Faced with a long list of tasks or a busy week ahead, it’s surprising how often our brains kick into self-sabotage mode. All the reasons not to do something bubble up to the surface, and before we know it, we’ve set it aside in favour of a quicker, easier, or less important task.
But how many of these reasons are truly valid, and what can we do to break down our self-constructed, self-destructive barriers? Here, we’ll consider some of the most common myths we tell ourselves.
I haven’t got time
Who hasn’t already said this today, in reference to one thing or another? It’s an eternal problem that there never seems to be enough hours in the day. We all have too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
Really, this comes down to setting your priorities. We’ve written before about the benefits of eating a frog at the start of the day. It sounds strange, but what this really means is identifying the one thing that’s a top priority for your day (your “frog”) and doing it first. Forget about all the seemingly urgent things that demand your attention, like emails or phone calls. Instead, identify the one thing that will take you much closer to your goal, rather than the several small things that will only make marginal gains.
You may not say this to yourself out loud, but it’s a classic reason for not getting things done – even if you don’t realise it. Fear can be one of the underlying causes of distraction. We allow ourselves to be pulled away from a task to escape the discomfort of facing circumstances we don’t want to deal with.
Money is a common trigger, meaning many clients bury their heads in the sand in an effort to avoid a looming tax bill. However, the classic advice of “face your fears” remains the best way to deal with this. Put simply, the longer you avoid engaging with your finances, the worse they’re likely to be. If you work with us to plan for your tax bill, and save as you go, the outcome won’t be scary at all – it’ll be entirely predictable. Which leads us onto the next issue…
There’s no money for it
With costs rising sharply, most practices are feeling the pinch, and budgets are getting smaller. Many practice owners might find that they want to do things, but simply don’t have the money left to do them. This is a complex problem that must be approached from many angles, but really engaging with us around your tax and finances can certainly be a positive first step.
This is because the sooner you speak to us, the sooner we can identify saving opportunities and help to get a plan in place. This will avoid you being presented with a “surprise” tax bill that you haven’t saved for, which may mean that you have to halt expenditure to pay it off.
It’s too big to handle right now
What do you do when you face a mountain? If you’re a pro athlete, you might continue full speed ahead, but if you’re like most of us, you’ll baulk, tell yourself you haven’t got the energy, and save it for another day. And that’s because every mountain (or sometimes even a hill) of a task seems insurmountable at first. It’s far easier to pause on it, telling yourself you’ll come back when you have the time or energy.
However, in most cases, big tasks can be broken down into smaller ones. Take small steps up the mountain to make it seem more manageable because this still represents success. For instance, we’ll often need things from clients at the end of the tax year, such as extra paperwork, payroll records, debtor figures, and bank statements. On paper – or rather, in email form – this can seem like a daunting request, but there’s no reason that it all has to be handled in one go. Moving through the list one item at a time will still achieve the same result eventually.
I’ll just see to this quick job
When your to-do list is full, it can be tempting to tick off a few “easy wins” to make yourself feel better. This way, you feel that you’ve achieved something, the list is reducing, and things are moving. In reality, this approach doesn’t move things very much.
Again, this highlights the need to understand what’s really important. Classify your list according to the urgent v. important matrix: whether they’re urgent but not important, urgent and important, not urgent but important, or not urgent or important. If something isn’t urgent or important, it’s definitely not a priority.
I’m not sure what’s happening
If an opportunity arises, you need access to accurate and current numbers to respond to it. If you make a habit of keeping your books updated, you can see, in real time, how your practice is performing and whether you’re able to act. If not, you can only make decisions by sticking a finger in the air – which is always going to feel like a bad move.
I don’t know what to do
When you don’t know what to do, it can feel easiest and safest to do nothing. Often, if you’re crippled by uncertainty, this is because you either, a) don’t have set goals, meaning you’re not sure what you’re working towards, or b) know what you want to achieve, but have no idea how to achieve it. One is a lack of strategy, while the other can be a lack of skills or confidence.
There can also be issues with seeing a problem but not knowing how to fix it. For instance, if patient numbers are dropping and you’re not sure why, or if your bank account is dwindling and you can’t get to the root cause. Whatever the situation, this is often when it’s helpful to engage a third party to help.
The benefit of working with a multi-skilled agency like Hive is that we have in-house experts who can take a look at your practice and its finances, and get a comprehensive picture of how to approach things. To speak to us about what you might need, get in touch.