Staying on track and finding balance

Each week, I begin my Monday with a clear plan, new short-term goals for the week, and updated longer goals for the upcoming weeks and months. I spend a good hour first thing on Monday re-assessing these goals and tweaking them to fit my upcoming schedule, so that I have a good handle on my productivity needs. I feel pretty good and on top of things. Then Monday afternoon hits. And more often than not, my planned goals are out the window. A friend’s father used to carry around a John Lennon saying in his wallet, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” It happens in our day-to-day business world, too. We can make plans and have a clear mission in mind, only to be sidetracked by a customer emergency, a new, unexpected product launch, or — the worst of all distractions — lack of focus. The latter catches me typically when I have too much to do and feel a bit overwhelmed. But whatever the deterrent, how do you get back on track when you’ve slipped off the rails? You must find a balance between rigidity and flexibility. Stay focused. Assess what is important in that particular moment and then allocate a specific amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to it. Is your customer’s emergency an easy fix that can be resolved with a 10-minute phone call or will it require an on-site visit? Could the new product being launched positively affect your business or does it not really fit the needs of your customers? Take the time to determine what kind of return on investment you’ll receive if you divert from your plan. If the ROI is worth it – go for it. If not, “just say no.”

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