What are the most productive actions in your business?
Checking off more items on your to-do list? Working longer hours? Getting another certification? Trying to perfect your website?
These can feel productive… however, it is an illusion most of the time, as you spend another week / month / year not experiencing your true livelihood.
Besides having a “to do” list, you may want to define a TO-DROP list as well.
Otherwise you might be doing busy work that feels like movement, but isn’t really helping your business.
Here is how I define “true productivity” in business:
Valuable interaction with the people your business can best serve, that inspires their reciprocity.
It’s being in touch with your market, rather than being in your own head.
You’ll know that it’s valuable interaction, and an ideal audience, if it inspires reciprocity of some kind (likes, comments, shares, inquiries, purchases.) If that activity doesn’t inspire your some reciprocity from your audience, you should question that activity.
Who are the people your business can best serve?
- Current clients
- Ideal prospective clients
- Ideal former clients
- Current referral sources
- Former referral sources
- Ideal potential referral sources
- The evangelists (biggest fans) of your content
If your workday doesn’t include being in contact with one of more of these people, you might want to question how you are spending your working time.
The interaction needs to be considered “valuable” by the recipient, and also brings value in some way to your business, at least in the long-term. I’ll share examples from my own list:
My Truly Productive TO-DO List
- Creating and posting/publishing content for ideal audience (not spending too much time perfecting it)
- Paid advertising for my content (e.g. Facebook Ads, Google Ads)
- Engaging on the meaningful comments left on my posts
- Contacting fans or colleagues about doing a market research conversation
- Getting feedback from my audience (e.g. Facebook) about my offering (e.g. the draft of a sales page.)
- Announcing my next event / workshop / course
- Paid advertising for my offering
- Posting reminders about my offering (course, program, service, or invitation to exploratory call)
- Reaching out to prospective clients to offer an exploratory call or sample session
- Contacting current clients to schedule the next session(s) if needed
- Thoughtfully connecting with previous clients I’ve enjoyed working with
- Getting feedback from my clients about how to improve my services
- Reaching out to referral partners to schedule a mutual support networking call
- Preparing for client meeting or my event (not perfection… just enough prep)
- Being truly present in meetings with clients, students, colleagues
- Sending an email newsletter to my subscribers
- Writing a book / course, on a schedule, so that I publish rather than perfect
- Implementing a course or article that helps me do one of the above.
- Asking a question on social media or in a group, that will help me get unstuck on doing any of the above
- Getting 1–1 coaching/consulting to help me do one of the above
- Eliminating or Delegating as much of everything else as possible
- Interspersing various forms of self-care as needed throughout my work day, e.g. naps, walks, meals, meditation / energy reboot, etc. See Chapter 18: “Frequent Creative Rest”.
The above 22 actions are what I spend my working days on.
This is how I stay truly productive.
The following are the tempting items that seem productive but need to be continually questioned if it’s happening during working hours…
Questionable TO-DROP List
- Doing small tweaks to try to perfect your website even more. (I only make changes to my website to correct errors, or to add in new content that I’m certain I want to keep on my website for at least 3 months or more.)
- Working on a future event, program, service, course, or book — if it isn’t already announced (versus announcing it, therefore giving you a deadline to work on it more efficiently)
- Reading articles, books, unless you are implementing as you read (otherwise I do it in my free time)
- Watching videos unless you are implementing as you watch (otherwise I do it in my free time)
- Listening to podcasts (I do this in my free time, not working hours)
- Getting training, unless you also have time scheduled to implement that training
- Getting another certification because it “might” help your marketing, or might help you feel more credible
- Updating your social media profile “about” sections (I do this maybe once a year)
- Reading or commenting in groups, unless I’m actively getting help. (After posting my question, I try to be a good group citizen and comment on two other threads to help out, but I don’t just “hang out” in the group.)
- Researching on the internet, google searches, on anything for more than 5 minutes, unless I’m implementing in the moment. Otherwise, I do curiosity research in my free time.
- Any kind of planning, plotting, preparing, unless it is directly related to a Truly Productive action that is scheduled and ideally, announced to my audience so that I have a true deadline rather than the danger of eternal preparation.
In summary, I minimize the work that I do in isolation. During working hours, whenever possible, always be getting feedback from the market or being in valuable contact with your ideal audience — via content, offerings, or conversations.
I encourage you to write down your own lists:
Truly Productive TO-DO List
Questionable TO-DROP List
Borrow from my lists above if you’d like!
Feel free to copy/paste your lists as a comment below this FB video if you want my feedback.
Wishing you joyful — and true — productivity!
This has been a chapter from the book Joyful Productivity — A Solopreneur’s Guide to Creativity and Well-Being
Originally published at www.georgekao.com.