We’ve all got our personal bugbears.
One of mine is the assumption that there is one right way to do things.
You know, ‘this is the only process you’ll need’ or ‘follow my system’ or even the ’12 things that successful people do differently’ posts (c’mon – correlation is not the same as causation! – sorry, research geek moment!)
There isn’t an exact workflow out there that will work for everyone. What’s important is that you find a methodology that works for you. By all means, if what you’re doing isn’t working then try something different, but don’t feel you have to follow someone else’s system just because it’s worked for them.
They aren’t you.
Your business is your own beautiful baby and it’s within your power to create every single aspect of it – and yep, that includes the processes, systems and workflows you use.
I’m a believer in discovering as much about yourself as possible so that you can work with your natural abilities and style and you can stop fighting against yourself and get on with the business of changing the world in your own small, sweet way.
I’m a big fan of MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) as a way of understanding your preferences and what you’re likely to find energising, what’s going to suck the life out of you and how you can use this knowledge to take your business from good to great.
One of the aspects that MBTI looks at is whether you naturally lean towards structure and planning or towards a more go with the flow approach to life. Knowing just this one aspect of yourself can save you a whole load of pain, wasted energy and self-recrimination.
Planners are those who, in MBTI terms, have a ‘judging’ preference (it’s really important to note that this doesn’t mean judgemental.) These folks like lists, structure, plans, systems and making decisions that they can then plan around.
The Go With The Flows tend to feel a bit restricted by too much structure and planning. They like to build in opportunities for changing course, leaving things open ended as much as possible and reacting rather than planning.
Both groups make excellent coaches, entrepreneurs, and business owners – they just thrive with slightly different approaches to one another.
The thing is, our preferences have nothing to do with our ability. Planners need to have the ability to change and amend their plans else they wouldn’t be able to function very well in the real world. Go With The Flow types (known as having a ‘perceiving’ preference in MBTI) need to be able to plan and stick to a schedule otherwise they wouldn’t be able to keep client appointments or make any money!
Your preferences don’t have anything to do with your abilities. But they have everything to do with how much energy you will use doing a task.
If you’re not sure whether you’re a planner or a go with the flow type, here are some pointers.
If you’re a Planner you have a tendency to:
• Prefer to have things decided.
• Enjoy making lists of things to do.
• Like to get your work done before playing.
• Plan your work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.
• Sometime become so focused on a goal or task that you miss new information.
If you’re a Go With The Flow type you have a tendency to:
• Enjoy keeping things open so that you can respond to whatever comes up.
• Appear to be loose and casual, keeping plans to a minimum.
• See work as play or at the very least a mix of work and play.
• Work in bursts of energy.
• Get quite energized by approaching deadlines.
• Sometimes stay open to new information so long you struggle to make a decision.
Of course, we all do both some of the time, so think about what your most comfortable, natural and preferred way to be is. There’s no judgement here – neither is better, more competent or likely to be more successful than the other.
Got it? Cool!
Here are some tips to help you out and start making your workflows easier, smoother and more energizing:
Give yourself permission to really go to town on your plans and structures.
Play about with how long into the future you want to go and build in review points every week to check on progress and see whether you need to adjust your timescales and tasks accordingly. Nothing stresses a planner more than unexpected hiccups and anything going awry close to a deadline. Make sure you’re building yourself contingency time, so that you won’t go into panic mode if things go wrong (as they inevitably will from time to time.)
Longer term planning is going to light you up – go ahead, plan out your year, get a 5 year plan – whatever rocks your world. Just don’t hold onto it too tightly – allow space for new opportunities to come into your life and business.
Go With The Flows
You’re going to benefit from having a plan and some structure in place – but only to give you some direction and parameters (and to make sure shit gets done.) Think of them as a direction of travel – you know your destination (and the day you want to get there) but you have the option to take your own route.
Give yourself space to play and be creative, and permission to get tasks done in whatever order you choose so that you don’t feel tied down.
You’re naturally going to want to leave yourself open to grabbing opportunities when they arise and can do short term projects with great energy and verve – but longer term ones will seem like a grind and you’ll likely get bored. A good way around this is deliberately breaking your time down into short term projects . Try a 30-day challenge on your blog, or a 4 week group coaching program – anything that you can throw yourself into and then move onto something else.
Go with the flows and planners can be great collaborators – with both parties complimenting one another’s’ style.
It does require a bit of flexing on both parts however – planners may have to loosen up on their deadlines a little. For example, instead of:
“I need A for Monday, B for Tuesday, and C by 4pm on Wednesday.”
“We’ll need to have a, b, c completed by 3pm Wednesday” and trust that your Go With The Flow partner will get it done – (probably right at the wire on Wednesday!)
Go With The Flows will have to be mindful about deadlines. Do not miss an agreed deadline! Planners tend to get majorly stressed out if they’re missed – or even looking like they might be missed!
Understanding your own natural style will feel like a big weight is taken off you. If you’re a planner you will no longer feel like you’re a ‘control freak’ and embrace your natural tendency to plan, organise and think long term. Go With The Flows can stop beating yourselves up for your lack of structure and instead embrace your flexibility and ability to take quick action when something excites you.
With a bit of tweaking you can develop a workflow that works for you, your find energizing and is efficient – saving you time and energy you can pass onto you clients.
Jo Casey is a trainer, coach and the creator of The Work Happy Podcast. She works with aspiring and emerging coaches to help them find more joy, confidence and impact in their work. She’s written for MindBodyGreen, Tiny Buddha, Brazen Life, Dumb Little Man and Finer Minds. You can find her at www.jocasey.com and sign up for signature programme The Map Of You where you’ll discover the meeting point between your unique strengths, passions and talents, and how you really make a difference in the world. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+