"What’s important is seldom urgent... and what’s urgent is seldom important..."
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Once a month I have the opportunity to meet
with my friends Sanjiv and Siyamak.
Both are owners of small service businesses...
Sanjiv is the CEO of Bytes Inc. - a custom software developer and Siyamak is the CEO of Skyriver IT - a local provider of comprehensive IT services.
The three of us get together for drinks each month to discuss our respective businesses and to share ideas, challenges, and experiences with each other.
Our challenges typically are not unusual. They can be about growing our customer base, employee issues, financing and/or collections, or simply trying to find the time to do all of the things necessary to operate a small business.
My biggest challenge, these last few years, has been notably the lack of time I’ve had to complete a variety of worthwhile and strategically important projects that I currently have on my desk.
I am most certain that I am not the only person with this problem... in fact, this problem seems almost epidemic among so many of my friends and colleagues.
As the three of us continued talking about issues and challenges, I mentioned that on top of all the projects I was being tasked to complete, I had spent several days trying to fix some computer problems that we were experiencing at the office.
My friend Siyamak (the IT guy) looked at me in amazement and then spoke.
"Jim... you just sat here and told us that you didn’t have any time... and then a few minutes later you told us that you wasted several days doing something that, frankly speaking, you’re unqualified to do... why didn’t you call us?".
I defended myself by telling him that I was a trained computer engineer and that I did indeed fix the problem... albeit two days later.
The Sanjiv chimed in, "yeah... but you wasted two whole days doing something IT experts could have completed in a couple of hours... at the most... you didn’t save any money or time by doing it yourself."
I sat there thinking for a strong rebuttal to their argument... but after a moment... I determined I was in an indefensible position.
They were 100% correct... I did waste my valuable time... time that I didn’t really have...
As I drove home that evening, I started thinking about all of the little things that I do each day... things that I should never be doing at OptiFuse... taking deposits to the bank... helping to count inventory... sorting the mail... performing computer and/or phone system maintenance... taking customer service calls... etc.
All of these things are indeed necessary functions at our company... but I should be doing far more important things... things that only I can and more importantly should be doing.
At OptiFuse, we have some incredibly talented and skilled people working with us. They are more than capable of taking care of our sales, purchasing, accounting, customer service, shipping and receiving and other day-to-day office management functions. Why do I need to jump in and do the things that they are very capable of doing?
My problem isn’t about not having enough time to do what I need to do... no... my problem is spending my time doing things that other people are better qualified to do!
The difficult part, for me, is learning to say no...
No... when the customer service lines are ringing and there is no one available to pick them up.
No... when there is no one to drive to the bank to make a deposit before 5 pm.
No... when our e-mail stops working.
Unfortunately, it’s simply not in my nature to say "no"... I like saying "yes"...
Yes... it’s available in our inventory and we can get that out to you today... even it if means that I’ll go out to our warehouse and pack it up myself.
Yes... we can customize it the way you want it... even if that means I’ll need to personally set up a new part number in our system.
Yes... I’ll fix the e-mail so you can concentrate on your customers.
So therein lays the rub...
Ignore the pleas for help and work on strategic projects and tasks that are needed to grow the company for the long-term... or offer up the assistance and be content with knowing that current customers are being taken care of...
I know am not unique in this manner...
Virtually everyone I know is faced with similar choices... whether or not they are entrepreneurs, parents, students, professionals, and/or simple people who are looking to live a whole and balanced life.
However, unlike money... time is a non-renewable resource... once all of our time is used up we can’t earn any more... our time on earth is a finite quantity...
We decide to allocate our time to whatever we think is important at the moment... that includes not only important items like work, health, family, and education... but also things like sleep, recreation, entertainment, and socializing.
There are indeed times when we are unable to do the things we want to do... but rather we do the things we need to do... (tonight I wanted to watch the basketball game... but I needed to finish this week’s blog instead).
This is where discipline enters our lives... knowing and doing what we need to do... when we want to do something else...
... and this is where my failings lay.
I know that I need to finish my important work... but I want to help our customers and staff... I want to be the hero and fix the computers... I want to avoid having to do the hard stuff sitting on my desk...
Need to do... want to do...
I’m hoping that one day soon I’ll find the discipline to do those things that need to be done... (I’m sure that this will make Sanjiv and Siyamak happy...)
In the meantime... I have only one question for you...
How can I help you?
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse, where servicing our customers always comes first.
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse