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Which is Better? Sprinting or Running a Marathon?

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I think many business owners feel scattered and overwhelmed.  One of my favorite quotes is from J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Fellowship of the Ring:

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

It’s a great image, isn’t it?  Unfortunately, many of us feel that way too often in our lives.

How many times do you find yourself staring at a to-do list that just seems incredibly daunting?  I bet that if you have a list at work, you probably have one at home, too.  Two lists, one day… so little time. 

One of the first things I learned as a business owner is that I cannot possibly do everything.  The more I try to take on, the more I dilute everything on my list.  Maybe I want to start a new marketing program I just learned about, but I need to plan for a video shoot a week away.  The more attention I throw at the marketing program, which could easily wait until after the video shoot, the less time I spend appropriately preparing scripts, lighting, and all the details I need for the shoot. 

The marketing program is not just another to-do item; it becomes a distraction.

Distractions do exactly that – they distract.  They move your focus away from where it needs to be.  This isn’t fair to you, and it’s definitely not fair to your clients.  To me, multi-tasking isn’t necessarily a good thing.  There’s a difference between doing many things at the same time, somewhat well, and doing one thing at a time, extremely well. 

I want to make sure I am always growing as a person, business owner, photographer, and mother.  When I take on too much, my focus turns from actually enjoying the experience and learning from it, to just completing the task so I can move on to the next line on my to-do list. 

I think we often forget that our utmost attention is crucial; this is a disservice to our clients, community partners, AND family members.

Trying to take on too much at one time definitely creates stress at home.  I have learned that home time needs to be HOME time.  Home time isn’t a time for working on things that I wasn’t able to finish at the studio.  Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you are working so that you can have more comfortable, wonderful family life.  You aren’t working so that you can work more.

Another thing that has really helped me out is that I now give myself permission to put things on hold for three months (or more) if I have other things going on.  It’s hard to grant this sort of lenience to yourself, I know, especially when you are trying to build a bigger and better business.  It is so, so important, though.  For me, it takes away the anxiety I feel when I have an item on my list that I can never get to. 

Business, just like almost everything in life, is a marathon – not a sprint.  I’m not sure where the saying came from, but it’s so true.  If you want something to last, take your time to build it.  Keep a line between your business and your family time, and most importantly, give yourself permission to not be Wonder Woman (or Superman). 

 

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