“Being productive and being busy are not necessarily the same thing. Doing things won’t create your success; doing the right things will.” - Jeff Olson
Prioritising work so the focus and time spent is on the important things seems to be a common challenge for business owners. Many business owners that I have spoken to, feel absolutely overwhelmed. The one thing they all have in common is “too much to do, too little time to do it.” Sadly, when that’s the case, they can end up working on all the little things that go nowhere, or letting interruptions rule their lives, then they wonder why they aren’t progressing.
The quote by Jeff Olson sums it all up really well, it’s not about how busy we are, it’s about how we are spending our time. We can feel super busy tackling that big email list, but is any of that heading us closer to our vision of a brilliant and successful business? Probably not!
Don't work on the small, trivial stuff
Every time we do a big list of “things to do” and work on all the small, trivial stuff that we are comfortable with, we are in fact sabotaging ourselves. Why on earth would we do that? Why would we stop ourselves from achieving the things we want to achieve?
There are lots and lots of reasons for this, it will vary from one person to the next. What is mostly behind it is fear – it may be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of getting it wrong, not being good enough etc. Another big reason is perfectionism, which also usually stems from a feeling of not being good enough. Whenever we ignore our fears or pretend they don’t exist, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Running a business requires fortitude, perseverance and drive. If we let our fears get in the way of that, we won’t be able to achieve our business goals and ironically, end up feeling even less good about ourselves than before we started.
Recognising these fears and where they have come from, is the first step. Then making changes is the next step. As Tony Robbins says, “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we’ve always got.” If we want things to be different, we have to be different.
So, if your productivity is not what it should be, ask yourself:
- What needs to change?
- What do you need to do more off, less off, start doing, stop doing or do completely differently?
- Do you have a big “to do” list every day and only ever get the “small” stuff out of the way, and start the next day with an even bigger list? That just leads to overwhelm, burn out and a feeling of failure.
One tip I have for you is to look at your list and work out which things on it are really important, mark off the first 3 and do them first or at least do them at a time when you are at your most productive. The really important things, will be “big picture” tasks. They will be things that help you achieve your vision for the business.
These really important tasks are listed in the Steve Covey ‘Urgent/Important Matrix’. This matrix helps to clarify things like planning, preparation, goal setting, building relationships. These are all things that will progress the business, as opposed to being at everyone’s beck and call and/or getting bogged down in operational matters that ideally should be delegated.
Prioritising your “to do list” and blocking out time for the important tasks, will get your business moving forward, and keeping the trivia to the bottom of the list is going to get you where you want to go.
Hope you have a brilliant week and manage to make some changes to make it a super productive week! Click here to contact me if you want to provide some feedback on this framework or ask anything about it.
This blog is written by Jann Meehan, who is a business coach at The Icehouse. Jann works with her clients to see "the big picture", finds strategies for business growth.