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Ignoring Stuff is Good Business…Sometimes

DistractionsBusyworkNon-Mission CrititalA good friend of mine and fellow serial entrepreneur once told me the most successful people in the world are simply able to ignore more stuff than others.  Very True.  But we can’t ignore everything and when you are working with your spouse the concept of choosing what to ignore can get even harder.
The word ignore can lead us to some bad thoughts…ignoring stuff is bad.  We all hate to be ignored but we all need to ignore some stuff that is going on around us so we can get some real stuff done.
So what should you ignore?  Easy, stuff that doesn’t advance your plan and get you where you want to be.  The first step in executing that plan is knowing where you want to be.  Can you define your short term and long term goals very succinctly right now?  If you can’t then you can’t make a decision about whether something you are going to work on is worth doing or not.

There is a lot of talk right now about how being busy is a bad thing and that we are all wasting our time being “too busy”.  I disagree.  If you own and/or operate a business, you are going to be busy.  And you should be.  If you aren’t busy then you had better tell me that you are happy with where your business is, because it isn’t going to grow.  You don’t have to be working 80 hours a week, but you should be making the most of your time when you are working…
But you should be busy with the things that move you and/or your business forward.  Not just with things to fill your time-that is the wrong kind of busy.  If you can’t say very clearly why what you are doing is going to advance your business or yourself (personal development is equally, if not more important) then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
What you should (and shouldn’t) ignore and how to do it:

Ignore things that you just do because you have always done them.

Just because you have always done it doesn’t make it a necessity.  Historical Practice does not equal best practice.  I am not suggesting that the path to productivity in business is to scrap all of your old systems and start over.  The key here is to make sure that what you are doing (and the way you are doing it) has relevance in your business today. There were several reports and metrics that I did religiously every month when we first opened elements that I no longer do.  It took me a while to be okay with dropping some of that “work”.  At first it felt like I was just being lazy and not doing my whole job as owner.  But the truth is that I didn’t need to be spending my time on those things because they didn’t give me enough useful information to move our business forward.

Ignore the super easy task that is just going to take time but no effort.

We all have a to do list that is a mile long and there is no way we can get it all checked off every day, so we try to get as many as we can.  This often leads to just doing the easiest thing first.  There are days when we need a quick win and if you are having one of those days, then start with the easy stuff.  But once the easy stuff is done move onto the stuff that will move the needle the most.  The thing on your list that scares you the most is probably the one that will be the most beneficial to you when it is done.

Ignore distractions when you are working on something.

While this isn’t easy in the world we live in now and everyone expects a response immediately from everyone, you have to be able to focus when you are working on something.  According to psychology today you could be losing up to 40% of your productivity by trying to multi-task (which is actually impossible, we are task-switching).  Go somewhere you won’t be bothered if you have some work to do.  I like to go full screen on whatever I am working on and turn off email notifications so I’m not distracted by shiny objects.  If I don’t know they are there it is easier to ignore them!  If you don’t have that much self control you could try something like “StayFocusd” for Chrome or “SelfControlApp” for apple… Another great way to block out distractions is to work when others aren’t-get up early or stay up late.

Don’t ignore your personal health and well being.

Megan and I have struggled with this for a long time.  Health is a long term commitment.  Many of the day to day business items are immediate and somewhat short term.  It can be easy to skip that work out or just eat lunch at your desk because you need to finish up payroll or submit that marketing report. But in the long run ignoring this part will lead to bad things at all other parts of your life.  A great way to make this stick is to gamify it so you can add it to your daily wins.  Another way to bump this up the list is to pay for something that you schedule.  Many people use a personal trainer because then the workout gets put on the calendar and since you have paid for it, you won’t skip it.

Don’t ignore your life outside your business.

While the people outside of your business, your family and friends, are likely to be more forgiving of you when you make a mistake or don’t get something done than a client, they are the people you are going to spend more time with long term and deserve some attention now.  Besides, if you ignore this to build your business, then who are you going to spend time with when you have it?  This is also a huge issue when we are talking about working with a spouse or other family member.  Sometimes when we are working together we end up ignoring the personal side of our relationship during those work times.  Nothing wrong with that.  In fact it is probably a good idea most of the time.  But you have to circle back to those relationships when the work time is done.  Even if that just means that you have coffee with your business parter/spouse and don’t talk about he business for the second half of your mocha chino…

All of this comes down to setting priorities.  When you are deciding to do or not to do something it needs to be because you made the decision to do it, not because it was in front of you right now.  Being more intentional in what we are and aren’t going to do is good for all of us.  And know it is ok not to do everything.

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