As seen on Entrepreneur.com
September 16, 2003
With One Tuchus, You Can’t Dance at Two
Easy tips for managing your time and tasks
There’s an old Eastern European saying, “With
one tuchus (slang for backside), you can’t dance at two weddings!”
and if you are an entrepreneur or own a small business you know that it’s
true; no matter how hard you try, you can’t be in two places at the same
time. There never seem to be enough hours in a day to accomplish everything
you know you should be doing for your business, and so some things, sometimes
tasks vital to your business interests, are left undone. It doesn’t matter
what kind of business you’re in, it’s a fact of life; people do
thing things they like to do and procrastinate when it comes to things they
How do successful entrepreneurs avoid this trap?
How can you focus your drive, energy and resources to make your business more
successful? There are many different ways, but here are a few tips that might
help you get some of those important tasks accomplished in a regular and timely
- To get an overall picture of your business
requirements; make a list and prioritize all of the tasks that need doing
for your business to prosper which occur within a three month period. In addition
to serving current customers, make sure you include publicizing and prospecting
for new business, billing and collections, payroll and taxes, and management/human
resource issues. Some tasks are “tough” tasks – you know,
the ones you hate doing. The “easy” tasks are those you’re
really good at doing. The problem is that you’ll always be caught up
on the easy tasks, but you’ll probably fall behind on the tough ones.
- Categorize both easy and tough tasks according
to which must be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. Place
the highest priority on items which contribute to your bottom line or keep
you in business (i.e. paying the telephone bill).
- As much as possible, analyze your business
day. Determine busy and slow times during each day and week. Many businesses
experience lulls at different days or times. Try scheduling easy tasks for
slower times. You like, or at least don’t mind, doing these items so
it’s not hard to get started when times are slow. It will help reduce
the “goofing off” factor that can keep you from succeeding.
- Think about how you like to work. Would you
prefer to do your “tough tasks” one whole day a week and get them
over with or would you rather spend one or two hours a day doing those tasks?
You decide; scheduling helps to get unpleasant, but high priority, tasks accomplished
regularly if you know there is a set time or day to get them done and it can
really reduce the guilt and stress factors in your day.
- Schedule all tasks which must be accomplished
in a planner. Make a time commitment for tough tasks and defer regular business
until the tough tasks are completed. If possible, put the same task on the
same day or time each week or month so that you develop a routine. This also
helps you keep from putting off things you know you should be doing and others
(clients, suppliers and employees) will come to know, in time, that you are
not available during this period, except for emergencies. When you are finished
with the tough tasks, you can relax and enjoy your business for the majority
of the time.
- Hard as it may be for you to accept, it may
not be possible for you, personally, to do everything that needs to be done
well. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If tasks that are vital to the
growth and success of your business are not in your strength column, consider
hiring someone else to accomplish them. For example, if you hate cold calling
or bill collections and just can’t seem to make yourself do it, hire
someone part-time just to do those tasks.
- As time goes on you’ll be faced with
many difficult decisions. It doesn’t matter if your business is growing
like crazy or if you’re just trying to make it through the month. It’s
important to realize that you don’t have to make every decision alone.
Find at least one person to talk with whom you respect and can trust; a second
opinion is always valuable. Even if you disagree, the discussion will help
crystallize what you think is right and energize you toward getting it done.
Finally, give yourself a break from time to time.
Remember, as hard as you try, with one tuchus, you can’t dance at two
weddings, so sometimes you’re going to get stressed out from the pressure.
When that happens, go somewhere private, have yourself a ten minute nervous
breakdown and then get back on track. To make your dreams come true, you have
to be able to see them in your mind’s eye, so at least once a week, take
a few minutes just to dream about what you want to do and where you want to
go – it will help you focus and create a path to success for your business.