebook or YouTube.

What will you be awake worrying about tonight when trying to sleep?

Do you ever find yourself avoiding a project or task?

You know it needs to be done, but you find any number of other things to do first.

Then, when you’re trying to sleep, your brain is busy reminding you of the things you should have done today but didn’t.

Earlier this year, this was happening to me.

I kept pushing the same small project off, and then I’d lay awake worrying about it at night.

I started asking myself a question every day and then did at least one task from the answer was done that day.

The question is: What will you be awake worrying about tonight when trying to sleep?

I’ll be honest, starting this project felt a bit like pulling teeth. But once I got started, it was easier.

AND I spent more time thinking and worrying about the project than it actually took to complete.

The result was, I started sleeping better at night.

My question for you is: What will you be awake worrying about tonight when trying to sleep?

Complete at least one small task regarding your answer today and soon it’ll be done and it won’t be keeping you up anymore!

On left: Picture of "make it happen" notebook; On right: text "How to plan to move things off your everything list and not let something stay on it forever"

How to plan to move things off your everything list and not let something stay on it forever

On my Facebook page I asked which topic you’d like to see covered and the winning topic was ideas for your “Everything” to-do list.

One question someone had was “how to actually plan to move things off of it and not just let something stay on it forever.”

First, let’s talk about what the “everything” list isn’t. It’s not something you look at every day. You look when you’re doing your planning for the week or any other planning you do (month, quarter, or year).

It holds your plans to reach your goals and intentions.

One mistake I made when I started using an “everything” list was making it simply a list of everything that needed to be done. Usually, I grouped it by project, which was helpful, but much like the woman asking the question above, some things never moved off of it.

To complete the items on your “everything” list, I recommend that you group your list by month and assign each task to a month. And anything that you’re not planning on doing in the next 6-12 months or ideas that you want to develop later go on your “later” list.

The next grouping is by week. Prefill your week with tasks or projects that recur monthly.

My monthly recurring tasks include:

  • On the last week of each month, planning the upcoming month
  • On the third week of each month, I select the quotes I’ll post to my business page, create the image, and schedule them.

​Create the prefilled week template for 5-6 months out. This allows you to add things to it as things come up, such as:

  • reaching out to that person who said now isn’t a good time but to check in with them in 6 months
  • sending your bio to that group you will be speaking to closer to your speaking date
  • deciding if you’re going to move forward with an idea (yes, you can add decisions to your list too!) you had for later in the year

Assign these things to the month and week you’ll do them and not when they’re due (this gives you wiggle room).

When you do your monthly planning, map out the tasks you need to complete for each project or goal, and assign those tasks to weeks of the upcoming month.

Now, you’re set to create your weekly list. You cut and paste (or rewrite) the tasks you assigned for the upcoming week to this week, add the tasks you do every week, and the loose ends from last week. 

When your tasks are assigned to a specific week (or month if it’s happening much later), you’re much more likely to get it done.

There’s a lot of information packed in up there, so please leave a comment with any questions you have OR tell me if you have an “everything” list and how it’s set up.