Let’s take a little test.
When was the last time you looked at your own company’s website? Your social media feed? Googled yourself? Networked outside your normal clients?
If you answered half or more of those questions with some of variation of the answer, “I really don’t remember when” then you are falling into a trap that many people fall into when running their own business or in their careers. You are not taking the time to work on your career. This is a dangerous trap. Imagine it as something akin to being stuck in quicksand that leads to a bed of razors guarded by a hungry tiger. Not even the kid from Scooby Doo could come up with something so powerful and that ascot-wearing fool has been trapping cartoon villains since Woodstock.(It’s Fred, we are talking about Fred)
One of the things I often hear from my clients, potential clients, peers, non-peers, etc. is that they don’t have time to actually work on making their business/career better. That means they are so busy putting out fires for their own clients or going the extra mile or performing some other cliché duty that they don’t do the same things for themselves.
The reason is not because they don’t want to safeguard and monitor their company’s best interests or even their own personal business interests, it’s because they don’t have time. Those “self” tasks are often the last on the to-do list and often get pushed over to the next day when 5 p.m. hits. Or 6 p.m. Or if you are me, 9 p.m.
What to do? Make time. That is easier said than done? No, it should be done easier than said. Here’s what you do:
- Look at your calendar and see what could be removed during the day. I bet that day looks a lot less hectic when you actually see what is on there. See that spot after lunch. Mark off 30 minutes right there to work on your business and career. Yes, I know that is the 30 minutes you play Pac-Man on your computer to relieve stress. Forget about it. Clyde and Blinky will be there tomorrow. Your job may not.
- Focus on one or two things each time to work on. This could be as simple as reading a trade magazine and marking off good ideas with a highlighter. It could be looking up what your competition is doing. It could be updating your LinkedIn profile. It can be anything just as long as it helps build your skills and make your day more productive.
- Create some goals. One of the easiest ways to keep working on making your career better is if you have a goal. What is the point of writing a blog or an op-ed on your industry if it is not part of a greater plan? Make sure the goals have clearly defined objectives and targets that will help you go forward.
- Remember it is OK to breath. A lot of people get caught up in the idea of that the maximum day is the day that goes for 16 hours straight with no letting up. The writer of this piece is one of them. It is does not have to be like that. Taking a few minutes to work on something that is not urgent that day. It will help you get a better frame of mind.
- Unplug from Social Media: This also sounds like a cliché, but if you unplug for just a few hours a day, you will notice you won’t be distracted as much. And you may accomplish some more things than you thought you could.
In the end, the person who cares most about your business and career is you. That means it has to be you that takes the time to nurture it.