I saw the question below regarding procrastination and productivity on Linked In. I think it is a very common situation with small business owners and one I have certainly encountered personally and worked through with my clients.
As a business owner, what’s the best way to tackle an overwhelming workload? I have an enormous pile of projects right now — and they are all culminating at once. What tips can you share that can help me get everything done perfectly, stop procrastinating on the ones I fear the most, and keep a balance between work and family? I know, the word of advice might be to stay off these networking sites… but how about the second word?
As a Christian, I think it is an even more difficult situation as we are certainly taught:
Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37
How to Prioritize Overcommitment to Clients?
In practicality, I believe if you try to move all of the projects along you will just maintain an enormous pile of “incomplete” projects and not improve your productivity. They may be further along but are still not complete. This will create bad will for your clients. There is one approach to handling the situation you are already in today and others to keep yourself from getting back into the situation later.
Understand the Impact on the Client
Focusing on the current situation, the first thing I would do is poll my clients to understand the true priorities and impact on each client. One client may be okay if their project is postponed and actually appreciate that you proactively communicated to them, rather than learning of the problem once the deadline is missed. As a Christian business owner, it is important to stay true to my professional ethics. Being forthcoming with my clients is definitely a core value for me. Once you have a feel for which project deadlines are more critical to a client’s business success, you can make more informed priority decisions. For example, if a client’s book hits the shelves in two weeks and you are supplying all of the press releases for the launch, being late will have a more critical impact on the client than another project to enhance the copy of an author’s current website. I know in some cases the client doesn’t care if they are critically impacted or not; they just want you to meet your commitment. But many will understand. If you effectively and proactively communicate that their project will be delayed and provide a new realistic deadline you can meet, many will appreciate it in the long run. I have been on both ends of this situation and have found relief with this strategy and appreciated suppliers who were honest and forthright.
The Long-Term Issue
Then you can focus on the real issue, which is managing your business such that you can successfully meet the demands of your clients professionally while maintaining work/life balance. Here are a few tips from other answers on Linked In and a couple of my ideas:
1. Gather resources to do the tasks that you fear, hate, or that can be delegated. This could be to hire someone part-time or on a contract basis or find a virtual assistant.
2. When accepting work discuss scope and deliverables prior to establishing deadlines. Then look at what else is already scheduled prior to committing to a deadline.
3. Schedule your time to work on projects rather than waiting until the next thing is due! Get some done in advance if it is going to conflict.
4. Use Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and schedule family time first!
5. Hire a Christian business coach to help you plan, stay focused, and move through procrastination.
What other ideas do you have for people in this situation? What has worked for you?