Feeling a little scatterbrained lately? Maybe you feel you have too much to do, don’t know how to manage your time, or have too many tasks on your to-do list. Trust me, we’ve all been there! Yes, the life of a small business owner and their team is definitely hectic. But why are we often so frazzled that even day-to-day life seems overwhelming?
Part of the answer is simpler than you think!
Manage Your Time By Cutting Out “Tolerations”
Tolerations are all the little annoyances in your life you could spend a small amount of time improving or fixing, but instead, you avoid. They consume energy in aggravation. They inhibit your ability to manage your time. Tolerations weigh on your psyche, almost unperceptively. Maybe you aren’t consciously aware of them or maybe they’re all stuck together in your head.
Think of the situations you face when a flash of negativity hits your brain – not the crazy drivers on the way to work, you can’t do anything about. It’s the pile of paperwork sitting on your desk —the tasks that are within your control to manage.
Tolerations occur frequently: you love the benefits of going to the gym in the morning, but you don’t like getting up and getting your gym bag ready. In the morning rush, you must remember to pack your gym gear: shampoo, extra socks and more. You throw your gear together and head to the gym. You get there and open your bag, only to realize you forgot something you need for work later! You were so focused on packing your gym gear, you didn’t look ahead. Your entire day is potentially thrown off, all because you forgot one little task on your to-do list.
Instead of experiencing the flash of negativity and frustration (“tolerating” the situation) consider: establishing a new habit to avoid or eliminate the problem altogether. Set aside time (10 or 15 minutes) to eliminate the issues or set up a different plan to address them more efficiently.
In our going with the gym example: How about packing the night before (Creating a habit)? Or buying toiletries you always keep in your gym bag, so there’s no need to pack (avoiding or circumventing the problem altogether)? Or putting a few pairs of clean socks in your gym bag every time you do the laundry (setting up a system)?
Even better—when it comes to avoiding frustrations and tolerations at work you don’t have to handle it all personally. You can delegate! Get your team to take on some of those tasks. Ask them for solutions to the problem and set up systems. If there’s a “toleration” in your life your team can’t handle, outsource it to a professional. Free up your time so you can manage the important tasks, rather than getting bogged down with time-wasters and inefficiencies.
Tolerations Take a Toll on You!
Tolerations are composed of all these little tasks you have to DO (or maybe tasks you avoid and don’t do). I know oftentimes, I actually spend more time thinking about how annoyed I am facing an annoying task than it would take to just take care of the job.
We often blow off these tasks as trivial (and the irony is they are trivial!). They aren’t a matter of life and death. If you don’t take care of them, the walls will still be standing. The truth is, tolerations wear you down over time. They give you a negative vibe and a defeated outlook. These little time-eating tasks seem like no big deal on their own, but when they’re piled together, all these little annoyances add up. They create unnecessary clutter in your head you keep sorting through and fixating on. The time it takes to keep track of all your little “to dos” keeps you from more important accomplishments. These tolerations are draining!
How many times have you found yourself distracted because you were thinking of all the items on your list and how you’d get them accomplished? Suddenly the task you’re working on goes on the back burner. Your work suffers.
Or how often do you “delegate” at the last minute? Shoving off tasks onto your team and asking them to take care of an item, without proper instruction, simply because you’ve put it off well past the deadline? It seems more time consuming to sit down, train and properly hand off a task, but setting a foundation will only serve you in the future. The task will surely come up again—the next time you push it off to better manage your time, will your team know how to handle it properly?
Tolerations eat our time, cause us stress and take an emotional toll. They reduce the efficiency of our work. They cause our team to stress out too. These little annoyances drain our energy and leave us exhausted and burnt out.
What Do YOU Tolerate?
It’s hard, I know – but take a moment to think about just one task that sends a flash of negativity through your head. It’s challenging, isn’t it? Often the moments and tasks we tolerate are only on our mind when they’re right on our plate. That’s part of the conundrum in knowing how to manage your time—it’s hard to plan for time-eating tasks because they often pop up out of the blue.
Try this: go through one day and set a goal to notice those nagging annoyances as they arise. Is it the mess of files sitting on your desk? The phone calls you owe clients you’d prefer to avoid? Is it the discussion you need to have with an employee you’d rather not face? As the day goes on, write down a list of 10 tolerations you identify, that in hindsight you could eliminate or avoid. Finding ten time-wasting tasks might seem like a lot, but by the end of the day, you may be surprised at how many of the little tolerations eat up your time and affect your daily life.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Eliminate it!
After you write down your list of 10 tolerations, commit to fixing all of them this week! That’s right, all of them. This week. These are all little tasks that, if reevaluated, reorganized or reconsidered, will make your life easier. They are often rectified in only a few minutes.
There are many options for getting rid of your tolerations and time-eating tasks. Pay attention to the little jobs that are draining your energy and FIX them. Set aside 30 minutes a week. Maybe you can get rid of your annoyance completely.
For example, when I looked at my list, I realized I spent a huge amount of time searching for electronic files. It was frustrating, but by implementing a system of naming conventions I could completely eliminate the problem. By taking a few minutes to set up a system, I found a better way to organize my electronic files, avoid aggravation and save huge amounts of time searching for them.
Or perhaps you’re a person who enjoys creating lists. Sometimes handwriting lists is highly effective. If you prefer, use a cell phone app to help you with lists and reminders – find what works for you. The idea is to get the clutter out of your head! End tolerations, free up your mind and stop draining energy on jobs and tasks that take a couple of minutes to fix.
I would encourage you to apply the same methods you use to manage your time, to help your team at work. Have your team go through the exercise of identifying their work tolerations and time-wasters. Assign one Friday afternoon a month or a quarter to clear up those items. In addition, with your blessing, your team may: find the system shortcut that has been frustrating them; organize their filing system; meet with a co-worker to resolve a processing issue or other benefits that will have a surprising impact on productivity.
Once you take care of the clutter and manage your time you can focus on what’s really important – like running your business, staying healthy and spending time with your family and friends!