“What are you so busy doing?”
This is what I ask contractors who reach out to me and even those I work with. It’s not that I don’t know how it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done. But, I’ve been a contractor, so I do know that you can get it all done, but only if you’re busy with the right things.
Actually, I hate it when someone keeps telling me they can’t get their projects done because they’re too busy. What’s the purpose in saying this? Pity? Sympathy? Empathy? Any other buzz words I’ve missed? Does it help get things done?…..NO!
Get over it!
We’re all busy. There’s a million and one ways to be distracted and overwhelmed. Let’s start with the miracle of technology. You can now be reached by email, text, Facetime, Slack and a whole lot more ways than that. It all seemed so great when we got our smart phones. Now, we have to live with the fact that we’re addicted to them and we are pulled away from focusing on the right things.
Working with many contractors who are 40 years old and younger, it’s hard to get their undivided attention from their technology. Even when they spent a lot of money to hire me to help them with their business that is either stuck or wildly growing but growing more and more out of control.
Think about that. It doesn’t make much sense.
They don’t mean to be distracted but their phone is in their hand or on their desk, their laptop is open and all of it is screaming at them, “Pay attention to me!”
A recent survey I read said that when a text comes in and you don’t even respond to it your attention is broken for the next 20 minutes. And then there’s the fallacy that you can multi-task. It’s been proven over and over again with scientific measurements that you can’t. It might just feel that way to you, especially when you’re young, because your mind is quickly going on and off so fast it feels like you can split your attention. You can’t. And it’s been proven that you’re actually more efficient and effective when you focus on one task at a time vs. trying to do multiple things at one time. Again, not opinion. It’s a fact borne out through sophisticated testing.
What can you do?
Start by working in two-hour blocks where you put your phone away and close your email account so emails can’t grab your attention. Then, work on a specific task. It’s been fantastic to see how fast the contractors who I teach this technique to find how much more effective they are and that they feel like they’ve created time vs. wasting time in their old habits.
You do have to train your staff that you’re working for two hours on something critical to the company and that unless the building is on fire (heaven forbid) you’re to be undisturbed.
Case in point, I had a client who had paid to get his operating manuals done for his company but every time we met remotely he said he couldn’t get them edited to better fit him because his staff kept hijacking his time with questions. I get it. But, I also pointed out to him that they can’t hijack his time without his permission and by answering questions they should know the answers to, he enabled them to keep stealing away his time and his effectiveness.
Finally, I told him to tell his office about his two-hour undisturbed block and not to call because he was working on the manuals that would help them, the staff, with the handling of the day-to-day. It was one week later that he had completed the editing of the manuals that had alluded him for over 3 months.
Sometimes, we don’t know what we should be doing. So, we jump into stuff that doesn’t really need our attention. It feels comfortable because many of us as contractors have risen to where we are because we excelled at solving problems. But, the fact that we’re good fire fighters doesn’t mean we can build a company and grow it the right way.
What you must have is a Master Plan and you have to work it.
I teach and preach the mastery of the 7-Power Concept:
- Planning Power
- Operating Power
- Staffing Power
- Sales Power
- Marketing Power
- Financial Power
- Sales Coaching Power
When in doubt, look to these 7 areas for what you should be working on because this is where real progress is made. And choosing to lose a battle to win a war is also where real progress is made. So, you running a call is not the path forward to having and running a business with any heft; it’s not giving you the type of life you probably were seeking when you first opened the doors to your contracting business.
To me, all the 7-Powers are important but none more so than Planning Power! since its where you work on:
- The right things
- At the right time
- In the right way
Focus your time on making this a great habit and you’ll find that when you’ve been too busy, it was just a result of a lack of planning and executing the plan. Until you do this first step, your success is severely compromised.