Ask any business owner how they’re doing, and chances are high you’ll get a response like “Overwhelmed”, “Busy”, or even “Taking it day by day”. They’re often overwhelmed, dismayed by the length of their to-do list, or even just simply wondering if all the work they put in day after day is even getting them anywhere.
Real productivity it’s not going to come in the form of a standard productivity training – because those tactics like chunking your time, delegating and outsourcing, or sticking to a rigid schedule only work if you are already in a permanent productivity system. What I mean with that is this: you can outsource, delegate, or productivity hack yourself out of business, if you don’t solve the fundamental issue first.
So, let’s figure out what the underlying issues are, so that you can address them and move yourself into a state of permanent productivity.
Understand the difference between intentional productivity and busy-work
Intentional productivity is about doing what truly matters in your business, and only that! I know, this sounds like a no-brainer… but check in with yourself for a moment: how much time did you spend on useless stuff this week alone? Scrolling social media, attending meetings that should have been an email, other activities that have no value whatsoever for your business. Be brutally honest with yourself. How many hours could you have used working on truly relevant topics instead?
The problem is that we often think that a certain task is important for our business, when it actually isn’t. Because someone else told us it’s important, or because we follow someone else’s blueprint to build our own businesses, or because we don’t regularly clean our closet of formerly useful work that has become pointless. There are many reasons why we aren’t productive by intention.
As an entrepreneur or business owner it’s easy to end up in a “grind & hustle” culture, which leads to consistently taking too much onto our plates in order to succeed. And we end up trapped in a vicious cycle of never-ending to-do lists and not enough time. But you grin and bear it because after all – you signed up for this life. To live as nobody else will now, so you can later live as nobody else can. To avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else by working 80 hours for yourself…
You get my point. This is not sustainable. But even more – it’s not the way to truly get where you want to be.
Overwhelm is a result of unclear priorities in your business
I’ve seen this in every industry I’ve been in – from my multi-billion dollar clients to small business consultations. The pattern is always the same, regardless of the size of a business: people are busy if their priorities are watered down. Everything is a priority. Everything is important and urgent.
As a result, they stretch themselves too thin and nothing gets the amount of attention it requires. If everything is important, nothing is. If everything is urgent, something is fundamentally wrong in how you run your business. Overwhelm, hamster-wheel, and feeling exhausted are some of the typical results, both for individuals and organizations.
The first step that you should take any time you want to reduce overwhelm is to link your activities back to your business strategy and to the vision you have for your business. Focus on those tasks that really move the needle and help you develop your business closer to that vision. If you are serious about your business you just can’t afford to waste time with busy work.
If it’s not business critical, stop doing it. Don’t outsource or delegate it. Eliminate it instead. Every minute and dollar you spend on busy stuff is not available anymore to create the business and life you want. So, get clarity on your vision and business priorities, and then intentionally spend your time on what makes shift happen.
Move yourself from grind & hustle to permanent productivity
If you finally want to achieve what you set out to, it starts with clarity. You’ll intentionally create space for creativity to flourish, instead of trying to jam big ideas into small schedule blocks. You will be able to approach your to-do list withOUT the 30,000 other things you “could” or “should” be doing rolling around in your head and making you feel off balance and overwhelmed.
So, get rid of the grind & hustle culture and instead establish a permanently productive culture that will reduce the drain on your time, energy, and resources. The key to success with reducing overwhelm is starting with a crystal clear picture of what’s already happening. And this might mean you take everything down to the basics and build from there.
It’s not a badge of honour to have 80 tasks on your priority to-do list and to be running around like a chicken with no head. It’s not how you want to be seen or how you want to live. It’s better to tear the whole list down to the core tasks and only add back on what is needed.
The 4 steps to achieve Permanent Productivity in any given work day
Step 1 – WRITE DOWN everything you do
- The key here is that you’re searching for what you’re going after right now and what you’re doing to get there
- Writing it down helps you see everything you’re doing
- What are you trying to accomplish? What are the big goals you have and how are you trying to get there?
- What are you doing all day, every day?
This task study is to really find out where time is being spent in a day. It’s not to punish yourself for scrolling social media when you “should” be productive instead. It’s to find opportunities to streamline your tasks, to reduce all the clutter, fluff, and busy work.
What a simple task study is: keep a piece of paper or document near you and simply note down every task you do each day. These do not have to be complicated or complex details, just a simple note that lets you see exactly where your time and attention is focused.
A side effect of this is that you may figure out some natural behavior patterns (i.e. more creative in the morning, etc.) but that’s not the primary goal. We’re creating a baseline for how things are now so we have a foundation on which to build.
Step 2 – Get Crystal Clear on the Outcomes you Want
- Understanding what you want your business to look like in some years down the road will help you determine what is important in your day-to-day
- When you have this clarity, you can begin organizing what you’re doing
- Understand what must happen to get those outcomes
The grind & hustle mindset is everywhere – but is that really what you want for your life? Remember, we’re not just looking at your business here – this is your LIFE. The more stress you take on, the more you try to cram into every single day – the lower quality life you have.
You’re going to begin to change your mindset here – that not everything needs to be done for your business. Not everything is appropriate for you. It’s okay to let go of things that don’t push you in the direction you want to go.
My most successful clients are the ones that are able to do this. And this is exactly what I do in my Level Up Accelerator programs, but unless you can commit to really hyper-focusing yourself… you’re going to stay stuck in overwhelm indefinitely.
Step 3 – Set up Projects and Work That Will Help You Reach Those Outcomes
- When you approach it from this perspective, you’re focused on only what will move you forward
- You begin to see what doesn’t need to be part of your business and you can start to remove anything that doesn’t fit into the plan
- Defining the priorities helps you create work packages to translate the big vision into daily actions
This is a mindset shift beginning to happen here and it’s normal to get caught on this step. This is where we start second guessing ourselves on what should be in or out of our plans and how those begin to look. I get it, and don’t worry, that’s where I bring my clients clarity and confidence.
Step 4 – Ignore Everything Else (JOMO)
- Your barometer: does this help me achieve my XYZ goal? If the answer is no – it’s not worth your attention
- Don’t take the course that you don’t need
- Say NO to stuff that doesn’t match
We are practically trained to fear missing out, we are wired to worry if we don’t do X or have Y in our lives, that we will be worse off. When we can be sure of our direction and let go of anything that doesn’t work towards our goals, we will be set free from worry and JOMO and be better able to hit our goals and outcomes. You’ll discover the joy of saying no because it allows you to say yes to the direction you have set for yourself.
The magic of fully productive days
Finally feeling productive means everything to my clients. It means being confident to achieve the results you want. It’s easier than you might think, and often less than a day’s work. To summarize:
- Stop equating “busy” with “productive”
- Figure out where your time is spent (and your priorities are showing themselves)
- Get clear on what you want from your business
- Determine what will help you get there
- Ignore everything else (this is the hard part)
If you feel you want to get down to business, let’s talk. I can help you make this happen in just a few sessions. But only go there if you are ready to take action. We’re not going to put a bunch of pretty words on a page and never look at it again.
This is designed to be a living, breathing, working part of your business that you use to genuinely make a difference in your life. In the way you live your life. In the impact you create in the world around you.
My clients tell me that the Level Up Accelerator is the difference between feeling stuck, overwhelmed, and overworked … And understanding precisely what you need to do to get where you want to go.
- Are overwhelmed by the amount of “things” you have to do in a day
- Don’t know how to choose where to go next
- Have fallen a little out of love with your business
- Aren’t excited about starting your day or week anymore
- Know you can be successful if you just focus on the right things
- Want to discover the excitement, drive and motivation to build intention and direction into your business
Book a free call with me to talk about levelling up your business.
Main Image by Minh Pham on Unsplash