Dither or act

I suggest that a contemporary definition of dither be changed to reflect the way that politicians of all shades have handled the EU withdrawal agreement. Good job these people don’t have to manage a business.

18 months to purchase a book

And maybe I should include myself in this definition. When in full-time practice I remember taking eighteen months to make a decision to buy a Tolley’s tax planning book.

The hapless sales person would ring me dutifully every month or so, to be requested to call back in a further two-months. Eventually, the game of cat and mouse concluded and the book was acquired.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

How many decisions have you declined to make recently?

What I have discovered, is that the older I get, the less tolerant I have become regarding incomplete tasks. I made the mistake some years ago of visualising a sack I carried in which all my deferred actions were parked – I’ve no idea how heavy this bag became, before I started to empty it, but the contents had a way of haunting me.

The incomplete items became a growing distraction. The sack of deferrals required periodic reviews and as the sack filled, this process  was taking up too much attention, too much time.

Lightening the load

As with all effective strategies, the solution to my problem was really simple: I spent less time considering what to do and spent more time doing stuff. All pretty obvious.

How did I do this? I purchased a Paperchase “New Week, New Goals” booklet. This allowed me to empty the sack and create a list of absolutely everything that was incomplete, or that I needed to revisit at a later date. I then planned what I was going to achieve to shorten the list in the following week; the remainder of my uncompleted actions stayed in the book. After a few months of using this process the deferred list started to shorten and the weight on my back, on my attention, significantly diminished.

I update this book every Sunday night and I can’t tell you the pleasure it gives me when a task is highlighted as completed. And if a chore is left undone, for whatever reason, it just gets moved forward.

This system may not suit everyone. However, there are a few up-coming challenges for our profession and the UK business community that will demand a certain dexterity and agility. Being weighed down by your internal to-do lists and their constant need for attention, is possibly not the smart way forward.

 

 

Bob Edwards

Bob has been working with practices across the UK offering novel ways to improve cross-sales and increase new client acquisitions. He is also interested in "step changes" in legislation that offer challenges, and therefore opportunities, for practitioners to provide new recurring and one-off support services to clients.

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