February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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16 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 FROM TO-DO LIST TO A DONE-DID LIST From time immemorial, experts have harped on us to commit to writing our goals and priorities. So, why do so few people actually write out and update their to-do list and then reference it frequently throughout the day? Turns out, most of us are unwittingly sabotaging our own efforts to stay on top of tasks by writing our to-do lists the wrong way. The more specific and actionable an item on your to-do list is, the more likely you are to do it. A lot of this comes down to cognitive load: If you are scan- ning a list and see a vague item, a decision still needs to be made about exactly how to tackle it. That can be enough mental work for the brain to simply shove the item onto a back burner. Try making some of these tips into everyday practices by doing them every day for a month—the amount of time experts say it takes for a behavior to become a habit: • Write out or revise your to-do list every day, and at the same time every day. It makes no difference when. Just do it at the same time of day. • Whatever you choose to write out your to-do list on, make sure it's readily available and in the line of sight. If you work mostly in an office, the wall just above your desk or computer monitor is the perfect place for your list. • Be as specific yet as brief as possible. Replace "Accountant" with "Call Doug the CPA to discuss tax issues." Change "Distributor Rep" to "Call Joe at XYZ Supplies to place an order for the Acme job and request overnight delivery." • Set a degree of priority for each action item using the OUI (French for YES!) method. At the end of every to-do task, write an O, U and/or I, if appropriate—standing for: o O—this item, when completed, will afford an Opportunity for me to grow and/or achieve a goal. o U—for Urgent because the item has a deadline that either you've set or was given to you. o I—means the item is Important to you, someone else, or is required to be done. • Start with to-do items that have OUI priority—not with items that don't represent an opportunity to grow, aren't urgent or aren't important. • Don't put off doing OUI items because they seem daunting and overwhelming. Even 15 minutes of working on an action item that will help you achieve something significant or is coming up on a deadline is better than knocking out something on your to-do list that is inconsequential. • Ask yourself often—especially after an interruption—"What is the best use of my time right now?" • Handle every piece of paper only once. Act on it, forward it, delegate it, file it, or all do all of these. Everything you see will never be looked at twice ever again. THE CHALLENGE OF STRESS REDUCTION Australian motivational psychologist and speaker Eve Ash devel- oped a "Winning Mindset" psychological approach for success in life and at work. She claims there are two attitudes one must adopt to be successful—confidence and persistence. It begins with choos- ing to live in the Negative Land of W (wishing, whining, and wast- ing time) or the Positive Land of W (wanting to achieve, willing to learn, and working effectively). It's really up to you which mood you choose to function in. Ash suggests rewriting negative scripts by consciously auditing what you are inclined to say or have said, then editing those scripts and making the positive scripts a habit. "I can't handle this," becomes, "I'm going to enjoy solving this." "It'll go badly, I just know it," becomes, "I've got this. I'm in con- trol of the outcome." "I feel overwhelmed," becomes, "I will tackle this one step at a time." FINAL THOUGHTS One word of caution: Trying to do a complete transformation from a stressed-out, frazzled maniac of a business owner to a mel- low, carefree boss will raise concern and confusion in the eyes and minds of employees. Let's face it, as apparel decorators, we are in the creativity busi- ness. And, the three biggest enemies to creativity are stress, frustra- tion, and fatigue. But, remember that some stress is good. A guitar string has to have some tension placed on it to create a note. If that string is too taut, it may break, but if it has zero tension, it won't make a sound. YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER

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