BQ Work-Life-Balance

How can I find greater work-life-

balance in my business and life?

Business owner happy people working on the jetty Work-life-balance is elusive for most business owners, but here’s how to find it

Work-life-balance is a term that’s been bandied about by many business and life coaches, in the books and videos by the life style gurus and in the personal development industry. It’s what we’re all supposed to be creating for a long and happy life. It’s the dream. Sadly, it’s a distant dream for many business owners.

One of the reasons for the unattainability of the dream, is that the generally accepted idea of Work-life-balance is a myth. Many great philosophers and thinkers, such as the gently spoken Alain de Botton, consider that the way we think about Work-life-balance is fantasy (Watch Alain de Botton’s TED Talk here). We need an entirely different picture to model our lives on, if we want to feel satisfied about our life and work.

work-life-balance

And you know this is true too, because in your business, if anything is to get done at all, it’s down to you; if you don’t do it, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. You’re often the first one in the door in the morning, and the last one out the door at night. You have breakfast and lunch on the run, and after the kids have been put to bed at night you have to catch up on your admin and quoting. And by the way: Isn’t it funny how with every new staff member you employ to lighten your workload, you seem to get busier?

Work-life-balance: It’s personal

To create a better Work-life-balance in our lives as small business owners and entrepreneurs, I believe there are a few principles we need to understand first:

  • Balance is a personal thing, what works for you won’t necessarily work for anyone else.
  • What feels right, is right. There are no hard and fast rules for balance.
  • Balance is a never ending negotiation. There is no set formula for balance. Priorities change constantly in life and business.
  • Sometimes we’ve just got to do what’s got to be done.
  • There’s nothing wrong with working hard, there’s nothing wrong with averting a crisis, but too much is too much.
  • Sometimes, not doing something, at all, (whatever the thing might be at this moment), or not doing it perfectly  is fine. Your business and your life will most likely survive and the world will not come to an end.
  • Nobody has ever come to the end of their life and said: “I wish I’d worked harder”.

There is no rule book for Work-live-balance. There have been times in my life when I’ve worked insane hours while feeling totally balanced, in “flow” and happy, and other times when I’ve worked much less hard, yet felt overwhelmed and stressed. And just because I might work fewer hours per day, than you might do, doesn’t mean I have achieved better balance than you do. If you feel that your life is balanced, it is, and if you feel your life is out of balance, it is also.

All-nighters can be fun sometimes, can’t they?

As business owners, sometimes we’ll be confronted with situations that simply mean we have to pull an all-nighter or work on Sunday. It’s part of the package of being a business owner. It can even be highly rewarding to pull an all-nighter on a project, with a deadline looming and at the end of it, know you’re the one that’s made it happen, pulled a rabbit out of the hat. It can be one of the most fun experiences you have in business.

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Memories from the Sydney Olympics

work-life-balance I will always remember the last weeks leading up to the opening of the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. I and my team worked every hour that God gave us for two weeks straight to complete the fit-out of the Holland Heineken House in Darling Harbour. It was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. That’s now 18 years ago and I have nothing but fun memories of that period (and about the 14 day long party with 100,000 of my closest friends in the Holland Heineken House afterwards).

The simple fact is that if you feel good about your life and the mix of things you spend time with, you’re in balance, and if you walk around feeling bad about the fact that your kids or your spouse or your choir or your health and fitness or your peace of mind are missing out, then your life is not in balance. And what’s more, it’s really important to understand that what is right for you today, may not necessarily be right for you tomorrow. It was perfectly alright for me to spend those weeks building the Holland Heineken House and barely seeing my family, for those weeks, at that time.

Things change… Don’t they?

But it would not have been alright for that to be my life all year round. It may be fine for you right now to catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed, but it may also be that at some point in the coming year it will start to bother you, and then it’s not alright anymore.

But one thing is absolutely sure. You’re going to want to take the issue of balance in work and life seriously and check in with yourself regularly what is and what isn’t right, and you will want to move towards finding the balance that is right for you, because nobody has ever laid on their death bed wishing they’d worked longer and harder. (The top five regrets of the dying)

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Work-life-balance comes down to 5 things:

  1. Clarity about what matters most, to you, in your business (Also watch my short video about The Purpose of business here)
  2. Learning to say NO. And also watch my short video about saying NO here
  3. Learning to trust yourself
  4. The 4 quadrants of time management. And also watch my video about managing the most valuable asset of your business here
  5. Learning to delegate (one of the 4 D’s, see below)

Work-life-balance follows automatically once: you’ve learned what really matters in your life, you learn to say No to the stuff that doesn’t matter, you learn to trust that you’ll probably make the right decision (after all you’ve got this far, why not assume you’ll continue to do ok), and finally you learn to set time aside for the important stuff you must do and delegate the rest (or apply the 4 D’s)

Once you’ve learnt all of that, you’ll have started to create a Beautiful Business and Life and that although it mightn’t look like Balance to an outsider, it works for you, and that’s all that matters.

I’d love to help you take those 5 steps above. I have created a Five Steps to Discovery Process to help you get moving and find greater balance in your life and Build a Beautiful Business and Life. The steps are small and mostly free, find out more here.

The 4 D’s

The 4 D’s I mentioned a couple of sentences ago are a nice management concept. The idea behind the 4 D’s is somewhat parallel to the 5 things I talked about above. For any task that comes across your desk consider one of the 4 D’s:

  • Do It – If it takes less than two minutes, and it needs to be done, just do it now. You could schedule it for later, or delegate it, but it might take you a couple of minutes just to do that. Save yourself the hassle and do it now.
  • Diarise It – if it’s going to take more than two minutes, if it’s got to be done, and you’re the right person for the job, block out some time in your diary in the next week or two to Do It.
  • Delegate It – The secret of getting more done and scaling your business is to delegate, delegate, delegate… So get good at delegating and look for every opportunity to do so.
  • Dump It – When you really stop and think about it, and you have a look at the 4 Quadrants of time management, some stuff isn’t actually all that important… A lot of demands on your time are firmly in quadrant 3 (urgent bu not important) or maybe even quadrant 4 (neither urgent, nor important) … The world won’t come to an end… What’s the worst that could happen… DELETE.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Work-Life-Balance surveys:

Have a look at my Big Pain of Small Business survey to see how you compare against other business owners on balancing work and life. You might also like to complete the very short Richard Branson Questionnaire, to see how you compare against the most famous of all the noble knights of business, who also seems to have his work and life sorted better than most of us poor peasants.

Further Reading:

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The Ten Priorities; Priority #2: Doing Nothing

Ten priorities doing nothing

What’s the best use of your time?

This is the second post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The second Priority is about Doing Nothing. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

Time management, time to think

The other question I sometimes ask my clients is: What do you think is the best use of your time?

And of course, people generally walk into that little trap just as blissfully unaware as the trap I set in Priority #1.

People will mention delegating, sales, customer service, marketing, planning, leadership, quality control, systems, financial management, coaching staff, you name it. Every function in the business has at some time been offered as the answer to my question.

The answers is : No – Thing

But the most important use of your time is: No – Thing… The most valuable thing you can do with your time as a business owner is to put your feet up on the desk and do nothing for an hour. No phone, no email, no interruptions… and THINK.

There is the work of the business, and then there’s the work of the business owner. The work of the business can often be delegated or outsourced. But the work of the business owner can only ever be done by you. And thinking, reflecting, day-dreaming even, is the ultimate work of the business owner. (More about doing nothing here)

When you make the conscious decision to get rid of all other distractions for a while, your brain will blossom, you’ll start to think more clearly, you’ll be creative and resourceful again and you’ll suddenly see opportunities and solutions you never saw before.

Go to a café, go for a walk, go and sit on a bench in a park… and do … nothing … It will transform your business… I promise you

There is a great article on Business Insider about the benefits of doing nothing but thinking here

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

Next week, Priority #3: Having Fun

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Laziness, procrastination and time wasting; Time management #2

The three things that get in the way of getting things done when you want to

This is the second article about time management and what to do when you find yourself procrastinating.

In the article last week, here  I wrote about Darren and the two big questions you must ask yourself all the time to become a Doctor of Discipline, and a professor of punctuality:

  1. How much do I want to do this thing?
  2. How much do I want to avoid the consequences of not doing this thing?

With absolute clarity over those two questions, your life will start to change.

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But there is one more step to truly obliterate the concept of procrastination from your life. I’ll illustrate what I’m talking about with another story, this time about myself.

I’ve always done a lot of writing. I believe I am a relatively good writer. I was actually trained as a journalist in the dim distant past. So I’ve had a bit of practice and schooling, and I actually enjoy the process.

But for years I wouldn’t get much writing done at all, because of endless procrastination. Whenever I wanted to write something, I could literally spend days procrastinating and wasting time and getting distracted by everything under the sun.  And I used to beat up on myself like you wouldn’t believe.

Learning to trust myself

Until I realised, one day, that what caused my procrastination, was not knowing what to write. That insight changed my procrastination patterns forever because I started taking a whole new approach to my writing. From that day, I decided to trust myself that something would come out as long as I’d start writing.

And that approach has worked for me ever since. Whenever I want to write something, I simply sit down behind the keyboard, and I start to write; whatever pops into my head, stream of consciousness kind of stuff. Often I have absolutely no idea what I am going to write, but I just start writing anyway, about the weather or what I did on the weekend or the last book I read.

Once I start writing, I have learned to trust that it will come and it always does, and I enjoy writing again, and it is great for my business. Once we have absolute clarity about what we want to do and what consequences we want to avoid, we can often be waylaid by other hurdles to get things done:

  1. We don’t know how to actually do the thing we want to do.
  2. The task we’ve set ourselves is too big, and the enormity of it is overwhelming, and we just don’t know where to start.
  3. We are actually unsure what the task involves.

My client’s hurdles

I see these same hurdles appear for my clients all the time. A client might decide to write a marketing plan, for example. But in the weeks following the decision, nothing happens and the client start to beat up on herself for being such a procrastinator.

Of course, we investigate what’s going on and nine times out of ten, it becomes clear quite quickly, that the client doesn’t really know how to go about writing a marketing plan, what the steps are, where to start.

Invariably, as soon as we expose such a hurdle, the hurdle dissolves. We break the process down to a bunch of small steps; we decide what the first small step is and how to go about taking that small step and the client goes off and makes things happen. Procrastination simply ceases to be an issue instantaneously.

As I said, the hurdles come in many colours, shapes and sizes, but every time I notice a client (or myself) starting to beat herself up over being a procrastinator, I know there is something else getting in the way.

I believe laziness simply doesn’t exist, or at least not the type of laziness we get tough on ourselves over. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a lazy afternoon on a tropical beach, you could even argue that that kind of laziness is what the world needs more of, but people are rarely lazy good for nothing slobs in my experience.

Allowing yourself more time and space to ask yourself the two big questions and to investigate what is going on when you find yourself procrastinating truly will change your life… I promise you.

Business owners are all lazy slobs; Time management #1

time management lazy slob

How to become a doctor of discipline and professor of punctuality

One Monday, my client Darren walked into my office for one of our weekly sessions in a particularly foul mood. To my inquiry about his weekend, he snapped: “I didn’t get that bloody tax return done all weekend again! I am just so lazy!”

When I asked him what had happened he responded with: “I spent all Sunday cleaning out the garage, mowing the lawn, watching the rugby and taking my girlfriend out to lunch”. “To be honest, I have been procrastinating for weeks over this tax return and even after deciding to get it done this weekend, I still never even made a start on it”.

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I kept a pokerface, but inside I was smiling, because every client I’ve ever had, has told me a variant of this same story at some stage in their journey with me: “I am a terrible procrastinator, I am a no good lazy slob who gets distracted by stuff that doesn’t matter and I need you mr business coach to get really tough with me.” I didn’t say all that of course, instead I said:

“Wow, that sounds bad. But did you enjoy yourself doing those other things?”

“Of course” he replied, “It felt really good to get those things done. But that’s not the point. I still didn’t do my tax return after making a commitment to myself to do so this weekend”.

“I understand that you are disappointed,” I said, “But tell me, have you always done your own tax return?”

Darren pondered for a little while and responded: “Yes, ever since my father taught me how to do it. It always feels really good completing it myself and getting some sort of refund”.

“Ok”, I said, “and have you ever been late completing it and are you late now?”

“Oh no”, he replied, “That would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it, I’d get a penalty, and that would reduce the fun of getting a refund. I still have a couple of weeks to go now, but I just wanted to get it in a few weeks early, in case something came up.”

I smiled and said: “Hmmm, have you considered that something actually did come up this weekend? Maybe the lawn, the garage, the game and your girlfriend were more important?”

“Is there actually any real reason to assume you won’t get your tax return completed in the next two weeks?”

Lessons from Darren

As you might have guessed, Darren completed his return on time as he always had before and probably has ever since. And yet he considered himself a lazy slob for not getting it done earlier.

I believe people only ever do anything in life for one of two reasons:

  1. Because they actually ‘want’ to do this thing, … or
  2. Because they don’t want the consequences of NOT doing this thing

Darren wasn’t a lazy procrastinating good for nothing at all. He wanted to do the garage; he wanted to deal with the grass; he wanted to watch the Wallabies win a game of Rugby for a change, and he wanted to spend time with his girlfriend.

He wanted to do those things. He didn’t particularly want to do his tax return that weekend. What’s more, the consequences of not doing his tax return that weekend were actually negligible.

In the circumstances, Darren made entirely the right decision to delay his tax return.

Ask yourself the two big questions

Becoming a better time-manager always has to start with asking yourself these two questions:

  1. How much do I want to do this thing?
  2. How much do I want to avoid the consequences of not doing this thing?

It really is that simple. As long as you do not have 100% clarity over those two questions, you will always confuse the hell out of yourself, and you will be exasperated with yourself for being such a procrastinator.

Of course, there’s more to being efficient and effective than just answering those two questions. And I’ll write about that in the second article about time-management. But without absolute clarity about those two questions, you will not become the time-management ninja, the doctor of discipline you crave to be… I promise you.

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here

Productivity Tips: How To Get The Important Stuff Done In Your Business

productivity business

When other people’s priorities are not yours

productivity business

The Work-of-the-business v the Work-of-the-business-owner

Small business owners often ask me if I can help them become more productive. Or rather the complaint is that there are always a thousand other things getting in the way of the stuff you would much rather spend your time on, instead of the never-ending emails, phone calls, crises, admin, quoting, employees calling in sick or needing help tying their shoe laces. No one ever seems to be able to get anything done without you.

It’s one of the great frustrations of small business. Everything is down to you, the owner. When a client is irate, when a supplier is unhappy, the bank has an issue or when the toilet paper runs out, it’s down to you.

And of course, you being you, you do fix it all, you are the ultimate juggler and the balls rarely ever crash when you’re on the job, but it means the work you actually want to do, gets put off and off and off.

No simple answers

All small business owners have to face this challenge and, sadly, I have no simple answers.

Move along folks… Nothing to see here.

I can suggest a few principles, though, that may help make you more productive and actually get the things you want to get done, done:

  • Other people’s priorities don’t always have to be your priorities.
  • The important work you want to get onto, the business development work is the only work in your business that cannot be delegated to others.
  • The important work you want to get onto can always be put off another day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
  • If you don’t make the business development work your priority and set dedicated time aside for it every week, it will not get done and your business will struggle.

Covey and the 4 Quadrants

productivity business One of the classic works of personal development of the eighties is Stephen Covey’s book: “The 7 Habits of highly effective people”. In The 7 Habits, Covey talks about the 4 quadrants of time management (see the image).

Covey explains that all tasks can be put into one of 4 quadrants. Tasks can be:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important and not Urgent
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Neither Important nor Urgent

If you experience the problems I outlined in the first three paragraphs above, I know you have little trouble getting the tasks done that are in quadrant 1. The Quadrant 1 stuff is the stuff that must get done now, or else, and I bet you’re generally fine with that It’s the reason your business has survived as long as it has.

Mostly, small business owners don’t struggle too much with the Quadrant 4 stuff either, there’s not enough time in a day as it is, let alone spend time on stuff that is meaningless.

The problems are always in Quadrants 2 and 3. The Quadrant 3 stuff is all the tasks that are generated by other people. It’s the client ringing up and saying I need to have that quote first thing tomorrow morning, it’s the supplier saying I want to deliver this widget after lunch, can you be on site to receive it. Because the client and the supplier sound like it’s really really important to them, you set aside the thing you would have preferred to do and you make it happen. Other people’s priorities. They say “Jump”, your immediate response is “How High”? And when you jump you put aside the Quadrant 2 stuff. The Quadrant 2 stuff is the stuff that is important to you, but it can always be put off another day. The world doesn’t end if you start writing that business plan tomorrow instead of today and the world doesn’t end if you put off writing the new safety procedure for another day.

The world won’t end when you postpone

And the world really won’t end when you do that. After all you’ve managed alright without the business plan and the safety procedure to date… What’s another day? The problem is of course that tomorrow there will be another phone call and another crisis and the day after another one etc.

Obviously, sometimes when a client asks if you can do this thing for them by this afternoon, it really does need to be done, but many times it doesn’t. Often it’s perfectly ok to say: “Sorry I am busy this afternoon and tomorrow. I can get onto it on Thursday and have it to you by lunch time, would that be ok?” I can guarantee you that in most cases the client is going to be fine with that, as long as you are clear and decisive and as long as you actually deliver by Thursday lunchtime.

Other peoples urgencies

We are trained to respond to other people’s urgencies as if they are our own. They aren’t and it’s worth keeping that in mind.

I have worked with and met hundreds if not thousands of small business owners in the past 13 years. From my experience, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the one key difference between the business owners who have built and are building Great Small Businesses and those who struggle, is how much time they manage to dedicate every week to building their business. I call it “The work of the business owner” as opposed to “The work of the business”.

If you start by dedicating as little as an hour per week to business building and business development, every week, regular as clockwork, no interruptions, phone off, email off, go to a café if you have to, block it out in your diary, nothing short of death is more important… You will start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come… I promise you

#Productivity #Efficient #WorkOfTheBusinessOwner #BusinessDevelopment #Coaching

 

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How To Make Your Business Hum Along In 2017 With The Right Apps

Software and Apps for Business

Are you still relying on whiteboards, post-its and spreadsheets to run your business?

Software and Apps for Business

The Must-Have and the Nice-to-Have Apps for Business

Do you know:

  • How much profit you made on that job for Mrs Smith? The one the boys finished yesterday?
  • How long it takes you on average to get paid?
  • How much business you will do next month?
  • Which of your team members makes you money and which ones lose it for you?
  • How happy your customers are?
  • Whether or not the new guy on the floor in the store in Newtown has completed his safety induction training yet?
  • If you can afford for both Johnny and Carla to be on holidays next week?
  • The top 10 key indicators of the health of your business?

Managing by keeping your fingers crossed

Software and Apps for Business These are the type of questions every small business owner must know the answer to, every day, every week and every month. If you can’t answer them in your business, you’re managing with your fingers crossed, hoping everything will be alright.

It won’t be… Trust me.

And in 2017 these questions cannot be answered with whiteboards, yellow stickies and spreadsheets anymore, handy as those tools can be.

The name of the game is Apps, software in other words. So let me give you the “must-do’s”, the “general must haves”, the “specialised must-have” and the “nice to haves”

These are the must-do’s:

  • Any business apps that doesn’t live in the cloud… ditch it. It’s so much more efficient to have your information synched across all your different machines and to know that if your computer blows up today, you simply log on into your data from any another machine.
  • Whatever software you have, make sure it’s device independent. In 2017, all the good stuff runs happily on Mac, PC, Android, Iphone.
  • Don’t ever click on any link in any email from anyone unless you know for sure it’s safe (a trick that’s saved me a few times: When you hover over a link in an email you should be able to see what the actual link is (Possibly in the left bottom of your browser window)… if it looks dodgy, run away)

The general must-haves:

  • Software and Apps for Business Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Doesn’t matter which one… Get a paid account for one of them that’s appropriate for the size of your business and the number of people who have to access everything, and stick all your data in it. It’s safe and it works.
  • The absolute best antivirus, malware, ransomware, firewall, general anti-nastiness software you can get… Paid version… Automatic updates every day… I have used Kaspersky for the last 4 or 5 years myself (there are others). Touch wood, I haven’t had anything truly nasty get through (also see point 3 above). And don’t think you’re safe cause you’re on Apple either.
  • An external harddrive that you back your whole system up to or better yet an official “In the cloud” backup solution (paid), and test it once every couple of months or sooner depending on the business you’re in.
  • Bookkeeping software: Xero, Quickbooks Online, Saasu, MYOB Live, in that order as far as I’m concerned… If your business is bigger than 20- 30 employees or it has special complications, then you may need to at other software (talk to these guys)… But most SME’s will run fine on those. I am a convert of XERO, I think the former industry standard MYOB has come too little too late to the cloud and is still lagging seriously Xero. Quickbooks Online is surprisingly good, and Saasu used to be in the fight with Xero but looks like they’ve lost the race.
  • Cloud based office software, Either Microsoft Office or Google apps. It’s simply crazy not to use the latest versions by subscription, And it makes everything device independent (see 2 above)
  • Document, task and project sharing apps for business: I have gone completely paperless myself recently and I know a number of other business that have as well. I use Microsoft OneNote to keep all my notes and task lists and resources and everything, combined with DropBox (see above). It’s incredibly good to use. But I know others who use Evernote with great success for the same purpose and I see that DropBox themselves have recently brought out new functionality that might compete more directly with Evernote and MSOneNote. Other great options in this area are Trello and Asana…The last two are even more useful if you need to manage projects and tasks across a team.

The specialised must-haves:

The specialised stuff is:

  1. Workflow/ business process management
  2. Customer relationship Management (CRM)/ Sales pipeline management
  3. Marketing automation systems (MAS)
  4. Project management (PM)
  5. HR Management (HR)

A bunch of the questions I asked at the beginning of this article, you’ll only ever be able to answer with one or a combination of these specialised software systems.

For example if your business is in plumbing and you want to answer the very first question I posed about the job for Mrs Smith, you can effectively only do so if you use a workflow management system, in which all the costs and all the income of each job are recorded, instantaneously. If you organise that the right way, you’ll be able to push a button as soon as the boys leave the job and see if they’ve made or lost money and how much.

There are many business apps out there that can be used for this purpose and it’s incredibly challenging to find out which one is right for you. Personally, I refer most of my clients in service based businesses to a program called WorkFlowMax, because I know it works. Some others to look at:

There are specialist consulting companies in this field who can advise you on various options. (If you are in the building trades in Australia, check out Tradiepad)

Workflow is the Hub

Software and Apps for Business I always suggest you decide what workflow/ business management system to implement first, because it will actually become the hub around which everything else in the business turns. CRM, Marketing Automation (MAS), Project management (PM), HR all need to integrate tightly with the workflow system (as does the bookkeeping system of course, don’t forget that)

Many industries have specialised requirements, and the generic workflow systems such as WorkFlowMax won’t do the job. In those cases I have found there are often business management systems available that are specifically created for your industry. I am currently working with a removalist company and because of the complications in that industry of storage and transport, generic software is not much use to them. Luckily we’ve found a beautiful program that’s specifically created for the removals industry. Also, I worked with a mechanic, recently, and we found specialist software to manage motor mechanic businesses, that works very well.

In some cases you may actually have to create something from scratch. A client of mine who is a funeral undertaker has had to take that route recently.

The others

Many of the workflow management systems actually incorporate some or all of the other specialised programs, CRM, MAS, PM and even HR. However, my experience is that the five functions I listed are highly specialised and software that tries to do everything, often doesn’t do any of it very well. As I said, start with workflow management and once you have that in place you can assess whether the CRM functions of your workflow software are adequate for your needs. The workflow software company will in all likelihood publish a list of CRM and other programs that integrate well with it.

Whether or not you can simply buy the business app you need from the shelf or you have to create apps from scratch, as in the case of the undertaker, the cost of doing so isn’t prohibitive anymore these days. Although I have no doubt that you’ll end up with a few more grey hairs by the time the systems are fully implemented, your life will never be the same again… I promise you.

PS… Nice-to-haves:

I haven’t spoken about CRM and MAS yet, largely because this article is long enough as it is and also, because I want you to get on top of the other stuff first. Once you’ve got all of that covered… You should absolutely dive into CRM and MAS as your next project.

Check out some of these:

And there are many many others. CRM and MAS are not for the faint hearted, they will take slice off a piece of your life, chew it up and never give it back, that’s how it goes, but the two incredible opportunity to transform your business… And that’s a fact.

Transform Your Business in a Month

If you find yourself in a midst of a business challenge, I want to help you. My One-Month Business Transformation Programs are short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week programs designed to tackle one specific business development priority in your business, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform that specific aspect of your business.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

Take a FREE, No-Obligation 30-minute Discovery Session with me via Skype to learn more. And decide which is the most important issue for you to tackle right now!

Free Discovery Business Coaching Session

Time Management, Procrastination and Laziness

Procrastination, Business Coach

Procrastinating My Life Away

Procrastination, Business Coach

The nonsense in my head and what I do about it

Today, I’m writing about procrastination, laziness and time management. Well, I say “today”, but that’s a relative concept, isn’t it. “Today” was meant to be last Monday, it’s now Thursday. And in unrelated news, my desk is as tidy as it’s been for weeks, my email inbox is empty and I just pulled a magic looking sourdough from the oven an hour ago.

Your business coach wonders: “Am I really the right person to write about procrastination? It’s clearly not one of my strength areas.”

Procrastination, time management and laziness… Tricky topic. On the one hand I’ve written before (here for example), that laziness doesn’t actually exist as a character trait. On the other hand however, some people just seem to get so much done and they’re disciplined and they get their heads down and don’t come up for air until the job is done and then they jump straight into the next thing and get that done too. I even know people who are so disciplined, they consistently don’t look at Facebook until after dinner and every day turn their email off for large blocks of time. Those people are on the Marvel Super Heroes Team in my book: Doctor Discipline or somesuch…

Time to get some nibbles

Procrastination, Business Coach Hang on, I’m about 200 words into this article… Time to jump up and get some nibbles from the kitchen.

Hi there, I’m back, 2 hrs later, but still.

You see in this case, part of the problem I’m having is that even as a business coach, I’m not sure yet exactly what I’m going to write. I’m searching for inspiration. I’m waiting for the Muse to strike me. One of my heroes, Oliver Burkeman from the Guardian, however, says in this interview  that waiting for the Muse is futile. Just do the thing, sit down and write, and see what happens, says Oliver.

It’s a technique I’ve used, with some success, in the past… But today… Not so much.

Procrastination and perfectionism

Procrastination makes me feel inadequate. There are some fascinating thoughts on procrastination, in this article by Costica Bradatan in the New York Times. According to Costica, procrastination is all about perfectionism. Our Vision is more perfect than the reality can ever be. We fear that the thing we want to create, build or write is going to be a disappointment compared to our vision of it and so we resist creating it. I can sort of understand that, but I don’t think I am a perfectionist. “Close Enough is Good Enough” has generally been my motto in life and consequently I “Get Shit Done”… Not as well done as some others might Get Their Shit Done maybe, but Done nevertheless. I pride myself on my ability to make things happen.

But some things don’t get done that way. The difficult stuff is always the stuff you can’t get done by rolling up your sleeves. The stuff we procrastinate over is the stuff that requires us to be courageous, the stuff that requires us to expose some of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Young Grasshopper gets a kick up the backside

Procrastination, Business Coach So what’s difficult for me about writing this article and why I think I’ve been procrastinating over it for such a long time, is that I don’t feel qualified to talk about procrastination, because I do so much of it myself. Me writing about procrastination, inefficiency and wasting time is like a junkie writing about heroin addiction.

But hang on… Stop right there young grasshopper. By that logic we should not be allowed to talk about anything we haven’t gained a PHD in. Nonsense, clearly. Maybe being a procrastinator is precisely what qualifies me to write about it. Let’s face it, who wants to get weight loss advice from a supermodel? I’d much rather listen to someone who’s struggled with weight loss as much as I do, and who may have found something that’s helped him. One of the things that makes AA so effective is being with a group of people who “get it”.

So let’s start this whole thing again:

At the AA meeting

Hi my name is Roland and I am a procrastinator…

Here’s what has helped me sometimes, and sometimes not (and then at least I end up with a clean desk)

I’ve learnt is that procrastination is always, a sign for me that there is something else, something unexamined, in the way.

It’s either:

  1. I don’t know what the actual thing is I’m supposed to be doing
  2. I’m not sure how to actually go about doing this thing
  3. The prospect of doing this thing doesn’t excite me
  4. The consequences of not doing this thing at this moment are not all that bad.
  5. I don’t have enough confidence in my own abilities, or skill or experience.

(In the case of the procrastination I went through over writing this article it came down to numbers 1 and 5.)

Knowing that that’s how it works for me, I’ve learned that I first need to become aware that I am procrastinating, because sometimes I am avoiding the thing so much I don’t even realise I am procrastinating. And then, once I’ve realised I am procrastinating, ask myself which of those 5 hurdles is getting in my way. In nearly all cases, once I clearly verbalise what is getting in the way of doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing, it disappears. The moment I verbalised my fear of not being credible, because I am procrastinator myself, I realised how silly that fear actually was, the hurdle disappeared, and I could sit down and finish the article into the form you are reading now.

Most procrastination hurdles we throw up for ourselves fade when brought out into the light… I promise you

#TimeManagement #Procrastination #FunInBusiness

Learn more about my Fun In Business Intensive Program

Do you know that delaying work can lead to creativity, innovation and better business ideas?
I offer Fun in Business Intensive Program, which can help you turn around procrastination and use your time to ultimately have fun in doing business. I will help you avoid threats and allow room to discover new opportunities that result in extraordinary business success!

Fun in Business Intensive

SBP The One-Month Business Transformation Programs

Transform Your Business in a Month

Transform your business in a month

How would you like to blow away the biggest hurdle you face right now?

Skip ahead to the individual program details

If you’re anything like most other small business owners (and like me when I ran my building companies), you spend a lot of your days in a state of overwhelm and feeling like you are stuck.

For many business owners those feelings originate in one major issue. One challenge above all others needs to be tackled effectively right now before you and the business can start to move forward again:

  • Maybe it’s your marketing that isn’t working and you are not getting enough new inquiries
  • Or maybe you’re not converting enough inquiries into new sales, or
  • You’re always struggling to pay the bills on time, or
  • Maybe your staff are not delivering for you, or
  • Your business plan is way out of date
  • Or you simply feel that you are drifting from job to job, client to client, without a sense of direction.
Lifting the fog

It was certainly like that for me in my days as a builder in Sydney and I believe most of us experience at least one of those challenges at some stage in our journey. When we are in the midst of such a challenge it can feel like we are surrounded by a fog through which we can see very little else.
What we need at a time like that is to fix that issue and lift the fog… Nothing else. Book a free Discovery Coaching Session with me to explore how to lift the fog.

“Roland’s keen perception has helped me get to the heart of my issues extremely quickly”.

(Rebecca Wells, Clear Horizon Coaching)

Tackle one issue at a time

If you find yourself in that situation from time to time, I want to help you. The One-Month-Business-Transformation programs are short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week programs designed to tackle one specific business development priority in your business, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform that specific aspect of your business.

One Month… One Issue… Fix it now!

I will customise each program specifically to your circumstances and your business needs.

The programs consist of a Discovery session (see below) and up to 4 one-on-one 1hr coaching sessions with me via Skype, spread out over no more than one month.

The Programs:

Each of the One-Month Business Transformation Programs tackle one of the following topics (click on each one for more information):

  1. Transform Your Purpose
  2. Transform Your Business Plan
  3. Transform Your Cashflow
  4. Transform Your Marketing
  5. Transform Your Sales
  6. Transform Your Staff
Structure and investment:

All programs come with a workbook or worksheets and relevant resources and tools, such as videos, podcast stories, webinars, articles, surveys and templates.

Each of the programs will be customised to suit your business and your circumstances, we will only be working on the stuff that really matters to you.

Your investment for each of the One-Month Business Transformation Program will be between AUD $1500 and $2500 (plus GST if you are in Australia).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Read about all my business coaching programs here

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Purpose

A Business without True Purpose and Passion, isn’t

Why does your business exist?

What’s it on this earth for? And why would anybody care?

purpose of business Many times when I’ve asked business owners those questions, they answer with a variant of the three standards replies:

  • We deliver a great product.
  • For a great price.
  • With great customer service.

Is that maybe what you would have said?

Probably, right? But the problem is that all your competitors say the same thing (they do, believe me), and so you make it very difficult for your prospective customers to make a decision based on anything other than price, and we all know that competing on price is a dog’s game; We’d all like to stay away from competing on price if we could, right?

Read the chapter on the Purpose of your Business in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy books for business owners.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Purpose program we find the unique answer for you and your business to the question of why your business exists, what it’s Greater Purpose is, and why anyone else would care about that. When you nail that answer, once and for all, your business and your life will never be the same again…

I promise you.

“I always leave our meetings feeling aligned, confident and positive about the direction I am heading.”

(Colin Garrett, Colin the Butcher)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform your Business Plan

A business without a plan achieves everything in it

plan We all know we should have a business plan, all the business gurus, all the business books, our accountants and even aunt Sally have told us so for years… Or maybe you actually did write a business plan a couple of years ago, but you haven’t looked at the thing for over a year and it’s gathering dust in the bottom of a filing cabinet somewhere.

So how do we write a business plan that actually works, a business plan that functions as a tool for the development of our businesses, a business plan that makes a difference.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Business-Plan program you get to understand how to write a business plan that transforms your business, and depending on your circumstances you’ll either create your first ever living business plan or get well under way to creating one, in a great position to complete it and implement it in your business.

Read the chapter about business planning in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

Creating a business plan that works for your business is the first step to transforming your business and your life,

I promise you

“I implemented a range of enormous changes in my business and in my life.”

(Dave Scott, Invenco)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Cashflow

A business that doesn’t make Profit and generate Cash is a hobby

cat Many times have I spoken to business owners who tell me they are confused about the fact that they make profit, but they don’t know where the money is. In my days as a builder I also saw lots of business owners get into trouble, because they thought that because they had lots of money in the bank, they must be doing alright.

The fact is that the connection between profit and cash is a loose one generally speaking, unless your business operates entirely on a cash on delivery basis, and very few businesses are.

To build a fun business you simply must keep your eyes on 4 things:

  1. Sales
  2. Production
  3. Invoicing
  4. Collections

Drop your attention from any one of those 4 factors and as sure as God made little apples, you’ll get into trouble.

Read the chapter about financial management in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Cash-Flow program you’ll learn how to measure those 4 factors. You’ll also learn which one of the four is the most important and how to watch it and manage it like a hawk.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come you have to be all over those 4 factors, like a rash…

I promise you

“Roland helped me focus on the fundamentals and that has now given me peace of mind and control over my business.”

(Brad Chapman, BIC construction)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

Go back to the top

Transform Your Marketing

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing

markeing stand out from the crowd Most of us think of marketing in terms of advertising, and doing social media, sponsoring the local under 10’s footy team or going networking at the local chamber of commerce.

And all of those things fall in the marketing camp, no doubt. But marketing is so much more. The price you charge for your product is a marketing decision. How you answer the phones in your business is about marketing and so is the wording you use on the reminder letters your accounts receivable person sends out to your customers.

Everything you do and every decision you take in your business has a marketing angle to it. In fact if there is anything you do in your business that doesn’t have a marketing angle associated with it you could argue you shouldn’t be doing it at all. The Granddaddy of all the 20th century business gurus, Peter Drucker, used to say that the the purpose of business is to get and keep a customer, so anything that doesn’t contribute to doing that, doesn’t belong in your business. Does that sound a bit extreme? Maybe, but let’s find out what it means for your business.

Read the chapter about marketing in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Marketing program we’ll examine the opportunities in your business to improve your marketing so that you’ll start to bring more customers through your doors.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you have to learn to think about marketing in everything you do…

I promise you.

“Roland forced me to address the hard issues and in doing so, I have made changes which have saved me over $50,000 per year.”

(James France, Vanguard)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Sales

Nothing happens until we sell something

sales is hard girl selling Without sales there are no customers, without customers there is no income and without income there is no business. It truly doesn’t matter how gorgeous your website looks, how well your apple peeler works or how silently your IT systems are humming along in the background. Business can not exist without sales.

But sales can be hard. There are some people for whom sales comes easily, but you may not be one of those people. The temptation for many small business owners is to believe that if we deliver good enough products or services, the customers will somehow flock to our doors. But the customers rarely will cue up  for our stuff the way they do for the latest Iphone. Somehow we have to get our stuff in front of enough of the right people and then we have to make it so attractive to buy from us that they’ll do so with a smile

Read the chapter about sales in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Sales Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business to make sales much easier for you and your business, so that you’ll convert a greater percentage of the people that walk through your doors into paying customers.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must get good at sales…

I promise you

“Working with Roland, was the most productive time I have ever dedicated to me and my business.”

(Anna Field, Paddington Beauty Room)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Staff

A fun business hires the brightest and keeps the brightest

the right people on the bus The Right people on the bus,
in the right seats,
facing the Right direction.

An old business mentor of mine used to say: “You could have such a great business if it wasn’t for the staff”, and famous business author Michael Gerber said in The E-Myth: “It’s impossible to manage people, because people actively resist being managed and they are unpredictable, only systems can be managed”.

I’m not sure that I entirely agree with Michael Gerber, but he had a point. People complicate things. It’s much easier to manage an office after hours, when everyone else has gone home. But the nature of business is that it’s with people that business creates value. It’s the combined effort and creativity and knowledge of the people of the business, that allow a business to make profit and grow and develop.

But all people are not created equal, some are definitely more equal than others, and some start out looking really good, but half a year down the track we’re not so sure anymore. Maybe that’s even a pattern that seems to repeat itself a lot in your business?

So how do we go about finding the right people and once we have them how do we keep them engaged?

Read the chapter about staff in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Staff Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business for finding and keeping the right people and maximising the opportunities we have to get our people to do great work.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must have the right people on the bus, and facing in the right direction…

I promise you

“Roland has created a simple, effective, and repeatable process that makes his coaching strategy work.”

(Wendy Lloyd Curley, WLC Enterprises).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Time Management

juggling

How to become a time management ninja with two simple questions

ninja What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.

In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge you need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.

 

Format

The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some small simple “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.

Time Management 

In the fourth of these articles we’ll look at Time Management and ask:

What does it take to become an efficient manager of your time?

amazon Time Management is one of those topics that book shelves and libraries are full of.

When writing this article, I did a quick search terms for ‘time management books’ and found 20,000 titles ranging from ‘time management from the inside out’ ‘time Warrior’, ‘How to get things done’ and how to live on 24 hours or even 4 hours a day.

The trouble is, each one of these 20,000 books has a so-called’ proven method’ for mastering time management, overcoming procrastination( and laziness) and hence finding the secret to success.

So which one is best, and are there actually more than 20,000 different ways to conquer time management?

Juggling balls

juggling

 In my opinion, it really depends on how you look at it. I designed my own time management method some time ago, it was different and it worked really well for me for a while. (My patented system was based on the concept of juggling balls or balloons… “Keeping the balls in the air” and involved a white board and varying colours of ‘yellow stickies’). But really, it was just another variant on one of the many different to-do list methods…

As a matter of fact… most of the time management methods I’ve come across fall into two camps: Firstly there are the many variations on working with to-do lists.

Some of those involve a perpetual list; others involve a new list every day or every week. Some list-methods tell you to divide your tasks in 3, 4 or 6 different categories, and others suggest to just dump every action no matter how small or large in the same list. Some ask you to filter out the most important tasks and do them first, others suggest you do the one you like least first etc etc.

The second approach revolves around varying ways to manage your diary and your day: Some tell you to keep lots of blank space in your diary, some direct you to plan your day in 10 minute blocks and others ask you to just stick the “Big Rocks” in your diary.

10 minutes

I worked for a specialist time management consultant for a little while and part of his “IP” revolved around teaching people that every action that would take more than 10 minutes had to go in the calendar and anything smaller than 10 minutes had to go in the task list.

And you know what… I’m pretty sure all of the methods work, and that all of them are fantastic for the person who designed them.

My lazy client

But that ain’t you.

Some time ago, I worked with a client who used to beat himself up something shocking over his laziness and procrastination.

One Monday he came in to one of our sessions in a particularly foul mood. To my inquiry about his weekend, he snapped: “I didn’t get that bloody Tax return done again yesterday!”

When I asked him what had happened he responded with:

overflowing garageI cleaned up the garage, I mowed the lawn, I watched the rugby game and I took my girlfriend out to lunch”. “To be honest, I have been procrastinating for weeks over this tax return and even after making the decision to get it done this weekend, I still never even made a start on it”.

“Wow”, I said, “That sounds bad. But did you enjoy yourself doing those other things?”

“Of course” he replied, “the garage really needed cleaning, the lawn was weeks overdue, the Wallabies won and my girlfriend really appreciated the attention.  However, that’s not the point… I still didn’t do my tax return after making a commitment to do so”.

“I understand that you are disappointed” I said, “But tell me, have you always done your tax return?”

He pondered for a while and responded: “Yes, ever since I was 18 and my father taught me how to do it, it always feels really good completing it myself and getting some sort of refund”.

“Ok”, I said, “so you have never missed a deadline before and are you late with it now?”

Oh no”, he replied, “I have always done it and on time and I actually have another 2 whole weeks before it has to be in… I just wanted to get it in in a few weeks early, in case something came up”

Through my smiles I responded: “Well… maybe something did come up? Maybe the lawn, the garage, the game and your girlfriend were more important this weekend? Is there actually any real reason to assume you won’t get your tax return completed in the next two weeks?”

(In case you’re interested… my client completed his tax return the next weekend… he still had a week to spare) 

The two questions

You see, we only ever do something for one of two reasons:

1)    We want to do it

2)    We don’t want the consequences of not doing it

lunch on the beachWhat my client had ‘wanted’ to do was fix the garage, the lawn and the game and spend time with his girlfriend.  He wasn’t a procrastinator at all. He just didn’t particularly ‘want’ to do his tax return that weekend, and the consequences of not doing it were minimal.

So this is how I’d like you to think about time management.

As long as you are not 100% clear on what you want to do and you are not 100% clear on what consequences you fear – you will constantly confuse yourself and you’ll tell yourself you are an exasperating lazy procrastinator and that you need a better time-management system.

So, by all means… experiment with any of the well-established systems (personally I like the Steven Covey’s Urgent V Important approach) but no system is going to help you unless you constantly ask yourself: What do I want to do and what do I not want the consequences of not doing?

Give it a go… much more fun than beating yourself up… I guarantee it.

About the author and the Masterminds sessions

roland Roland Hanekroot is a business coach who works with Small business owners to help them have more Fun in their businesses and build businesses that sustain them for years to come.

Roland is also the author of “The Ten Truths books for Business owners” (more about the books here: http://thetentruths.com.au)

Every month Roland Hanekroot runs a business development webinar called “The Small Business Masterminds” more information here and to register for the next webinar, follow this link: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au/ The first time is free (normally $99)