Solo professionals need a strong vision of where they're headed and an internal warning system that tells them when they are getting off their game. Here are four ways to make sure you are keeping on track.
1. Take a look at your to-do list. Put a star by anything that has been on that list for more than two weeks, and look at those starred items with an eagle eye. Chances are, you are procrastinating on those items. Take the starred items and list them out on a separate sheet of paper, and out beside each one note what the very next step is to move that item forward. Now, either schedule it in your calendar for THIS week, or hand it off to an assistant. Often, entrepreneurs procrastinate because they are unsure how to proceed. If that's the issue, call a friend, talk to your Mastermind group, put it on your coaching agenda – take an action that will get you out of “not knowing how.”
If you get into the habit of regularly scanning your to-do list and noticing what hangs on there for several weeks or more, you'll develop the strong habit of pushing yourself out of procrastination.
2. Get yourself a timer. As you sit down to work on the task at hand, set the timer for half an hour and pledge to work ONLY on that task, with no interruptions. I often tell my clients that the world actually can live without them for 30 minutes at a time! Don't check e-mail, answer the phone, Tweet about what you are doing. Stay right on task until the timer goes off. Using a timer to create concentrated periods of work teaches you focus. Entrepreneurs are well-known for having “bright shiny object syndrome” (also called fuzzy focus.) The more you train yourself to focus for short bursts of time, the more productive you will be.
3. Remind yourself of your big vision at least once a day, and tell someone else at least once a week. It's easy to get discouraged when obstacles get in the way, and discouragement can lead to self-doubt. Regularly reminding yourself that you are doing your business for an important reason, and that you have every capability to succeed is critical. And about once a week, it's good to hear that from someone else who is a supporter. Creating the habit of keeping your vision in the top of your mind fosters a strong faith in yourself and what you're doing. It drives self-doubt out the door.
4. Get yourself into a Mastermind group, meet regularly, and don't skip. You didn't decide to be in business for yourself to play small, did you? Developing a strong relationship with other solo business owners who can encourage and support you creates a habit of thinking big. And that's what you want to be doing, thinking big, thinking out of the box, thinking in ways that most people don't think. A good Mastermind group will both encourage and challenge you to get out of your comfort zone, keeping you from thinking too small about yourself and your business. It's a safe place to test out your most outrageous business ideas and get help in shaping those into reality. Develop the habit of thinking big and out of the box! It will help ensure that your business flourishes.
Using these four systems fosters four good habits that keep you right on track. And in the end, those habits lead directly to a better bottom line.
(c) Sue Painter