Dear Charrise

Question: I’m an entrepreneur with a small business, which requires that I be physically there far more than I want to be there. I feel like I’ve built my own private little prison, when what I intended to have when I began was more time freedom. When I’m away from my business, things just don’t run right. How can I get away more without everything going to hell?

Answer: Your situation is more common than uncommon. Business owners often feel trapped in their business. There are three things necessary to create autonomy:

  1. Rock solid people who work in your business. Whether you outsource or you have an in-house team of employees, it’s vital to find people you can trust to handle their area of expertise, so you don’t have to. Your team should also fill in the gap for your weak spots. To be away from your business, you must trust the people who are running it in your absence.
  2. Rock solid systems. You must have developed a process that makes it easier to deliver consistent customer service, and allows people to solve problems and answer questions. These systems should be continuously analyzed and questioned as your business grows.
  3. A culture of decision makers. You must empower others to use critical thinking skills to make decisions, and you must reward them for making the decision without you. Even if that decision turns out not to be the right one every time, it must be safe for the people who are actually working in the business to make mistakes. Otherwise they will not take the initiative to make a decision at all.

Question: I have had a bad habit of procrastination for years. Last week, I almost lost my job over it. I think I’m finally ready to tackle this destructive pattern, but don’t have the first clue how to do it. Can you help?

Answer: Procrastination is a creativity killer, and whether or not you believe you “do your best work at the last minute”, procrastination is not healthy. There is a very simple cure for it, though it never really seems simple. Here it is:

Don’t think. Just do.

Yes, this is the simple cure. When you aren’t doing something you committed to doing, it’s because you talk yourself out of it for whatever reason. Use the above mantra when you notice you’re talking yourself out of it. It will work nearly every time, if you get into action by taking one baby step forward. Once you start operating that way, it will become your new habit and will be your natural response to getting things done. It takes practice, like anything else, and also some courage.

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