Running your own business is no easy task. It can take a lot out of you both mentally and physically. Day in day out, every waking moment is spent working on or thinking about what you could be (read: probably should be) doing to grow your business. But that’s the crux of the problem isn’t it? It’s literally impossible to be productive 100% of the time. Solving that problem would be the holy grail for entrepreneurs.
For the last week I’ve been doing some introspection and trying to increase my own productivity levels. Not an easy task to be objective with. One always feels like they are working hard, but its easy for self deception to rear its ugly head and convince you there isn’t room to improve. But that’s always false. No matter who you are, there’s always room to improve your productivity.
One problem is how we define productivity. For most people, productivity equates to quantity aka how many hours did you work? But that’s the wrong way to view it. You could spend all day on a task, but that doesn’t make it a task worth your time. When it comes to productivity, the quality of the task you choose to devote time to is just as important as how long you spend doing it.
Want an example? Well, lets take a look at this blog. If you follow me, you’ll know I make a lot of videos. In fact, I recently made a free course on Udemy about dividend growth investing. Early on, I figured the best thing to do would be devoting my time to learning about how Udemy worked, how other instructors formatted their classes and how I could provide a lot of value and create a great class. It took a lot of time, but by the end of it I had a clear vision for what this class would eventually look like. However, rather than just pulling the trigger and actually make the course, I kept researching and trying to perfect my vision. This, in the end, was a complete waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong, doing research before doing anything is a smart move. You should never jump in blind. But, as soon as you have a clear idea of what your end goal is, all the priorities change. Researching and preparing is no longer a valuable task to spend your time on. There’s diminishing returns on how much you are learning and how much value its really adding to your end goal. It’s during this shift in priorities that being able to pivot and refocus your attention is really important. Not reevaluating the tasks at hand and coming up with new priorities can lead to you beating a dead horse and, as a result, lower productivity levels.
In the end I probably wasted a solid day or two doing extra research. In retrospect I should have just started preparing the content and recording the videos. But alas, I failed to notice the drop in productivity and ended up having to release the class later than i wanted to. However, I’m glad I learned this lesson. Noticing faults, evaluating their effects and taking action to prevent them from being a detriment in the future is a beautiful thing.
So, whats the core lesson learned? What’s the takeaway? Well, it’s to simply not be stagnant with your tasks. Constantly be reevaluating where your time is best spent and shift your focus there. Never work on a task because you’re already working on it and never assume the task you are currently working on is the most important one. As with everything in life, doing work is constantly in flux. Compensate by constantly being in flux yourself. Jumping from task to task may seem a little OCD, but lets be honest, there aren’t many tasks that require you to just lock yourself in a room to complete. When those tasks do come along, by all means lock yourself away, but the rest of your time is a different story. Be dynamic with your schedule, your focus and, most important of all, your priorities. That alone can help you save countless hours and boost your productivity to new levels.
What do you guys think? Focus on one task at a time or constantly be evaluating?