Often, there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing a task off of your gargantuan to-do list. In fact, it’s a feeling that can be addictive. Once we cross off one task, we go after the next one so we can experience that feeling all over again. But how many of those eliminated tasks really helped you move forward in achieving your ultimate goals for your legal nurse consulting business?
In today’s world, we’re constantly sabotaged by nonproductive energy wasters. There are emails to read. Facebook statuses to update. Dishes to be washed. Files to be organized. And on, and on, and on. These are the easy, albeit often unproductive, tasks that make us feel good. They may not get you any closer to accomplishing your legal nurse goals, but at least you’ve checked a couple of things off your to-do list.
Unfortunately this addiction comes at a high price, because that cheap check-mark high is guaranteed to frustrate, overwhelm, and stress you out in the long term. You feel busier than ever but are accomplishing less of real value. I too am a happy checker-offer. Working for two hours on a huge project I won’t finish doesn’t release the same amount of endorphins as cleaning out my inbox. After two hours or so, I want to check something off my list. That’s when I indulge my own feel-good addiction and attack the stack of bills, check Facebook, or grab my mouse to viciously click through email.
Are these feel-good tasks the best use of our time? No, especially when they snowball until an entire workday is behind you. One email leads to two. After all, it only takes two minutes to fire off an email. Then there are calls to be returned. Two minutes turns into 20 as one item leads to another. Even if you set them aside once you put your attention to them, these small tasks buzz around in your head and have the potential to distract you for hours. Before you know it, quitting time arrives and you haven’t accomplished a single step toward your most important goals.
Maybe it’s the curse of the modern world, but often, our important tasks fall prey to the feel-good addictions of easy ones. By majoring in minor things, we never get to our big commitments. Breaking these addictions opens the door to achievement. What you engage and focus on is where you will yield results.
Going after larger accomplishments – an addiction to momentum – is a far more lasting high than the transitory feel-good of checking off trivial tasks. Once you’re engaged in accomplishing what I call the ‘Big Things,’ you’ll approach routine matters with laser-sharp focus and experience fewer distractions. More important, your creativity and productivity catch fire, and the momentum keeps you pumped. You’ll glide through your day full of confidence and satisfaction from achieving significant milestones.
Here are 12 easy steps to help you stop doing what feels good and start doing what matters for your legal nurse consulting business:
- Define three Big Things. Identify three Big Things you want to accomplish in your legal nurse consulting business and life. Then choose one to schedule your day around. For example, your Big Things might be to obtain a new attorney-client, complete a comprehensive legal nurse consultant job and plan a vacation to Italy. So today you might block two hours for marketing. Or you might devote four uninterrupted hours to the legal nurse consultant job. Or maybe you’ll block an hour at the end of the day to decide which part of Italy you will vacation. Set a target date for each of your Big Things and begin working steadily toward achieving each of them. Start strong and you’ll experience genuine elation from achieving real goals and solving real problems.
- Challenge your plan of action. Often, we take a tiny step toward achieving a Big Thing to save us from having to make a big commitment and to ward off feeling guilty about not going after big goals. For example, rewriting your marketing plan might make you feel better, but it isn’t really helping you make calls to attorney-prospects. Constantly ask yourself, Am I really going for my goal all the way? Or if it’s too tough, will I quit? Make sure your plan of action is doable. Assess each step when you are taking it and make sure it’s the right thing for you to be engaged in at that time.
- Turn off cyberspace. There’s no greater blow to productivity than breaking your concentration to reply to an email as soon as it hits your inbox. Remember, no award will be handed out at the end of the day for the person who responded to the most emails the fastest. If you’re doing nothing but responding to email, you’re bouncing around like a pinball. It’s also important to keep in mind that the purpose of email is not to generate more email. Unless a response is necessary in order for the sender to move ahead on a task or project, it’s okay to let them have the last word.
I’m not saying that email isn’t important, but there is a time and place for it. If you let it, email will absolutely distract you from more important tasks. If you can’t bring yourself to close your email box, at least turn off the sound alert and pop-ups so you won’t have the annoying ‘ping’ sound and flash notification every time a potential time-waster drops out of cyberspace and into your mental space. Think of yourself as an ER nurse using her triage skills. Don’t start the surgery unless the patient is critical. Email doesn’t bleed out, doesn’t need defibrillation, and, unlike a critically ill patient, won’t expire if not tended to immediately.
- Turn off the TV. Every hour you sit in front of the TV you’re accomplishing nothing. Every second of that time is irretrievably lost. If you’re struggling to let go of this feel-good addiction, start by turning your TV off one day or one hour a week. Instead, spend that time working on your Big Thing.
If you dare to fully realize the phenomenal power of TV-banishment, take a week off from watching. You might already be gasping from withdrawal pains, but I guarantee you that if you do, you’ll be taking back a significant amount of your time. You’ll never again find yourself saying, ‘I’m too busy to…’
- Tame the social media beast. Social media can be just as time consuming as watching TV. It’s fun to read the details of friends’, family’s, and clients’ lives and to see the photos they’ve posted on Facebook. It makes us feel good when they “like” something we’ve posted or when we’re tagged in one of their photos. That’s one reason social media is so addicting – it’s like experiencing human hugs all day long. Now that you understand why you like it, it’s time to tame the beast.
Social media can quickly move from a social communication to an obsessive compulsive disorder. You can get caught up in all of the things to do there – the games and other ancillary applications. That’s my big issue with social media. Let’s face it, clicking your mouse to get points to build a castle seems like a crazy waste of time. Does ‘I got a drawbridge for my castle today’ really sound better to you than ‘I made three sales calls on new attorney-prospects’?
Successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultants avoid those meaningless feel-good addictions. We spend our time growing our lives and careers, not growing our virtual worlds. We measure our lives in minutes, not just hours and days. Social media is a great thing and can be a valuable tool. It’s changing the way we connect and communicate. Just make sure you’re using it to advance relationships and meaningful engagement.
- Set aside sacred momentum time. Start strong and you’ll finish strong for your legal nurse consulting business. Momentum time is the only way you can stop being a slave to petty distractions. It’s the precious time you’re able to set aside for yourself each day to work uninterrupted toward achieving one of your Big Things. To carve out time, examine every activity and decide how to eliminate it, delegate it, hire it out, or do it faster.
My office opens at 8:00am. Often by 7:50 there’s a line of penitents forming outside my door: employees asking for my input on projects, directors telling me why they won’t meet a deadline, and the janitor asking me to diagnose a toenail fungus. Knowing this madness is coming, I use my quiet momentum time, the early morning hours before the office opens, to hunker down and work on those projects that need the most concentration.
If part of your day is rarely interrupted (such as early morning or late evening), reserve it for momentum time. Keep your momentum time sacred. Use phrases such as, ‘I’ll be available in one hour. What time after that works best?’ Start your day with a two-hour uninterrupted chunk, then gradually add more two-hour momentum sessions each day. Claim your momentum time and you’ll find those lost hours you’ve been looking for.
- Interrupt the interrupters. Statistically, you’re interrupted every seven minutes in the workplace. Today we’re bombarded by a plethora of interruptions that we invite into our mental space – email pop-up notifications, Facebook postings, text messages, Twitter streams, and blinking message lights. Whether you’re working at home alone with family around you or camped out in a Starbucks with your laptop, you’re going to be interrupted. I personally think there’s a secret alarm or flashing blue light that goes off the moment I shut my office door to focus. It seems to be a shout-out for people to start lining up to interrupt and ask me questions ranging from the important (Please approve the advertising budget.) to the mundane (Can I leave early on Friday?).
But there’s really only one person responsible for interrupting the work you’re doing and keeping you from getting to your Big Thing. That person is probably responsible for more interruptions than anyone else in your home or office. Who is the responsible party? That’s right – you. It’s more important than ever to work with focus and a consciousness about whether you’re on or off focus. If you can interrupt the interrupter, you’ll get a whole lot more done.
- Alternate momentum time with weed pulling. Miscellaneous routine tasks are like weeds in your garden: we all have them and no matter how often we get rid of them, they never go away. Yet they do have to be handled, and pulling a few weeds can provide a restorative break from more intensive work. Separate tasks into two categories – “Big Things” and “Weeds.” After each momentum session, devote 15-30 minutes to weed pulling – handling email, phone calls, and other minor tasks.
Don’t try to tackle all your weeds at once. Prioritize. Set aside a three-hour block periodically to do the deep weeding and organizing. But if you just need a five-minute break from your Big Thing, don’t tackle the weeds. They will only distract. Use those five minutes to refresh your energy with a stretch or a bit of nourishment, raw nuts or a cup of healthy green tea.
- Focus on one Big Thing at a time. When you engage in too much at once, you risk finishing nothing. Finish your first Big Thing or at least reach a significant milestone before embarking on the next. I have difficulty following my own advice on this, and do have to tame the beast of too many good ideas. But on this, do as I say, not as I do – engage one Big Thing, then the next and the next.
- Use technology to your advantage. With the advancements in smartphones and the development of iPads and miniature-sized laptops, we can stay connected and work from almost anywhere. The trick is recognizing when you are using these technologies to your advantage and when they are distracting you from important things.
When I travel, I can check my email on my iPhone before I even pick my luggage off the conveyer belt. So when I hit the hotel I’m ready to accomplish Big Things – the reasons I traveled to begin with. Likewise, I know when to turn it off. For example, when I’m at a friend’s house or when I’m speaking to a group, I turn it off. In both of these situations, the people I’m with deserve my undivided attention, and I know that I’ll get more out of the experience if I’m not thinking about where I can go hide to check my emails and Facebook.
- Let go of bad ideas. Successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultants can be successful at many things, so it is tempting to go after all kinds of ideas, even ones that are not so great. When I mentor a CLNC® consultant who’s full of ideas and going in a thousand directions I encourage them to get back on track. Successful CLNC consultants are adept at recognizing when a ‘great idea’ isn’t so great. You have to be brave enough to cut your losses and let it go. Doing so will free you to work on the next genuine Big Thing.
- Safeguard your momentum. Accept that you won’t please everyone. Someone is bound to be unhappy about the changes you make to focus on your Big Things. A friend might get upset because you can no longer meet for lunch on Wednesdays. Your spouse might complain because you won’t run his errands on a weekday. Bottom line, they’ll get over it. Stop feeling guilty and stay true to your goals. Surround yourself with friends, family, and peers who support your vision. Discard all discouraging messages. This is your legal nurse consulting business, not anyone else’s.
Successful Certified Legal Nurse Consultants make big commitments. They go after big goals. As I like to say, they engage big. They don’t settle for the small-time achievements that lead to the feel-good addiction. They go after their Big Things. Put that to-do list away and start thinking about the Big Things you want to achieve.
Success Is Yours!
P.S. Comment and share which feel-good addiction you’re ready to ditch.