80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. You’re probably quite familiar with the 80/20 rule as it applies to your business, but have you ever considered how it applies to your daily tasks? 80% of your results come from 20% of your tasks. Often that 20%, the results-oriented tasks are the difficult ones that tend to get put off. This is when procrastination enters the picture.
We all have things in our lives that we know we should be doing—exercising, spending more time with family, prospecting, calling clients when markets are down. Intellectually we know that these are the very things that would make our life richer, healthier and more successful yet we often procrastinate them away.
Starting something new is always a challenge even when it’s something we really want to do or know we should do. Let’s face it. To a greater or lesser extent, most people are resistant to change and starting something new represents a change. No matter how difficult change may be for you or how long you’ve been putting something off, the 12 minute solution can help you manage your procrastination. The 12 minute solution is based on the simple premise: make the choice and you can do anything for 12 minutes.
I’d like to say that the 12 minute solution was the result of some highly scientific research conducted with expensive equipment that took years to develop but in actuality, I stumbled across the process purely by accident but it has proven effective time and time again. It all started on New Year’s Day and a resolution to start exercising—again. This time I wanted to start doing yoga and take the dog for a walk in the mornings. That sounded easy enough–or so I thought. Unfortunately, the days passed and no exercise program materialized. I happened to mention that I wanted to start a yoga practice to a client who promptly sent me a yoga DVD. Days turned into weeks and there sat the disc, gathering dust.
Several weeks later, my client asked me how it was going. A little embarrassed, I incoherently mumbled something about being too busy. She was gracious, but didn’t let me off the hook. She proceeded to tell me that one of the workouts was only 12 minutes long and certainly I could fit 12 minutes in somewhere. Reluctantly, I admitted she was right.
The more I thought about our conversation, the more I became convinced that I could do just about anything for 12 minutes and “to do or not to do” was just that–a matter of choice. In many instances, the longer we go without doing something we know we should, the less we feel that there’s an actual choice involved. We become victims of our repetitive patterns of behavior.
The next day I made a choice to do that 12 minute yoga workout. I’d like to tell you that after that first day, I felt great and couldn’t wait to continue the following day but I’d be lying. With varying degrees of enthusiasm, I dragged myself onto the mat those first few days to do my 12 minutes of yoga, never expecting anything transformative to occur. However, by day 5, I started to feel a bit more flexible and strangely enough, those pesky little aches and pains started to disappear. My 12 minutes turned into 15 which soon became 20. By the end of the second week, I was up to 30 minutes. Then I decided to add a couple of actual classes each week to my routine and my practice continued to build from there.
Pleased with my new yoga success, I repeated the 12 minute process for the early morning dog walking. After a few days of my 12 minute choice and a cold nose prodding me along, I found myself actually looking forward to the walks. The results were the same. The 12 minutes quickly evolved into 30 and I had another exercise success under my belt!
Now I was excited. If I could use this process to actually start exercising, it had real business potential. So I asked myself two questions:
- What in my business did I avoid?
- What would have the greatest impact on my business if I started doing it consistently?
You can probably guess the answer–prospecting. I don’t like it any more than you do but again, I made the choice to pick up the phone and prospect for 12 minutes a day. After working through the initial resistance of the first few days, I found the 12 minutes gradually increasing and after several weeks, the 12 minutes had grown to a consistent 30 minutes a day.
If it worked for me, I knew it would work for my coaching clients. I began asking clients those same two questions above. From the first question, I had them develop a comprehensive list of everything in their business that they did their best to avoid. To help them answer the second question, I had clients rank the tasks they avoided according to the potential impact, the task if done consistently would have on their business. Now they had their answer to the second question. This became our starting point for implementing the 12 minute solution.
Implementation of the 12 minute solution consists of two steps—choice and action. Recognizing that the “to do or not to do” decision is a choice, and choosing to do the difficult task for 12 minutes is the first step. Never skip this first step. When you make a conscious choice, you have more ownership associated with the task and you must take ownership of your 12 minutes a day. The second step is actually doing your 12 minutes each day. If you find that you stick to your 12 minutes for a couple of days, weeks or even months and then for whatever reason stop, go right back to the 12 minute solution and restart until the new habit sticks. Be diligent.
Not doing what we know we should is draining physically, mentally and emotionally. By doing the difficult tasks that previously had been procrastinated away, my clients started to feel more positive. In the midst of this year’s market uncertainty, feeling more positive was a nice reward but it didn’t stop there. Many were able to break through their old plateaus and make significant strides in their business during a difficult and volatile market. And, it all started with just 12 minutes of new activity a day.
Activity has a way of healing what ails you. It’s the perfect antidote to worry, fear, self-doubt, anxiety and disappointment not to mention, it always breathes fresh life into your business whenever you initiate it. However, with today’s business challenges, sometimes starting something new can seem virtually impossible. Starting is always the hardest part. That’s where the 12 minute solution can help you manage your procrastination. The effort is minimal but the rewards are great. Remember, you can do anything for 12 minutes!
I encourage you to try the 12 minute solution with whatever results-oriented task you’ve been putting off. Even if you start and stop, go right back to the 12 minute solution and restart until your new habit is formed.