What’s killing my productivity?

Many entrepreneurs set out to achieve their dreams with tireless effort and zeal; after a while, though, they often feel burned out and discouraged.

This is a shame, but it’s hardly surprising. Just think of the time, energy, sweat, and tears that go into trying to be successful. It’s beyond devastating when it seems like all that hard work isn’t paying off.

To avoid this kind of emotional setback, think about how you could become more efficient by working smarter, thereby enhancing productivity on a day-to-day basis.

To get you started, let’s highlight and discuss six common productivity-killers, along with suggestions you could implement immediately to make a profound and positive change.

1. Ambiguity. If you don’t have an absolutely clear sense of what you want, then how can you possibly determine what needs to happen next to get there? It’s impossible. What to do about it?

  • Work to define your vision, as well as your path to achieving it.
  • If you need help to do this, get it, whether it’s from a coach or a mentor. This part of your journey is that important.

2. Not following through. Promising you will do something to help your business grow (i.e., making sales calls) and following through with that promise are two very different actions that bear very different fruit. What to do about it?

  • Ask yourself a few questions before making promises: Does this fit into my larger game plan? Is this truly something I want to do? Can I make this a priority by doing it or delegating it?
  • If you can’t say yes to all 3, don’t make the commitment.

3. Disorganized time. Let’s face it, “time” is everything – and it’s how you choose to spend the hours in your day that matters, both in terms of happiness and productivity. If you use your time wisely, you can experience great success. If you don’t, well … you know what happens. What to do about it?

  • Create a master calendar – an overview of where you spend your time (making sure to include; biz, family, relationship, health (eating & exercising), spirituality, etc. Remember, your Master Calendar should include all the areas of your life that matter to you. This calendar will later be transferred into a working daily schedule that will include to-do’s and appointments that fall into your Master Calendar categories. It will also include transition, travel, alerts and prep time.
  • Create a daily, handwritten to-do list that includes all the things on your plate that need attention: projects, calls, etc. Prioritize the list by putting a “star” by  3 to 5 of the items you must get done today; and make sure to make time in your daily schedule to do these to-do’s during designated times.

Read: I’m Wishing For A 9 to 5 Right Now. How About You?

4. Distractions. You may have good intentions, big plans, and you may even schedule your time effectively; but if you get distracted and do something other than the “productive” actions that you set out to, then you won’t gain traction. Whether it’s busy-work, kids, calls, texts, or emails, distractions are just excuses and/or bad habits we allow into our space, sabotaging our ability to give our goals the attention they require. What to do about it?

  • Make a commitment to yourself that you will not allow distractions in. Period.
  • Block time in your daily calendar for things like email and phone calls, and commit to only doing those tasks, as much as possible, within that isolated timeframe.
  • Set up accountabilities with a coach or another person.

5. YES Syndrome. Do you have a hard time saying “no”? Overcommitting is one of the biggest barriers to success. Saying “yes” to everything is, in the end, equivalent to saying “yes” to nothing, because your energy’s thinly dispersed in too many places, again preventing you from gaining the traction you need to achieve success. What to do about it?

  • Break some commitments, NOW. Apologize, take responsibility, but do what you can to unload yourself.
  • Going forward, initiate the “24 Hour Rule” before saying “yes” to anything. And if you truly can’t be trusted in this area, don’t say “yes” to anything without running it by your coach.
  • Remember, saying “yes” when you truly can’t follow through only sets you up to disappoint others, which is never good for business.

6. Low Energy. If you’re exhausted and don’t have the energy to GO GO GO, then you won’t – and everything will suffer. What to do?

  • Mini-meals – Throughout the day, eat 5 to 6 small “energy” meals that won’t bog your system down.
  • Mini-moves – Throughout the day, do three 5-minute bursts of exercise.
  • Guided meditation – At the end of your day, do a guided meditation before bed to let go of the day’s stresses, and to recalibrate your commitment and beliefs.
  • Prioritize getting a solid night’s sleep every night, even if it means sacrificing a bit of “down time.” We shortchange our health and our professional capacity when we’re running on fumes.

FINAL THOUGHT: As an entrepreneur, you’re already, by necessity, working hard to get your business off the ground, but the real trick is being thoughtful about how you both maintain your energy and go about getting daily tasks done. Although maximizing your productivity may seem like yet another annoying thing to worry about, avoiding the issue could potentially drive your business into the ground. It’s true that many of us don’t feel ourselves to be “natural” organizers, and, let’s face it, breaking old (bad) work habits and routines can be challenging; but making a sustained effort to increase productivity could be the difference between your vision’s failure or success.

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