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December 08, 2014

Feeling Unproductive? Follow These Steps

Ever have those days when you know you have a lot to do but you feel like you’re going around in circles? My personal un-productivity circle looks something like this: check email, check Facebook page, check Twitter, check Google Analytics, check personal Facebook…..repeat. I’m usually hoping that there will be an email, post or sign that tells me what I should work on, helping me avoid the tasks I know are important. Procrastination is always at the root of unproductive days for me but here’s a quick and easy way to dive right in and get what needs to be done, done.

1) What is currently on your to-do list? Making a list gets all my cluttered thoughts down on paper. If you’re feeling stuck and you’re really not sure what you need to do today, write down the areas you’re feeling stuck in and why. We tend to make excuses up as to why we can’t work on a task but when we’re forced to really explain why we can’t move forward, the reason ends up being just that; an excuse. 

Write down why you can’t (or why you think you can’t) work on a certain area of your business and ask yourself if it’s really true. Feel like you can’t market your business because it’s not 100% perfect? Is that true? Does your product or service need to be in its absolute completed form before you can start sharing or selling it? Probably not. If it really is in a state that you can’t start sharing with consumers, then what can you do now to get set up for when it is? 

Don’t let the areas you’re feeling hung up on, stop you from moving forward. Determine what the issues are and what steps you need to take to rectify them. These may make up your to-do list for the day.

2) If you could only complete 1 task and 1 task only, which one would you feel good about completing? This will make you really think about what’s important. We all have never ending to-do lists but the fact is that only a fraction of those tasks are truly important to the growth and success of our business. When you cut through the clutter and define what is crucial and what is just I-should-do-this-because-I-read-it’s-important, you get done what needs to be done and you stop stressing about the little stuff. 

We’ve all heard that we should be posting to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr…the list goes on. We should be blogging, networking, putting on contests to build brand awareness, etc. But do you have time for those things and do they benefit your business? Don’t just follow the crowds. Test things out, determine what works for you, focus on those tasks and don’t stress about the rest.

3) How much time do you really need? Remember when you were in school and you were given 3 weeks to complete a project? 3 weeks?! That must mean I have to put 3 weeks worth of time into it. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t. You got started on it right away, scratched the surface, felt pretty good, then you left the other 90% of work until the day before and were up until 4 a.m swearing to yourself that you would never leave another project to the last minute. But you got it done. Or what about when you’re getting ready to leave for a long weekend and your boss tells you what needs to be done before you can punch out. Bet you didn’t even realize you could get work done that fast! 

When it’s crunch time, we put our heads down and do the work that needs to be done. It doesn’t matter if we were given 3 weeks or a month to complete it; you find a way to get it done in a fraction of that time. Give yourself a time limit that pushes you and stick to it. Set a timer and don’t look up until you’ve completed your task or the alarm goes off.

If you like these concepts, you may be interested in the book; The 4-hour Work Week. It goes into greater detail about how you can cut back on your work hours and spend less time in the office.

Image courtesySicha Pongjivanich/

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