I know, I know; it’s hard. When you run your own business, finding time to do all the things you’d like to do seems impossible. I was in the same place as everyone else, thinking “I’d love to find the time to upgrade my inspection report.” But, the simple task of running my own business was overwhelming. With scheduling, marketing, bookkeeping, traveling between appointments, customer service, not to mention actually doing the inspections, I rarely found time to spend with my family, much less devote a block of time to work on my inspection reporting software. I felt like I was a hamster running on a wheel, always going but never getting anywhere.
We’re all faced with similar situations in both our personal and business lives. We’ve got a goal we’d like to achieve, or a problem that we need to deal with, but it’s simply too big for us to handle. It’s overwhelming; it’s too complicated; it will take too much time. It seems like we’ll never have enough time, enough money or enough ambition to be able to handle it. We’ll never be able to conquer that mountain.
It’s just too big.
So, what do we do? Most of us just give up. We give in to the belief that it’s too much for us to handle. We’re simply not up to the challenge, and we cave. We decide that what we’re doing now is good enough.
It’s worked so far. Why should I change now?
But, deep down, we know. We know that’s just a cop-out. It’s just an excuse to cover up the fact that we’re overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. We just don’t have the confidence that we can handle this particular challenge. We tell ourselves that we’re just too busy to be able to take on such a big task at this time.
Maybe in a few weeks, once I’ve had a chance to get caught up. Then I’ll be able to work on that…
But we never do. We’re always just too damn busy. We’ve always got something we can work on, something that’s “demanding” our attention. Something that we make out to be so important that it simply can’t wait; it’s got to be done now. The calls, the texts, the DMs, the emails; there’s always something screaming for our attention.
I’ve got to get this done.
Those six words are a trap, as well as a crutch, for the small business owner. There are always things that need to be done in anyone’s life, but it’s especially true for the small business owner. We could work on our to-do list from now until the end of time, and we’d never finish all the things we think we think we need to do. The list is never-ending. Just when you think you’ve made some progress; you remember 10 new things that you wanted to add to the list.
Is being busy enough?
There’s an old saying by John Wooden, which is “never mistake activity for achievement.” Just because you’re staying busy doing things that seem important, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything that’s really going to move the needle. Just like when we make small talk about the weather with Aunt Jane so that we don’t really have to discuss any weighty subjects, we all try to fill our time with mundane to-do list items so that we don’t have to face those big, difficult tasks. You know the ones; the ones that, deep down, we know we need to address.
But maybe it doesn’t have to be so hard. Maybe there’s another way to address that seemingly impossible task. Maybe we can start with a small part; maybe we can just work on a tiny bit of the problem. After all, a mountain climber doesn’t sprint all the way to the summit of Everest. They perform a series of smaller treks, slowly ascending up the mountain until one day, eventually, they reach their goal of standing at the top of the world.
Step back and take a good look at what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Is there any way to break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks? Instead of reworking our entire inspection report all in one week, could we take smaller steps towards upgrading our software? Can we spend an hour making our page header and footer look more professional, adding in our current contact information so our clients realize that we’re accessible if they have any questions? Could we spend a few minutes to make sure we’re using the same font throughout our report, so that it looks consistent and professional? Could we make some adjustments to one section, rewording, adding and removing verbiage to make sure that our clients understand exactly what it is we’re trying to tell them about their roof?
My coping mechanism
My report software, Spectora, enables me to “flag” a comment while I’m in the field. That way, when I’m reviewing my report that evening, I can easily see the comments that I flagged for review while I was on site. This enables me to quickly upgrade my verbiage while I’m working on a report, ensuring that the next time I need to click that information box while on an inspection, the language will be clear and concise, and I won’t have to make any modifications while I’m in the field.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
By slowly upgrading my report, section by section, as I notice areas that need attention, I’m able to keep my report up to date. By doing it a little at a time, taking small, bite-sized chunks instead of trying to dedicate a week to non-stop, mind-numbing software editing, I can keep my report updated without overwhelming myself and my schedule.
What’s the catch?
But, as with everything in life, there’s always a catch. It all comes down to us; do we have enough self-control, is there enough accountability in us to dedicate ourselves to the process? Will we decide to stick with the incremental improvement process, making small changes every day, or will we fall back into our old “never enough time in the day” mindset?
It’s up to us. We’re the only ones who can make that change in our mindset. We’re the ones who have to change how we do things. No one can do it for us.
Maybe if we just changed a little bit of ourselves each day…
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