When you hear the word, “Productivity,” do you associate it with the question, “Why?”
It’s all right if you don’t. Most of the time, we’re more focused on What? and How?
- What I am working on?
- What am I creating?
- How am I going to make it happen?
- How will I reach my deadline?
- What steps do I have to complete?
It’s easy to skip over that Why, and not too long ago, I was the same. I was much more worried about what I needed to do and how I was going to find the time to do it, I forgot to stop and ask myself, “Why am I doing this task/project?”
As it turns out, I was wasting a ton of time on tasks that didn’t move my business forward—they didn’t have a purpose (a Why).
A few months ago, I wrote a post on how journaling has helped my mindfulness practice.
In that post on journaling and mindfulness, I mentioned I had been spending hours each week on Twitter, yet traffic to my site via Twitter was minimal. So why was I spending so much time on Twitter? Well, I thought I “had to.” You know, because that’s what “everyone” says small business owners should be doing.
Does that sound like you at all? I can’t count the number of times I’ve caught myself doing something simply because a blog guru or a successful creative entrepreneur said I should.
The problem with doing tasks that have no purpose is that they wreak havoc on your productivity. (<<< click to tweet!)
Productivity Hack #4: Know Your Why
I know you’ve heard this one before: “Busy is not the same as productive.” But if being productive isn’t being busy, what is it?
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR END GOAL
Productivity means you are doing and accomplishing the things that propel you forward. For a creative business, this can translate to: Tasks that move you towards your business goals. If you goal is to earn $5,000 a month by working with clients, then your most productive tasks will:
1. Put you and your business in front of potential clients.
2. Convince/persuade potential clients to schedule a consultation with you.
3. Lead those who have a consultation with you into becoming paid clients.
4. Make you the best freelancer in your niche so these paid clients come back to you and refer you to others.
Simply put, your most productive tasks will push you towards accomplishing that business goal of earning $5,000 a month.
So your first step is to decide what you want to accomplish (what is your overall goal?).
STEP 2: WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO REACH THIS GOAL?
Your second step is to make a list of everything you do each day, each week, and each month.
Let’s just keep using the example from above…
Each day, you:
- Pin 20 articles
- Tweet 5 times
- Post to Facebook 3 times
- Post to Instagram 1 time
Each week, you:
- Write + publish 2 blog posts
- Create + publish 1 video
- Send out 1 newsletter email
And each month, you:
- Update your services page
- Make small changes to your website layout/design
- Add 2-3 materials to your resource library
(Okay, so I’m not going to list out every little thing you may do, but you get the picture…yes?)
If you want to move away from busy to productive, then you need to know what activities/tasks/items you are doing.
STEP 3: DOES IT HELP YOU REACH THAT GOAL?
Now that you have a list of all your tasks, your next step is to write down WHY you do each one of these goals.
Why do you write two blog posts each week? Why not five? Why not one?
Why are you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest every day?
And as you are asking (and answering!) your why for each task, also ask yourself, “Does this task help me reach my goal?” Remember, you already have your goal written down. Look at it again:
Does writing two blog posts each week help you reach that $5,000-from-clients goal? Can you drop down to writing only one blog post a week? Or should you write more blog posts each week?
Does your video content lead to consultations more often than your written content does? If so, maybe you need to start doing more videos and less blog posts each week.
Do you get any clients from Twitter? If not, why are you still using Twitter? If yes, why aren’t you using it more?
Don’t skimp on this step. You owe it to yourself and to your goals to know if what you are doing is leading to your goals.
Every action you make either 1) moves you towards your goal or 2) does NOT move you towards your goal. (<<< tweet that!)
STEP 4: TAKE ACTION
Finally, take action on what you just discovered. Get rid of any tasks that you have just identified as not being productive so you have more time for the tasks that are productive.
Once a quarter (or at least twice a year), go through this process again:
1. Write down your goal.
2. Write down every task you do that relates to this goal.
3. Identify why you do each task and ask if each task truly does help you reach your goal.
4. Eliminate the tasks that do not and keep the ones that do.
Learning how to identify and understand your why is a huge step in my anti-procrastination course, Operation: Procrastination Shutdown. In addition to helping you understand your relationship with procrastination and helping you create an action plan to overcome your personal procrastination challenges, this course teaches you how to engage a productive creation process.
At the end of each day, you should be able to look back and say, “Yes, I worked towards my goal today. Yes, I am closer to accomplishing this goal today than I was yesterday.” And Operation: Procrastination Shutdown is the course that will make this happen for you.
So now when you hear the term, “Productivity,” does the question, “Why?” come to mind?