Do you have enough motivation to get things done and meet deadlines?
I find that my productivity waxes and wanes. There are times when I'm on fire, checking off lists right and left, then, I go through periods where the paper moves from one side of my desk to the other. As a Solopreneur, it can be particularly difficult because the only person you're accountable to is yourself.
Using your goals as guides can be helpful in creating your productivity plan.
Goals are important because they give us a sense of purpose. They also provide a clear path by which we can measure our success and progress. Without goals, it's easy to lose sight of what needs to be done and become overwhelmed with work or other tasks.
When we think about setting goals, we often think of major achievements - make $1 million by the end of next year, buy my dream home in 3 years, etc. While setting those goals may excite you at first, the act of trying to achieve them will likely create fear followed by procrastination. At some point, you may decide the goal is simply too big and abandon it altogether.
I've found that setting smaller near-term goals goes a long way towards achieving my bigger goals. Say your goal is to make $120k in one year. You might create an action plan as follows:
1. Set goals that excite you versus ones that you're afraid of failing at. Does making $120k excite you? Works for me!
2. Break your goal into smaller pieces. What can you achieve in a week, a month in 2 months?
If you want to make $120k in 12 months that's $10k/month:
How many clients do you need to have to get to $10k?
What do you need to charge each client?
How will you find the prospects?
How many prospects do you need to speak to before you land a client?
Now break each of these into even smaller pieces until you get to an action plan.
3. Set priorities - what is the most important task on your plate? In his book The One Thing, author Gary Keller asks the question “what is the one thing you need to do such that by doing it everything will be easier or unnecessary?”
In our example: what’s the one thing that I can do today to get to my goal of $10k this month such that by doing it, everything will be easier or unnecessary?
4. Share the goal publicly so there's accountability. Whether it’s sharing with a colleague or a friend or joining a group that you meet with regularly. Knowing that you will have to answer to someone (even if it’s really your own shame) helps you stay motivated towards completing your task.
5. Make a list of the tasks you intend to accomplish, ideally the night before. The list should be short (no more than 5 items, ideally no more than 3). Check off or cross out each item as you finish the task. Simply looking at the list with the tasks crossed out will give you a dopamine rush and motivate you to go on to the next task. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld said that when he was starting out his goal was to write 1 joke a day, no matter how good or bad. Each day he’d cross it off on his calendar. By looking at all the days he accomplished his goal, he was motivated to keep going.
6. Schedule your work time. There are many methods that you can use here, but the least intimidating is to simply block off ‘work time’ on your calendar each day and commit to working on your list during that time. You can get more granular within that period using methods such as the Pomodoro method where you work in 25- minute increments with a 5-minute break in between.
7. Start with the biggest task. In Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!, he suggests tackling the most difficult task first. This way, you won’t be facing the most dreaded to-do item at the end of the day and you’ll feel good about getting out of the way.
8. Give yourself rewards. I find when I’m hungry, I won’t let myself eat until I complete what I started. This gives me the motivation to get it done faster and then enjoy my meal or snack without thinking about the task I need to complete.
9. Remind yourself of a project you completed that you never thought you would. I recently took on podcast production for a big client. She was paying way too much to out-source and I was convinced I could do much more efficiently at much less cost. When we finally brought it in-house, I thought that there was a lot more to do than I originally imagined. I waited as long as I could to get started, dabbling in little pieces of it until I could no longer wait. Once I completed the first episode, the second wasn’t nearly as intimidating. I can now produce an episode in under an hour.
Being an Entrepreneur is hard enough without having to fight against burnout or lack of motivation. Implementing some tried and true strategies will surely help.
What are some of your tips to stay motivated and productive? Share them in the comments!
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