If you're like most people in business, you end up spending almost every hour of your day doing things for your customers or clients. Mostly, this is good. It means you've likely got a calendar packed with meetings, a phone that rings a lot, and money in the bank.
But what I've noticed in my own business is that all this focus on doing for clients can be a slippery slope. It tends to keep you from the higher level thinking about what your clients need and how you can help (it really kind of is that simple) and often results in spending time performing tasks, not solving problems. And solving someone's problems is what you're hired to do, whether you're a plumber or a copywriter.
I get it. It's so easy to get seduced by the immediate gratification performing a task offers. For me, it can even be addictive.
But if you want to do your very best work—work that really helps your clients and work that feeds your soul—you have to pry yourself out of the task mindset.
I've been inspired to take a crowbar to my own task addiction by reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, Big Magic. You might remember Gilbert from the phenomenon that was Eat, Pray, Love and any number of authentically great talks about living the creative life, like this one and this and this.
One of the many helpful things Gilbert does in Big Magic is encourage you to pursue a creative life "that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." To me, the addiction to performing tasks (easy wins) is one of habit, but also one sometimes fueled by fear—fear that my bigger picture creative ideas will be clunkers, fear that if I don't answer that email this second my client will get frustrated.
However this strategy doesn't, in the end, serve me or my clients well.
So these days, I'm working on being more intentional with how I structure my days, which means setting aside chunks of time to put the tasks aside and focus on the bigger picture: How can I better help my clients? What can I do in my business this week to make it a more meaningful enterprise?
Slowly, surely things are bubbling up. Like refreshing the Story House site in a way that better reflects who we are and what we do.
How could carving out time to think different (apologies to Apple) affect your business? Let's talk below in the comments.