We’ve all been there before: The emails, voicemails, and to-do lists keep piling up, but nothing seems to be getting done. “Business paralysis” is a common issue for entrepreneurs everywhere, who love the excitement of new ideas, and constantly seek out fresh insights.
But the only way to fix paralysis at your business is to focus on one small thing at a time—and make sure your big initiatives are crystal clear.
Let me give you an example. My big initiative right now is to create and launch my company’s new product. I’m committed to doing whatever necessary to move the launch forward. Everything else is a potential distraction from that goal.
Still, I can’t just shut down the rest of my business to solely work on the product launch. Instead, I have to expertly manage the influx of messages and requests I get from friends, colleagues, and clients every day—all without losing sight of my biggest goal.
To navigate this common problem, I’ve developed a powerful 5-step model: Discard, Delegate, Outsource, Schedule, Take Action. Here’s how it works:
- Discard. As soon as a new idea, communication, message, or insight gets put in front of you, ask yourself, “In this truly important right now?” If the answer is “no,” then get rid of it right away. Discard it. By taking this simple first step, you can eliminate tons of distractions from your business at the get-go, before they start to unravel your focus.
- Delegate. If you simply can’t discard something that comes your way, your next move is to delegate the task to someone else. Whether it’s having a member of your team research a new idea you’d like to know more about, or letting your assistant respond to emails and schedule meetings for you, delegating can save you time, energy, and focus for the bigger initiatives on your plate.
- Outsource. Don’t have someone at your company who you can delegate to? It’s time to outsource. Get creative about how to ask for help from outside sources, so that you can prioritize your own agenda.
- Schedule. Sometimes, there are tasks that only you can perform. When this happens, smart scheduling is your most powerful tool. Don’t force yourself to take on new tasks or explore new ideas right away—instead, schedule them for a specific time in the future, so that you can go back to focusing on what you need to do right now. The key is to make sure the future task doesn’t interfere with your current priorities.
- Take action now. If all else fails, and a distraction requires your immediate attention, then take action right away to deal with it. Don’t procrastinate; just get it done today so that you can move on tomorrow with your truly important work.
At the end of the day, it’s important not to let the daily influx of messages and distractions drive your work activity. Only pay attention to your email and phone at certain times each day. Never check your messages constantly or divert the course of your day as soon as you receive a message or come across something exciting. Remember to focus on your own agenda, not the agendas of those who are reaching out to you. Commit to moving forward with a specific action each day, week, and month—and stick with it.
The Discard & Delegate system will make you far more productive and efficient. If you’re ready to defeat your business paralysis, it’s time to start implementing it right away.
Discard what needs to be discarded, and always delegate if you can. Keep your big priorities at the center of your tasks, and don’t let distractions lead to “business paralysis.”
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