How many times have you sat down at your desk on Monday morning, determined to make it a productive day or week? Then at the end of the day or on Friday afternoon, you wonder where the time went–because you didn’t accomplish nearly enough on your to-do list.
For the business owners I’ve talked to, this happens way too often. The problem? You’re not planning for productivity. You don’t have a process or system to ensure you’re productive and knocking things off your list. And that means that too much work gets left undone–especially the work for your own business.
A recent episode of The Ops Authority gave you three productivity hacks you can put to use right now. But it’s also important to address some of the misconceptions you might have about being productive so you don’t fall into the hamster wheel trap.
Misconception #1: Put your head down and do the work.
Turn off the social media, put your phone on silent and you’ll get the work done, right? Limiting distractions helps but it’s not the perfect solution everyone thinks it is.
What if you’re not focusing on the right things to help your business grow? What if you’re repeating tasks that you could have streamlined with systems?
While putting your head down is tempting and really is part of a solution, it’s not going to get the work done on its own. There are many more factors in play here that prevent head-down work from making you really productive the way you want to be.
What to do instead: Get those standard operating procedures mapped out and working in your business, and only focus on the strategic objectives that matter most right now. When we’re talking about your business, the rest of it can wait.
Misconception #2: Get client work done first, then you’ll have time to work on your own business.
Be careful with this one. It’s easy to think that if you do all your client work in the first few days of the week, you’ll have the rest of the week to work on your own business. It seems like that would work, except for Parkinson’s Law.
Work will expand to fill the amount of time you have available. Even though you allot the end of the week to your own business, chances are your client work will start to inch into it if you’re not careful.
I’m all for time-blocking my client work so I have time leftover to work on my business. But you have to do it right if the work is going to get done.
What to do instead: Know what your priorities are each day, then do those first thing each morning. Block your time assuming you need to get work done in your own business first
Misconception #3: Being flexible is key.
Sometimes life and business don’t go as you planned. I get that. One of the kids gets sick, technology doesn’t work, your flight is delayed. It happens and then you need to be flexible to meet your deadlines. But when you start to use flexibility as an excuse for canceling date night or your girls’ getaway, you start to bend the boundaries you established when you started your business.
For me, after-school time with my kids is my reason for leaving a busy corporate job. I keep that time sacred so I can drive my kids to their various sports practices and games and ensure I have time with them after dinner. If I’m too flexible, I lose those fun and eye-opening conversations we have in the car.
What to do instead: Stick to your non-negotiables and plan your work calendar around your life. Put date night, your children’s school vacations and time for yourself on your calendar first, then carve out time for client calls and client work.
Friend, I want you to be successful. But I also know that there’s no magic solution that will help “fix” everyone’s business. The key to productivity is for you to find what works for you and then just do it. Finding accountability buddies who will hold you to your word is important, but putting the systems and processes in place that will keep you there is even more so.
The key to productivity is for you to find what works for you and then just do it.
It all goes back to why you started your business in the first place. I know it’s not so you could work day and night making peanuts. It’s so you can do what you love while making space for the people and activities you love. Go do that.