Productivity Be Damned: Be More Effective
I’ve begun changing my phrasing and my way of thinking about getting things done in my entrepreneurial endeavors. Why? Because, sure I want to be productive. But what does that mean? I could productively bake cookies or write ten blog posts or spend time on social media for my clients, BUT am I being effective? Am I writing blog posts that will garner me and my clients new business? Does anyone need or want the cookies I baked? When I am on social media am I finding, connecting and sharing information for my business and my client’s business that will help them grow? Maybe. Maybe not.
How can you be more effective?
Know what the final goal is.
You might be thinking, or saying, “duh!” But I work with clients who sometimes don’t know what the final goal is other than, “I want more clients” or “I need to get more done.” Those are vague phrases and without having a definite, “I want to get five more clients in August” or “I need to write five more blog posts per month” you will be skating along but not reaching the finish line.
Develop a timeline.
If you are vague, “I want to write a book” you will never write that book. Why? Because you didn’t say, “I want to write a book by the end of 2016.” Viola — you’ve set a timeline and now have an accountability to yourself.
Develop milestones & set deadlines.
Let’s go back to our “I want to write a book by the end of 2016.” Chances are you won’t write the entire book in one sitting, am I right? Set milestones.
- I will have my chapters developed by the end of August
- I will have an outline of what will be in each chapter by mid-October
- I will write one chapter a week beginning mid-October
Without milestones, it’s easy to get off track. Without milestones, it’s easy to procrastinate your project because you will inevitably look at it as something you need to tackle as an entire chunk. Break it down into bite-sized chunks.
You’re not perfect!
Gasp! There’s I’ve said it! I have to remind myself that I am not perfect, either (don’t tell my family!). There are blog posts I’ve written that I have gone back and re-read and realize there is a huge, screaming typo! Wow, that’s more than a little embarrassing. What do I do when I see the typo? Swear a bit then fix it. I’m human, after all. I do know, too, that perfection may stop you from pursuing your dreams. I urge you to just do it. Done is better than perfect — especially if you’re pursuing a dream of being a solopreneur.
You are where you work.
A friend posted a note on Facebook that noted a clean desk is the sign of a boring mind. Well, I must be the most boring individual around. My desk is NEAT! There are times during the day that papers and notebooks and pens get scattered, but they are picked up and taken care of before the day ends. I start each day with a clean slate. Even my computer desktop is neatly organized. Clutter makes me panicky. I don’t work well in it so I have to eliminate it.
Get by with a little help from your friends.
I am an ambivert by nature which means I get energized by being with people… for a short time… then I need to get away and recharge my emotional batteries. I know that it would be very easy for me to just stay home with the dogs and cats and never leave the house. I know that isn’t healthy and that it won’t help me grow my business. I set up coffee dates with friends. I attend networking events. I go to conferences. To be an effective solopreneur, you need to connect face-to-face at times.
Be willing to let go.
Prior to my breast cancer diagnosis my work calendar was so jam-packed that a phone call that went over by even five minutes would throw the entire day off. I worked six or seven days a week, sometimes 16 hours a day. I was, frankly, killing myself. Bam! Breast cancer diagnosis and all of a sudden my schedule became whatever schedule my surgeons and my oncologists set for me. It was out of my control. I cried a lot. I held on for all I was worth then decided I had two choices: keep up with my schedule or beat breast cancer. Well, I wanted to beat cancer, of course.
I learned to work (cliche alert) smarter, not harder. I got more done in fewer hours and picked up more clients. What?! It’s true. Ask me how I did it. I’d be happy to share!
Find an accountability partner.
Is there an entrepreneur with whom you’d love to connect and work more closely with? Ask him or her if being an accountability partner is something he or she would consider. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it can truly hold you to task. I have an accountability partner. We get on the phone about once a week, talk about our successes and our losses and we set goals for the upcoming week. Knowing that someone is “out there” waiting to hear you report back just might help you become more effective.
Celebrate your wins.
If you don’t celebrate you, who will? Call a friend. Dance around the room. Eat ice cream! However you want to celebrate a win, do it!
Do you need help becoming more effective? Is productivity your friend or your nemesis? Ask me how to conquer the overwhelm.