In the demanding world of small business, it's easy to be enchanted by the 'dessert' – the creative, fun elements like designing trinkets or tinkering with website images.
These tasks are sweet and light, and often more appealing to our brains than the 'main course' – the hard, sometimes mundane tasks of planning and crafting evergreen, helpful content.
But as tempting as it is to skip straight to dessert, it's the main course that provides the sustenance your business needs to thrive.
Let's take a moment to reflect.
Why your brain wants to avoid hard work
According to a Nature article, Tips From Neuroscience To Keep You Focussed On Hard Tasks, when we decide to perform a task, our brains do a cost–benefit analysis on the fly, weighing the value of the outcome against the projected mental investment required to be successful.
As a result, we often avoid hard tasks in favour of smaller, easier tasks, particularly if we aren’t making immediate progress.
This can affect our motivation and it's what makes fun tasks more attractive, eg, making that perfect Instagram post montage in Canva, or preferring to play with Facebook posts instead of getting some solid blog material published.
The trap to watch out for, according to a Stanford News article, our brains are very good at justifying these bad decisions without us being aware of it.
In the article, researchers used a system that can show the neural process of decision making in real time, including the mental process of flipping between options before expressing a final choice; with a Psychology Today article suggesting our brains make up our minds about seven seconds before we become aware of it!
This makes it really hard to stay disciplined without some prior guidelines or accountability systems.
Busyness without foundations will not last
As a small business owner or leader, it's vital to remember that the foundation of a successful enterprise lies in the less glamorous work: strategic planning, and strategic content creation, among other things.
This work might not provide the immediate satisfaction that the lighter, social media tasks do, but it is crucial for long-term sustainability and growth.
The hard work of planning better content might lead you into uncharted territory, pushing you to think critically and strategically about your business' future. It's where the real challenges – and opportunities – lie.
Diving into these tasks requires courage and commitment, but the rewards can be substantial.
Dessert finishes on a sour note
In contrast, focusing too much on the 'dessert' – the enjoyable but less impactful aspects of your work – can lead to a skewed perspective on what drives business success.
While getting "likes" on social posts play some role in branding and customer engagement, it's a light dusting of icing sugar in the grand scheme of things, made toxic if they overshadow the essential, albeit less exciting, creation of foundational content.
In essence, it's about balance. Enjoy the creativity and excitement that come with the 'dessert' tasks, but don't let them distract you from the 'main course'.
Remember, in the world of business, dessert is a treat, not the meal.
Prioritise the hard, sometimes mundane work – and you might just find you start to adjust your taste buds and develop a new appetite for the "good stuff".