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Expert tips to get back on track

Stuck?  These Expert Tips will get you Back on Track

March 8, 2018

You're sick and tired of being sick and tired.  You've given it all you can... all that you have... but you're still stuck.  Frustrating! Let's get back on track. 

You are not alone, and it's okay to allow the people who stand with you to help you.

Revisit data to see if you overlooked something. It is easy to interpret data in ways that confirm our perceptions rather than looking for problem areas. Look at the data objectively and try to get a second pair of eyes to look it over.

Next, break your viewpoint. Don't resign yourself to the idea of endless tasks with no relief in sight -- it doesn't have to be this way. This is your adventure!

Focus your Priorities

Create a "Goals and Distractions" list.  Rank all your goals from most to least important.

The top goals are now your current priorities. If the priorities seem unmanageable, you can strategically break them down into smaller tasks.

The now-smaller tasks can then be organized into a sequence that results in the completion of priorities.

Be creative.  Use colors and shapes.

Looking at the chart below, notice how the task seems more manageable when broken down?

If a task seems to be dragging on and on, you can further break it down to get a grasp on it and establish clear roles and accountability (like what was done for the green sub-tasks for selecting a fabrication method, see below).

goals and distractions chart

It is important to spend time organizing.  You want to maximize productivity and reduce costs; by doing the right thing at the right time.

This tactic can be used for various reasons.  A common area that can overwhelm a startup company is trying to please too many stakeholders at once. 

Employ this tactic to prioritize certain stakeholders and strategically map out how to get their attention, one step at a time.

Eliminate Distractions

Eliminate as many distractions as you can. Get creative.

Overwhelmed with hazard assessments? Assign someone to research and create a simple report for you using the FDA's MAUDE database.

Do you keep wasting time on internet searches? Plan a tactical spot for browsing times, like 20 min. before a lunch break. Leaving to eat will disengage you from the unproductive activity.

eliminate distractions
Take a Selfie

Look at yourself.  One thing to consider is maybe you need to allow yourself to grow more before attempting certain tasks.

The internet is full of free educational content and connections.  Try a course on YouTube or connect with an expert on LinkedIn for advice.

A big part of starting a company is growing along with it.

You will learn and shape all around you as you go, which is truly a fascinating journey. 

Start a personal progress journal so you revisit 'the beginning' one day -- it might make a good book someday.

team huddle
Have a Team Huddle

Each member of the team may be focused on different tasks, so what you need to do now is get everyone on board with the priorities.  The key is communication!

Set up a gathering to talk.  Your teams' experiences and knowledge combined is substantial!

Gather all ideas of what should be done to get back on track and adjust the priorities as needed.

Assign new tasks, and work out a detailed game plan together. Keep your door open. Have team members check-in regularly and fix any known issues that come up.

Companies with high productivity levels tend to have employees that feel comfortable and safe.

Take the initiative to change the team environment and make the company workspace clean, organized, and designed for success.

Be a Leader

Take leadership! (Sometimes that's all it takes.)

Humans are social begins and find comfort in forming social groups with leaders. It can be a relief when someone confident takes charge because it provides a sense of direction. Make decisions, assign tasks, and remove barriers to get things going.

When a team is stressed, the occurrence of "group-think" rises; this is when a group chooses harmony over productivity. A good leader can break "group-think" and encourage honest communication.

In the start-up world, a confident leader will make better decisions when it comes to taking essential calculated risks.

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality"
-- Warren Bennis
Use your Network

Let's face it, you're not likely to get unstuck by yourself.  Simply put; you need help.

Get an outside perspective and talk to a mentor or an expert.

Reach out to your network and together take the initiative to get unstuck.  10 hands are better than 2.

They've got you covered!


If you ever feel like you have no choice but to force yourself, you should slow down and spend some time looking for resources.

Even if you already have a few, it never hurts to have more. A second or third set of perceptions and advice is very helpful.

Face the Costs

One face we cannot ignore is that getting stuck really is costly in terms of time and money.

Even though the help we get may come at a cost, we should not avoid it.

Accept the Costs

You may feel like you're wasting money you don't have to get the proper help you need.  But, is staying on budget really worth the risk of losing a whole "season" in earnings?

The benefit of this "unwanted" investment may have profound implications for your success and will demonstrate your leadership capabilities.

Now that you have some tools to get unstuck, the feeling of exhilaration you'll feel when you get back is track will feel amazing!

Now go out there and free yourself!

Once you "break free", treat yourself and your team.  Celebrate; you have learned something valuable.

In our next article "Proven Strategies for Startups to Maintain Productivity Levels" we will discuss how to prevent yourself from becoming stuck.