Does it ever seem like no matter how much you accomplish in a day, a week, or a month that your business always seems to require more of your time? Productivity and focus are the key to success when the list gets unbearably long.
In our current age of endless information and access we have reached a point where it is quite possible to never be done. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went to bed with nothing left on the to-do list. As an entrepreneur and salesperson who thrives on getting things done this created a huge hurdle for me. Just being able to accept the fact that there will always be something left to do allowed me to start sleeping again.
Beyond just letting go of some of the tasks, however, there are some exercises we can use to focus our energy on the things that matter most. Creating the following three lists will make it easier to focus on the key areas that grow your business and increase productivity. Crushing these key areas, or top dollar producing activities, should create opportunities to hire leverage to complete more menial tasks that may be equally as important but not quite as significant.
Things to Keep Doing
The first list stems from celebrating our victories and rewarding the actions that we would like to see repeated. This list is a list of things to keep doing. The questions to answer here include things like: What am I currently doing that is driving the most new clients to my business? What am I doing that is moving my clients to refer me to their friends, family, or business associates? If I had to account for each dollar of revenue for the last 6 months, where did they come from and what did I do to help drive them?
Whatever you come up with for actions on this list you should take steps to ensure that there is enough time in your calendar for these activities on a daily or weekly basis. Remember, we just determined that these are currently the highest and best use of your time. Do not fill the whole calendar as we will have more to add in a moment. Also, set some measurable goals around these activities each day or week and create a reward system each time you hit your activity goal. This will solidify the habit by rewarding the proper activity.
Things to Start Doing
Lack of knowledge or education is not typically the issue for most people. Most people have attended training seminars, read books, listened to podcasts, paid for coaching, etc. All of these educational pieces play a critical role in one’s success. I urge you to ask yourself whether you have actually implemented the things you have learned. Many of us have extremely intelligent book shelves. We may have even read the books, but I find in most cases our level of implementation leaves something to be desired.
I have read countless books with great ideas or exercises that I couldn’t wait to try, but then life and business go in the way. Fires started popping up, and I ran to put them out. Maybe when I have a little more time I will implement some new strategies. Here’s the deal. You make the time. This list is a list of things you know you should be doing. You have heard experts talk about how this key step helped their business explode. You have read books on the topic. You know what to do or who to call. You just need to start. This list is about what you know you need to start doing, but just haven’t yet.
Things to Stop Doing
This is often the toughest. The final list should create the time for us to start implementing the new activities that we know we are supposed to be doing, but haven’t started. Often times we didn’t start because we just didn’t have the time. Well, I am calling BS. I know because I would make the same excuses in the past. I have 3 kids, coach Little League, a wife, a job, a business, and side hustle or two as well as friends and extended family. Even with all these areas vying for my attention, I still had opportunities to eliminate things from my calendar that were decreasing productivity.
For some this is as simple as not checking email or Facebook posts first thing in the morning. Imagine those first couple hours spent on something more productive, like writing this blog post, organizing your list of contacts for the day, practicing your scripts or presentation. It may be that going out for a beer to unwind with some friends on a Friday is perfectly acceptable and a reward for hitting your goals for the week. At the same time, closing the bar at 1 am is probably not increasing productivity for the week. Maybe it’s just getting sucked into the television that’s slowing you down. Whatever your vice, this is an area to find some much needed time to implement new high level activities to drive your business.
Keys to Productivity – Putting It All Together
These lists work together to create a road map to success in your business. Use the results of this exercise to develop a foundational calendar for a productive week. This time-blocking should incorporate all the success habits that are currently allowing your business to flourish as well as time to implement the new activities that are sure to take your business to the next level.
Review these lists quarterly as you may find that your activities need to change as your business increases. You may need to find ways to leverage some of the key activities as you further narrow your focus. This is a sure sign of success as you can begin to hire people who are even better than you in these certain areas. It may even be that you hire someone to implement the things you should start doing, essentially doubling productivity.
The key is spending a little time to assess what activities are the lifeblood of your business and ask yourself whether you are spending enough time on them. I challenge you to stop an complete this exercise right now before it just becomes another thing you know you should do, but you just didn’t implement.