Every one of us has a hassle bucket inside our head.
It's a measure for how much hassle we can deal with at any one time.
Some people's buckets are very, very deep. They can take enormous amounts of hassle before their bucket overflows and they run into problems.
Other people's buckets are more shallow.
You're not born with a specific depth of hassle bucket. In fact, you can deepen your hassle bucket over time. It can also become more shallow, sometimes unexpectedly.
But understand this - any time your hassle bucket overflows, you suddenly become unable to deal with all the things that you need to deal with in your life.
As business owners, we have quite deep hassle buckets. We can take on enormous amounts of hassle at any one time. It's something that we learn in the first few years of running a business. And in fact, the depth of the bucket is what marks out someone who's able to be a successful business owner for decades versus someone who struggles with it.
But here's the thing about being a business owner. Your hassle bucket might be deep, but it's also 80% full most of the time
In fact, part of the curse of the business owner is that your hassle bucket is so full, so often.
If you think about all the things that a business owner has to juggle, there are an enormous amount of things.
- It's the burden of cash flow, which is one of the most mentally destructive forces of running a business
- There's the burden of staff; having all of these extra children who look to you as their parent
- There's the burden of winning new business
- And there's the burden of satisfying your existing clients.
If any sane person was to look at the hassles and burdens of running a business, they wouldn't accept. They'd run a mile!
But of course you and I, we take that burden on and we embrace it thoroughly because we like the good things about it:
- The freedom
- The flexibility
- The huge opportunity to grow personally
- And the opportunity to financially raise the whole family
The positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. But then come various times of the year when our hassle bucket overflows. And I believe this is one of those weeks when it might just happen to you.
You see my hassle bucket is near the brim right now. Not only have I got the deadline of the schools breaking up on Thursday... but I've got a lot of exciting stuff I want to achieve between now and then (so I can hit January running at speed). Oh, and I've got to do Christmas shopping and a whole bunch of other personal stuff before Christmas starts.
Your situation is even worse than mine because you've probably got a whole load of server upgrades and Windows 10 upgrades to be done as well. The 2020 Problem might be a fantastic marketing opportunity. But I appreciate once you've sold all those new machines, you've actually got to deliver them as well.
If the business owner's hassle bucket is normally at 80%, mine feels like it's 95% right now.
How would you grade your hassle bucket this week?
In fact, maybe that's a question you should be asking yourself every morning? What level is my hassle bucket at right now?
When the hassle bucket overflows, we find it very hard to cope with things. In fact, it's the small extra things that are more likely to push the hassle over the edge of the bucket. That phrase about a straw breaking a camel's back is spot on.
The answer isn't to stop more things coming into the hassle bucket. It's actually to install a DOA relief tap further down the bucket
I've spoken about the concept of DOA before.
Traditionally we see DOA when we're watching a crime show on TV and the victim is DOA: Dead On Arrival.
Well we don't want to be dead on arrival as business owners. We want to stay alive and healthy as long as we can.
So for us the acronym means Delegate, Outsource, Automate.
It's about acknowledging that despite the fact we're the business owner and we're spectacular and we have amazing super powers and no one can do it as well as us (and by the way no one ever will)...
Despite this, we can actually delegate, outsource and automate many of the things that really we don't personally need to do.
A great mantra to live by is:
You should only do, what only you can do
And in fact, the business owners who thrive for decades (not just last for decades), are the ones who are constantly looking at the jobs that are sat in front of them, and are asking themselves:
- "Who on my team can do this better, quicker or easier than I can?
- "Who out there in the wonderful world we live in, where we can outsource nearly anything on Fiverr.com or PeoplePerHour.com, can do this job for me, so that I don't have to.
- "Or how can I automate this?" (and thank the good Lord for APIs)
I deliberately left this article till just before Christmas, because I wanted to talk directly to you, in case your hassle bucket is dangerously full or even overflowing right now.
As you take some time off with your family over Christmas, it's a good time to reflect on your own personal DOA relief tap.
What does your personal DOA relief tap look like?
What are the jobs that really you personally don't have to do. Or could you have someone else do for you?
How can you remove stuff off your plate without being overwhelmed with fear about dropping any balls?
The goal is to remove hassle, to simplify things, and to give yourself an easier life.
Oh, and if that frees up some time in the business, the secondary goal is not to then throw yourself into doing even more in the business.
It's actually to address your work life balance as well.
Imagine if you could spend an hour or two hours every day working ON the business rather than IN the business because you freed yourself up to do that. Imagine if actually you could take a proper lunch every day. Or go for an hour's walk. Or go and play golf. Or sneak off now and again and go to the cinema.
I do that on a regular basis in normal weeks when my hassle bucket isn't so full. And do you know what, I make better business decisions off the back of it.
Because when my mind is not focused solely on trying to empty the hassle bucket by scooping things out of the top, my mind is focused on the bigger issues.
- How do I get more new clients?
- How do I get those clients to buy more from me?
- And how do I get those clients to choose to spend more when they buy?
As the business owner, these are the things that your brain should be thinking about most of the time. And then taking action on.