Panel of judges

The Quick Cure For Overcoming Perfectionism & Time Management Tips

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

This weeks episode is all about how to overcome perfectionism and how it can hold you back as a business owner or manager.

We explore some of the main issues perfectionists need to overcome in order to grow their business.

We take a closer look at your responsibilities and give you a great way to refine your workload, quickly, effectively and most of all in a way that will help you have fun at work!

Finally, keeping a time tracking diary for 2 weeks can really highlight some of those time management and perfectionism issues.

Best of all – we’re giving you the templates you need to help you fast track changes that will improve your business. To get them, all you have to do is click the ‘Pay with a Tweet’ button below and you can download the documents to use.

We’d love to hear how you go with these – so be sure to leave a comment as to what you might have discovered.

Full Podcast Episode Notes;

Steve: Hello, and welcome to the Typical Business Podcast. First of all, we’d like to welcome the listeners to the show for our second episode and welcome Ryan.

Ryan: Hey, Steve, really good. Good to be here again!

Steve: Yeah, the first podcast was up and we had a little bit of feedback from the podcast. We had a couple of people taking notes and getting ideas for what they’re going to do with their business and different things they could look at, so that was all positive and good.

Ryan: It’s great to know people are listening and enjoying and it’s really good to hear feedback and ideas and what people would like to hear more of or what challenges they’re having that we might have some ideas about.

Steve: Definitely. Actually, I had a couple meetings with several different business owners this week about different things and I couldn’t help but take some notes for some future episodes of some pain points that different business owners are going through right now.

Ryan: It’s interesting. I’m fairly new to podcasting but it actually makes you reflect on your life and you experiences and you sort of think ‘what’s happened to me? What have I learned this week that’s going to be useful? What have I discovered that I want to share with people?’ And this is just a great forum to do it.

Steve: It’s almost like a virtual radio diary.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s right.

Steve: You know, you look back at what you’re going through and, even the particular things we’re going to discuss in this episode, I’ve been re=analyzing and saying to myself “I need to do that again.” It’s about time I went through that process again to look at my own business and make sure that I’m sticking to my own fundamental rules.”

Ryan: Absolutely.

Steve: So why don’t we talk about that, Ryan? We’ll talk about this week’s episode and what people can expect?

Ryan: Yeah, sounds good, sounds good. Well, you’ve had some thoughts this week of things you’ve been working on and things you’d like to talk about.

Steve: There are three things I sort of want to cover off this week. The first revolves around perfectionism and I suppose some of the flaws in having that mindset as a business owner or even as a manager in a business, and from there we talk about ways to overcome that perfectionism through delegation and we want to talk about creating what’s called a “fun skill matrix” and then look at some time management tips of what’s worked for us in the past and how we can get better use of our time and make it more productive, not only for us, but also how we can teach others to make sure that they’re optimizing their time in the business.

Ryan: Okay, cool, sounds good. I haven’t come across the fun skill matrix before, so I’m looking forward to hearing about that one.

Steve: It’s a little bit different and I’ll credit Brad [Sugars] for that because he’s a business coach and he actually was the first one that introduced me to that particular thing. Why don’t we take a little bit closer look, first of all, at perfectionism and have a bit of a discussion around that? Are you a perfectionist, Ryan?

Ryan: I’m definitely not a perfectionist but, at the same time, I want to find the balance between doing something really well and getting it done. So, yeah, I think often with people who are perfectionists you find they don’t get enough done because they can’t let go because it’s not perfect yet, right?

Steve: That’s pretty much it. It kind of really paralyzes you. I’ve got to say, I was a perfectionist when I was younger. I wanted things to be done in a certain way to a certain standard and that was a measure that I had come up with in my own mind and, because of that, what I found was when I first went into a management role–and I think my first management role was around 23, 24 years old, I found I took a lot of responsibility on and carried a lot of weight and didn’t actually delegate off enough tasks. It was only through chatting with other managers and mentors that I had at the time who were actually able to help me transition my mindset and realize that not everyone’s going to be like me but I needed to get used to using them and growing them as individuals and I think that’s one of the things as a young man and I heard a saying–and I’ve actually done a bit of research to find out where this saying came from and I couldn’t find it; I found a similar quote of a book that was recently written, but the saying that I learned back then was “consistency is better than excellence.” Have you heard of that before?

Ryan: Definitely come across those sorts of ideas. That’s a great way to put it.

Steve: I think it kind of sums it up, doesn’t it?

Ryan: It does, it does. Just that idea of turning up every day regularly and chipping away is, in the long run, going to get you better results than putting in more effort, sometimes putting in less effort, but not being prepared to create something, put it out there, get feedback, change it, evolve it, adapt it, and keep on refining it but, actually, whatever you’re working on, get it out there and get it working for you.

Steve: Yeah. A perfectionist would look at something, I suppose, if you’ve got a given task, they’ll work through that task until they believe in their mind that it’s good enough and quite often you’ll find that, even if they’re in a management role or a business owner, they’ll have other people doing a task and they’ll get so frustrated because it’s not to the standard they want and they’ll have to re-do it themselves. In fact, they’ll often stop everything until it’s redone to the standard that they expect. Now, I’m not saying “let’s lower our standards so the quality of our work suffers,” but I’m talking about reaching a consistent level of work and of service or anything relating to your particular business that is consistently high and that’s good enough. Taking it to the n-th degree to get it perfect, often just doesn’t have any value in it. That extra 5% to get it to perfection is often what kills your productivity, as you were saying.

Ryan: Definitely. I’ve noticed that in my work in video production; where, say, if we’re working on a video, it might take us one day to get from 0% to 80%. It might take a full second day just to get it from 80% to 90%, and to get from 90% to 95%, that length of time may double again. So as you get closer to perfection, the amount of time that it takes just keeps on blowing out. So, I think it’s important to set that goal of what percentage you want to get it to and always focus on, what is the result you want to get? What is the aim? Is your aim to create a perfect piece of art or is it a piece of communication or to get one job done that’s going to move you to the next stage and achieve your aim rather than achieve perfection in your action.

Steve: Let’s put this into real terms, as well, Ryan, with what you’re talking. Because if I was purchasing a video from you, I would have an expectation of that deliverable, but you might have reached that on day one for me. It might’ve actually been fine, but the trap of the perfectionist is that you might spend two weeks on this and actually I’m sitting here as a customer, frustrated, because this is just now taking a long time to get me my project, whereas I was actually happy with the 80% or 90%, anyway, because that was always my expectation.

Ryan: Yeah, and that’s when that problem comes up.

Steve: That’s right. So it’s an interesting one and I think we need to, as managers and business owners, make it clear what our standard is and then just consistently hit that mark; but don’t worry about things always being perfect before we actually move on. So this is where I want to lead on to the next part of our discussion which is talking about how to trust others and give tasks to others and delegate so that you become more equipped to actually grow as a business.

Ryan: Well, that’s probably a good way of starting to let go of perfection because that’s a lot of pressure to carry and, if you spread the load around, you’re going to get a lot more done and it’s going to be a lot easier, right?

Steve: That’s right. And you look at somebody like, say, Richard Branson, who’s got a 5 billion dollar companies. He’s the only guy on the planet to ever have achieve that goal and actually have that kind of success, but he’s one man. He has to work out a way of delegating his tasks and communicating his vision to others and letting them perform the function. So this is where, as a manager and a business owner, we want to look at how we delegate those tasks and how you actually empower your staff to actually perform those functions and actually grow as individuals.

Ryan: There’s something else I feel is worth mentioning about perfectionism, sort of like the shadow side of this discussion; and that is there’s this popular idea now of creating a product that is just workable, just okay and you get it out there on the market and you start using it and improve it as you get feedback from your customers, a “minimum viable product,” people call it. Then the other idea we’ll talk about is “ready-fire-aim.” So just get it out there and get it working for you and the one real danger with that is, if you create something that’s not mature enough, you can turn off your market and they may switch off because they may judge you on that minimum viable product not quite making the grade yet.

Steve: Yeah, and I think a lot of that can be managed through saying “this is version 1.0″ and then people know that you’re building on that platform. I think that’s a really great idea, especially because, in today’s world, I often think about the agility of a business, to be able to win new work. So one of my businesses is very agile and, so if an opportunity comes, I can switch across and win new work in an avenue where the bigger companies that I compete against take a long time, it’s like me sitting in a dinghy on the ocean and them in the Titanic and I’m wanting to turn around and change direction; for them to do it, it just takes a long time for them to get that boat re-aligned, and having that agility is a really good thing. But, again, if you’re a perfectionist, you’re going to want to line everything up before you make the change, you’re going to do all of these things, when, quite often, it’s easy to pick up new work and actually win new clients or actually solve new problems for potential customers by actually making a decision to make a change and putting a system in place that maybe isn’t fully rounded-out, but it caters for them immediately and, over time. Those moderation’s of what we’re talking about of getting better in business is going to cover off over those loose ends.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely, definitely. So take action, move forward.

Steve: Yeah, so if I’m talking right now to a perfectionist and we’ve got perfectionists who are listening in to the podcast, I wanted to talk a little bit about how, because everyone has their own [misery], of perfectionism and control, I guess. I want to talk about some practical ways people can overcome that and put a system in place where they can actually diagnose what they’re doing and learn to let go of things that they don’t need to be so involved in. And that’s really talking about what’s called a fun skill matrix and this is, again, what Brad Sugars came up with, I guess, and we’ve actually got, if you go to the website typicalbusiness.com. We’ve added some links to this fun skill matrix so you can look at it yourself and download it and use it for your own purposes in your own business. So, Ryan, have you got that open at the moment? Are you looking at that?

Ryan: I do. I’ve got that open in front of me now.

Steve: I’ll try to describe this in the easiest way possible for the listeners. Basically, it talks about listing all of your tasks that are your responsibility, that you do day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out, and it makes you allocate them into different quadrants. So you’ve got four quadrants, like a square, if you like, divided into four. On one axis, you’ve got work that is low fun, so it’s pretty boring, not-that-interesting kind of work. Then you’ve got high fun tasks, and then on the other axis you’ve got a low skill task, which pretty much anyone can do that sort of job. Then the high skill task. So, as a business owner or as a manager, the task that you want to keep to yourself are the high skill tasks which need your expertise but are also high-fun, so they’re things that you really enjoy. Then the ones that you want to delegate out are the low-fun, low-skill tasks. So for me that might be things like data entry for invoicing, as an example. I mean, that’s boring as anything and it doesn’t need me sitting there plugging those numbers in. Does that make sense?

Ryan: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. What do you see as the most common tasks that businesses are doing that they could easily delegate that are generally in that low-fun sort of category?

Steve: Yeah, it’s an interesting question because every business is different but one thing.. Okay, if I look at it as a business owner or as a senior manager in an organization, the things I can’t get rid of is the high-end strategy, the cash flow forecast, and the mentoring side of the business, so, me actually growing my staff. Those things I can’t just delegate out to anyone but things like getting in touch with people to touch base or communicate a new offering that the business provides or sending out e-mails or responding to letters that come in from different opportunities or those sorts of things, or there’s all kinds of functions within a business. You’ll have different departments, perhaps, that you don’t have to be involved in and you can give that work off to others or you can employ people for things like design or things like updating your website or, there’s just so many ideas. Do you have any of your own?

Ryan: I think another thing that’s just occurred to me is can you turn a low-fun, low-skill action into something more high-fun, high-skill. One thing that I’ve thought of is I transitioned from quite an old-fashioned accounting system to an online software called Zero. It actually takes a feed from the bank and inputs a lot of the data automatically and then, because the software is so user-friendly, it actually becomes far more enjoyable to go online and do that accounting and data entry process yourself. It’s really quick and it really plugs you into the numbers of your business straight away. So that’s actually an example of a previously low-fun, low-skill task transformed into something more high-fun and high-skill that I enjoy doing and it’s useful and doesn’t take a lot of time.

Steve: This is one thing. So, I use Zero as well, but I have my accounting bookkeepers and data entry clerks actually do everything for me and so they do the bank rec. and the day-to-day data entry and that sort of thing and the month-end checks. What I look at and the task that I keep for myself is a high-end analysis of our cash flow forecast and just a general review of the month-in, month-out, end-of-month checks so they’ll do that, they’ll prepare it, they’ll send me the reports. I’ll look at my P&L and my balance sheet, and then I look at some key metrics in my accounting package. Which I actually enjoy doing from the high-end, but the day-to-day boring, dull stuff, I give to them. I think there’s an element to growing your business and understanding how you can automate certain things that definitely would move things out of the low-fun, low-skill area into more an automated process, which I think is what you’re talking about.

Ryan: Yeah, now that makes a lot of sense. The other things there is for listeners to think about the idea of can and should a business be fun and how much fun can it be and to really entertain that idea of can you get to the point where most of what you’re doing is quite fun and quite enjoyable and I think often people haven’t really considered that concept that you can really turn your business into something where you are really enjoying what you’re doing most of the time.

Steve: And that’s really a good point because with what you were saying earlier, you really enjoy going through and doing some of those numbers yourself whereas for me it’s not. I find it tedious and boring. But this is where, as an owner of a business or even a manager, what the fun skill matrix does is it lets you prioritize what you find enjoyable so, as an example, if I’m in my online marketing business, there’s some things there I can guarantee you would find boring and tedious because it’s purely analytical and the rest but that’s my bent so, for me, it’s actually a high-fun task but if I give it to somebody else, they’ll say “oh, gee, this is tedious and boring. I wish I didn’t have to do it.” So, as a business owner or a manager, you have the right to choose ‘these are the tasks that I enjoy the most and some of these are just’–I’ve actually got two other quadrants that I haven’t covered, so the one is the high-fun task that require low-skill or the others are the low-fun tasks that still require the high-skill and, on those tasks, you can decide whether to keep those or delegate them. So a high-fun, low-skill task–like, for you, you might say that I actually enjoy plugging in the numbers each month.

Ryan: Yeah, the thing I enjoy is that you don’t have to plug in the numbers; it’s all done for you automatically by the software. That’s the beauty of it, that it’s just a matter of clicking one button to reconcile.

Steve: Yeah.

Ryan: So that’s what I love about it, yeah.

Steve: So that might be a task that you enjoy but, you know, the clicking of a button probably isn’t a high-skill thing but it’s a task that you’re going to choose to keep to yourself.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s right.

Steve: So, as you do this fun skill matrix, the idea is that you actually list all your tasks, first of all, and then you go and plunk them into one of those four quadrants and from there you need to make a decision: what do I really want to be doing and what do I need to be doing? And the want comes from the high-fun stuff and the need comes from the high-skill level. So if you’ve got good staff who have a certain skill level that’s needed for those tasks, you can easily delegate that stuff but there’s some things, especially as a business owner or as a senior manage, there’s some things you just can’t delegate; it needs to be you that does the work. So this lets you organize it into a logical way which says ‘what task can I get rid of and which task do I choose to keep because I want them and what tasks do I choose to keep because they need to be my own?’

Ryan: Yeah, cool. That’s a good way of looking at it.

Steve: And, from there, as you start to put this into practice, you start to get used to actually delegating those tasks. And I can tell you now that, when I was running a building company and I had way too much work on my shoulders, again, I got into this mode of actually delegating these tasks out and I found I cleared my e-mail box so much simpler. The work was still getting done but I was instead being able to delegate and [??] my time for a higher-end task that I really needed to concentrate on.

Ryan: So this is a model that’s helped you quite a lot.

Steve: Definitely. It made me re-think about having fun in business and making it enjoyable.

Ryan: Do you want to just remind the listeners where to find this fun skill matrix?

Steve: Yeah. Well, if they come to the website, typicalbusiness.com There’s a link to it which we ask you to pay with a tweet or a Facebook prompt so, basically, once you click that button and tweet that you’re downloading the sheets, you can get them for free. The tweet’s a bit of a self-promotion in the way of seeing how many people actually get it and making sure that we continue to promote the podcast, if you’d like. But I’d like to talk a little bit about how the fun skill matrix then rolls into the time management. And we won’t take too long on this because I know we’re getting close to our time limit for our show–

Ryan: Speaking of time management.

Steve: Exactly. So one of the things that I used years ago–and I’ve found it’s been really beneficial–is to sit down and have a spreadsheet of two weeks’ worth of working weeks, each day was broken into fifteen minute segments. And what you’d work out, as you’re doing your work each day, every fifteen minutes you’d just go on there and record what you’d been doing. So I did that for a process of the two weeks and I found how three hours of each day of mine was wasted by people walking into my office and interrupting me and wanting my advice or needing to bounce something off me and they weren’t planned meetings, they were interruption meetings.

Ryan: So the first thing you’re doing there is taking an audit of your time because you don’t really know until you go through that process and calculate where your time’s going.

Steve: Exactly, because time is one of those things which is just so important but you can find that you’re just wasting it or it’s not being utilized in a way that’s most productive and this is a leak. This is a big leak in a business owner’s or a business manager’s time. It’s the effective use of their time versus the ineffective use of their time because they all say time is money but the truth is that if you’re using your time in a more effective way, you’ve got a better chance to make your business more successful, right?

Ryan: Absolutely.

Steve: So after I did this, the first time I ever did this, I found out that, on average, about three hours a day were being wasted. And I’m going to give you a little tip that I thought I’d put in place to actually reduce that time down and what I did was simply in the mornings I came into the office, put my stuff down, and went to get myself a cup of coffee or a cup of tea and, instead of going straight back to my office, I walked into every department of the company and I would just chat to them “good morning, how’re you going, how’s your weekend,” whatever. I’d perhaps talk about the different projects they were working on and I’d go from department to department to department and, in thirty minutes, I would’ve seen everyone and within thirty minutes and then I was back in my office and working and what I found was that in that time, people got into a routine of knowing that, in the morning, Steve’s going to pass and actually stand here and talk to me and so what they would actually start to do is, if they ran into an issue, they would leave it till the next morning and when I was in their department, they’d say “I’m just working on this, would you look at it?” And I would look at it.

Ryan: You’re actually, then, structuring your time, rather than letting things happen. You’re saying “this is what I need to do, I need to speak to these people, I’m going to structure it so it happens at this particular part of the day” and there’s sort of a start and an end point for other things to happen.

Steve: Yeah, and I wanted it to be informal, because part of it was also trying to increase corporate culture and making sure that I was always accessible, so I was killing a few birds with one stone there. But what I did find was, after I did that, people got into a habit of asking me the questions when I was in their department each morning that my interruptions–after I ran this spreadsheet again later on–my interruptions had dropped down to about an hour each day, so I was saving two hours a day just by being proactive in the morning and making a change to my routine.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s a massive saving.

Steve: It blew me away. I didn’t realize, first of all, that I was wasting three hours every day on answering questions and things like that just for regular interruptions, let alone how much I could actually affect that change by changing one of my patterns.

Ryan: And then you can start making decisions like what do I want to do with that extra time? Do I want to grow my business more? Do I want to take more time for myself? It gives you options.

Steve: The other thing, too, is that it also highlights the tasks that you’ve decided to keep from your fun skill matrix, it’s highlighted how much time you’re investing in doing those tasks now.

Ryan: Yeah.

Steve: Some of those tasks, you’re looking at it and you might say “I’m spending five hours a week doing this. I need to re-think of whether it needs to be me that does that.” And you can actually start to say “well, that five hours would be better spent somewhere else and I can focus on something that’s much more important that only I can do because of the skill level required.” So it’s an interesting one and I think the challenge, Ryan, this week for our listeners would be to actually go out and have a look at this. First of all, ask themselves, are they a perfectionist? Are they doing the task that they need to be doing? Then learning to delegate those tasks out to other people so they can manage their time better.

Ryan: Sounds like a really cool idea, and I think some really interesting things will come out of this if you actually do the time management audit. It might be confronting in some ways, it might be the opposite; you might realize just how efficient you actually are, but it’s a great way to learn about where your day’s going.

Steve: I think so. The other thing that we put on, which they can get if they visit the website, is they can get an Excel spreadsheet which I’ve created in Google Docs and they can actually just download that so they can have the time management spreadsheet there on their desk and they can just fill that in and so it’s all done. There’s a template there that they can use. As listeners, we would love to hear–if you actually use this for the next two weeks and come up with some findings–we’d love to hear what they were and sort of other ways that business owners could perhaps take some of your ideas and see how you save some time and maybe implement those strategies themselves.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. So check out the website, typicalbusiness.com and let us know what you think.

Steve: That’s great, and that’s the show! We’ll wrap that up, right on time. Thanks very much, Ryan. It’s been another good fortnight and we’ll come back and speak to our listeners in a couple of weeks.

Ryan: Thanks, Steve. See you later!

Steve: Cheers!

2 comments
Glen Laundy
Glen Laundy

Great work fellas. Perfectionism is counter productive, no doubt about that. Will be checking out the next episode for sure ;)