One of the toughest things for a business owner is being consistent. In a world where you might wear many "hats," it's very easy to become distracted by the never-ending siren call of your inbox and direct messages. It's even harder when fires crop up throughout the day, regardless of your schedule or plans.
In short, it's hard to do what you intend to do when you have to react to all the things that come at you throughout the day.
This is where it is very important to build discipline and boundaries in your business.
Discipline is a muscle that you have to build. It's especially hard to do if you are a people-pleaser or have a deep rooting in the "customer service" industry.
Not speaking from experience or anything, my first non-family business job was working as a hostess at Denny's - an inexpensive chain that focused on breakfast food and was very popular on weekends. I was so good at hostessing that they held off making me a waitress for far too long. I could tally up receipts and give change in my head (not something everyone could do, apparently) and I was able to manage the huge, after-church Sunday crowds as easily as I could encourage the ravers asleep at tables when my shift started at 7am.
During college, I had many customer-service jobs, including a teller at a bank (which was wayyyy too conservative for my tastes), and then worked in luxury sales after college.
I was trained entirely too well to answer phones with a flourish (the company actually adopted my style of answering phones I picked up at one of my crappy college jobs), worked in fundraising for my small liberal arts college, and my luxury sales job manager taught me how to be formally corporate (something that I have trouble shaking, even 10 years into my consulting career).
Let me tell you, I KNOW how hard it is to not jump at every email and request that hits my inbox.
But the thing is, while intense customer service gets you far in business, especially in the startup phase, it doesn't always work in the scaling phase. Especially when YOU are the one providing all that customer service.
This is where discipline comes in. It's ok to provide exceptional service, but not all day every day. You need to be sure that you aren't just letting your inbox rule your day. This is why you shouldn't be checking your emails the entire day. Set aside specific time blocks to look at and manage your inbox. And if you run out of time before you run out of requests in your inbox, then you have to wait till your next "inbox management time" to work on those issues that crop up.
I often acknowledge emails, even if I won't get to actually working on the request. I also set out of office notifications on my inbox if I am not going to be checking emails - for whatever reason. This sets expectations that while I am working to provide excellent customer service, I am not working 24/7.
It takes some time to feel comfortable with not checking your email and reacting to it incessantly, but it does come with time. I also took my business email off my phone so I have separation between my personal time and my business.
It's a combination of discipline to set aside time in your day for things that aren't client directly related, or just protected time to work on the things already on your list before addressing requests, as well as the boundaries in your business to not be available and immediately responsive.
Getting into the groove of setting aside time for your business also means that you have the time to put in proactive measures so that you are also putting out less fires. I want to challenge you today to find an hour each week of protected time to work on your business or just protected work time that can't be taken over by any fire, or email.
How does that feel to you?
If you are struggling with that concept, or need to work through more deep seated reasons why this is difficult, the Growth Accelerator
may be just the perfect place to work through this. We don't just work on creating more systems, but the internal shifts you need to make so that systems can happen!