Archive for May 23rd, 2012

Today, we’re proud to share with you another GUEST POST! Please read up and take some hints from Judith Cassis as she describes the ups and downs of working with her husband and hiring a productivity consultant. If you’re like me, you will laugh out loud and relate to many points in this post! Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

What Do You Mean I’m the Problem???

by Judith Cassis

My husband and I decided to complicate things by becoming business partners. Good idea, right? Well … I’m not so sure. Here’s why…

He’s a go-with-the-flow/stand-and-observe person. I’m what you might call – there’s no other way to say it – anal.

I’m a make a decision and run with it kind of gal, and he’s a let’s take our time and look at all the options first, guy. Neither of these had ever presented a problem we couldn’t work through. Except that every time we worked on something together, it drove me nuts.

A couple years ago, we noticed a major hindrance to our growing success was in the area of productivity. We were putting way too much effort into things that should have taken less time and energy. We found ourselves being reactive as opposed to proactive; working from a place of crisis management on a weekly basis. Okay, daily.

Determined not to pull out all our hair, we contacted productivity consultant, Christina Littrell-Williams. A columnist with the weekly paper we produce, she often wrote about a system she’d developed for: (1) unearthing disconnects within a business and (2) making necessary repairs. We decided to work with her.

Over a period of about two weeks, we and each of our support team members spent time being scrutinized … I mean interviewed … by our productivity consultant. I was excited about the prospect of working through the kinks in our business. Moving toward synergy became a concrete reality.

On the day Christina delivered her report, she laid out her paperwork. I loved that she supported her findings with a beautifully organized diagram. There it was: a map of our business, the people who contributed, and most importantly, precious evidence of the productivity glitches in our business.

She explained in great detail, how every one of our team members contributed to designing, producing, and distributing our weekly publication. She demonstrated how, step by step, we went from 16 blank pages to a full-blown paper every week. Outlining everything that was working well, our productivity consultant then announced that she’d discovered a major glitch in operations. Here it comes, I thought. I’ll bet it’s my husband. I readied myself to comfort him when he heard the news.

And then she blindsided me.

What do you mean, I’m the problem? I was shocked. I gave my heart and soul, day after day, to running my business. How could I possibly be the problem?

Our productivity consultant explained that because of my well-developed skills in … micromanagement, I had found a way to … contribute in (weasel my way into) every department. My well-intended efforts were slowing everyone down: I redesigned sections of the paper almost weekly, permitted ad sizes that didn’t fit our standard page format, and my flexibility with contributing writers clogged our pipelines. Yes, I WAS the problem.

Three years later, I still work with my productivity consultant, Christina, on a regular basis. Her pinpoint accuracy in pointing out my wandering focus helps me stay on track. I’m learning how to let go and allow others to do their jobs, even if I would “do it differently.” Unless we’re in a brainstorming session or roundtable discussion, I’m a writer and editor. That’s my job – period.

You know, it actually feels really good to let go. I’m still tempted to “contribute” now and then, but I’m learning. The narrower my focus, the more energy I have to sustain my own ventures and interests.

Three keys to my personal productivity— and they come with a large disclaimer — bold and in big red letters:

Change doesn’t always come easy.
One step at a time
usually works best.

  1. Define desired outcomes – Know what you want, long term and short term, and go after it. It’s okay to change course, but make sure it’s for the right reasons.
  2. Manage your time – Make a schedule and unless an absolute emergency comes up, lay your life on the line to stick to it.
  3. Join a mastermind group – A great way to ensure your progress is to join a mastermind group with an accountability component. Your partners will help keep you focused and will head you off at the pass, should you become distracted.

I’ll always work with a productivity consultant. I’m too close to myself to be fully productive otherwise, and a bird’s eye view helps expand my perspective. My success is contingent upon my ability to be productive, focused and committed. Today, I can say, that I am.

Judith Cassis is a writer, author, and publisher of a weekly publication. Along with ghost writing nonfiction books and articles, she teaches creative writing in Southern California. Contact her at judith@judithcassis.com.


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