In This Episode…
In this episode I talk through the principles of self-reflection in the context of a growth mindset. I share the three power questions I will now use whenever I am faced with a task I detest. I also reveal the simple change I am going to make with yesterday’s task and how I identified that.
Hi and welcome to this episode of the Profit Productivity Podcast.
So today I want to reflect on yesterday’s episode. In yesterday’s episode, I told the story about putting off doing my business receipts for my bookkeeper and struggling with the issue of procrastinating around that particular task.
I explained how I’d got there and was open and honest about the problems that I’ve created for myself and for my poor bookkeeper who has to deal with the delays I caused. I looked at the variety of strategies I used to help me finish the task. Here’s a summary of them again:
- Chunking it down,
- Utilising my prime time,
- Setting a timer,
- Spreading it out over several days,
- Starting with just one tiny piece of the task,
- Being mindful
- And ultimately just having an attitude of getting on and doing it.
Now, I’ve been struggling with this task every quarter for the last five years at least. This is because I have been applying the same process. Now I’ve finished the task again for another quarter, it would be very easy for me to enjoy and bask in the glory of getting it out of the way and not having to worry about it for another three months.
But that’s not the mindset I am looking to develop. That problem’s going to repeat itself in three months time if I follow the same patterns of behaviour and take the same actions.
If I want a different result, I’ve got to do something different. I think it was Einstein who said that if you keep expecting a different result by doing the same things, that is the definition of insanity.
So I now need to evolve my approach. I say I need to – I want to. I could just let it happen again in the same way because I’ve coped with it for the last few years.
So why not do that? Well, the reason for not doing that is because it goes against a number of things.
First of all, it puts me in a stressful situation. It makes my life unbearable for a few days. I start beating myself up because I’m conscious that I should really get on with it. And actually I’m compromising some of my key professional standards I hold at an extremely high level in other areas of my work.
I realise I’ve got to be consistent with my identity as a professional – someone who does things properly and creates systems and processes to make things even more effective and efficient for other people.
I’ve got to live by that myself more effectively. It’s about continuous improvement. It’s a key component of having a growth mindset. It’s about asking the questions like “How can I get better at doing this?” “What can I learn from the approach that I’ve taken that I can change so in the future it will be more effective?
I’m going to do some other episodes and go deeper on the growth mindset in the future. For now I wanted to start thinking about what improvements can be made to my receipts process.
Reflecting on what didn’t work isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. People with a fixed mindset are often threatened by challenge or reviews of this type because they may see it as a direct attack or pointing the finger of blame.
I know myself in the past, I’ve had a relatively fixed mindset around a whole range of ideas. I think not addressing this in the past has been evidence of that. So I’m going to approach this and look at this and think, “Right, what can I do to improve this?”
Now there are two models I want to look at in terms of how we review what we do.
The first one is a simple three stage one. It consists of the steps: Review, Reflect and Revise.
Here’s how I have applied this model to what I should perhaps refer to as “Receipt-Gate”.
First of all I reviewed the situation I found myself in (Step 1). I did that yesterday and overnight I’ve been reflecting (Step 2) on what came out of that episode. I’m embarrassed to have publicly admitted it. But what came out of it is the recognition there’s a problem. There are things i’m doing to get through the problem, but I also know I need to change something.
Step 3 is the Revise step. Here’s where I consider what can I change to move that forward? I’ll talk about what I actually decided on shortly.
Before I do, let me share with you another way of looking at this three stage model. This time it’s a four stage model. I haven’t quite worked out which is my favourite yet. See what you think.
Step 1 – We take an ACTION.
Step 2 – We become AWARE of what happens as a result of that action – identify the consequences of taking the action.
Step 3 – We ASSESS the results of that action. We decide whether we like the consequences or not
Step 4 – Then we ADJUST it, take the new action and go through that loop again.
I quite like this model because it’s got four A’s. The first version of it just has three R’s – I couldn’t find an “R” word for action. It doesn’t matter which one you use. The point is we reflect on what we have done and see if we can do it any better.
Another thing that came out yesterday were three questions for me to any task that I really hate doing.
QUESTION 1 – What’s the real problem here?
Now the real problem for me yesterday was I hadn’t actually sat down and worked out exactly what I needed to do in the most effective way. I was just winging it. I was reacting to circumstances and doing stuff to get things done without really taking a more strategic view and thinking, “What’s the best way of doing this?”
We do that as human beings. We get sucked into activity partly because we want to feel like we’re making progress and it’s because our hardwired reactive nature
QUESTION 2 – What’s getting in the way of making this job really easy for me?
This is about identifying the sticking points. For me, probably the thing getting in the way the most wasn’t a process, it was my lack of discipline. I lacked the discipline to sit down and do the receipts on a regular basis so they didn’t build up and become a huge mental monster of a problem.
QUESTION 3 – How can I make this job quicker, easier, and more enjoyable?
The third question starts looking at solutions though actually there are three questions. How can I make this job quicker? How can I make this job easier? How can I make this job more enjoyable?
I would ask those three questions separately to focus individually on making this quicker, then easier, then more enjoyable.
What’s come out of yesterday for me is there are some really useful questions I can ask myself when I find myself doing a task I really hate doing.
Here’s what I have actually put in place.
I’ve realised I’ve let my receipts build up and allow that build up has been the cause of the problem. It’s my discipline. So what I’ve done is set a weekly reminder in my calendar for me to take 30 minutes every Friday morning from 08:30am. I will process any paper receipts and scan them in to my computer. I’ll forward any email receipts, send any statements through and synchronise our online system with my bank records.
I’ve committed to my book keeper that’s what I’m doing in a conversation I had with her yesterday. I even told her I had done a podcast episode about it!
I’ve now got a little bit more discipline and a process for putting that in place. It’s been a useful exercise for me. But if I step back away from just my receipts, the principle of feedback and assessing and reviewing what you’re doing and looking to make improvements is the way forward for success.
I’m discovering it helps to develop a better life, whether that be my work life, my physical life, my emotional life or my financial life.
I’ve realised it isn’t a revolution I need (I’m often looking for the quick fixes). It’s evolution that’s necessary. Taking small steps – step by step by step.
The key is knowing very clearly what you want, do something to move towards that and then look at the feedback. The choice is the Review, Reflect, Revise approach or the Action, Awareness, Assessment and Adjustment approach. It doesn’t matter which, both will work.
What I’m doing is I’m giving myself feedback and then seeing what works and what doesn’t. I know I may have to experiment with different approaches, but the key thing is to keep doing this until I get the result I want.
This has been revolutionary for me because I realised I’ve had open ended approach to my work. I’ll do something, it doesn’t quite work. However I’ve settled for mediocrity and accepted that as the way of doing things without seeing if I can make them better.
Continuous improvement is something I think will be very powerful. It’s not a new concept to me, it’s just I haven’t applied this to myself with as much rigour before. It is something I’ll be majoring on over the coming days and weeks.
And it’s probably the key skill I’ll insist on people developing when they work with me as help them improve their productivity. The only way I’ll get better is to know what’s working and what’s not and make the adjustments necessary.
So that’s Today’s episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed that.