Just last week, I talked about how I’ve been stuck in a decision rut and how I built a decision matrix to help me through my recent bouts of analysis paralysis. You can still get a free copy of my decision matrix from that article.
A decision matrix isn’t the only tool I use to help me regain momentum when I’m stuck and increase my productivity. While I find a decision matrix extremely helpful, its benefits take time to appear as you build up your decision-making muscle.
When I need a boost right in the middle of something that I am struggling with, I have one question that I ask myself. This question is like pure jet fuel for productivity.
“How am I making this harder than it should be?”
I was an Essentialist long before I read Greg McKeown’s book titled Essentialism. I’ve always believed that people tend to make things more complicated than they should be. They over plan, they overanalyze, and that all leads to a lack of momentum.
I just finished Greg’s book, Effortless. It expands upon the lessons in Essentialism, which is still the only book I finished and immediately restarted.
In Effortless, he talks about removing procrastination and taking the first obvious step to gain momentum. The idea is to make progress without overexerting yourself.
That belief ties into a long-held mantra of my own. He who gets tired first losses. In fact, that is the title of my most recent book that I am in the middle of writing.
It is when people overcomplicate things that they tend to procrastinate or give up all together. Because there is so much that appears to be necessary to complete the task, they end up feeling overwhelmed.
When you find yourself in such a predicament, stop and ask how you are making those things, that exercise, harder than it has to be.
Start removing unnecessary steps and obstacles that you might have even created yourself.
Just the other day, I was trying to plug in a USB adapter to my computer. My desk has a specific compartment where my computer tower, it's a gaming computer, can be hidden away. Over and over, I kept trying to squeeze my hand into the space between the top of the compartment and the computer. Five minutes later, I still had not been able to plug in the cable. Finally, I stop and asked myself why this was so hard? Because I was creating an obstacle. All I had to do was slide the computer forward until the front of it was showing. Seconds later, the adapter was plugged in.
I’ve made similar mistakes, larger mistakes, in business.
I used to write a lot of business plans. That can be tedious work. While each plan is unique, most plans have a consistent structure and even consistent content. For example, virtually every business plan should talk about the market size and how fast it is growing. So, I asked myself how I was making the process harder than it should be. Then I decided on a simple step that would pay dividends in the future. That step was creating a template I could use for future business plans.
Solutions don’t have to be complex to be valuable. In fact, I’ve learned that it is often the most simple solutions that yield the best return.
So, the next time you find yourself struggling with something. Ask yourself if you are making it harder than it should be.
Then right after that, write down how you would simplify the process of solving that problem. Because in there is a business opportunity.
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