How limited thinking cost me hundreds of hours

- December 20, 2016 3 MIN READ

When you’ve always done something a certain way, it’s easy to think it’s the ONLY way. When that blinkered limited thinking gets challenged, however, the results can be stunning.

There’s a task in my business that needs to be done repeatedly. While it only takes three to four minutes each time, it’s one of those itty-bitty micro-processes without which everything else is at risk of turning into a shambles.

The frequency with which I need to do it varies. Sometimes I don’t need to do it at all for weeks on end. But then, on other projects, I do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. (You get the picture.)

Over the years I’ve fantasised, plotted and schemed about ways to make this repetitive, boring and arduous task a thing of the past – ideally by outsourcing it to someone else.

Inevitably though, I’ve had to acknowledge that because the details change all the time, it would take me longer to brief someone else to do it than it does to do it myself. Furthermore, because it needs to be done in real time, the delays involved in outsourcing it just wouldn’t make it viable.

The exact nature of the task doesn’t really matter. It’s unique to my business and is very unlikely to be something that’s applicable to yours.

What does matter is that over the decade-and-a-bit that I’ve been running my business I’ve performed this task thousands of times. It’s highly detailed and requires me to be mentally switched on and focussed for Every. Single. One.

It’s one of the few aspects of my working life that don’t bring me joy.

So you’d think it would be cause for huge celebration that while Googling something completely unrelated, I recently stumbled across some software that can do it for me.

Breathless, I signed up for a trial version on the spot, watched a couple of video tutorials, and decided to put it through its paces on a project I was working on for a client.

I then watched in horror as my new toy proceeded to complete 10 of those detested two- to three-minute tasks in less than 60 seconds.

My horror only intensified as I realised that for the princely one-off investment of $60 (actually $45 because it was on special!), this software will also streamline the processes that precede and follow the dreaded micro-task, shaving yet more hours off my workflow every year.

I felt a bit nauseous calculating just how much brain power I’ve wasted over the years, not to mention what I could have been doing with that time instead.

I’m sure I’ll be ecstatic about my newfound freedom once the nausea dies down.

Right now though, I’m shaking my head in disbelief. I’m absolutely mortified that I was so fixed in my belief that there wasn’t a solution that it never occurred to me to think outside the box and look for one that didn’t involve human intervention.

The software is marketed to people in a different industry to mine, so if I hadn’t come across it by fluke, I’d still be none the wiser. I’d have just continued on my not-so-merry way, grumbling about these tasks being an unavoidable burden that I needed to bear.

This whole experience has got me wondering what other aspects of my business (and life for that matter!) have been affected by this limited thinking. What other solutions might be out there if I only give myself permission to look for them? You can be guaranteed that a full audit is on the cards, with complete overhauls to follow wherever necessary!

Have you had an earth-shattering revelation that’s come from overcoming limited thinking and removing your business blinkers? If so, please share the details in the comments, just in case you can save the rest of us years and years of heartache.