The Struggle of Productivity
Productivity is a huge stumbling block for many people. It seems so simple on paper—work hard every day, get a lot done, and succeed in business.
More often than not, it just doesn’t happen that way. You wake up, start working with great intentions (“I’m REALLY going to get a lot done today!”), get distracted, get discouraged, and ‘punch out’ at the end of the day with very little to show for it.
Rinse and repeat the next day.
It’s not only discouraging; it’s costing you a huge amount of money. Every day that you work at less than optimal levels is a day you’re tossing money out the window.
Don’t feel bad, it’s really hard to work optimally, though. And you’re certainly not alone. Productivity is a huge struggle. It’s especially true in today’s times.
It’s hard to really turn the work off because there’s always one more email you can check, there’s always the thought that you should probably crack your laptop open and do just a little more work. There’s always that notification that a colleague or partner has sent you a text message or a post on Facebook.
The fact that you can never really get away from it all also means you’re probably constantly feeling guilty. That creates a never-ending cycle—you feel like you should be working all the time, so the time you do spend working never feels like it’s enough. That’s depressing and it gets you down. Or you feel like you’ll be able to do it later anyway, so what’s the point?
We haven’t even touched yet on the fact that your to-do list is a mile long. There are so many different things you’re supposed to do for your business but don’t have time to do. There are those projects that seem to drag on forever and prevent you from really getting anything else done.
There are the distractions from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There’s always something else to pay attention to and that bleeds into your work time. Emails are waiting to be answered and they never stop coming.
Basically, you feel like every workday is a challenge in staying afloat with survival mode activated. Can you make it through? Can you do just enough to make it work?
It’s hard not to be jealous of those people who seem to have it all together. There are some business owners who wake up with a clear idea of what they’re doing every day and they easily get it done.
While you’re stuck working on project #1, they’re finished (and already profiting from) project #10.
What’s the deal? We all get the same 24 hours in a day, so why are some people able to get so much more done than the average person? That’s something we’re going to work on today.
The fact is, no matter how much you feel like your productivity is suffering right now, there are things you can do to fix things. You can get as much done in 24 hours as those super-productive people you admire.
The first thing you should know is that those super-productive people aren’t better, smarter, or more talented than you. They have a productive mindset, a clear idea of their Reason Why, goals, and the steps it will take to achieve their goals. Clarity is a key word here—they know what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why they’re doing it.
They don’t allow the distractions to take over their life. They probably don’t work all the time, either—they just maximize the time they do spend working.
That’s something you want and that’s something you can achieve, starting today.
What’s Your Current Work Style?
First, take stock of where you are with this right now. What’s your current work style? Are you fairly productive and you’re just looking to improve? Or, does it seem like it’s been forever since you’ve actually completed a project?
Do you tend to get distracted while you work? Are your distractions mostly internal (racing thoughts) or external (dings and notifications from your cell phone and social media)?
Do you have a clear idea of what you’re supposed to be doing and working on every day?
Are you organized and well planned? Do you know why you’re doing the work in the first place?
These are all important questions to answer for yourself. Figure out where your biggest stumbling blocks are in a really honest way and you’ll know what you should focus on to become much more productive.
Developing A Productive Mindset
One thing that sets very productive people apart is that they have a mindset of productivity. It’s their armor against the distractions of the world. They know exactly what they’re doing. They have a solid set of plans and goals and it’s inevitable to them that they’ll achieve those goals.
Do you feel like you’re in control of your own productivity right now? If you don’t, then it’s time to reclaim your power. You’re in control. There’s nothing standing in your way.
The great thing is that you’ll naturally start to develop a better, more productive mindset as you start to apply the things we’re talking about today. That’s because the more productive you are, the more productive you’ll become.
Success is catching—start getting more done and it becomes easier to get even more done.
Mindset is a huge part of this process. Work hard to develop a mindset of success and a mindset of achievement.
Finding Your Reason Why
Here’s a question you really need to answer right up front…
Why are you in business in the first place? I don’t mean the superficial answers people often give like, “I want to earn more money,” or “I want freedom from my job.”
Those answers are fine; I’m not saying that. But I am saying that there’s something deeper that drives you.
There’s something about your life that you want to change or improve. It might be achieving some sort of better, specific future for your family, your children, etc.
It might be a cause you’re passionate about—the reason you feel you’re on this earth in the first place.
There’s no right answer to what your Reason Why is, by the way. It just might take some digging before you come to the answer that’s already in your heart and then you’ll say, “BINGO!”
It’s a lot easier to be more productive when you have a solid Reason Why guiding you. It gives you direction, meaning, and power—all of which can help you become more productive.
Setting Your Goals
Along those same lines, it’s very important to set your goals. What do you want in the short term? What do you want in the long term?
You might have goals for your life and for your business. The things you do each day are moving you toward the goals, and the achievement of those goals will move you positively in the direction of your Reason Why.
The trouble is that many people are unclear on their goals. They want ‘more money’ or something unspecific like that.
It’s time to get specific. How much more money do you want to earn in your business and by when? And again… why?
Give yourself real numbers and real deadlines to achieve.
Write these goals down—that’s another secret of what more productive people do every day.
Breaking It Down
It’s also helpful to break your tasks down. What do you complete in a day? What should you be completing in a day?
Of the things you work on the most, what brings in the most money? What’s worth your time and what’s not worth your time?
Break down your most important and common tasks and try to streamline them. Are there tools that can help you work more quickly? Can you create systems to work more quickly? If so, get them and create them.
The 80/20 Principle
This is one of my favorite secrets of productivity. The 80/20 principle is life changing in the right hands. It can be applied universally. Let’s look at how it affects your business.
As you break things down in your business, you’ll likely find that just 20% of your efforts are leading to 80% of your results.
Put another way, 20% of the things you work on each day in your business are the most profitable and important things, so you should be focusing on those first and foremost.
The other 80% of your tasks and efforts are either much less important and much less profitable or totally unprofitable and completely unimportant.
We’ve talked already about the fact that there’s so much on your plate. It’s no wonder you feel so drained and can’t get anywhere near as much done as you need and want to.
Well, one of the secrets of highly productive people is that they aren’t necessarily working harder and doing more. It’s that they are extremely choosy as to what they work on.
They put their focus on their most important, highest producing tasks.
Start to apply the 80/20 principle for your business. What’s worth working on and what isn’t?
Put your efforts on your more important tasks and you should start to see some results. There will be less on your plate and you’ll be getting more important and profitable things done.
Now, I’m not saying that the less important 80% of the things on your to-do list don’t need to get done, but… I’m saying they shouldn’t be the first things you do every day, and I’m saying that maybe you can delegate them to someone else whose time is perhaps less valuable than yours.
Organizing and Prioritizing
As you start to sift through your most common tasks, start to organize yourself.
What should you work on and when?
Write a business plan for yourself.
Revisit those short and long term goals and focus on an organized plan you’ll follow through with to achieve those goals.
Prioritize activities that earn you money and produce for your business.
Planning Every Day
Highly productive people don’t wake up and start working in a fog of confusion. They know what they’re going to work on every day. Not only that, but they know why and how they’re going to work on those tasks.
Plan your days out ahead of time. It’s so important to make every day count.
Have a to-do list that makes sense and that you can complete in a day.
No matter what, complete your most important and profitable tasks every day, and do them at a time when you have the most energy and enthusiasm.
Your list might have just a few things on it, but you’ll be making incremental progress that adds up to huge things over time.
Focus, simplify, and plan ahead.
Make sure you eliminate all the distractions you can. The human attention span can only handle so much—especially these days.
Turn your phone off when you’re working on big projects. People can wait, I promise.
Turn social media and email notifications off also. Those things can wait, too.
Get your most important task done first thing in the morning. That way, you’ll have made progress no matter what else happens that day, and at the end of the day, when you ask yourself about what you’ve accomplished, you’ll have an answer that makes you happy and proud.
If you work from home, make sure you have set work hours and that everyone in the household knows not to disturb you during those hours.
Make your work environment conducive to real productivity.
Follow through with important projects. Don’t start and stop new projects along the way.
One difference between highly productive, successful people and those who aren’t is that productive people follow through. They complete projects.
It sounds so simple, but it’s so common (especially in online marketing) for people to start and stop projects without finishing a thing. It’s time to stop that sort of activity.
Finish your most profitable activities and projects. Only then should you move on to the next thing.