‘Practically Perfect in Every Way’

If you know your films you will know that this is the description of Mary Poppins – Practically Perfect in Every Way. 


Recently I watched the film ‘Saving Mr Banks’, which is the story of how Walt Disney eventually managed to get the film rights to the story of Mary Poppins.  It took him over 20 years to persuade the author, P.L. Travers, to let him do it and interestingly her obsession with perfection nearly put pay to the film altogether.

I was talking to a lady at a networking event the other week and she was struggling with her time management – so many things to do but so little time – doesn’t that sound familiar?!  She happened to comment about her husband cancelling the cleaner because she would go round and clean up after them as she felt that they hadn’t done it properly!  I suggested that her obsession with perfection was part of the cause of her time issues.  In her view other people can’t/aren’t doing jobs to the standard that she would do them and so she is struggling to delegate even simple things like cleaning of the house.

I introduced her to the phrase “Good Enough is Good Enough” and challenged her to find a good cleaner over the next couple of weeks, someone recommended by someone she trusts, and accept that their standards of cleanliness are good enough and therefore relinquish the task of cleaning the house.  She did let me know a few days later that she had got a couple of names so was on her way to finding someone.

There were also things she needed to sort at work and the same phrase applies.  I’m sure there’s many people who don’t delegate tasks because they don’t think other people will meet their standards, or don’t send out marketing letters because they don’t think it’s quite perfect.  I have been told many times, the not-quite-perfect marketing letter that is sent out is far more likely to get you sales than the perfect letter that is sat in your desk ‘cos you’re too scared to send it out in case there’s an error!

‘Good enough is good enough’ and if striving for perfection is getting in your way, stopping you doing things or making your life difficult, you really need to use this new mantra!

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Are you the King/Queen of Lists?

I’m a list person.  I love the feeling you get when you can tick another job as complete!  In fact, I love lists so much I have many of them – I have my sales pipeline tasks in my CRM, I have customer related tasks in our project management software, I have my business building actions in Trello, I have my general admin to do’s in Outlook and finally I have my 4 or 5 actions from my weekly buddy call on a post-it on my desk in front of my nose!

I’m sure there will be people out there that will say that’s far too many lists and question whether I can possibly work effectively with so many, but there’s a key that pulls it all together – diary planning 

I don’t know about you but I can have lists of things that need doing yet when I sit down at my desk in a morning, I can somehow never quite work out what I should be doing.  Morning isn’t my best time, I function best between about 4-8pm, so maybe that’s why I’m a bit dumb first thing.  What definitely helps me though is to pre-plan my time in my diary.  So last night I sat and worked out what I needed to do today and I blocked out time in my diary to do certain things.  This morning, I open up Outlook and lo and behold, it tells me what I need to do, I don’t have to think, I just have to get on and do it. 

You might want to do some planning weekly to make sure you have slots to do your customer work and work on the business, then daily you might want to be more specific about what those slots will include.  But this is where the lists come in – if I have a slot for customer work I will go to my Project Management software and it will give me the list of things that need doing.  If I have a slot for following up on enquiries I will go to my CRM and there will be a list of people I need to contact.  In my 90 minute slot (time for working ON your business) I can go to Trello and my weekly Post-it Note and there’s a list of the things I need to do and ideas I need to work on.

So the key to making the lists work, at least for me, is to plan time slots in the diary at a time when my brain is functioning on full power so that when it’s not so bright I can just do what the diary says.

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A stark reminder

This morning I’ve found out that my elderly neighbour was taken into hospital yesterday and is in a critical condition – he may or may not return home, it’s just a waiting game.  He’s 81 and although he’s had health issues over the last couple of years he’s still been pretty active – getting the bus into town every day, pottering in the garden cutting the grass and feeding the birds.  It’s therefore a bit of a shock that suddenly he’s in a situation that he might not survive.

On Thursday, the daughter of some friends is undergoing a 2nd operation for a brain tumour that she’s been fighting for the last few years.  She has a young family and had hoped she’d won the battle but unfortunately it has returned. 

So what business message do these sad stories have?  Simply to remind us to keep a healthy work/life balance.  It’s easy when you’re tied up with running and growing your own business to work at it 24/7 but you need to ask yourself – do you live to work or work to live?

That’s it this week, a short simple one.  I don’t think any more needs to be said.




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