Over the past several months I have been subconsciously “stewing” over something with out really being able to put a finger on it until just recently. To some extent it was a function of us being typically slow at the beginning of the year – and yet during this “slow” period, I always find myself putting in a great deal of time trying to generate ideas for new business. In fact, it is not uncommon for me to work harder during January/February than almost any other time! Mostly this is based on planning activities, which can be helpful throughout the whole year.
I have come to realize over the past couple of weeks though, that I have also allowed myself to get bogged down doing a number of things that “pop” up out of seemingly nowhere. And since production is slow anyways, I allow myself to get sucked in to working on these under the guise of getting something live in-house.
And then the revelation hits – it is the dreaded urgent versus important syndrome that affects us all at one time or another. This is of course when we sacrifice what is really important to our success versus what at the time seems urgent. This can be replying almost immediately to an e-mail that pops up, working on a quote that really is not needed for a few days instead of the major proposal that you have been putting off for the last 2 days, or spending too much time trying to find exactly the right new prospect instead of just making a point to initiate some sales calls.
My insight ultimately came with the nagging thought of “what is it that I have done today, or this week, that will help us as a company improve?” It was not enough to just get through the week and get everything done that was on my calendar, but rather to know that I accomplished something that I had identified as being important to our success. Of course the first step to making this happen is to identify the important items and then to prioritize them. This is actually what I work best on at the start of every New Year, but unfortunately I had let myself stray from the focus.
So whether your important few items are centered in the areas of marketing, sales, production, reducing costs or something else – be sure you stick to the plan. Take a look back at the end of the day or at least the end of every week, to make sure that you have made progress. For me, that was getting out and making some sales calls – with more planned for next week. Guess you can figure out my priority…