Doing Just What You Love May Be Hurting Your Business

Sometimes you have to take care of the not-so-great tasks to reach the larger goal

(Image: Thinkstock)
(Image: Thinkstock)

There’s an old adage that if you do what you love you’ll never work another day in your life. That’s basically saying that when you’re operating in your natural gifts, talents and abilities and are making money at it’s not “work.” Myles Munroe, one of my favorite pastors hailing from my father’s homeland of Nassau, Bahamas, refers to a day job as our “pre” occupationand when you’re paid to do what you love you’re in your “occupation.” Nonetheless, just because you’re doing what you love on the whole does not mean you love all of its parts.

Today, I was speaking with one of my business advisers. He’s a huge techie and social media strategist and loves being in the “bat cave,” as he calls it, strategizing and managing content. While I enjoy that part of my business, I love interacting with people through my writing, speaking and attending conferences. So, what were we saying during our chat? He was lamenting that he’s been traveling around the country almost non-stop for clients in a voter campaign and I was lamenting all of the content I’ve created at home lately! Of course!

Easy Doesn’t Do it
A healthy business is composed of detail oriented, administrative tasks, sales and big picture strategy. When you’re an early stage entrepreneur you likely run a lean shop, and all of the tasks to keep the business afloat and profitable fall into your wheelhouse—typically entrepreneurs are the chief cook and bottlewasher—so you have to excel at both your strengths and weaknesses.

When we’re good at something it’s very easy for us to fall into the trap of focusing a majority of our energy on those tasks, for me that would be attending conferences and webinars and emailing and strategizing opportunities with contacts and advisers. However, ensuring that my Google analytics and email list building software are operating properly are just as important, and even more important than my more favored social tasks are my billing and collections processes. Well managed email lists are key to generating income and keeping in touch with clients, prospects and others who are interested in your services and products.

Focusing on the parts of the business in which you naturally excel or enjoy is actually a form of procrastination. It’s called creative avoidance, doing something but not the right thing. This form of procrastination plagues me the most and it’s quite insidious because you have a sense of accomplishment. It’s easy to reason with ourselves that it’s not just ‘busy work’ because we’re completing tasks that need to be done, however, they may not be the most pressing tasks for the health and growth of our business at that time.

Focusing primarily on the, let’s be honest, ‘easier’ tasks (maybe not in terms of mental or physical requirement but in that these tasks are natural to us) can cause great harm and worse, loss of income because of our neglect.
Hack it up!

I’ve compiled a quick list of three hacks or mind-shifts for ensuring that you tackle those other tasks and ensure your bottom line is strong:

1. Do it early. I once heard a famous anthropologist say that she could walk into a restaurant and point out the Americans without hearing anyone speak. Her reasoning was that at dessert time she noticed that Europeans ate the pie crust first leaving the sweet, arguably best part of the pie, for last. Americans on the other hand, left the crust, the least sweet part, for last. Generalizations, of course, but you get the point. So too with the less fun tasks—do them early in the day, or when you have the most energy, and do the stuff you like to do for afterward. Even if you have less energy the tasks won’t feel as daunting because they come naturally.

2. Focus. Set a timer for at least 20-25 minutes to focus on those tasks that you don’t like to do. Do not check any social media or take any calls during this time. Make an agreement with yourself that you will not check your timer. You will set it and trust that it will alert you at the appropriate time, so you can have uninterrupted blocks of focused time. There are also apps to shut off your social media and notifications so that your phone does not chime, buzz, ding, light up or otherwise distract you from focusing on the tasks at hand.

3. Reward yourself. Hey, doing the nasty business can be hard work; made harder still because we don’t like it. So once you’ve completed those tasks reward yourself, whether that’s with a walk, checking email or an ice cream sundae, treat yourself for doing something that doesn’t come naturally to you. Heck, you can even reward yourself by doing the tasks you really enjoy! Now that’s a win all around for your business.

Doing first things first equals winning.
Finally, you’ll find that by doing the pesky tasks first, as in step #1 above, you will reap the biggest reward which is freeing your mind. And that freedom will make every part of your day happier because you will not be dreading the tasks that remain undone, nor will you take up valuable mental energy self-flagellating or beating yourself up for not doing those tasks. You’ll have more creative energy and will watch your business soar!

RESOURCE: A great podcast for managing time and really focusing on getting the right things done is Time Hackers with Julie Sheranosher.

Your turn, do you have tasks that you absolutely despise but are crucial to the success of your business? I’d love to hear your hacks for getting them done!

Michelle Y. Talbert, Esq. is a DC-based, NY-bred relationship strategist and social media content producer. She produces and co-hosts the popular weekly podcast “They Met Online…,” in addition to writing about successful relationship strategies in business and in love. She’s a passionate non-techie startup founder and was a member of the 2014 Lean Startup DC contest winning team. Connect with her on Twitter @MichelleTalbert and LinkedIn.

6 Responses to Doing Just What You Love May Be Hurting Your Business

  1. janice says:

    This is me in a nutshell. Very helpful information.

    • Michelle Y. Talbert says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Janice. This is so many of us! You are not alone. 🙂

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  3. Susan Axelrod says:

    helpful tips to bring sanity and profit!! i just told my youn partner that I don’t look for work/life balance. i just look for balance. an entrepreneur’s schedule is 7 days. Friday I’ll be playing in NYC w/my good friend and Sunday I’ll be working. Fine tradeoff for me!

    • Michelle Y. Talbert says:

      Totally agree, Susan! Thanks for reading and taking time to drop a comment. And have a superfun AND superproductive weekend!

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