What's the cost of allowing worry to get the best of you? "Your business will ultimately fail," admonishes T. Renee Wilson, 23, president and CEO of CMG Communications Management Group, a high-tech consulting firm based in Atlanta. "When you start acting out of worry, your whole demeanor, your whole attitude, changes--the way you respond to clients, the way you respond to your employees, the way you carry yourself."
Wilson knows from experience about the paralyzing power of worry. "At one point in my business, I allowed worries to overtake me," she recalls. "It wasn't for a long period, but [during that time,] I wasn't able to focus--unable to complete projects and provide the type of service my clients expected."
Fortunately for Wilson, she never allowed worry to fester in her mind for long, as her business' success demonstrates. In just four years, Wilson, who started her firm as a 19-year-old student at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, has taken her company from start-up to $5 million in annual revenues, with offices in both Atlanta and Washington, DC.
What's her secret to overcoming worry? "One of the biggest [solutions] is time management," says Wilson. "Entrepreneurs are faced with so much on a day-to-day basis. It's simply impossible to bring [worries] from yesterday or two or three days ago into today [and still handle the] new challenges you face every day, every hour, every minute."
So how do you keep your focus on today's tasks when your mind is flooded with worries about what went wrong yesterday or what could blow up in your face tomorrow? Here's Wilson's five tips:
1. Plan and prioritize what needs to be done for the next day. "If you don't plan ahead," says Wilson, "a lot of times at the end of the day, you have nothing to show for your efforts. If you have a list of things you've actually checked off, you can see how productive you really are."
2. Estimate how long each task will take. "A lot of people attempt to do too much at one time, setting unrealistic goals for themselves. As a result, they get frustrated," Wilson explains.
3. Tackle one thing at a time and stick with it. "I [used to] have a list of 10 things and tried to work on seven of them simultaneously, but it would take me four times as long to complete just one thing," says Wilson. "Stick with one task until you're finished; then move on."
4. Plan for interruptions. "A lot of people say, `From 8:00 to 9:00, I'm going to do this; from 9:00 to 10:00, I'm going to do this; from 10:00 to 11:00, I'm going to do this,' " Wilson observes. "They never [schedule] any time for returning phone calls, speaking with clients, talking to employees, or [interruptions]. When you don't plan for any of that, your day gets totally off schedule."
5. Plan time for yourself--and guard it religiously. "Regardless of how hectic your schedule is," Wilson advises, "take time out every day to do something you enjoy, even if it's only for 10 or 15 minutes."
With your business' success at stake, break free from the tyranny of worry. When you take control of your time by focusing on your highest priorities, you'll accomplish more--with less stress.
Sean M. Lyden (email@example.com) writes frequently on motivational, sales and leadership issues. What psychological obstacles to success are you trying to overcome? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.