Overcoming Your Full Plate

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, there’s a good chance that you’re faced with “full-plate” syndrome – there’s way more on your plate than you can ever finish in one day.

And the thing about a full plate (check the picture) is that when you add more things to it, stuff starts to fall off. It drips off the side, or falls on the floor, in kind of a random fashion – you have no control over it.

Over the next few blog posts I’m going to talk about tactics for managing your “full plate” which will lead to getting more done.

After years of coaching small business owners, I’ve noticed something that I’d like to share with you.

The Inefficient Strategies To Combat The Full Plate Syndrome, That Most Business Owners Choose

1) They’ll work on what seems like the highest priority item in any given moment, and let items fall off the plate on their own, or

2) They’ll make a to-do list and methodically work through it, moving any items that don’t get completed to the next day – often the same tasks get pushed to the next day, or

3) They’ll work on the items that they enjoy working on, avoiding the more difficult or unpleasant tasks.

If you’re using one of those techniques and its working for you, cool. If not, I want to suggest some alternatives over the next few posts, which you may find helpful in overcoming your full plate.

Today, I’m going to start with what is probably the most difficult of all the tactics I’m going to suggest: Learn to say “no.”

Sounds simple, and it is. Don’t take anything else on – not another project, not another marketing effort, not another meeting or lunch date. Say “no.”

Please don’t sell this idea short.

This is very powerful.

by saying “no” to something, you’re saying “yes” to other things

Making a conscious decision about what to say no to, requires deciding what to say yes to.

Let’s look at it in context. If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur who can make these decisions on your own, this might be easier. For instance, you can decide to say “no” to blogging so you can say “yes” to other forms of marketing.

You can say “no” to doing your own books, and instead hire a bookkeeper. Yes, this is another way of saying “no” to adding it to your plate – by delegating.

If you work inside a bigger company, you might not be able to say “no” to your boss. But you can ask your boss what he would like you to take off your plate. You can be honest with him that your plate is full and explain that you don’t want things falling off your plate – you are asking him to help you prioritize – in effect asking him to help you say “no” to something.

Over the next posts I’m going to share some more ideas that I’ve found help my clients manage their time and be more productive. Starting by saying “no” is a powerful way to start.

Please feel free to share your ideas about this and what has worked for you.