Are You Suffering From Brain Drain? Holidays Are A Great Time to Reflect.

As the holidays are upon us, it is a great time to think about how you actually spend your time. Is it productive, exhausting, scattered?  How do you want to kick off the New Year?  Do you want to repeat the habits of 2013?  If you’ve done well, go for it.  If not, you might want to rethink your approach.

This vintage post from Men with Pens addresses a very big issue solo practitioners face; too many things to do, not enough time.  The end result, lost time, brain drain and at a significant cost to your business and personal life:

Seven Ways to Battle Productivity Brain Drain

http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena/activity/i/isg/IMG/BrainDrain.gifToo many ideas
at once dig into your mental and physical energy resources just as
credit cards dig into your money. Too much mental spending creates
debt, leaving you with a mess and feeling overwhelmed trying to stay
afloat.

Financial advisors have the perfect solution. These
number-crunching pros have strategies that reduce conventional debt,
and these can also help reduce and eliminate idea debt and brain drain.
You’ll restore some balance in your life and actually get things done
with these seven adapted strategies.

1. Cut up your mental credit cards.
People who want to reduce debt cut up the tools that let them
accumulate more debt. The same applies to entrepreneurs – cut off new,
incoming ideas. Write those ideas on a list you can set aside (you
don’t want to forget them, after all.) Come back to the list when life
is back in order.

2. Uncover the real expense.
You probably have a ton of great ideas. When you put those ideas into
words on a list, it can be surprising to realize just how much work
might be involved. Make a list of each project, all related tasks and
subtasks, and get the big picture of just how much your ideas cost you.

3. Budget your mental spending.
With the big picture and the (long) list of everything each project
requires, it’s easier to see where you need to cut back the unnecessary
expenses that cost you time. Cut the spending, and apply the savings to
your mental debts.

4. Pay more than the minimum.
If the bill comes in and you only pay what’s necessary to stay in good
credit, it takes a long, long time to eliminate the debts – and you
also rack up interest, making the debt harder to pay off. When you work
a little on multiple projects, their progress is slow and you become
more tired plugging away.

5. Reduce one debt at a time.
Financial experts suggest tackling one debt fiercely (usually the one
with the highest interest) to eliminate it before working on
eliminating the next debt. Do the same with your focus and time – pick
one project and work on eliminating all the tasks to reach the goal.
Then move on.

6. Don’t spend what you don’t have.
People wake up when families are a mess, partners are complaining and
kids are neglected. These people suddenly realize they didn’t have the
available time to commit to their ideas in the first place. Know how much
time you have, and don’t commit more than you can invest safely.

7. Pay yourself first.
If all your time goes to your business, you never have a moment to just
relax and do something else. Rest your brain and set aside a chunk of
time for something besides business.

Solo practitioners, entrepreneurs in general, do not ‘pay’ themselves first.  I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about time, attention to health, family and more.

And the most recent phenomenon with progressive solo practitioners:  they are into TOO much, excited by so many potential opportunities the internet has provided, they are like octopi, their hands into so many things they end up with a lot of nothing, at least nothing of real or lasting value.  Great ideas wither and die on the vine from lack of consistent attention because other fanciful ideas distract them from the money-making ones.  Whether it is marketing or a new source of revenue, it doesn’t matter.  We are distracted and wasting time with too many ‘opportunities.’  And worse yet, we defend our actions by categorizing them as necessary.

Step back, assess what is working for you today and what isn’t.  Prioritize your revenue generating (or pleasure generating) activities, shelving those which simply cannot be accommodated today, and then focus on what is most important.  This can’t be overstated. Or done too soon. Look at which activities promise the greatest return or greatest opportunity to leverage to help you achieve your goals and stay focused.

I know I am sometimes a victim of overwhelm and certainly of brain drain.  I have to believe you have been, too.

I know this post is resonating with many of you. What have you done when you feel overwhelmed by too many great ideas and not enough time to fully explore them?  What has it cost you?  How did you fix it?

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2 comments on “Are You Suffering From Brain Drain? Holidays Are A Great Time to Reflect.

  • Excellent article.

    I think #7 is the most important. Taking breaks is one of the hardest things for my solopreneur and solo practitioner clients to learn. They often feel like they are cheating their practice if they take a break, if they take time to “goof off”, when it’s precisely this off time that allows them to work hard and productively the rest of the time.

    One extra item should be added to the list:

    8. Carefully watch those small expenses.

    Just like with money, where we don’t think twice about the Starbucks latte until we add up the expense over a month or a year, we spend time and brain energy on small things that are really not necessary, or even not worth it. See this article for some of the ways we all tend to do this.

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