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What is in focus today? About GDPR, midnight thoughts and shifting attention, constantly

Diary of an entrepreneur, 2 September, 2021 | Remco Livain

Diary of an entrepreneur: introduction and my daily thoughts on the topic of focus.

Why did I get so nervous about a potential lack of GDPR compliance in our (old) client contracts, this morning? It was not requested by anyone, and there is no pressing need to act.

Still, it is something that kept me up last night and I woke up with a funny feeling, knowing that I should address it first thing, today. 

For whatever reason, the topic just popped onto my radar and into focus.

Why it happened, I really could not tell you. But what I do know, is that these shifts happen constantly. And I am not sure that a “normal” or a good thing.

As an entrepreneur, these shifts of attention and pressing topics, happen all the time. The breadth of things I have to and want to deal with, is a little maddening. Last night’s situation made me think about the fact that I don’t communicate what goes on in my head and professional life, enough.

I feel it is time to share a bit more insights on what drives my life and decisions as an entrepreneur. Partially to document the journey, to deal with my own thoughts and ideas better and try out new tools. But first and foremost, for you to understand me a little better.

This is me, raw. No script, just thoughts.

Be sure to check in from time to time if you find this interesting.

I am not a big fan of legal and administrative tasks

Legal and admin are not my favorite topics. I don’t worry about things that I understand, but these things tend to give me the creeps. Strangely enough, I don’t think I lack an understanding of legal requirements and what should be in a contract.  I’ve had my share of legal books and worked with lawyers enough to know what I need and want to see.

However, when it comes to the specifics, I feel lost. Worse still, there are some things that are not in our contracts or other documentation. These are points on which we have given instructions orally only, sometimes years ago.

What happens, for instance, if an employee wishes to change his or her status in the company? Or when that person leaves? How is that handled? Questions like this are why I set out to review our contracts and documentation this morning!

The topic variety can be overwhelming

The sheer amount of things I need to think of to do it right, and the possibility of conflict if I do not, scare me sometimes. 

What I would love to do, is focus on the things I do best. I want to focus on the things I love. But in my job and with the role I take on within the company, there are things I simply have to deal with.  It can be annoying, but I do understand that it is my responsibility.

And with the right attitude, these things are not burdensome. They’re something I can manage and make easier for everyone involved.

It is like doing a puzzle! It is no fun if you only focus on the pieces that fit perfectly. You must find a way to make them all fit.

In the end, it is always worth it!

I set out this morning with a list of procedures that need documented and the list grew as the morning progressed. It’s a mixed bag, ranging from what I would call legal requirements to how we handle vacation requests. The latter being something that makes my life easier, and makes employees feel more secure.

But why did I pick this up, today?

Is it really true that we only focus on the things that we do not fully grasp or can do well? I’m used to focusing on the positive. I prefer not to dwell on things that make me nervous, but instead focus on my strengths.

The auto pilot state of mind It is a state of mind where the pilot pays attention to what is going on around them so they can react accordingly. The pilot has been trained and has acquired knowledge on how to be best prepared for an emergency situation, so they are able to react correctly.

When we know something in and out, we as humans, tend to go on auto pilot. This state we can be in sometimes is what keeps things moving forward. However, it is this auto pilot state, that does not move the needle. I feel that I do not add the highest amount of value, when I do not focus on growth topics. 

What is the best use of my time?

This might sound somewhat negative or guilty, but I catch myself contemplating about the use of my time, all the time. The main question I keep asking myself: Do I really focus on things that move me and the company forward? 

Actually, it is often because of the fear of missing out and getting myself or others off track. And to be honest, it is not even because of fear; there are plenty of other reasons why we tend to focus on things we already excel in and neglect the growth topics.

When do my thoughts turn into more than good input. When do I start to micro manage people and processes around me, even though I should not?

Micro-management is when one person takes it upon themselves to be in control of everything that is happening, or even what could happen. This often causes unnecessary stress and confusion.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to my own energy and the best use of my time. I know that focus is key if I want to be successful. Hence, I have to guard myself from acting on my impulses and thoughts too quickly. Which can be hard, especially when I know certain topics will continue to resurface if I do not deal with them.

What helps me stay on track

We all have days when we feel like the world is spinning out of control. We may be working too hard, or taking on too many projects at once. Or maybe it’s just that everything in our lives feels overwhelming–no matter how much time and effort we put into things, there always seems to be more work piling up.

And then there are those times when you feel like your mind is racing with thoughts you can’t seem to stop; when every idea you come up with seems worse than the one before; the moment nothing seems to make sense anymore. That time it happens (and it will), here are some tips for getting back on track:

  1. Stick to what works best for you. Whether that means a nice walk outside, a cup of tea, or just five minutes in a quiet place. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t try to force yourself into doing something you know won’t work. You’ll do much more harm than good by trying to push through and force yourself back into the “zone,” so pick one thing that helps center your mind and stick with it.
  2. Ask something. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself how you can break down what’s causing that frustration into smaller, more manageable tasks. If there’s too much to do and too little time, look for ways to prioritize your work .
  3. Get outside perspective. Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, it helps to tell someone else what’s going on. Explain to a trusted friend, family member, coworker, or mentor how you’re feeling. Ask them what they think you should do about it. In cases where the problem seems really big and overwhelming (for example: You’re trying to start your own company), take a step back and try to identify the problem behind the problem.
  4. Do something different. Even when you feel like there’s no way you can do more work or deal with one more thing, force yourself to take a break. And do something completely different. Sometimes just resting your mind for even five minutes can give you the strength to focus on whatever it is you need to get done.

Today my focus is on GDPR conformity in our client contracts at GANDT. Don’t ask me why, it just is. And I will have to deal with it. 


Also published on Medium.

Remco Livain
I’m a digital entrepreneur, online performance marketeer, founder and CEO of the digital innovation consultancy GANDT Ventures (based in Switzerland). We support organizations (SMBs, corporates and later stage ventures) in their digital efforts. I learned the trades of the (online) business at Venture Stars (MIFLORA), Rocket Internet (Westwing Home and Living) and Insparx (C-Date and be2).

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