Mary Poppins’ Advice for Entrepreneurs

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
You find the fun and Snap! the job’s a game,
and every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake.
A lark! A spree! It`s very clear to see
that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

~ Julie Andrews in Disney’s Mary Poppins singing
A Spoonful of Sugar by the Sherman Brothers


Every entrepreneur has business tasks they would prefer to hand off to someone else. But until we become as rich as Oprah, there will always be a chore or two that we would rather avoid. I think Mary Poppins had the answer. Not a literal spoonful of sugar, of course, because then I’d have to write a whole new blog post about soaring North American child obesity rates. A little fun does get the work done though.

Last week I had a ton of receipts staring at me from my desk, screaming to be entered into a spreadsheet. I could make you a very, very long list of what I would rather do than that kind of paperwork. Let’s just say that picking up after the dogs was looking like a pretty good gig.

“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way…”

Instead of staring at it guiltily for another week, I made a deal with myself. I gathered the paperwork and headed to the couch downstairs late Friday afternoon. I entered expense receipts while I watched my favourite television shows. Between shows, I double-checked my work. Did it take longer? Yes. Was it worth it for me? Yes.

When I don’t have extra time, I make different deals with myself. I work on that favourite work assignment *after* I call the cranky client. No break to run downstairs to the kitchen for sweet pepper pesto pita pizza (mmmmm) until I file that pile of paperwork. No blog writing until I finish the fifteenth and final round of editing on that super long manuscript.

How do you find the fun in the business you’d rather avoid? What is your spoonful of sugar?

13 Comments

  1. Liz Fulcher on May 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Wow, this hit home. It’s SO easy to do the fun parts of our job but let the rest pile up until it takes on a dark life of it’s own! Thanks for the great reminder about that “spoon full of sugar”! In the end, it’s all about mindset, isn’t it?

  2. Terressa on May 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Having the right mindset makes things seem so much more enjoyalbe and easy. Choosing to be positve makes all the difference.

  3. Genevieve Lachance (@vasimpleservice) on May 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I like the idea of “making deals with myself”. I can be a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to boring jobs. Thanks for sharing!

  4. marie leslie on May 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I do the “deals” too. Unpleasant jobs are either rewarded with something good or multi-tasked, like you, with a good movie or TV show while I work. Ironing is one of my least favorite chores, so I save it up until I see something good on Redbox and then I have an ironing/movie marathon. It’s the same thing with boring business tasks like filing and archiving.

  5. babycreature on May 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Great advice. I’m always promising myself a giant ice coffee for getting stuff done. It’s a good motivator.

  6. Sherry Nouraini (@snouraini) on May 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Music, definitely music and dancing in my chair!

  7. Martha Giffen (@MarthaGiffen) on May 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Interesting interaction about making “deals” with yourself. I like to reward myself too. I also like to pass the things I don’t like to do off to someone else. I think it’s important to do that as quickly as possible, from a biz point of view. The sooner, the better. Even if you only outsource a few tasks at first, it’s well worth the money spent so you can spend your time RUNNING your business!

    • catherinedoucette on May 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      I agree. Can’t wait till I get to put all my receipts in a shoebox for someone else and someone else to schedule my appts.

  8. shylena on May 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I love Mary Poppins! I still have my Mary Poppins doll that I got when I was little. Not that it has anything to do with business. 🙂 My spoonful of sugar has to be listening to music. I can force myself to do just about any chore as long as there’s some good music to listen to.

  9. Solvita Bennett (@solvitabennett) on May 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Music is fun and when we approach the tasks, we don’t like with a spark of a positive attitude, everything changes! 🙂

  10. Lisa Birnesser (@LisaBirnesser) on May 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I love this! I call it “let’s make a deal”. It really helps me get through a difficult task.Rewarding yourself is so important!

  11. elizabeth Maness on May 2, 2012 at 2:41 am

    This is the truth! I try to smile my way through the hard part and get to the easy..;)

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