Dale Carnegie tells the story of two men who spent the day chopping wood.
The Worried Woodcutter worked hard all day long. He chopped non-stop without even taking a break for lunch. He ended the day exhausted and crabby but with a nice size pile of wood. As he stumbled home, he passed the woodpile of the Wise Woodcutter.
Shocked and angry at what he saw, he sputtered “I worked all day long with nary a break, while you took two breaks, spent time just sitting around and even took a short nap during lunch.” “Why is your wood pile so much larger than mine?”
The Wise Woodcutter
“Ah,” replied the Wise Woodcutter, “did you notice what I was doing while I was sitting down?”
“I was sharpening my ax.”
The Worried Worker
Most of us attack our days the same way the Worried Woodcutter swung at his trees. We get to the office early, dive into our work with gusto, work all day long, and end the day dragging and drained.
Short-Term Payoff ~ Long-Term Disaster
The worst part is that our brains continually reward us all through the day for our short-sightedness and poor planning.
The brain can only hold 4-7 items in its short-term memory at any one point in time. So, when your brain gets to the office sees all the unfinished tasks that need finishing, the emails that need answering and the people demanding your time, your stress level rises and you leap in to try to minimize the load.
Each time you check another item off the list, your brain breathes a sigh of relief that there is one less thing to keep track of. It’s addicting.
But when we dedicate our morning hours to the mess of small things, the most important things, like marketing and business building, always fall to the bottom of the list. You may have returned your phone calls for the day but you did nothing to get a new client for tomorrow.
The Wise Worker
The Wise Woodcutter knew to sharpen his saw. And we would be wise to take time each morning to schedule our highest priorities into the day.
This is NOT easy. Planning and prioritizing is one of the most resource intensive activities your brain can do.
But it’s also the most powerful.
There Is Time to Market Your Business
Research shows that for every 1 minute you spend in planning, you will gain 10 in execution.
- 1 minute of planning = 10 minutes saved.
- 15 minutes = 2 hour and 30 minutes saved!
This may seem too good to be true but give it a try. If you recapture even 45 minutes a day, you will gain almost 12 days a year.
Do you want to your business to survive for the long haul? It begins with prioritizing the things that matter most.
Dedicate the first fifteen minutes of every day to short and long-range planning and prioritizing. Put marketing and business building at the top of the list. Then dive in.
Who knows? Like the Wise Woodcutter you may even have time for a short nap.