Closely Guarded Secrets of Productivity

 

Image Credit: https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/7-productivity-tools-no-creative-can-live-without

Quit being busy and get your sh*t together.

There are two enemies of productivity:

busy-ness and overwhelm.

These two enemies are really symptoms of an unfocused environment. You busy yourself with unimportant tasks or you become overwhelmed by the daily activities of running a business because you have a distracting environment and a distracted mind.

This is the opposite of productivity.

Being Productive Vs. Being Busy

Here’s how I define productivity in 5 words…

Maximum results in minimum time.

That definition excludes any pretext of “being busy.” You can’t be busy and get results. It’s almost an oxymoron. Being busy implies you’re in motion, doing stuff. And getting results means you’re done, there’s nothing else to do because you’ve gotten the result.

Productivity is not a process, it’s a point in time.

When you’ve gotten the desired result you have produced something and now you’re done. But people fool themselves into thinking they’re productive when all they are is busy. Usually they’re running around putting out fires and dealing with urgent problems. But…

“being busy” is chasing results. Being productive is getting results.

Being busy is also a great way to lull yourself into a false sense of achievement. “If I’m busy I must being doing something for my business.” But are you getting the results you want?

And Our Good Friend…Overwhelm

Another enemy of productivity is overwhelm. What is overwhelm? Let’s break it down. Overwhelm is not having too much to do.

Overwhelm is not knowing what to do next.

When you visit Google to find information you’re staring down a window into millions of websites and billions of pages. Do you feel overwhelmed when you see the search bar? No you don’t. Why?

Because you know what you’re looking for, you’re focused on one thing.

It’s the same with everything else. The reason you feel overwhelmed is because you don’t know what to focus on next. So you allow your attention to be drawn to the most urgent thing which is usually not the most important thing for your business.

There are two unquestionable qualities that every entrepreneur must have to succeed:

Courage and Discernment.

You must have courage to take risks with your business, to walk into unfamiliar rooms, to use your powers of persuasion, to believe you’re the best.

But you also have to know which risks to take. You have to know where to put your focus every minute of your work day. You have to be able to decide which direction to take your company.

You have to judge well to know what to do next. Let’s learn how to figure out what to do next.

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How Are Your Efficacy Skills?

I love the word efficacious. It’s a great word isn’t it? It’s also intimidating. When I think of efficacious I think of Bill Gates or Gandhi. Those dudes got it done.

If you are efficacious you know 3 things:

What you want to do

Why you want to do it

How you will do it

That can also be said as Intention, Purpose, Strategy. If you know those 3 things and you take action and get the results you are efficacious. Even getting the wrong results is effective.

“If you want to double your success you need to double your failure rate.”
—Thomas Watson

To know what works you have to keep doing what doesn’t work. That’s efficacy.

Most people know the first two: what they want, why they want it.

The thing that kills dreams is the ‘how,’ the strategy.

So what is the ‘how’ of getting sh** done?

I use specific strategies everyday that help me stay focused on the important aspects of my business, the activities that move the needle:

  • copywriting and marketing
  • building funnels
  • creating great products
  • staying in touch with my client base
  • cultivating new relationships

These are the pillars of my success. The pillars may change with each business but the strategies that I use can keep you focused on each of your pillars no matter what they are.

Here’s how…

You need the right habits to move the needle in your business.
Click Here for 3 Secrets to Massive Productivity to put your business into HIGH GROWTH MODE >>

 

Success Rituals

I call these strategies Success Rituals because they keep me focused on the success of my company everyday.

The things that move the needle can be really BORING, mind-numbing stuff. Writing and re-writing and re-re-writing and ad for a funnel is tedious!

And Mary’s text about not being able to source a whatchyamagadget for the new printer is soooooooooo much more interesting. Plus it’s really urgent! She needed that thing yesterday!

But her problem is only urgent and interesting because it’s a distraction from the tedium. But what’s more important, the whatchyamagadget or the sales funnel ad you’re re-writing?

The funnel! Duh! That’s what’s going to make you money and create success. Yes?

Without the daily repetition of mundane tasks you will not gather either success or wealth. This is why rituals are important. They help you stay focused on these mundane, necessary tasks.

This is the essence of productivity.

Productivity is based on efficacy. Efficacy is based on knowing what, why and how.

Success Ritual #1

Figure Out Where to Put Your Focus

The first Success Ritual I use to figure out what to focus on everyday is the Eisenhower Principle, which boils down to…

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

I don’t know if he ever said that but he did say,

“The older I get the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first. A process which often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Discernment is judging well what is the next step. As entrepreneurs we must decide everyday where to put our focus. I use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.

This grid helps me decide how to categorize each task, activity and issue that arises:

  • Important And Urgent – are tasks that need your attention now
  • Important but Not Urgent – are tasks that are important to the success of your business but don’t have a deadline
  • Urgent but Not Important – are tasks that eventually need someone’s attention but not yours, delegate these to someone else.
  • Not Urgent and Not Important – are tasks that have no bearing on the success of your business. Discard them.

So your areas of focus as the leader of your company are the Important and Urgent quadrant and the Important Not Urgent quadrant. Everything else needs to be delegated to someone else or discarded.

When you do this ritual first thing before your work day begins your day goes much more smoothly because you know where your focus needs to be each minute of your day.

My recommendation is to do this the night before or as the last thing you do in your work day to prepare for the next day. This way you know exactly how to start each morning.

Doing this sets you up for success and gives you the confidence you need going into each work day.

Success Ritual #2

Prime Time

I create blocks of time I call Prime Time that let me focus on the first two quadrants of the Eisenhower matrix.

Prime Time is a block of time in which you do the important work of your business: writing an ad; working on your book; making calls to warm leads. Notice I say warm leads.

Contacting cold leads is not an important activity and it’s not an urgent one. Therefore discard the idea of contacting cold leads. Focus on warm leads or hot referrals.

Set a timer to give yourself a deadline and work in blocks of time: 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 50 minutes. Why should you set a timer?

The Yerkes-Dodson law states that mental or physical performance increases with physiological or mental arousal. But it only increases up to a point, then it starts to decay.

So when you set a timer you give your brain a short amount of arousal and tension in which to get a task done, then you take a break. Short, timed bursts of activity are more effective than working long stretches of time with no breaks.

I’ll work for a block of time and then I will take 10 minutes and get a snack, play with my dog or do some push-ups. Take a short break and come back and finish the task.

Success Ritual #3

Action List

I use To Do lists but I limit them. I write out 5 tasks on an index card and keep it visible on my desk. That’s my list for the day. I cross off each task as I go and if I don’t finish I cross it off anyway and put the unfinished tasks on another index card for the next day.

This keeps my list small, focused and manageable which keeps me out of overwhelm. If I’m putting more than 5 tasks on my list I’m doing too much in a day.

You may want to make a list of 6 tasks or 4 tasks. Whichever you choose don’t go over 8 items on a list. Keep it simple, manageable and small. This will keep you out of overwhelm and the trap of feeling ‘busy.’

Success Ritual #4

Unplug

Technology is a boon and a curse. The internet in particular has made creating visibility for your business more accessible than ever. And we are grateful. But the internet and technology are also incredible distractions.

I start the day unplugged. That means I don’t check my phone or any other technology until I’m well into my day and only after I’ve completed my Prime Time. I look at my phone once in the morning to make sure I have no emergency calls. Then I turn it off and start my workday.

Now this may not work for you. You may need to use your phone earlier. Taper this ritual to fit your needs but be mindful of your usage. It’s so easy to get caught up using technology and before you know it 3 hours have gone by.

One way of using this ritual is when it’s time to set your timer or complete one of your 5 tasks turn off all technology: phone, tablets, notifications, vibrations, beeps, rings, everything. Turn it all off.Focus on the work that will move the needle in your business. Getting online and checking into social media is not important and it is not urgent. Discard this activity during your workday. Be the master of your usage. Don’t let it be your master.

Success Ritual #5

Planned Leisure Time

I love this ritual. I take a couple times a month and completely unplug. I don’t go near my computer and I turn off my phone for the day. I turn off all technology and spend time in the analog world.

I spend time with my kids. I spend time outdoors. I go on hikes, get a massage, walk on the pier. Sometimes I spend time contemplating and reflecting, being grateful for a full and happy life.

This is so important to your productivity. This kind of activity feeds all the other activities you do in your work life. It’s incredibly rejuvenating and vital to your success and the success of your business.

Take one day a week or one day a month and unplug for the whole day. Don’t check social media. Don’t get on your computer. Don’t turn on your phone unless it’s about the activity for that day. Take time to appreciate the world around you, your family and your life. This activity will pay you back tenfold.

Success Ritual #6

Planned Dead Time

Planned dead time is time spent learning something. This is how I like to start my day. I set aside something I would like to learn. It could be a new language, a new aspect of your business like brushing up on your copywriting skills. Or it could be something unrelated like studying a complicated recipe you might try for dinner that night.

Feeding your brain with new information is necessary for a healthy mind and body. It could also be something like trying out a new exercise. Excite your brain and do something brand new. This will also help you bring a fresh perspective to your workday and mundane activities.

Related Post: Take The Guesswork Out of Online Sales Pages 
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Related Post: How To Get Results With Relationship Capital

Image Credit: https://fistfuloftalent.com/2017/04/productive-people-punch-list.html

Myths of Productivity

Back in 2017 I had the great fortune of interviewing Tonya Dalton of Inkwell Press Productivity Company. You can see the interview here. In our interview she talks about the myths of productivity and overwhelm. Here are some of the myths she dispels.

Balance is a Myth

Quit striving for balance. Do you really work an equal amount of hours as you have downtime? Nope. That would be nice but that’s simply not true for most of us. So stop trying to achieve an impossible outcome.

Most of the time work comes first because work makes everything else possible. While work takes priority most of the time kids and spouses are a close second. Free time, playtime, vacation, etc. are all a distant third, fourth, fifth.

A work-life balance does not exist. What we can do is create homeostasis or a “relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements.”

There is always one element dominating our focus and that’s usually work. But with awareness we can juggle those elements and make sure we have a healthy tension between all of them so our focus is not too lopsided for any length of time.

All Tasks Are Equal

Responding to followers on social media is not as important as writing a sales funnel. But this is where the Eisenhower Matrix really comes in handy. Putting each task into the matrix helps us see what is truly important and urgent and what can wait or be delegated or discarded.

Changing a diaper is equal to writing an ad but is probably is more urgent. You decide what you can live with:) But all tasks are not created equal.

Technology Makes You Efficient

Really? Who really believes this in 2019? We have over two decades now of living with the most intrusive and distracting inventions ever.

The internet in particular is a great way to stay in touch with your market. But this is only one aspect of your business. Be the master of your technology. Decide how you use it in your business and delegate tasks to it rather than it dictating your time.

You Need Inspiration To Start

Remember that old Chinese proverb that Nike stole? Just do it.

You do not need inspiration to start. If you need inspiration then you will work about 3 days out of every month. Obviously you’ll never create a successful business that way.

Don’t wait. Don’t wait for inspiration. Don’t wait for the right time of day or the right circumstances. They will never come.

Instead create an environment that you can access every day when you work. Let your environment do the hard work of supporting your healthy and productive work habits. But also know that you can have all the pieces in place and there will be days you just don’t want to work.

It’s up to you to decide if it’s a beach day or a day to push through the “blahs.”

Once you’ve put into place your planned leisure time there may be times when you just have to “call in sick.” But with these new Success Rituals you won’t need to rely on inspiration to hit to become more productive.

The Wrap Up

You are the architect of your dreams. You are the master of your ship. And your environment plays a key role in determining how you set yourself up for success. These Success Rituals help you design your environment to get the most out of your workday.

I’ve dedicated the entire month of August to showing you how to be productive in all aspects of your business life, from planning your workday, to meetings and email management. So stick around. Get under some shade, grab an iced tea and let’s get productive.

Click here for 3 more indispensable productivity tips for your workday. Do you have your own productivity strategies? What are they? List one below. I love learning new strategies!

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