“How can I be more productive?”
It’s a question our clients ask us frequently. With so much pressure on all of us to achieve so much in what seems like so very little time, it’s not surprising that business owners want a simple ‘how-to’ solution.
The thing is – your productivity can improve. But you won’t find the secret in someone else’s list of ‘Top 10 Productivity Hacks’. Because those hacks only address your superficial symptoms and not what’s at the root of your unproductiveness.
You can do anything, but not everything. – David Allen
Getting more productive means doing more of ‘what’s important’, and less rabbit-chasing ‘what’s urgent’ down sidetrack alley.
But how do you know the difference?
Know EXACTLY what it is you want your life to look like.
And that’s the moment our productivity unravels. Because most of us do not have a clear picture of what we truly want.
This morning started ‘late’ for me and my husband. So both of us were feeling the pressure to ‘get everything done’. So much so, that we decided we didn’t even have ten minutes to sit down together.
“No time. Gotta run.”
“See ya. Love ya.”
We prioritised urgent things. Hair brushing. Packing school bags. Ensuring the kids were appropriately dressed.
We prioritised the things we felt we ‘had to do becuase we’re the only ones to do it’ over our most important thing – investing regular time in each other.
Had we chosen to spend that ten minutes together, potentially the worst thing that would have happened is that the girls would have gone out with messy hair. Or they may have played one less game of Frozen dominos.
Having chosen not to spend it together, our biggest danger is that we make the same choice tomorrow morning. Or the next time we’re under pressure. Considering that ‘neglect’ and ‘lack of communication’ are two of the top four reasons for divorce (according to this article by entrepreneur Meg Cadoux Hirshberg) it’s not surprising that divorce rates are high amongst small business owners and entrepreneurs.
So, when you’re under pressure and you feel like there’s so many things you ‘have to do’, how do you not sacrifice the important things for the other stuff?
If you have no idea what you want from your personal and your professional life then you have no way of determining what’s urgent or what’s important.
For most business owners, their future life goals are vague ideas of ‘freedom’, ‘happy’, ‘successful’, ‘more money’, and ‘more time’. Yes, those are lovely notions. But the question is – what do they actually mean to you?
For example, how do you know when you’ve achieved ‘more money’?
Your goal post is whatever you decide it to be. You just have to invest the time on deciding.
Ok, so technically, this is a multistep step. But they’re like chocolate, strawberries and cream (or coconut cream if you’re lactose intolerant) – good on their own, but amazing together.
If you know what you’re really working to achieve, then it’s easy enough to reverse engineer a mud map to get you there.
For example, let’s say one of your goals is to create a particular lifestyle for yourself and your loved ones.
Now you know exactly how big your business has to be to create the necessary profit in order to create the lifestyle you desire.
How simple it would be to reverse-engineer a plan to achieve that specific goal. How easy it would be to action those steps.
How effortlessly more productive we’d be.
Now, rinse and repeat this process for every area of your life – Relationships, Family, Community, Health, Personal Development, Spirituality, Finance, etc.
If your ‘to-do’ list is still a hundred deep, that’s evidence you don’t have a crystal clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve. (Go back and repeat Non-Hack #1)
When you know exactly what you want, and have written down how you’re going to achieve it, you’re not going to waste your precious time with distractions and shiny objects. And if you do have ‘urgent’ stuff on your list because you’re the only one who can take care of it, then at least you know where you need to start finding solutions.
Friday, March 3rd, Faye Caughey will facilitate ‘Your Best Year Yet’ a half-day workshop that helps business owners stop procrastinating because they work out exactly what they need to do right now in their business to achieve the results they want in 2017.
What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.