The weather here in NJ has been pretty stormy lately. A couple of hours ago, it was dark outside. Thunder was rumbling. Everything seemed to be in place for a terrific downpour but the storm didn't come, at least not then. All we got were a couple of raindrops that quickly disappeared. Hours later it happened again. The dark sky, the thunder and then, yes, the rain. Lots and lots of rain.
The first "storm" was all talk and no action. I was sure it was going to pour. It looked like everything was in place for a huge and productive storm but nothing. All talk and no action, reminds me of a lot of the people that I speak with. To be perfectly honest, it reminds me of myself sometimes.
There are times when you set aside a block of time to work on a project. You clear your desk, you're ready to go. You think the conditions are perfect and then...nothing. No inspiration, no drama.
Other times, you set exactly the same stage. You clear your desk, set aside a block of time and like magic you're going full out and knocking out the work like nobody's business.
I wish I could tell you I have the secret to setting the perfect stage so that when you set aside time to work on a project you are always focused and productive. I can't. What I can tell you is that there are strategies that can help. These are some of the strategies that my clients and I use when it seems that no matter what we do we seem to be all talk and no action. I encourage you to give them a try.
1. Clear the distractions and set up an environment conducive to the type of work you need to do. Shut off your email. Clear your desk. Send the kids and dog outside. Go the library. Go to Starbucks, wherever you work best. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, maybe even a glass of wine. You know what you need. Treat yourself well and set yourself up for success.
2. Make sure you have what you need, that includes materials and information. Take a close look at your plan. Are there questions you need answered before you can get started? Today a client of mine shared that she had a project that she couldn't seem to start. I asked her a few questions about it, but she didn't know the answers. There were open issues that needed to be resolved before she could do anything. The first thing on her to-do list became "ask questions to clarify the project."
3. Get real. What do you really need to do? This happened to me earlier today. I was having trouble wrapping my head around slides that I needed to create for a presentation. The job was looming huge over me. I was speaking with a colleague of mine and she said...you know you only need 10-12 slides for the hour. The slides still had to be done but now at least the project was defined and became much more reasonable.
4. Make yourself accountable. Set up a time to meet with someone to discuss your progress on the project. Promise it to someone by a certain date. Give yourself permission to be okay with doing the work during the one hour before it's due.
5. Estimate how long the project will take. First, go back to number 3 and get real. What is the project? What do you really need to do? Who do you need to ask for help? Can you do it yourself? How many steps are involved? Oftentimes we don't start things because we assume they are big jobs when in reality they take very little time.
6. For big projects, break them up into mini-jobs. Don't expect to tackle the entire project in a day. Little projects are much easier to do.
7. Ask for help. Sit down with someone and brainstorm and talk it out. Maybe you can delegate some of the work, maybe not. At least by talking it out you will get clear on exactly what you need to do and use the other person to help you do a reality check.
I can't promise you the perfect storm but what I can promise you is more clarity and certainly a better chance at getting it done. And when your projects are done, your business runs smoother, you're more profitable and most importantly, you feel good about yourself and what you accomplished.
Carrie Greene is a speaker, trainer, coach and author of Chaos to Cash. She helps entrepreneurs cut through the confusion and chaos surrounding them so they make decisions, stop spinning and procrastinating and make more money. Free resources at http://www.CarrieThru.com and http://www.chaostocashbook.com/excerpt