3 Rules I Broke to Transform My Business

Productivity is a great thing. It's definitely important to keep moving toward your goals and stay organized. But a lot of the messages surrounding it just never resonate with me. When I was a contractor, I'd buy a book that promised to get my life under control (it really wasn't) and make me super organized (I really wasn't).

So I'd buy the book or download the workbook or what have you.

Then I'd read the instructions like a starving person and throw myself into them. Get up at 4am! Answer emails when you're standing in line for lunch! Connect all your accounts! Put everything you own into piles!

The Two-Day Vicious Circle

Here's an irony - most of the productivity stuff says go to bed early, right? Well, I'd stay up until the middle of the night like a woman on fire reading this stuff all the way to the end. This time it would solve everything! And what I lost in skipping that very first, foundational bit of advice about getting to bed, I'd just make up for with sheer sleepless grit.

Yeah, it would last about two days. Every time.

And then I'd end up more frustrated with myself than ever. I flunked productivity. What I've realized since, and you might relate to, is this: in the case of all that productivity stuff, what was always missing from the picture was ME. The real me. I could drop my real self and follow their rules and habits and schedule blocks for about two days. That was it. It never worked!

So to really get my business life in order in a way that is truly rewarding and makes me happy, not miserable, I had to break some rules. In fact, the Better Business Design process began with a complete shift in mindset that I'll explain below.

A New Mindset

What I know now is that to be the most effective and productive, I have to be the most MYSELF.

That blows me away.

So in essence that means that to design a better business that really works, you have to design a business that works for YOU. That element is essential, just like the classic design elements that I now know must be present in a fully, robustly functioning business.

So here's what I stopped worrying my head over.

The Three Rules I Broke to Design My Better Business

By breaking these rules, I was able to design a business compatible with my real self, that operates in the real world very effectively.

Rule #1 - Never Hit Snooze

I always hated this one the most. They all say that, right? Well, I wake up gradually, not instantly. And snuggling back in for a few minutes is essential to my sense of the good life somehow. That's just me. Don't get me wrong, I get up around the same time every day and get my kids off to school and get to work on my business. I just do it gently. Because that's who I am. Don't apply something rigid that doesn't sit right with you to your life OR to your business. In my experience, it won't work. That's why Better Business Design is centered around what actually, practically works for you - around tested realities rather than theories. (I love my little snooze button.)

Rule #2 - Start Before You're Ready

Ummm, no.

Not me! I don't like that feeling. If you put me in a situation I'm completely not ready for, Ima just freeze like a popsicle. Then fail. Miserably. I know myself and this is just a rule I have to break. You might want to break this one, too, because here's what I know: Research is everything! Good design involves testing everything to see how it operates in the real world, then tweaking it until it's perfect. This is the heart of Better Business Design - and I learned it from my heroes Charles and Ray Eames - business can be fun, like a big Maker Space! Take stuff apart and see how it's working, find out everything you can about it, then put it together again differently and see if it works better.

Rule #3 - If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Ok, so you hear some version of this all over the place, and I get the idea. I do. But sometimes it's not the whole story, and it's almost like a threat. Some Business-in-a-Box person will say "Don't change the system, those who have tried have failed, JUST FOLLOW THE SYSTEM." Well disruption happened. In every industry. So, we know this is not entirely true. Plus, if someone or some program makes frequent reference to the threat of complete failure, it's all on shaky ground. And that uneasy feeling you get from it should be a red flag.

Break Stuff

On the other side of the spectrum, Better Business Design. Good design is the very opposite of the entire premise of this rule. I encourage you to break it like I did.

So more like - if it ain't broke, break it and see what happens!

This is what I did. I broke my whole working life up all into pieces and then put it back together. And now I have a life and business that make sense to me, that work, and that feel powerfully effective. 

And remember, this is coming from a person who flunked productivity, so it's a good bet it'll work for you, too.

Tell me - is there a commonly accepted/spouted rule out there that just never seemed right to you? Let me hear about it below!






Libby Dickerson1 Comment