But after just a few days of determined effort and sheer, unbridled enthusiasm, the concentration begins to wander. The television beckons, or the radio, or the coffee pot, or that little household task that turns into a whirl of domestic activity, and suddenly you’re asking yourself, “Where did the day go?” And you realise just how much you may have needed that pain-in-the-backside boss cracking the whip and endlessly growling about productivity and seasonal targets.
You begin to wonder if you haven’t made a terrible mistake. Maybe you’ve overestimated your determination to succeed. Maybe you just don’t have what it takes to be self-employed. Maybe it’s time to brush up your resume and begin the hunt for full time, permanent employment.
Don’t worry. You’re just going through what almost every self-employed, home-working individual goes through during the early days of their new commercial endeavour.
But what to do about it?
Well, remember that pain-in-the-backside boss cracking the whip and endlessly growling about productivity and seasonal targets? We’re going to invite him into your home. In a manner of speaking.
We’re going to create a virtual boss, a to-do list with attitude.
Now, everybody can create a to-do list. Some people can even stick to it. Unfortunately, most people tend to adhere to it for a while then begin to let it slide. And once it begins to slide a little it’s remarkable how easy it is to ignore it entirely, rather like the boss who begins to lose your respect.
That’s why our to-do list needs to have attitude. It needs to be compelling. Your to-do list doesn’t just need to tell you what to do, it needs to tell you what’s at stake. And not in a vague way, either; it needs to be specific and concrete.
For example, say you need to put together a list of all the businesses in your area that might benefit from your proofreading expertise. Put it on your to-do list. Next to it, or underneath it, write down exactly when this task needs to be done by. Don’t put ‘ASAP’, give an exact time and date, based upon how long you think the task will reasonably take, bearing in mind any other activities you might have on-going.
Now, this is the important bit. Write down what will happen if you do achieve this target. So, you might write: “If I compile this list by tomorrow lunchtime, I’ll be able to mail to potential customers the same day and commence follow-up calls in 48-hours. This means by the end of the week I should be looking at securing my first assignments.”
How exciting is that? First assignment by the end of the week? There’s something to aim for.
Now, write down what will happen if you don’t complete this task by the designated time. Be harsh. Be that pain-in-the-backside boss. Write something like: “If I don’t put myself on the radar of these businesses by the end of the week, somebody else will, and not only will I lose their business in the short-term, I could lose it indefinitely. This could seriously damage my business.”
Every task you assign yourself should be treated in exactly the same fashion. Every task should have a realistic (but maybe a little challenging) timeframe and clearly described consequences if you do or don’t complete the task on time.
That pain-in-the-backside boss was probably a pain-in-the-backside for a reason. He or she fully understood the consequences of inactivity, poor productivity and less than 100% commitment. And once you begin to reap the benefits of your ‘to-do list with attitude’, so will you, and your business will begin to grow and thrive.