Google says more than 82% of MSME entrepreneurs suffered due to the events that happened during last year. Many unfortunate souls left us for heavenly abode; many businesses shut down permanently. If you are reading this, bless you. You have been fortunate. You have survived so far. Now make it count. For you as well as your near and dear ones.
Did your business survive? Did it survive the storm unscathed? Is it healthy and growing? Unfortunately, I don’t think you will reply in the affirmative.
Well, COVID was and still is unpredictable. Even after 1.5 years neither you nor me are able to predict what will happen next?
Third Wave? Or Normal business by the end of this year? No Idea.
Do we continue doing the business in the same manner as always, or is the market establishing new ground rules? I think you will agree with me about the new ground rules.
Is COVID the only thing to worry about? Think about it. Was everything normal just before the pandemic? Were you not facing challenges in the market?
You were already facing it.
In fact, you were already struggling with the onslaught of competition, ever increasing customer demands, difficult payment cycles and shrinking margins.
COVID did not create the challenge, it amplified it.
The pandemic compelled you to take a pause and reflect on yourself and business.
Did you do that introspection? Most of us didn’t.
And we expect the same good old days once the market resumes.
Knowing fully well that the market has changed already. New class of players are coming and slowly dominating the market.
But secretly, we wish to believe that “All is Well”.
Knowing well, that it is not.
This is the challenge.
Is COVID a challenge? Or the things which came along with it are the challenge?
The disease brought along lockdown, which the current generation is experiencing for the first time in their lives. Which meant, one couldn’t go out even for a cup of tea. Seems a house arrest for people who were used to spending their entire day in the market or office or travelling?
And most of us had absolutely no idea about what to do sitting at home? Watching TV serials, fiddling on the phone, honing our cooking skills (Dalgona Coffee was a rage, remember!) and doing some silly things.
The vacuum which was created during the daytime, we were unable to fill it with anything meaningful. So, we filled it with some casual stuff, the majority of which didn’t add any value within us either personally or professionally.
We were distracted.
Distracted by all the events happening around us; on multiple devices – Mobile, TV, Computer and so on.
We just couldn’t focus on one thing.
That one thing was our business.
Yes, it gave some sleepless nights, but most of the time we thought to deal with the situation when the market opens.
And when the market finally opened, again we were caught with our pants down.
Our lives already had too many distractions.
During lockdown, we further added to the list.
Now, back in the market, we were even more distracted.
Navigating carefully amongst the government regulations about opening hours, and travel restrictions, and masks and sanitizers arrangement, we were just lost.
Forget growth, our first target was survival.
We were struggling to just survive.
The staff and other workers were nowhere to be found – many of them had already moved to their native villages. Raw material supplies were a challenge – factories were struggling to operate because of erratic demand and low staff attendance. Customers were not allowed to enter retail premises because of market restrictions.
And we had no clue that business can be conducted over video call also. When we attempted learning the new digital technology, it was way more complex than we initially thought. As a result, we left it mid-way.
We are alive, that’s a blessing. If we survive this storm, it will be like a new life for us. Now, how do we make it count? Both personally, and in business.
It wasn’t easy to get back up after two brutal Punches of COVID-19. The only question we need to ask is “What do we do now? And most importantly, where do we start?”
I want to tell you a secret.
A secret formula, which will make a perfect beginning.
In both your business, and in personal life.
Only if you follow it religiously.
Without questioning it.
Without doubting its effectiveness.
This formula has helped many people in their endeavors irrespective of their culture, country, age and profession.
This will also help you immensely.
But you need to believe in the power of it.
You have often heard about “Multi-tasking”. Well, I am talking about the opposite.
I am not against multitasking. At times, it proves quite useful when we have less time and we are juggling over multiple priorities.
What I am asking you to do is quite the opposite.
I am asking you to focus on only one thing at a time.
It’s called uni-tasking.
Which means – focus on only one task at a time.
You already know the power of this idea, aren’t you?
But you could never practice it.
Let’s take a simple example. You are watching TV. And, you have been served with your favorite evening snacks. You took a bite, and it was delicious. Just then, there was a message on WhatsApp. You reached out for it, almost as an impulse. Nothing special, it was a routine message sent to a WhatsApp group of your society. You just checked it, and there were about 10+ unread messages in WhatsApp. You just start going through them one by one. Out of this, the 3rd message was a meme forwarded to the friends’ group, and you immediately wanted to post it on Facebook. You shared it on Facebook. After the share button, you started scrolling down your Facebook feed. After 10 minutes, you realized that snacks have gone cold as well as the tea.
And you have no idea what’s going on TV, even though it is on.
So, what were you doing for the last 15-20 minutes?
Oh Multitasking, you would exclaim. You were watching TV, sitting in your living room having a family time, having your evening snacks, checking WhatsApp messages, checking Facebook, all at once.
You had no idea what was on TV. You just didn’t exist for your family. You couldn’t finish your favorite snacks. You checked only till 3rd unread message on WhatsApp. You didn’t even look at other feeds on Facebook other than a couple of memes maybe.
You did multiple activities, but all of them were half-finished.
Now, do you see the problem?
That’s why I suggest uni-tasking.
Means, focus on only one thing at a time.
If you are watching TV, enjoy it. At best, you can have snacks with it. And some little chit chat with family members. But nothing more.
You can have one intense activity at a time. There could be one or two light activities added, no harm done. But no other intense activity.
For example, during morning walk (Intense Activity), you can listen to Music (light activity). While talking on the phone (Intense activity), you can do light leg movements while sitting on a chair (light activity). But never combine two intense activities together.
This is not a difficult thing to do. It just needs a little practice.
Turn off the notification sound of mobile, emergencies don’t come as notifications.
Don’t feel that it’s your sworn duty to reply to messages immediately, unless it is an ongoing conversation. People who need urgent answers tend to call rather than sending messages.
Define time for Social Media and entertainment pages. Beyond that time, don’t look at it. Ever.
Do it for a month. You will see the change within you. People have improved productivity more than 2-3 times within a month by following this uni-tasking route.
Are you ready for your Uni-Tasking journey?
Tell me what do you achieve?
I love to hear your experiences.
(Shyam Taneja is recognised as one of the Top 5 business coaches of India in year 2020. He is respected, admired and loved as Guru. In his 40 years of working with corporates and SMEs he has been instrumental in transforming lives and businesses. Known for his tough love approach he is relentless in pushing boundaries, maximizing potential, catalysing exponential growth and nurturing personal leadership. His mission : Touch a Life and make a difference is what drives him each moment). You can know more about him here.
I Can I will foundation is a Non-Profit Organization engaged in activities aimed at creating the new class of entrepreneurs and citizens in India. You can know more about the organization here.)