A secret revealed: the Two-Ask rule

Well, it appears that at least one of my readers is hauling around not large baggage, but dozens of shopping bags loaded with fun and exciting ideas. Here is what professional organizer Maureen Heinen of Send in Maureen had to say:

I’m an ‘idea’ collector. I have so many great ideas I want to implement in my business, but the truth is, there’s only me. And rather than choosing one or two ‘really good’ ideas and seeing them through to completion, I keep collecting more and have gotten caught in a hamster wheel that goes like this: get excited about a new idea, investigate it, feel a sense of urgency to do it, get distracted by the day-to-day of operating my business, fail to make sufficient progress on said idea, lose momentum, feel frustrated that I’m not accomplishing any ‘development’ in my business, end up tired of the day-to-day…and on and on it goes.

In my experience, this is incredibly common of those with entrepreneurial minds. One way to deal with it might be my Two-Ask rule. Read on for the secret.

Years ago, I worked for a wonderful boss with a great deal of drive, energy and commitment. One of the by-products of this were the dozens of ideas he came up with – and passed on to me for possible implementation. There were more ideas than we could reasonably pursue so I developed what I call the Two-Ask rule. The first time he mentioned an idea to me I would note it on a piece of paper and toss it in my in-box. If he asked me about it a second time, I would pull it out and do the necessary investigation to see if it was worth implementing. If he never mentioned it again, I would toss it at a reasonable interval and never speak of it again. The rule was simple: If it was important enough to stay on his mind, then it was important enough to pursue. If not, I was better off spending my energy elsewhere.

A family friend used a variation of this with items she wanted to buy. She put a picture of the item on the refrigerator for a few weeks and if the item lost its lustre in that time, she’d toss the piece of paper and keep her money.

As an entrepreneur (especially a professionally organized one) you might be able to implement a self-imposed Two-Ask rule of sorts – park your ideas for a specified amount of time and then review them again. You’ll find that some of them will have lost their lustre and some, hopefully, will still incite the same passion they initially did. If this is too simplistic, see my post entitled “I can’t throw out the artwork” for a more complex prioritization exercise.

Have another system that works for you? Send your thoughts to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – if I use it I’ll feature your business.