This short piece was written for the American Society of Appraiser's BV E-Letter. It appeared in Issue 14-50 on December 22, 2010. I hope you not only enjoy it but find it useful. I know of at least one reader who took the advice to heart. I hope you do too.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I don’t. For me, they are a waste of time to develop and just make me feel guilty when I don’t keep them. Maybe I do it wrong because my resolutions usually result in more things to do (lose weight, write 10 articles, remember birthdays without fail, etc.), rather than fewer.
But all that will change in 2011. Instead of a standard “to-do” list of resolutions, I have resolved to create a “to-don’t” list. Why don’t you join me?
What is a “to-don’t” list? It is self-explanatory. Your “to-don’t” list is all the stuff you will stop doing. It is the stuff that wastes your time; that steals your energy; that provides no return.
Because this is a practice development article, your “to-don’t” list is any activity that doesn’t produce business now and will likely never produce business. It is those things that you’ve done forever – just because you’ve done them forever – but with little to show for it. It is the mistakes you make when marketing yourself or your firm that you know you shouldn’t make, but you consistently make them anyway.
Examples of practice development items for your “to-don’t” list might include:
- Speaking to groups that will likely not need your services. You know you’ve done this.
- Continuing to use speaking engagements as a marketing tool even though you know you’re not gifted here and you can’t (won’t) take the time to improve. If this is you, use another marketing tactic to further your goals.
- Doing business with unappreciative (and unprofitable) referral sources and/or clients. Why do we hang on to these relationships? Letting these people find other service providers might be the most liberating thing we can do for ourselves and our practice.
- Chasing business we wouldn’t normally want. When we get nervous about the economy, we can fool ourselves into believing that any business is good business. This is a mistake. Enhance your value to your best clients and referral sources instead.
Picture your professional and personal life as a desktop. Is yours too often full of clutter? I don’t know about you, but adding something new to it makes me tired and frustrated. The thought of shortening my already long to-do list gives me energy. Like an uncluttered desk, it feels full of possibilities.
“No” is a complete sentence. Remember that. Instead of focusing on your to-do list, spend some time compiling your personal and professional “to-don’t” list – and then follow through. It can be one of the most powerful things you do for the new year.