The Procrastinator’s Guide To Productivity
For the entrepreneur, there is no resource more limited than time.
There are 24 hours in a day. No matter what you do, that’s all you get.
Some of those you have to spend sleeping. Some have to be spent eating, and there are a variety of other activities that take up our time.
So making sure you’re making the most out of the time you do have and making sure you’re spending it where it’s going to be most effective, is absolutely critical to your success.
We’ll be spending today’s lesson covering how to becoming more productive starting today!
So let’s get started.
And what better topic to start with than getting started.
Us business owners typically don’t have much trouble getting started. Myself, I’m a professional starter. I love to start new projects. The problem is that finishing isn’t nearly as much fun as starting.
So here’s what I’ve learned to do.
Once I start on a project, I work on it in 30-60 minute increments. I actually have a little timer on my computer that rings and when it rings, I stop what I’m doing (if possible) and take a short break, 2-5 minutes.
Then as soon as break time is over, I start on the project again. I don’t worry about finishing. The trick is simply to start.
And here’s where the magic happens. If you just start for 30 minutes, and you keep starting, the project gets finished. You never need to worry about finishing anything (the idea of finishing things can be pretty intimidating – I know it is to me), all you need to worry about is starting. Eventually, you’ll find that in the middle of a 30 minute work block, your work is done.
I’ve written in depth manuals in one weekend using this technique and used it to record, edit and produce entire DVDs in a couple days simply by starting for 30 minutes – once you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s amazingly easy to keep going.
Deciding What To Do
Of course, if you’re going to be productive, you need to spend your time doing the right things.
If your business is in crisis mode, it’s actually pretty easy to decide what to do.
You may want to write this down and hang it up on the wall (you could carve it on a stone tablet, but those tend to be tougher to hang up):
Do Whatever Is Going To Make You The Most Money The Fastest
If you have several ideas that you all think are equally good, then pick one (throw darts, pull ‘em out of a hat, doesn’t matter) and do that one. Finish Keep starting on that task until it’s done. Then move on to the next one.
If you have a lengthy, complex project that you think is going to make you a heck of a lot of money but it will take months to complete, put that project on the back burner for a bit and pick a project that you think will take days or even hours. Do that one first.
How To Spend Your Time
How should a business owner spend the bulk of their time? It tends to vary pretty wildly, but here’s a pretty good formula for success. (learned this from Internet Marketing legend, John Reese).
Spend 50% of your time creating.
Spend 30% of your time promoting.
Everything else needs to fit in that 20% of time.
Let’s break it down so you can see some of the activities that fit into each category.
Category 1 – 50% of Your Time – Creating
- Creating New Products
- Testing Your Ideas For Your New Products And Proving They Work
- Writing Blog Posts
- Recording Video
- Doing Interviews
Category 2 – 30% of Your Time – Promoting
- Writing Ads
- Writing Emails
- Setting up Joint Venture relationships
- Search engine optimization
- Pay per click
- Banner Ads
- Offline Advertising
Category 3 – 20% of Your Time – Everything Else
- Customer Service
- Managing Your People
- Bookkeeping / Accounting
- Reading Forums / checking email / Playing on Facebook / Updating Twitter
There are more things you can do of course in each category, but that covers a lot of the big ones where people spend entrepreneurs their time. (And if you have an actual physical store, spending your time running the register is not the correct place for you to hang out – that’s what your employees are for.)
Motivational and success speakers love to use this little gem – massive action. They’ll tell you that in order to be successful, you need to take massive action. And when you’re sitting in a conference, you actually feel really pumped up like you really can take massive action just like the speaker tells you to.
Problem is as soon as you get back home, that whole massive action thing sounds like a pretty daunting task. The truth is that trying to take massive action is a lot like trying to eat an elephant all at once – you can’t do it.
Instead of trying to take massive action, you need to take little actions. And then you keep repeating them.
So let’s take a project, any big project. (If you don’t have one in mind, let’s pretend you’re trying to write a book)
When you look at the “big picture” or the whole thing it once, it’s easy to become discouraged and think it’s just too much work, it’s too hard, or it will take too long.
And even if you’re able to just sit down and get going on it, it’s easy to get discouraged because you feel like you’re not making any progress.
So here’s what you do.
Breaking Down A Project
You want to take the project and break it down into small, manageable parts. If we use the example of a book, we would break the book down into chapters first. Then we’d break it down further and break each chapter into a series of sub-topics.
Writing a book = hard
Writing a sub-topic for a book = easy
And there’s no rule that says you need to start at the beginning of a project. If you’re having trouble getting started, pick the easiest part to start on wherever that is.
For example, when I’m doing my writing (books, manuals, articles, heck even this lesson), the beginning is almost always the last part I do.
What happens when you get stuck? It happens. You’ll be cruising along and suddenly you hit a snag where you’re not sure what to do. Let’s go back to the writing example again.
You’re writing a section of your book and you realize you wanted to use a quote or statistic but you never actually got it. Now you could go try to track it down, but if you’re in the flow, that’ll stop you dead in your tracks. Just make something up that and then mark your text like this [******INSERT CORRECT STATS HERE****].
That’ll catch your eye when you go back and get the correct info and it won’t slow you down.
But what if you run into a problem you can’t easily solve. Maybe you’re trying to setup your shopping cart and you’re not sure how to integrate it with your merchant provider.
Hop on over to a site like Scriplance.com or Rentacoder.com and post your problem – offer to pay someone 5 or 10 bucks if they can do it for you and then record a video on how they did it so you know for next time. Your tech problem is now solved.
It’s almost always cheaper in the long run to pay for the answer than to spend hours trying to figure it out yourself.
I don’t remember who said it anymore, but I was once told “man’s greatest invention is the deadline, because without it there would be no other inventions.”
And for the most part he’s right.
Deadlines push us to get things done that we’d otherwise put off. I think just about every college student I’ve ever met has pulled an all-nighter here and there cramming for a test or finishing a report they’d been putting off.
I know for me during finals week, I was always good for one or two. Rough, but I survived as does everyone else.
For a business owner, you’re not necessarily going to have someone setting deadlines for you so you need to set your own. And it can be tough to get back in the habit of meeting deadlines if you’ve been avoiding it for a while, but once you get back in the swing of things, it’s just like riding a bike. Your productivity will soar.
Distractions will kill your productivity. Plain and simple. And it’s easy to get caught up in what lifestyle master Dean Jackson calls the OCD loop.
Looks a little something like this.
- Get up
- Go to office
- Check email
- Reply to emails
- Post on Twitter
- Check for voicemail
- Return calls
- Check stats
- Make sure campaigns are working
- Check website rankings
- Browse forums
- Check the news
- Check email
- Reply to emails
- Post on Twitter
- ******repeat loop until it’s time to quit working for the day
We now have so many distractions in our lives that we can spend our entire day focusing on distractions under the illusion that we’re actually getting productive work done.
Here’s an easy way to get rid of a lot of those distractions. Turn off your Internet connection. Then turn off your phone. You’ll quickly find yourself with a whole lot less distractions and you can now get some work done.
Is your working environment comfortable? Are you able to focus on the task at hand. If not, fix that… right now.
Now keep in mind this varies a lot from person to person.
For some people, they enjoy working in their home office. For others, they absolutely need an office that isn’t at home in order to get anything done.
For me, I take my laptop to a local coffee shop and I can work for hours on projects that I’d only get about 30 minutes of work in at my home office. (I focus better when there is noise and people around me.)
For Internet marketing rockstar, John Reese, he prefers his recliner because that’s where he’s most comfortable. (I’ve actually tried it, it’s actually kind of nice once in a while.)
Find a place that’s comfortable for you and work there. If that’s your kitchen table, then have at it. If it’s sitting in your bed with your trusty laptop, go for it. If it’s sitting in your living room using your plasma television as a monitor, do it.
You’re an entrepreneur, the head hancho, the big cheese, not an office drone – there’s no need to lock yourself in a cubicle all day (unless you’re into that sort of thing).
This is the last thing I want to talk about is planning. It’s far easier to be productive and get things done when you have a list of targets for the day. I prefer to think of them as targets instead of goals, because it’s okay to miss targets. You can always try to hit a target again. If you don’t achieve your goals, it can be kind of disheartening.
So at the end of each work day, take 5 or 10 minutes to make a list of targets for the next day. The next day when you are getting started, you’ll already have most if not all of your day planned out. All you need to do is get started.
And at the end of each work week, make a list of targets you’d like to achieve the next week.
At the end of each work month, well, you get the picture, right?
Okay, we’re 2,000 words into this here. I’m sure I could carry on for another 2,000 or so, but the point of this workshop isn’t to have you spend all your time reading what I wrote… so let’s get to today’s objective.
Make a list of ideas that you think will make you money the fastest. Pick one to work on. Break it down into small, manageable pieces. Take 30 minutes to start on that first piece – pick a piece that’s easy and that you know you can do. If you feel like continuing, then by all means, keep going (just remember to limit yourself to 30 minutes at a time). And you are hereby forbidden to put in more than 3hrs on this project today (that’s six, 30 minute sessions).