Simplifying Tasks & Indiana Jones Thinking
Contributed by Moira Fuller
When you’re running a small business, the task list can seem endless – and often become a ‘guilt’ list of projects pushed back week after week.
This is the key challenge I see many of my clients facing – they’re so busy with the day-to-day, that any growth projects get pushed back, and time for themselves to be gentle, recoup and think creatively is fleeting.
We can come at simplifying tasks in a number of ways – not just productivity.
It’s not about productivity in hours
I spent many years thinking I just needed to be faster, more efficient, to get what I wanted done. I pushed my own boundaries (and health) on that – learned to touch-type, learned the importance of making decisions quickly (that one still holds very true), and developed a deep love of lists (also still true!)
But in the main, it’s not about productivity in hours.
It’s about how we choose to spend our time.
It’s about leveraging what we do to be efficient.
Underpinning that, it’s the mindset shift that things can be easier.
Lessons from Indiana Jones
Do you remember the scene in Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indy is challenged by a sword-wielding baddie, who shows off impressive swordsmanship, and Indy just shoots him?
Rumour has it, it wasn’t scripted that way. It was supposed to be a big elaborate sword fight scene between the two of them. But, on the day they were filming, Harrison Ford was particularly ill and didn’t want to be too far from his trailer.
He asked the director, Steven Spielberg, “Can’t I just shoot the guy?”
“Great idea!” said Spielberg, and movie history was made.
This is the question I often ask my clients, ‘What’s your Indiana Jones way to the outcome? How can you just “shoot the guy”?’
We can easily overcomplicate tasks, each step will seem totally legitimate to us, and once it’s on our task list, we crack through that list.
But before you add anything down, just gently check in – what’s the outcome you’re looking to get to? Is there a simpler, more direct route there?
Leveraging and SALSA
I created a framework to help my clients refine what they choose to do – SALSA (Picture the tomatoes or the dance, whichever appeals more to you!)
It’s Simplify, Automate, Leverage, Support, Action.
When you’re considering a project or task (recurring, or a one-off project), you can use these questions to gently check in on your plans before you leap into action.
Simplify – The Indiana Jones thinking; can you make it simpler to get to the outcome you want?
Automate – If you have repeating elements, is there any part of the process you could automate, rather than do manually or have it take up bandwidth in your thinking? Email automations might be an obvious one (and are very useful), but this can also include using online tools like Airtable to manage a client process, with automated emails and support reminders as time goes by.
Leverage – Instead of time for hours, are there ways you can deliver in a leaner way? For example, if you have a group coaching programme, you might take questions over a week or fortnight, and record a video Q&A for your clients, rather than being on weekly calls. Or, have a monthly day when people can ask you questions via Voxer, and you reply across the day, rather than needing to be at your desk at a specific time.
Support – Do you need to do the tasks yourself? Can you delegate any elements? Could others support you to take action, through coaching or accountability?
Action – Now it’s time to do, and focus on the work that needs to be done by you.
This is an evolving process; you may get some elements in place, and develop more as time goes by – especially for larger projects or repetitive tasks, like your process for delivering a client brief, or running a group or one-to-one programme.
The mindset shift of ease
The key challenge that can face us is the deeply ingrained belief that tasks / projects have to be hard.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be work involved, but it can show up as overcomplicating, having resistance to making the most of automations and making life simpler for ourselves. It can show up as feeling like you’re wading through treacle to get the task done, rather than it flowing with more ease.
*This* is the deeper work. All I’ve spoken of above are useful tools to review and refine what we do.
If we truly, utterly believe the work is going to be hard, it will show up as being harder for us than it needs to be.
We shift this by stretching our capacity for ease – by implementing a few of the ideas I’ve spoken of, and by catching the stories we tell ourselves. When you find yourself thinking ‘I hate doing [this thing]’, or thinking of a project you want to do but it feels heavy, look for another thought or way to approach it.
‘I hate this thing’ might be ‘I’m willing to experiment with this being easier, and my first step is …’
Of all this list, what most resonates with you? What would you like to experiment with first?
Wherever you begin, wishing you a calmer and gentler path to the outcome!
Moira Fuller is a small business coach and offers online courses and 1:1 coaching to help small business owners create more breathing space in their business. Through mindset coaching, strategy, and trainings, she helps create that bandwidth to have more time for rest, to think creatively, and to run and grow a business in a more aligned way.
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