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5 Business Indulgences to Give Up for Lent

If you are a Christian you will know we are now well into the period of Lent – a forty day period just before Easter intended to commemorate Jesus’ time in the wilderness when he fasted and was tempted by the devil. Traditionally, Christians give up something they love for lent such as meat, or sweet things, as a reminder of Christ’s privations.

Although not a Christian myself I like the idea of a period of self examination and giving things up to evaluate their worth, or effect, on life overall. In particular, I like the idea of examining bad habits in the work environment and seeing what effect giving them up might have on performance and results.

Oddly enough, it is surprising how many bad habits in the workplace that we think are pain,  are really self indulgences.

Below are 5, inter-linked, common business indulgences you might be guilty of and might consider giving up for at least Lent, but ideally forever.

Indulgence #1: Not delegating

Why we do it: It is great to feel absolutely essential.

What you should do about it:

business indulgences overloadFor many small business people being in absolute control, all of the time, is a sort of paranoid by-product of starting small and defining the business from the bottom up. However at some point it has to be given up as it creates bottlenecks, overloads the chief executive with excessive detail, slows everything down and can lead to burn out. At some point you need to accept you are not superhuman and find someone in the business that can handle more of the detail to free you up for more strategic tasks and thinking.

It may make you feel less important, but you will actually become ‘more’ useful to yourself, your business and your team.

Indulgence #2: Being super busy

Why we do it: being super busy is a modern status symbol. It’s not just about work, it’s also about social media and we like to show we are in demand

What you should do about it:

This is a not necessarily about delegation this is about filling the day with additional things to do that are often optional. The always connected world we now live in makes it easy to keep in touch with social media as we work and there is a danger of thinking sometimes this ‘is’ work.

If you are selling through social media, it may well be work, but if that is not the case it probably isn’t. Multi-tasking is possible, but only when things are simple. For complex tasks that require concentration, it is much more efficient (and safer) to focus on one thing at a time.

Unless your social media activity is essential for work (and I mean essential), put it to one side and focus 100% on the business. You will suddenly become less busy, but more productive.

Indulgence #3: Being a workaholic

Why we do it: being at work all of the time is a good way to avoid dealing with your whole life.

What you should do about it:

To some extent this is linked to the two problems above, but it really is a separate thing. Often being at work all of the time sucks so much out of your personal life that when you do have the time you find you have forgotten what to do with it. As time goes by, the easy option is to work because addressing the personal stuff is actually more difficult.

Work is important and, if you are running a business, almost always demanding, but life should be balanced for it to be a life.

You need to recognise there is life beyond work and devise strategies that improve performance at work to provide more personal time to get your life back. Strangely enough, spending less time at work often increases productivity as long term stress is reduced and the none working life often provides good perspective on the working life.

Indulgence #4: Thinking short term

Why we do it: If we thought about the future too much we might not like the picture it brings

What you should do about it:

Thinking short term is often a result of being too busy and having too much detail to deal with. Thinking long term is all about standing back and looking at the future –  planning and estimating. If after thinking about it for a bit the future is looking a bit bleak, it is easy to switch back to the detail and get on with things now. This is a self indulgence that short changes yourself and the business overall – including the employees.

The future is often bleak, because no one is focusing on it, that is why it is so important to think longer term. Delegate, ‘make’ time and go for a walk in the country. Disconnect your mind from the detail and the noise and start work on formulating some long terms plans now.

Indulgence #5: Procrastinating

Why we do it: difficult decisions are much better put off as they may never have to be made. There is a misplaced belief that we can never be responsible for a decision we have not made.

What you should do about it:

All people procrastinate to some extent, but the danger comes when the habit becomes chronic and too many decisions are excessively deferred. This is often excused as being risk averse, but in reality it is not dealing with things as and when they need to be dealt with. Sadly, that not only puts off painful change, but can also mean great time dependent opportunities just slip away.

As more opportunities slip away, then often more painful change is required as a result. “Seize the day” as they say and make those decisions now. Ultimately it will save you time and you will almost certainly have  a better business as result.


Traditionally, after doing without for Lent, Easter can be a feast and all of the things you have  given up will taste much sweeter when you get them back. This isn’t true of the business indulgences above. Give them up for Lent and hopefully you will not want them back as you and your business will be so much better off without them.

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