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I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you to plan the next day before you go to bed at night (though you should). Or only focus on the top three things on your list (though this is a good practice).
No, I want to delve a little deeper here, as we all know what we should be doing.
So the question is, “Why aren’t we getting it done?”
The answers, I suspect, include;
- You have too much to do & haven’t worked out how to prioritise,
- You plan more than you do,
- The hours simply escape you, and before you know it you haven’t done what you set out to do and aren’t quite sure where the time went
So let’s have a look at some strategies that have the potential to increase your productivity tenfold;
I know you think you need to do everything and be everywhere to grow your business, but firstly, that’s simply not true, and secondly, it can be accomplished over a longer period of time.
So reduce, reduce, reduce.
What’s the minimum you need to do to have an impact?
If you want to grow your podcast, you should be doing only two things; recording awesome episodes and networking with other podcasters to grow your exposure.
- Influencer – post on your platform of choice unfailingly every single day (multiple times a day), engage with your audience
- Author – write & publish books
- YouTuber – record & publish videos
- Course creator – make courses, grow a newsletter
You get the picture.
I know you’re thinking yes Jo, but there’s the editing, image creation, transcription, promotion, tech stuff etc etc.
I get all that, but most of it can be taken care of by automation these days, and the rest of it is your perfect self not being willing to publish until you’ve polished the corners.
Or it’s the bright, shiny objects you’re playing with rather than doing what you know you should be doing! Back away from the new app/software/productivity tool/magic system and start doing what you need to do to grow your business.
What are the biggest levers you can pull to maximise your time?
I am a master planner.
Plus, the dopamine hit I get when I’ve planned world domination! So much more fun than actually ‘doing’ the uncomfortable task I know I need to do to put the plan into action.
While I wholeheartedly applaud the Lincoln quote ‘give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe‘, we must eventually actually take a swing at the tree, and then keep swinging until the job is done.
Instead many of us are guilty of taking a swing and then sharpening for another 4 hours, and then maybe taking another tentative swing and again sharpening. And for some of us we never get past the sharpening stage.
So moving on from the metaphor, there is a time for planning, which might be;
- a week to create an entire life/business vision,
- a day every quarter to plan the next 90 days,
- an hour each month/week to reflect on actions taken and plan for the coming 30 or 7 days, and
- 10 minutes a day to plan the next day
To become insanely productive you need to move from planning mode to action mode.
And this is where I do actually come back to the idea of planning the day or night before. Simple I know, but incredibly effective. Pick the top 1 – 3 things you must get done the next day and promise yourself you won’t focus on anything else until they are done. Use a timer like the Pomodoneapp to keep you focused and get to work!
NB: If you’re addicted to planning, which many of us are because chemically it literally gives us a dopamine hit, set aside a specific time at night or in non productive hours to go over your plans. Just don’t let it get in the way of the actions you need to take each day to move the needle forward.
Seth Godin, James Clear, Steven Pressfield and many other male influencers who don’t experience fluctuating hormones, talk about the difference between the professional and the amateur.
The professional, apparently, is the person who shows up and does the work no matter how they feel.
Since I turned 50 and was hit like a freight train with low estrogen, this is no longer a viable option.
I now have to plan and work around my energy levels.
When I know my energy is crushing it and I can take on the world, that’s when I’ll do some extra hours, take on the harder tasks, batch create content, and do the more creative or challenging work that requires my A-game.
When my energy is low, that’s when I might play with something bright and shiny, do some low energy tasks, or even take a break altogether.
(Ladies in particular, if you’re of a certain age & your energy is lower than normal, it’s likely because you’re putting too much – society inducing – pressure on yourself to perform, & not taking the time to let your body serve you!)
Gents, you’ll also have days when nothing seems to come together.
Give yourself a break and learn to read your mind and body.
Recognise you can’t be at full speed 100% of the time, so when you are, sprint! Go for it. Give it your all. Then you’ll be prepared and ahead of the game when you have unproductive days.
Another little hack I like to use is to only ever plan to work 4 hours a day.
Parkinson’s Law is the idea that work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion.
By giving yourself limited time, you force yourself to work only on the most meaningful tasks that you can get done in that time period.
What are your most important outcomes?
What are the most impactful tasks?
Once the time period is up, you’re free to continue, but you know you did the most important stuff first.
Set a timer for 30 minutes to plan your week this week. Make a list of the most important tasks you need to be working on, and make a commitment to work on them.
If at anytime you find yourself planning, instead of doing, revert to your master list of tasks and make them happen!
Have a fab week.