How Great Entrepreneurs Make Decisions During Pandemics

 

I am having the hardest time starting this post.

I’m in lockdown like most of the rest of the world. My productivity seems to be in lockdown as well. My business has fundamentally changed and the earth beneath my physical and proverbial feet has shifted.

Anyone relate?

But I’m still getting up and starting my day. I’m still checking in with my vendors, colleagues and employees. And I’m still writing this post. You know why?

I know a secret about productivity.

That secret is this: you don’t need to be inspired to start something. Even your day.

One myth about productivity is you need to be inspired to start or even get a project done.

Not true. Which is why I’m still writing this post.

I don’t feel inspired at all.

I feel drained. I feel frustrated. I feel constrained by outside forces. And I feel concerned for the world’s economies, and for the livelihoods of my friends, colleagues and JV partners. And I’m tired.

But none of that needs to be addressed right now because this post is what’s on my list of priorities today. And this post is about to do some myth busting, as well as teach you a couple of cool tools.

But first, myths…

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Productivity Myths You Need to Stop Believing

So I’ve already eloquently and cleverly covered the biggest myth of productivity…

1. You need inspiration to start. FALSE.

In our Instagram, inspo-fueled, social media, alternate universe, yes, inspiration is the arbiter of all genius.

However, IRL, it’s not.

As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, productivity is the product of habit, not inspiration.

So while our world is crumbling and being replaced with the unknown, carrying on with your habits is what will keep you keeping on right now.

Commitment produces passion. Passion does not produce commitment.

It’s the habit born out of your commitment to something that creates the passion to see that thing fulfilled. Not the other way around.

So the next time you’re looking for the inspiration to start work or even get out of bed, stop. Stop looking for inspiration. Look instead for your commitment to what you want to accomplish that day. And start.

2. You can find balance between work and life. FALSE.

Do you strive to play with your kids for 12 hours a day?

Does it take you 8 hours to make, serve and eat a meal?

Can you cram your workday into an hour or two?

No. Most people in most economies around the world work a minimum of 7-8 hours a day. Minimum.

So why do you think you need to find balance between work and life? It doesn’t exist.

What is doable is finding a peaceful homeostasis between work and living. Work will probably, for most of your adult life, be the dominant force that shapes most of your decisions and actions.

But you can create an equanimity between work and everything else by becoming more effective in your productivity strategies. You can become more efficient with how you spend your work hours. This is what will instill that sense that you’re paying attention properly to everything.

And that’s really what we’re talking about. That lack of balance is you feeling guilty about one or more areas of your life and work. You don’t pay enough attention to your kids. You don’t feel as effective as you could be in your business, etc.

By learning a couple of strategic tools you can become more effective and efficient in every area of your life. When that happens, the guilt will be optional.

3. Technology makes you more efficient. FALSE.

Do I even need to write anything about this?

Of course technology doesn’t make you more efficient. We all thought it would. But technology has actually become a massive hindrance to productivity. Most technology is a massive distraction.

Yes, technology has been an incredibly disruptive and innovative force in this new century. And most of it has some wonderful aspects that we’ve all benefited from.

But let’s not kid ourselves.

How many times a week do you wake up, roll over and…check your phone, first thing in the morning?

When you’re bored or don’t know what to do next, how often do you check Twitter, Facebook, IG, etc.?

Can you imagine how many hours are spent by most people on this planet checking their phones, socials, gaming, etc.?

Not dissing gamers here. Everything has a place and time for most people. But not reigning in our appetites for distraction is consequential to productivity and our bottom lines.

So next time you want to roll over and check Twitter first thing, ask yourself, “who’s bottom line am I feeding right now?” Cause it ain’t yours.

4. All tasks are created equal. FALSE.

What is more accurate to say is: everything has a place and a time. Finishing your book may not be as paramount in the same moment you need to change a diaper or break up a sibling fight.

But finishing your book while on lockdown is paramount to having your shit together once the pandemic is over. Amiright?

And right now it may be a bit more difficult than usual to figure out what’s actually important and what’s just urgent. You may usually have someone to delegate tasks to, whereas right now you may not have that support system.

So how do you weigh the importance of each task during a pandemic?

Eisenhower Matrix

I’ve got two fabulous and easy strategies you can implement right now. They both help you figure out and structure your priorities quickly.

The first is the Eisenhower Matrix.

Many of us are fantastic at being busy. But how good are you at being productive?

And right now, how easy is it for you to get overwhelmed?

The kids are running around with pent-up energy.

The sink is backed up again.

Your office is the kitchen table.

Your vendors are calling asking if they should continue their work while they wait for your check.

You need to call your mortgage company.

But you really, really want to update your social media with pics of your latest meal.

This is a real and typical day for many entrepreneurs now. So how do you start to make decisions?

I use the Eisenhower Matrix.

This grid helps me decide how to categorize each task, activity and issue that arises:

1. Important And Urgent – are tasks that need your attention now. These are tasks related to the health and survival of your company, your life, your home.

2. Important but Not Urgent – are tasks that are important to the success (or survival) of your business and life but don’t have a deadline.

3. Urgent but Not Important – are tasks that eventually need someone’s attention but not yours, delegate these to someone else or put them in a back-burner folder

4. Not Urgent and Not Important – are tasks that have no bearing on the success of your business. Discard them.

Typically, as the CEO or primary driver of your company the first two quadrants are areas you need to put your focus on, while delegating the last two. But lockdowns and societal quarantines are hindering our abilities to delegate.

So rather than looking to delegate, look to place certain tasks elsewhere in your day. Yes the sink is backed up. So either your spouse or roommates can take on that job or you can postpone that task while you get the kids focused on something.

This stuff may seem like a no-brainer but when you’re in the middle of chaos it’s hard to decide what to do next. That’s what overwhelm is: not knowing what to do next.

I mean, especially if your breakfast looks really good and you’re trying to crack 125,000 followers. It’s a tough call sometimes. And I’m not being facetious.

What if cracking 125,000 followers means getting a bigger endorsement which would be a little more money, which would be your next mortgage payment?

Then move the breakfast pics to Important & Not Urgent quadrant. To be done right after you get the kids settled down.

Or maybe the kids are actually having a good time running amok and your oatmeal is starting to wilt?

Then move the pics to Important & Urgent and refile the kids under Not Urgent & Not Important.

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So what’s the point of all of this? This decision matrix is allowing you to become conscious of your daily activities and figure out what’s really important and what just feels urgent but can wait.

You catch my drift? Everyone’s matrix is going to look different. And you don’t always need to use this decision matrix. But when you are overwhelmed it’s a handy tool to pull out. So give it a try the next time you’re feeling a little frayed.

Related Post: Closely Guarded Secrets of Productivity 
Related Post: 7 Ways to Beat the Boredom of Company Meetings 
Related Post: The Secret to Productivity in 8 Easy Steps

Cartesian Quadrants

The Cartesian Quadrants are a form of studying and questioning a problem or decision. This way of looking at a big decision allows your mind to become creative and look for solutions or paths that aren’t immediately visible.

Rene Descartes’ method of doubt and questioning became and remains one of the most comprehensive and revered benchmarks of philosophical and mathematical understanding.

The Cartesian Quadrants are another decision-making strategy I employ for big decisions. And we’re all making pretty big decisions right now…

How do I get my kids up and running with new teaching technology?

How do I streamline my business to run more efficiently during a pandemic?

How do I share new responsibilities with my spouse or roommates?

Where do I find a place in the house to make my workspace?

How do I cover my overhead this month?

These are relevant, urgent and consequential decisions.

The Cartesian Quadrants is a series of questions you ask yourself and your team when faced with a huge problem or a decision with big consequences. It looks a little something like this…

Let’s take the question: How am I going to pay my overhead this month?

You’re working from home but you still have an office that no one is going into. You still have payroll, and your mortgage is due. You’ve got funds but not enough for everything.

How do you figure out where to put those funds? These days everyone is playing Solomon with their own babies. And those babies are human babies and houses and payroll and and and…

It’s a lot. So put that big question through the matrix.

Do I pay my overhead first so money keeps coming in or do I pay my mortgage for obvi reasons?

  1. What will happen if I do pay my overhead?
  2. What won’t happen if I do pay my overhead?
  3. What will happen if I don’t pay my overhead?
  4. What won’t happen if I don’t pay my overhead?

After asking each of the above question, ask, “and what else?”

This may seem like a silly exercise at first but this is a very real scenario and going through this exercise does several things:

1. It opens up options you didn’t see before

2. It exhausts all possibilities

3. It offers best and worst case scenarios

4. It puts your mind at rest by giving you the best possible decision to make

We are all having to choose between tough decisions, and for some of us these decisions are quite literally life and death.

It is invaluable to your peace of mind to use proven tools to make those decisions; to know that you have exhausted all possible outcomes and made the best decision available to you.

One final strategy…

Planned Leisure Play Time

Plan your leisure play time and plan a lot of it.

One of the things that will protect your confidence and keep you in this crazy marathon is downtime. And I don’t just mean chilling out and reading news headlines or a book.

Plan time everyday to play. Play is so underrated. And while we all pay lip service to the idea of play, we don’t always make time for it.

Well, now you’ve got no excuse.

So keep you work days short.

You are exhausting a lot of decision-making power right now. Reserve and preserve your decision-making abilities and brain power. Limit the amount of big decisions you make in a day and a week.

So even if your day consists of putting one big decision through the Cartesian Quadrants and then walking away from your dining table/desk to go play with your kids…walk away.

Making time to play every day right now will do three things:

  • It will protect your energy
  • It will give you brain power to make the next big decision
  • It will provide your conscious mind distraction while your unconscious mind works out problems

Allow yourself to walk away and play. Play with your kids. Play with your dog. Play scrabble with your spouse. Play Pandemic with your roommates. Find time to play!

Since we’re not out in the world spending money and being consumers, many of us have discovered the art of play again. So enjoy it and play!!!

 

The Wrap Up

As entrepreneurs many of us are making some of the most consequential decisions of our lives during this pandemic.

Make these decisions with some sobriety and forethought. Use these proven strategies to make the best decisions you can make with the resources you have available to you.

Figure out what’s Important and what Urgent. Ask yourself the right questions. And above all, play, play, play.

Sounds like weird advice but trust me, play has a profound effect on our brains and our lives. So do more of it while basking in the knowledge that you’re making good decisions.

Now that you’ve got all this time on your hands;) it’s time to organize your email inbox! How fun! Click here for a handy dandy, colorful PDF for effective inbox organization strategies. You will not be disappointed.

What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make during this pandemic?

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