What’s up my friends?!
Travis here and I wanted to share something with you that has made my life more productive these past few weeks.
And isn’t that what we all really want?
To be more productive, to know at the end of the day we actually did something that got us one step closer to our desired outcome?
Over the years I’ve made an important realization that being busy is not the same as being productive.
The problem lies in that we can get this false sense of accomplishment when we are “busy.”
I’ll scratch 15 things off my to-do list and all of a sudden I feel like a million bucks!
Except there’s one big problem:
All those tasks didn’t get me one step closer to my goal.
Task lists can be like a rocking chair. They give you something to do, but don’t really get you anywhere.
I used to manage a retail store in another city. When I’d call and check on how things were going, my employee would respond with, “Oh man, just busy, busy, busy!”
Eventually, I got tired of hearing that and said, “I don’t need to know that you’re busy, we’re all busy, I need to know if you were productive. Did you make us any money today? Did you get new clients? Did our business increase today because of the efforts you put forth?”
That’s what matters – growth, increase, progress…
Now, don’t get me wrong, tasks are important and must be done. But in an effort to avoid the false sense of accomplishment trap, I came up with a new technique:
Advances vs. Tasks
It’s simple really. I draw a line down the middle of my to-do list and label one side “Advances” and the other side “Tasks.”
And yes, I still use pen and paper.
Now, as entrepreneurs our time is extremely valuable. We have to become masters of our time and be very selective on where we invest it.
I want to invest in things that “move the needle” in my life. I don’t want to just tread water, I want to be Michael Phelps!
So I want you to take out a piece of paper like mine and follow these steps:
1. Draw a line down the middle and label the left side “advances” and the right side “tasks.”
2. Now go over to the tasks side and write down all the things you MUST do today.
Things like pay bills, email someone, send an encouraging text, buy groceries, make a phone call etc…
Couple of key points:
3. I group my tasks based off my businesses. I have three major businesses I focus on during the day and I try to keep all those together.
4. Here’s another biggie: Do your list in order.
Most people say you should do your hard tasks first and get them out of the way. I find it’s best if I just plow through the list, big or small, easy or hard. Just get laser-focused and go down the list. Even if the order could have been more streamlined, don’t care, just get them done.
5. Now hop over to the “advances” side and write down the things that actually move your business forward.
For me, it’s things like creating and running new Facebook ads, watching videos that teach me SEO, welcoming new members to the Escape Your Day Job course and community (which we now have new members joining each and every day!) building out a website, writing a blog post, recording a podcast, writing this email right here!
For you, it could be things like reading blog posts on how to start your side business, watching videos on how to build your own website, sending an email to a potential product supplier, learning how to build out your email list. Things that help get you one step closer to escaping your day job.
These are usually things that require creativity or learning something new that will help move my business forward.
Now here’s the number 1 tip that has taken my productivity to the next level:
Do the ADVANCES first!
I’ve always thought it was best to get all the tasks done first, that way you can feel free to concentrate on the creative, “needle moving” stuff afterwards.
But here’s why that approach doesn’t work as well: Inevitably when you start on your task side, the task list grows. You think of new things or finishing one causes you to add another…
By the time you’re done, your brain is fried!
All your creative, money-making brain energy is gone!
This has happened to me time and time again.
I know that writing blog posts, creating lessons and videos to help people Escape Their Day Jobs is what moves my business (and my income) forward.
But by the time I’m done with my tasks I may not have anything left in the tank.
Doesn’t it make sense to do the MOST IMPORTANT, the most productive, the most ground-taking activities when your brain is fresh, excited and motivated?
Of course it does!
I like to give myself 3-4 hours in the morning to work on my Advances. Then I take a break, have lunch with the fam, get out of the house for a bit, and then at 2pm or so, get after my tasks.
I’ve found that time management has been one of the most important lessons I’ve ever had to learn. It’s what helped me launch my businesses while I was still working a day job, and it’s what helps me keep taking new ground day after day.
I remember when I first escaped my day job, I fought feelings of worthlessness, I felt guilty for wasting the day, I questioned if I was being lazy, once I even thought maybe I should got back to my old day job, at least that way I’d know for sure I was making money everyday…
It’s not that I wasn’t doing things, I was busy, but I wasn’t productive.
Not that I have it perfected, and I’m always looking to improve, but learning to master my time has changed everything for me.
When my head hits the pillow at the end of the day, I have a sweet sigh of joy knowing that today I got one step closer.
I’m reminded of Psalms 90:12. David is talking to the Lord and says, “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.”
What are some of your productivity hacks that help you?
I’ve opened up the comments below, so let me know your best tips and strategies – I promise to read every single one of them!