do less, better

I’ve mentioned before that goal setting is not as easy as it looks. Understanding what to do and why to do it involves a lot of deep thinking and reflection. I’m in the midst of defining my 2012 goals, and it’s not easy.

One thing I’ve learned about setting goals is that it’s a good idea not to over do it.

Each goal generates projects, on average maybe 3-5 projects. If you set 3 goals for yourself, you’re looking at around 9-15 projects. These are projects that need to be executed at the same time while running your business, considering that 9-15 projects is a lot.

Another reason not to overdo it with the amount of goals you set is to allow for the unexpected.

Unexpected projects are a part of life in business and will happen. Let me share an example of one from my own business that I’m dealing with right now.

I am in the middle of optimizing my e.m.papers website. We are working with a developer and consultant to launch a big Adwords campaign. While the site has been doing well – revenue is increasing month over month from last year – sales have kind of plateaued, thus the campaign.

The consultant pointed out a lot of optimization issues on the site that really should be fixed before we run the ads. Some of the issues are technical, many are user experience related. This was more than a little embarrassing since I worked for several years as a UE consultant! The problems were obvious and fixing them will have a big impact on conversion rates.

These are things I have to fix NOW. Most engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s day; it’s the height of wedding stationery purchasing season and putting them off until spring or summer is not an option. So I find myself in the middle of a site refresh effort that I didn’t plan for. I wanted to spend this time developing new products, but now that will have to wait.

I hate surprise projects and scope. Once my frustration with myself subsided I thought about how this happened. The answer was clear: I’ve just been trying to do too much. This has resulted in my neglecting some very basic things.

Later, while riding my bike (which in some ways is akin to thinking in the shower) the phrase ‘Do less, better’ came to me. This is my motto for 2012.

Unexpected projects will happen. Creating a small set of focused goals will allow for space to deal with these surprises more effectively in the future.

6 thoughts on “do less, better

  1. I’m going to have to permanently borrow that phrase and maybe I won’t end up with a flu like I have now and a long list of things to do that just have to wait. Thanks for sharing.

  2. First of all, I agree with the bike riding/shower analogy.
    Second, I am officially adopting your mantra for 2012. It’s brilliantly simple.
    Thank your for the shared insight.

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