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Wellbeing / Business psychology

Are you still colouring in the title page?

Making preparations for your business is not the same as making progress on your business. It’s important to move beyond the ‘title page’ and get stuck into the real work.

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Remember in primary school when you’d begin a new unit of work by creating a fancy title page? The page looked good but it didn’t teach you anything or move you forward – it was just a precursor to the ‘real work’ that was to come.

If you’re not getting the business results that you want, look at the activities you’re choosing to focus on. ‘Colouring in the title page’ might look like this: 

Information gathering

It’s important to be knowledgeable, but soloists – particularly if they’re perfectionists – can become absorbed in research at the expense of action. What is the purpose of your research? Be honest – is reading another article on cold calling going to move you towards your goal, or is it keeping you safe from cold calling?

Fear of failure often lurks beneath chronic information gathering. Rather than stepping boldly out of the comfort zone with the mindset Susan Jeffers advocates in her book Feel the fear and do it anyway, information-gatherers convince themselves that never-ending research is work. It’s really an excuse – a handy way to stay busy until you feel ‘good enough’ to take action. 

"Begin before you are ‘ready’ (you’ll never be); finish before it is perfect (it never will be)."

Want more articles like this? Check out the business psychology section.

Perfecting

Is the font quite right on the proof for your business cards? What about the colours on your website? Will the graphic designer sack you for yet another tiny amendment to the logo draft? Are you ready to hit ‘send’ to the editor, or should you have another read through the article?

If your competitors surge into your shared market, blazing the trail that you ought to be blazing for them, look for where you’re getting stuck. If it’s in agonising over small details that won’t have a significant impact on the overall impression you’ll make to clients, let this stuff go and move on. Read more about why progress is better than perfection here. 

Doing overwhelm

When my 13-year-old feels swamped with assignments, she flaps and cries and posts on Facebook about how much work she has to do. Many of us learn how to do ‘overwhelm’ in high school when we first feel the pinch of multiple assignments. Are you carrying some of these unconstructive habits into your work?

Are you making cups of coffee, tidying your desk, spending hours engaging on social media and ticking off the simple things on your to-do list at the expense of the harder stuff that would catapult your progress? 

How to move on

Each time you start a new activity in your working day, check that it’s the most important thing you could be doing right now. Ask, “What is the purpose of this?” and compare the task with others on your list. Begin before you are ‘ready’ (you’ll never be), finish before it is perfect (it never will be), pick the ‘bang for buck’ every time, and tinker around with the ‘title page’ only after real work is done.

Do you get stuck on colouring in the title page of your business?

Emma Grey

is the author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ director of WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of My 15 Minutes. She is a copywriter at The Storytelling Business, and her first teen novel was published in 2014.

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