November 21, 2013

How Abstraction Is Asphyxiating your Business

It’s an epidemic. Marketers, salespeople and business owners everywhere are paralyzing their bottom-line results because they’re focused on “levels of abstraction.” And in a lot of cases, they don’t even know it! So you’re probably wondering:

“What are levels of abstraction, why are they the bad cholesterol of business, and are they hurting me, too?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Because in most cases, it all starts off innocently enough: You just want to try something different, you found a new software tool that might make things a little easier… and, maybe that new WordPress plugin can take some work off your plate. But be careful my friend, because you’re sliding down a very slippery slope here…

Do you know why?

Yes, time-saving tools can definitely help you get more done. But they can also distract you from your end goal. And before you know it you’ll be spending five and a half hours a day reading FAQs, familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of each solution and doing software updates to keep up with the latest version. Then, all of a sudden, “Oh, look at that, it’s 6 o’clock and time to go home.”

Sure, you felt like you had a busy day. Except that you were doing abstract things to support and facilitate your goals, rather than pursuing said goals directly. What did you really achieve today?

And be honest with yourself…

Because in this age of online-everything, it’s easy to get seduced by the alluring appeal of tools, scripts and add-ons that make you feel like you’re getting more done. But more often than not, you just end up with more passwords to remember and less time to focus on the results that matter.

For example:

If you’re trying to find new clients for your company, ask yourself what’s more effective: (1) looking for new pinterest strategies, (2) analyzing competitor blogs to see what they’re writing about, or (3) finding people in your target market and pitching them directly to see how they can use your help today?

If you answered number 3, you’re starting to get the picture. If not, you’d better keep reading…

How To Escape The Plague of Abstraction:

Like a lot of things in life, diagnosis is the tricky part. Once you realize it’s abstraction that’s eroding your results, you can pretty quickly solve the problem. You just need to catch yourself doing something abstract, and then ask “what’s the real goal here?” (Then go straight for the goal).

Instead of blogging: write a sales letter and send it 20 prospects. Instead of sourcing CRM tools to manage your email inbox: just sit down and reply to everyone. Instead of scheduling a months worth of Tweet’s on Hootesuite: just call your clients and upsell them.

“You’ll be surprised how often the less glamorous solution works better than the one with all that code!”

After all, it’s called work for a reason.

So in summary:

If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, you probably are. Simplify. Drill down and take action to achieve something meaningful.

If you’re really interested in the latest productivity tools that’s fine, too. We all have weird hobbies. But just be honest with yourself about it. And allocate half an hour twice a week to researching new gadgets and gizmos. Then, get back to work.

People have been doing work for thousands of years. Sometimes “working smarter” is costing you more than you think. Keep it simple and focus on results. Make progress every day. And be sure to measure what matters.

What’s distracting you from what really matters? Let me know in the comments below.


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Jeff Waite

As an optimization strategist, Jeff helps an array of business owners implement process-based growth initiatives, perfectly personalized to fit their offerings and industry.
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