The Porch

Welcome to DORO – Pull Up a Chair

Did You Leave Room?

Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.” Julia Child

Sweet Potato Cheesecake: Teaching Taylor how to make Christmas dinner last year.

Clearly Julia wasn’t speaking only of cooking, as evidenced by her role as businesswoman later in her life. In your profession, as is true in cooking, there’s nothing like getting to the critical point of a project/recipe only to find that you haven’t allowed enough space for it to reach its ready point. Scrambling around for a larger bowl, fund or office can throw the entire process into a tailspin, wasting the loads of time invested in preparation.

Leaving only enough room for the lid can create a world of a mess. Just at the boiling point, at the hottest minute, everything spills over into cracks and crevices, often requiring days of cleanup. The same is true in business. People rush around trying to produce, maintain and accommodate shifts in a process at the same time. The often leads to many problems later. Usually, the lack of planning falls in these three areas:

1. Time

Allotting only enough time to meet or get to a meeting inevitably leads to a schedule snafu. Of course there will be construction or, if you’re in DC, the dreaded Metro delay. Certainly writing the document will take longer than you anticipated. Add time in on the front end. For years, I thought I could time a commute or project down to the second. The arrogance of youth, I guess. Trying to beat deadlines added unnecessary stress. It’s much easier to give yourself the gift of time. Your heart will thank you for it.

2. Money

Coming in on a project under budget can make a business shout for joy.  Unfortunately, it’s often rare at the beginning. You need more business cards, you need a larger screen, your presentation requires a new level of technical sophistication – all of which can wreak havoc on a project if you’ve allowed no wiggle room. Pick a percentage and give that amount its own line on your budget. With my daughter, I called it the “Life Happens” Category in her budget. Guaranteed that a tire will blow or something like that it’s easier. And this is NOT the emergency fund. A true emergency in unexpected. You can expect that many of the life happens budget items will occur.

3. Mental Energy

This one, I must say, is the one at which I fail the most. Tackling a tough project can be draining even when it’s exhilarating. While we can’t vacation to Bermuda at the close of every big task, you can schedule in a few hours each month to refresh your brain. Not taking Julia’s advice and leaving little room for your brain to flex leads to missed deadlines, stunted business growth and decreased productivity. Imagine, adding an hour in your week to relax away from the laptop and let your brain rest. Giving your mind space to consider creative alternatives is a much better way to tackle each day.

The advice Julia so graciously doled out while making her scrumptious meals remains a critical lesson for business owners today. Give yourself room to move, add, think and most importantly, to grow.  If you love cooking as I do, the holiday times are the best excuse for staying in the kitchen. So that said: Bon Appétit!


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This entry was posted on 12/23/2010 by in All About the Business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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