If you’re running from one thing to the next without a moment to be still, this article is going to outline exactly how to be more productive and feel less busy and it’s especially helpful for entrepreneurs. If you’re been looking up how to be more productive in life and business and the same old productivity tips aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to look a layer deeper so you can dodge the busy epidemic and create more ease in your life and business.
So many of the ambitious entrepreneurs ask me how to be more productive because they never feel like it’s enough:
- There is not enough time to get through all the things they want to get through
- They’re not being productive enough
- Their business is not growing fast enough
And this is exactly the kind of hustle I’m here to help you overcome.
Because I believe creating success in your business can actually feel good instead of busy. In fact, I believe feeling good is actually the key to creating even more success than your brain thinks is possible.
You’ll walk away from this article understanding exactly
- 10 key signs that you’re living in a self induced state of time famine
- The reason why you’ll always wonder how to be more productive
- Why your definition of ‘work’ is outdated & how to shift it
- The mindset shifts you must adopt if you’re going to be a successful and fulfilled CEO
- 5 practical steps you can take to create more ease and less urgency in your business
For those of you that love to check things off & reinforce your self worth by being hyper productive and never missing a deadline, you’re in for a real treat… this is not your typical ‘10 tips on how to be more productive’ article.
10 signs you’re living in a self induced state of time famine
- If you think “there are so many things on my to do list, I don’t even know where to start”
- If you feel overwhelmed just thinking about what you have to get done today
- If you are always hurrying from one thing to the next without pausing to catch your breath
- If you don’t remember the last time you just sat still and did nothing
- If your response to “how are you?” is “I’m so busy”
- If you think “there are not enough hours in a day”
- If you wish you could make time for more fun in your life and business but you’ve convinced yourself you have to make it through your to do list first (and never do)
- If your brain never stops thinking about your business or going over all the things you need to get done across all your other responsibilities
- If you feel guilty taking time doing fun or “unproductive” things when your to do list isn’t done
- If you always try to get your inbox to zero and feel stressed when there are unread emails in there
Then it’s safe to say you’re currently living in a self induced state of time famine and it’s time to snap out of it.
In fact, it’s not only safe but extremely important to become aware that you’re living in a continuous state of time famine so that you can start to shift the way you’re living and run your business from a place of ease.
Let me show you how.
The reason why you’ll never feel like you’re doing enough and always wonder how to be more productive
The elephant in the room of every conversation around how to be more productive is that it’s never going to feel like enough.
No matter how many productivity tips, tricks, hacks, or habit changes you try to “be more productive” you still won’t feel productive enough.
And that’s not because you’re being inefficient, lazy, or greedy.
The reason you’ve gotten to this level of success is because you’re always trying to accomplish more and be more productive.
And because of this, it’s wildly critical to remember that there is not a point where you’re going to check “more” off the list.
As soon as you achieve it, you’re going to replace it with… you guessed it… more.
If you’re anything like myself, or the ambitious entrepreneurs I work with, I’m willing to be there’s not a point where you will sit back, relax, and say “you know what? My business has grown enough”, brush your hands off, lean back, and never set another goal.
It’s just not going to happen. And that’s okay.
Knowing this about yourself is so empowering, because then you can detach from the belief that there is an end state that will make you happy, and lean into the belief that you will only and ever feel as happy as you do right now.
A million dollars won’t make you happier.
An empty to-do list won’t make you happier.
Doubling your revenue won’t make you happier.
So it’s time to stop hinging your happiness on your ability to achieve some outcome (when my business hits its goals) or external circumstances (when my to do list is completed) and start building happiness into the way you’re running your business today.
By the way, if you’re an ambitious entrepreneur growing your business to the next level, I’ve created the best goal setting & reflection workbook on the internet, for only $7!
Click the link to access it now! It walks you through the entire process of reflecting on what you actually want to achieve in your life and business and how to set goals that will fulfill you long term. Loved by hundreds of people, I think it will make an impact on you too!
Your thoughts don’t represent reality
You have to get really good at distrusting your own thoughts and feelings. Because they will take you on a wild goose chase if you let them.
When we start to believe that just because we think we’re not being productive enough, or we feel like we’re behind in business, that means it’s true… we’re in trouble.
If you’re currently experiencing the almost universal entrepreneurship struggle for more… whatever that looks like for you, whether it’s:
- My business isn’t growing fast enough
- My strategy isn’t working fast enough
- I’m not getting enough done in a day
- (or all of the above)
Just remember that those thoughts mean nothing about your actual reality.
Related Post: How To Be Happier With Mindfulness
What I hear most often on coaching calls with my entrepreneur clients is “I feel like it’s not working” and what I hear most often when we reflect on their year is “I can’t believe how fast everything happened.”
That’s just the way it is.
So, if you’re reading this article because you thought it would give you the secret sauce to becoming a superhuman robot that can be 100% efficient and productive all hours of the day, I’ve got something even better for you…
The reminder that it can feel like it’s happening too slowly or like nothing is working even while you stand on the brink of success.
The first step to becoming more productive is recognizing you will never feel productive enough and acknowledging that it means nothing about how productive you actually are.
Why your definition of ‘work’ is outdated & how to be more productive by shifting it
The second step to becoming more productive is looking at what you’re defining as productive.
What does “work” look like to you?
Most of us have been shaped by the industrial revolution where humans are cogs in a system of mass efficiency and productivity.
To most people, work looks like getting sh*t done. Physically. And a lot of it.
Work means producing something (whether that’s in a literal plant/factory, or producing lots of check marks on your to-do list / emails in your inbox).
The industrial revolution, coupled with how most corporations are set up, has taught us that our “value” comes from the amount of hours we spend getting things done.
Our mental framework for how to be more productive looks like is “tasks and lists and hours worked.”
So what happens when you shift from being an employee to running your own company?
That reference point for what “good, productive work” looks like screws you over.
When you become the CEO, you’re no longer the employee.
You’re responsible for the vision and direction of the company, and it’s not found in answering emails or checking boxes on your to do list.
Related Post: How to Do a Life Audit | Ultimate Guide 2023
Sure, you still have to do things in your business, but most new CEOs haven’t found the right balance. They spend much more time in the weeds of their business than they do thinking high level, strategizing, and leading.
Because your definition of work is outdated.
Pop quiz: which of these sounds like the most productive thing you could do in your business today?
- Taking time out of your day to sit with your whiteboard and your sticky notes and vision what you want the next 1-3 years of your business to look like
- Going for a 90 minute hike in the middle of the work day to come up with creative ideas to capitalize on a unique opportunity
- Unplugging completely from your business so that you have the energy to show up for it the next day
- Answering all your emails
Answer? Anything but #4.
Yet when’s the last time you did the first 3 things?
The things that seem unproductive are the very things that will move your business forward the most…
but because your definition of work was shaped by an industrial & employee based society, those things usually get bumped down the list in favor of more urgent or more tangible “priorities.”
So, the single most important thing you can do right now is to shift your definition of what qualifies as “productive work” if you’re the CEO of your business.
Ask yourself: what are the things that truly drive my business forward? What do I need to be able to execute on those things?
If you’re scaling your business to the million dollar mark, perhaps you need a strategic plan for how to get there, an organized office from which to do focused work that doesn’t make you cringe, and enough sleep the night before to have the energy to show up for your business. But if you’re too busy scouring LinkedIn for potential leads with no real strategy, in an office that looks like a hurricane swept through it, in the wee hours of the night when you should be in bed… you’re not going to succeed.
If you’re a new entrepreneur trying to get your first paying clients online, perhaps you need to take a few hours to think about your messaging and how you’re positioning yourself as an expert online. But if you’re too busy scrolling through Instagram commenting & liking people’s posts, and writing social content last minute, to ever think about your messaging, you’re not going to get the great results you want as fast as you want them.
Getting clear on what important work looks like in your business is critical to focusing on the right things each week.
If you don’t know what those things are, apply for a free 1:1 strategy call and I’ll help you articulate the 3 things you need to be focused on to hit your business goals this year.
Redefining how to be more productive & shifting what a productive week looks & feels like
Are you measuring a successful week by how many things you checked off your to do list?
Let me be the one to tell you that the shift to becoming a CEO means that you will never, EVER, have a to do list that’s completed.
In what world do you see successful CEOs walking around with nothing on their plate and nothing on their to do list? It’s just not a thing. Ever.
You will always, for the rest of your life, have things you want to do more of.
And you won’t be able to get to them all.
Accepting this and truly being okay with having a never ending to do list (and not making that mean anything about you and how successful or productive you are) is the very first step.
It’s time to redefine how you’re measuring a successful week.
Ask yourself, If I’m in alignment with my values, what does a successful week look like?
For me it’s, “I did one important thing to move my business forward, I served my clients to the best of my ability, I took care of my mind, body, and soul, and I felt joy and ease in the process.”
If your current definition of a successful week mentions getting through your to do list, or your emails, or returning everyone’s phone calls, it’s time to scrap it.
Related post: Redefining Success as an Entrepreneur
5 tips to be more productive and feel less busy in your business
If you want to be more productive and feel less busy, you have to shift your mindset around productivity, ease, and success.
Shift your mindset around productivity
If you don’t get through the things you wanted to get done today, what are you making it mean about yourself? What are you making it mean about your business?
Are you beating yourself up and calling yourself lazy? Are you deciding it means your business will never reach the level you want it to be at?
Really look at the thoughts that are going through your head when you’re not feeling as productive as you want to be.
Do those thoughts help you move your business forward in a way that feels good? Or are they making the whole process a grind? If so, it’s time to shift them.
Every time you catch yourself feeling unproductive and thinking negative thoughts about how much you’re getting done in your business, try these thoughts on for size instead:
- I have all of the time in the world (quite literally).
- There is more than enough time.
- It can wait. Nothing is ever urgent in my business.
- [X thing that I keep putting off because it feels too easy or fun] is the most important thing I could be doing in my business right now.
- It can be easy and important
Most of us don’t think the “easy” tasks are as important as the hard ones.
But in reality, the “easy” tasks are only easy to you because they fall within your superpowers. Which you should be spending most of your day using!! Because you get MORE done in LESS time.
That’s literally the answer to all of your productivity woes and yet most people spend all day avoiding what feels easy to them…
Intentionally celebrate your progress
If you have ambitious goals, it’s easy to always feel like you’re “behind” or “not there yet.”
If you want to experience more ease and enjoyment in your business, you have to intentionally focus on celebrating how far you’ve come, not how far you have yet to go.
Dan Sullivan calls this the gap and the gain. Gap-thinking is focusing your thoughts on the “gap” between where you are now and where you want to be. Gain-thinking is focusing on how far you’ve come, or the “gains” you’ve made.
Gap-thinking has detrimental effects on your happiness, self esteem, physical and mental wellbeing. Focusing on the gains you’ve made is by far the most effective way to create the energy and motivation to continue achieving great things.
I challenge you to start celebrating all of your progress (from the biggest contract you ever landed, to the fact that you finally organized your desk) and measuring your success by how far you’ve come, not how far you have yet to go.
Grab a new notebook, open the first page, and write down every single thing you can celebrate about today. Then do it again tomorrow. It will change your life.
Related Post: How To Recommit To Your Goals
Give yourself permission to do what you want
Most of my clients don’t need help with getting more done, and I’m willing to bet you don’t either. You’re already taking massive action in your business.
You need to practice doing less but more important work.
You need to practice taking a break and prioritizing rest when you feel the pressure to get more done.
You need to practice stepping into the CEO role and leading your business instead of letting your to do lists lead you.
Your business won’t fall apart because you took 3 hours today to reorganize your office, put up your whiteboard, and map out the strategy to hit your 12 month goals.
But it will fall apart if you never spend time in your office because it’s a disaster, or you have no place to put your thoughts & great ideas, or you never have a clear direction for where to spend your time and energy.
Trusting yourself to focus on the right things in your business and giving yourself permission to do more of what you want in your day instead of more of what you feel like you should do is the fastest path to not only accomplishing more, but feeling good in the process of doing so.
I challenge you to leave an afternoon or a whole day empty in your calendar and go do whatever the f you want with that time. You’ll be surprised by the creativity and energy and impact that blank slate creates.
Spend as much time as possible leveraging your superpowers
I’m willing to bet you didn’t become an entrepreneur because it was on your to do list. I’m guessing you became an entrepreneur because you had a vision. An idea. A different way of looking at things. You imagined a different life for yourself and created a vision around how you could make an impact on your niche. You literally built this entire business out of nothing but a thought.
How often are you giving yourself permission, time, and space to think these days?
When’s the last time you unplugged from your business for an entire work day (no emails, no cell phone) and just thought about the direction you were heading in and how you want that journey to look?
When’s the last time you booked a retreat for entrepreneurs to get away and think high level about your business?
The irony is that what makes you a successful entrepreneur is your ability to think big picture and envision creative ways of doing things,
And that’s the very thing you aren’t giving yourself permission to do.
I dare you to ask yourself, what is your superpower?
(What is the thing that you’re exceptional at, that you LOVE doing, that you could do all day long, that people count on you for?)
Related Post: How To Build Self Discipline To Achieve Goals
Once you’ve got that nailed down, ask yourself, what percentage of your work day is spent leveraging your super power?
If your superpower is strategic thinking, how much of your role is actually spent doing that?
If it’s idea generation, how much of your time do you spend generating ideas?
If it’s creating new ways of doing things, what percentage of your week is spent in the creative process?
The thing that’s going to take your business to the next level is using your superpowers to do what you do best.
That might mean you have to delegate 80% of your current work day, you might have to hire more team, you might have to set up more automations to optimize your processes… there may be many foundations you need to lay to free up your day…
But as a CEO, your goal should always be to spend the majority of your work week leveraging your superpowers and leaving the rest to someone else.
This becomes especially difficult as you scale. There are lots of “fires” to fight. Problems to solve. Emails to check. To dos to do.
But the thing that can’t be compromised in the midst of it all, is your ability to lead your business in the direction you want it to go in, using your unique superpowers.
My challenge to you is to start blocking out time each day to do what you do best. And if you want to take it one step further, make a list of all the things you do NOT want to be doing in your business, and hire someone who does.
Prioritize the things that give you energy
Each and every one of the private entrepreneur coaching clients I work with has a list of High Performance Habits we’ve identified that give them the energy to do their best work. For some it’s playing piano, meditating, and getting out for a walk. For others it’s planning their week, working out, and journaling. Regardless of the specific tasks themselves, each and every one of us has 3-5 key things that make us feel our best, and when we start to sacrifice these things in the service of “productivity”, we end up doing ourselves a great disservice.
Identify what your 3-5 high performance habits are and make them non negotiable in your day.
I’ll tell you mine
- Mindset journaling before I start my work day
- 60-90 min hike in the woods with my pup at lunch time
- 30 min strength training workout when I wake up
- 10 min meditation before ending my work day
- A sticky note with my top 3 priorities for the day
I do these things daily, without fail, and it skyrockets my ability to succeed and feel good in the process.
When I start to sacrifice these things to the thought “I’m too busy”, my energy levels go down, my productivity levels go down, the quality of my work goes down, and my happiness levels drop significantly.
I challenge you to spend 7 consecutive days devoted to your high performance habits. You’ll notice an immediate impact.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have enough time. It’s much more rewarding to go about your day with the feeling that everything is proceeding exactly as it should.
Sure, there are productivity tips that can help you get yourself organized, and I’ll be sharing some of those in my next blog post.
But you can implement all the productivity hacks in the world and still feel unproductive if you believe your self worth is a reflection of how much you accomplish and if you haven’t done the mindset work to be okay with leaving things unfinished.
As a recovering perfectionist and all time high achiever, this has been a lot of the inner work I’ve had to do as I transitioned from the corporate world to running my own thriving business and living a fulfilling life.
I hope this article has helped you see that ‘how to be more productive’ is not the right question to be asking, and instead shown you how you can start to create more ease in your business.
If you’d like to take your business to the next level, I’d love to support you. As an entrepreneur coach, I help my clients get crystal clear on where to focus to create the business results they desire while living fulfilling lives. Whether you’re just launching your first online business or you’re scaling an established business to the million dollar mark and beyond, I’d love to offer you a free discovery call to see whether we’d be a good fit.