Tag Archives: problem-solving

The Case For Not Doing Everything

There are things you do as a matter of necessity when you run a business. Things like filing and paying business taxes, following up with clients, networking with peers, renewing licenses, ensuring your data is backed up and your website is running optimally, and so on.

Then there are things you do as a matter of preference. Stuff like checking email first thing, or scheduling calls at particular blocks of time,  or putting in brainstorming sessions in at a coffee-shop just to get out of the office mindset. Maybe you shifted to a dual monitor set-up, and it worked wonders with your coding, or perhaps you made your own hotkeys to save time on repetitive tasks.

Whatever tweaks or set-ups you make to make your life run more smoothly,  you  know you’re not alone in looking for the sweet spot. An entire industry has grown out of the productivity movement. Life-hacks, apps, methods — whether you use bullet journals, kanban,  the urgent/important  matrix, GTD — all of these things grew out of the need to determine and make the most productive use of our time. It’s our modern way to take control and make sense of all the stuff that goes on in our lives.

Not all methods work right on the first go though, which is why we can take a lot of time tailoring and testing them to fit our own needs and circumstances. Part of the problem stems from mixing up our goals with the various set-ups we use to get to them.

Helpful article: “Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.”James Clear

Just as one size doesn’t fit all, chosen methods won’t mean squat if they don’t help make measurable positive changes in our work flow.  With testing and tweaking, we can use an assembly of specific practices swiped from various methods — as long as they work. And work well. Continue reading The Case For Not Doing Everything

Are You A Digital Hoarder?

Whether your business is big or small, there are some things that will remain the same:  One, in running it, you’ll need access  to a large amount of various information and electronic data. Two, you need help in staying on top of the data you already have and handle what keeps coming in. Three, you can have trouble getting rid of data that you don’t or can’t find useful.

Here’s the background to why even the thought of getting rid of things (including data) hurts, and a few suggestions on how to handle too much information. Continue reading Are You A Digital Hoarder?

Top Tips To Getting New Customers

When you are faced with a jaded audience who’ve been informed of every scam on the planet, have been burned by bad customer service, and know horror stories of substandard products and service contracts from hell, what can you do to keep drumming up fresh business in the form of new customers?

You start with a clean slate.
Running an online business is hard work, and part of that is developing foresight and proactiveness. You think of the most possible and probable issues coming down the line and take the steps to prevent them from happening, or work to weaken their impact.

One way to do this is to treat each visit or customer interaction as a start to something good.  You can’t go into a business automatically distrusting the people you’re planning to serve — that’s crazy-making. Continue reading Top Tips To Getting New Customers

Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you can get seriously hurt. News programs and entertainment programs often showcase the people who make the spotlight by not paying attention to what they’re doing and getting themselves into trouble. Check out the following videos for proof:

If you’re not paying attention, you’re depriving your  feedback system of half of its function. Say you’re busy refining your  marketing  program and you’re getting frustrated with the non-improvement in sales, or sign-ups. What does your data say?

Paying attention is part of the feedback cycle.  Feedback in this sense  is intimately tied to awareness because awareness demands paying attention and interpreting the information that comes in.

Navigation systems  and the code that runs them both undergo rigorous testing protocols to ensure that these machine are pin-point accurate and the codes run flawlessly.  Lives depend on getting the most accurate feedback possible, because the information is used to plot  — and navigate– the real life conditions of transport: airplanes and air traffic, ships and shipping lanes, cars. It works the same for businesses.

It’s remarkably easy to revert to surface-level thinking when you’re doing everyday activities — the demands on us habituate us to be hyper-vigilant about the new things that come in, and so all our attention goes to assessment and handling — not exactly to deep processing. When you’re deluged with incoming emails, phone calls, requests for your help, time, input and presence, sometimes it’s all you can do to just ‘go with the flow.’ Then, in what ever time you have left over, you try to recover. In the long run, this is an unsustainable  practice to keep doing to yourself.

In life, as in business and bingo, you have to actually be present to win. You win by being present and paying attention.
Continue reading Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

Help Your Goals Survive The New Year With Flexibility

With all the important plans you made to make you this your best year yet,  one of the most effective ways you can help to realize your goals is to have built-in, supportive flexibility in your life.

Think of this familiar scenario: Most gyms see a lot of money come in during the first month of the  year, because a lot of people sign up to lose weight and get fit at part of their resolutions. Those aren’t bad goals at all,  but a common observation shows that most enrollees peter out over the first eight weeks of their membership.  Many sign up, but not all follow-through.

There could be all sorts of reasons for dropping out: People couldn’t adjust to the regimen they picked for themselves. They develop an injury from over-training. They get discouraged. There is a conflict in their schedules and they can’t keep up regular visits… so they do a slow fade.

Not showing up to exercise is just an example of the ways our goals fall off to the wayside, but you can already see where the weak spots are in the previous example. An inability to adjust, failure to adapt, pushing too hard too fast, taking on too much too soon…To help your plans survive past the first month or two of the new year  and reach fruition– you need  to factor in flexibility.

Building your flexibility
Let’s go with imagery:  You need flex so you can absorb shock and bounce back. Working within too rigid a structure, you can shake apart or break down after exposure to repeated blows of  stressful events. When you are flexible, you can bend, you can lean over, you can bow– but not break or snap, right?

You anchor those flexibilities to something solid: a structure, a routine, or a schedule.  You  deliberately make space so you can move. Continue reading Help Your Goals Survive The New Year With Flexibility

Take A Break From The Problem

At one point or another we all hit the stage when we become overwhelmed in stressful situations.  it’s like a wave breaks over us and we get sucked under. One new bit of information, one more request from out of nowhere, one more irritating phone call — something happens to add that final push… and we get pulled under.

Mentally,  we can fray or go foggy, which blankets our formerly clear vision. This mental static eats away at our ability to make productive choices, to make thoughtful decisions, and prioritize calmly.  Our plans to use our energy in constructive ways crumble, along with that energy. Poof!

Stress affects everyone differently.  Some may zombie-shuffle through basics tasks. Others may feel like they’re moving in circles, or spinning their wheels. Some people internalize their stress, others externalize it, and the effects either way ripple out.

Under stress, trying to put ‘first things first’ is like walking through a blizzard. When the stress really hits us,  we can’t see straight, or think calmly, or get our bearings.

Being overwhelmed drains our energy and our ability to think clearly, and  hamstrings our momentum. Whether the stress is chronic or acute, it can still overpower your ability to handle  things  well, and leave you feeling shaken and futile.

To  replenish your energy and somehow ‘go back to your regular program’,  you need to get a new perspective on the stress-full situation. To do that, you can walk away, you can do something else, or you can stop and do nothing. (Yes, nothing. Yet.)

 

One way of getting a new viewpoint is to mentally drop and walk away from the problem.  Done well, this is the mental equivalent of “Stop, drop and roll,” a good thing to do when you feel like your brain is toast.

Why walk away? When we are too close to something we are enmeshed with it. It is all we can think of, and all we see when we close our eyes.

We can’t think clearly and that contributes to the problem. We’re too close. We’re too close, and no wonder we can’t see anything else, or see clearly at all.

Think of it: When you’re standing too close to something, it blocks your way. You can’t see past it.  It dominates your field of vision. When you’re overburdened with tasks to complete, issues to resolve,  running low on energy or running hot from frequent demands for attention — it creates stress.
And stress makes it worse.

 

When we take a break from the problem and walk away , we can use the space we just made to shake things off and focus on other matters.

We can mentally push away from the pressing issue and allow ourselves some breathing room away from what’s bothering us. It can be as physical as pushing away from our desks and taking a minute to collect ourselves. What other ways can you disengage  from what’s troubling you?
Continue reading Take A Break From The Problem

Is It A Business or A Legacy? Planning For The Future

Anybody who runs a business knows about the importance of goal-setting and planning for the future. Whether you make business goals or personal goals, it’s important to  know just exactly where you want to go, and know whether what the actions you take and the choices you make will get you to your goals.

Just as important is understanding and planning for things that can affect your progress towards your goals. Practicing flexibility and foresight in making plans for your business (and yourself) for the future is a vital skill for any entrepreneur. Here’s some advice to help you with that:

Have a clear picture of where you want to be. Envision.
Any business, no matter what its size, is challenging work. Aside from the daily ops, there are  countless other issues that can take up your time: crunching the numbers, juggling finances and balancing accounts,  going after delayed collections, dealing with  disappointed customers, facing the imbalance of family-time versus time spent on the business…when you’re busy dealing with all of these things, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re working for.

Why do you have your business? What made you choose it and keep with it? What did you want to be from it. What did you see it make possible for you? You want to live your dream? What is your dream? Be specific.

Knowing why you’re doing this can give you the  strength to deal with all the things that can irritate you, aggravate you or just plain  infuriate you about your business.

And having a clear picture in mind encourages you to be aware of where you want to be — in the next quarter, or the next 6 months,  the next year, the next 5 years, and so on. Knowing what you want to happen and where you want to be by a certain time, you constantly have goals to works towards and pull you onward. You won’t coast, you won’t assume everything is going well. You’re maintaining awareness of the intimate health details of your business.

No matter where they come from, truly successful people keep working towards their particular goals.
Take time to write down your goals . This solidifies these goals in your mind and in your heart, giving you the drive and the energy to shoulder the workload, stomach the disappointments and downturns, and  help keep you steady. Goals can change with each stage our our lifetime and our business, but successful people are motivated by their desire to accomplish these goals. They focus. They shoulder aside distractions. The know that the things they choose to do have an end in mind, and they want to reach that goal.

When we’re tempted to throw up our hands in frustration, or throw in the towel in despair,  clear goals can help  us weather those dark times. Knowing the important reason why you’re working so hard lets you figure out how you can adjust so you can keep going. Continue reading Is It A Business or A Legacy? Planning For The Future

Break Procrastination Down By Asking Why

Procrastination is an age-old issue that has been often reduced to simple laziness, but given our insatiable human curiosity, scientists and researchers have been studying the phenomenon for a long time now, mainly attempting to fix it, and when that didn’t work, trying to understand it.

The thing is, procrastination is a fairly common trait in a lot of people who have issues with anxiety and perfectionism– long before the concepts of anxiety and perfectionism even got their names. Procrastination is actually a self-protective action; it’s a defense mechanism.

  • We procrastinate because we’re don’t feel good about the thing we’re supposed to do, so we keep pushing and putting things off.
  • We hem and haw. We do other things.
  • We do anything else except the thing, because it makes us uncomfortable to even think about it –and for the most part, we don’t even think to delve deeper into why that’s so.

Perhaps these situations seem familiar?

  • You can’t decide which task goes first, because all of these things are important and urgent.
  • You want to do the best job you can, and you know you only have so much time before the project is due.
  • You’re going to disappoint the people counting on you, you know it, and you’re avoiding the blowout for as long as you can.
  • You don’t have enough data to make a good decision, and you want to make sure it’s the best one you can make.
  • It’s been a while since you received that email, voicemail, message, etc. and you feel it’s embarrassing to only respond now.

And if that wasn’t enough, beating yourself up about putting things off only makes you feel worse. You lose you stomach for taking action, you’re downbeat because you haven’t taken action, and you have no energy to take action.

Oddly enough, procrastinators usually finish with all the easy stuff early. Like cake and frosting, we go for the surface stuff because it’s a sweet deal, so we polish it off quickly. And faced with the things that make us step back, we don’t even think to see that these things aren’t as emotionally neutral for us as the easy things are.  Thinking of  unfinished, important business things makes us feel tired. We feel ashamed of taking so long to to do or to respond to them.

We dread them. Continue reading Break Procrastination Down By Asking Why

How To Gain Strength From Actively Studying Your Mistakes

21 February 2012, by A. Cedilla

It’s quite hard to get out of the mindset that mistakes are bad, bad things, isn’t it?

Making mistakes seems to be a sign of being less — that you aren’t as smart as you should be, or could’ve been, that you just weren’t good enough. That if you had just tried harder, thought a little bit faster, predicted the future a bit more accurately, this would all have been avoided. The carrot of supposedly attainable perfection is held permanently beyond your reach, and you snipe yourself into a sad mess because you just–couldn’t–reach–it.

Seeing that our educational system trains us to follow the rules as part of the socialization process, it’s almost unthinkable to flout the unspoken one that mistakes “are something to be avoided,” — but then, we often learn more from the mistakes we’ve made than many of our successes. If you live a life geared towards avoiding mistakes, how much will you actually learn? For that matter, how much will you actually live?
Continue reading How To Gain Strength From Actively Studying Your Mistakes

How Much Are You Part of The Problem?

13 February 2012, by A. Cedilla

Here’s what I want to you to come away with:

  • Examine the chronic issues in your life and look at the part you play in them, as well as how your way of dealing (denial, stone-walling, abdication, no-response etc.) affects you.
  • Examine how long you are willing to deal with the effects of your actions. How far will you tolerate the strain?
  • Make the decision to change things, or let them stay the same.
  • Recognize the ways to protect yourself and recognize how far your powers go.

How much do you figure you factor into some of the problems that you are facing?
Think about it. Look at your life right now. I’m willing to hazard a guess that while you may be enjoying a stable environment –and good for you!– you still have some issues hiding behind closed doors, ones that often keep you up at night. And as with childhood monsters in the closet, you have to turn the lights on to confront these issues, even if today some of the situations they lead to may be ones of your own making.

Part of what we’re talking about now are boundaries – knowing which issues are yours, and which ones aren’t. We also need to include recognizing our limits.

  • Now you may think “boundaries” and “limits” are the same thing, but for the sake of clarity, let’s spell it out. In this context, boundaries protect you, and limits show you where your influence ends.
  • It’s important to have both of these things; Without one, you let people run over you, and without the other you can run yourself into the ground.

Then we need to throw in responsibility. How much accountability do you assume for your actions, or the results of your non-action that rebound on you? Continue reading How Much Are You Part of The Problem?