One question I hear a lot is, “Mark, how do you stay so productive?”
I’ve not always been productive, in fact even now I need to focus on being productive when I am at my desk or nothing will get done. To be honest, productivity growth has been a long and sometimes difficult road for me, but I feel I have finally mastered it.
Many times I've sat at my desk with the best of intentions only to spend the next 4 hours disappearing down the rabbit hole that is Facebook and social media in general. All along I knew that if I wanted to grow and scale my business, I needed to focus on the important tasks and get them done.
It's no secret that I like to spend time on the golf course or chilling in one of the local beach clubs or traveling to far flung places. None of these are particularly cheap hobbies so when I am at my desk, productivity has to be my #1 aim. If things don't get done, I won't be playing golf at Valderrama next month or taking that trip to Cancun next year.
Over the years, I’ve managed to become far more productive than I used to be. I have found that keeping things as simple as possible is the key. Here are some of the methods and tricks I use to stay productive.
Prioritize Your Tasks
Identifying what that 20% is, is crucial to your productivity. If you focus on the wrong stuff you are wasting valuable time.
Knowing which 20% to focus on means knowing your stats: where does your traffic comes from, who is more likely to become a lead, which parts of your funnels convert and which don't.
Once you know your figures, applying the 80/20 rule becomes easier.
Love What You Do
It helps my productivity that I love what I do and get incredible job satisfaction from this crazy business.
I still have some mornings when I jump out of bed and bound into the office like a 17-year-old on his way to his first job at McDonalds. I am sure that not many.. ahem.. “older people” like me can say that.
I still get genuine pleasure from people emailing me and asking my advice or leaving comments on my posts. I love nothing more than doing a case study and discovering something new. Over the past months, I've spent over 200 hours investigating what now works for SEO. I loved every minute of it.
If I didn't like my business, I doubt I would achieve even 10% of what I get done.
Stick to Simple Tools
People switch between apps and buying shiny new tools all the time. These have learning curves… find 1 tool and stick to it. Chances are you don’t need all the features of any new tools.
Where possible, I use apps that help streamline my processes. Even when I am playing golf, I’ll have something with me that I can dictate to or write down notes and ideas.
This post came about as a series of notes that I transferred to Evernote a few weeks ago. At the last count, I had over 12 ideas for articles listed.
Clean Desk + Inbox Zero
Next, I generally focus on only 2 or 3 main objectives for the week. There is no point in being unrealistic about what you can achieve.
This week I have 2 things on my list:
Know your limits and stay below them. I’d rather have too little work planned than too much.
I used to outsource very little although that has been changing over the past few months. I've stepped away from the micromanagement of my business and hired people to do things I'm not very good at or things I don't like doing.
If you don't like doing something, chances are it won't get done.
The key to outsourcing is once again knowing your stats, and knowing what is working in your business. You can then hire staff to help scale your business.
I used to do everything on this blog from writing all the content to creating the images and doing the social media. That left me very little time to work on the parts of my business that made me money, generating subscribers and converting subscribers into buyers.
In February, I started to hire staff to tackle everything but the writing (notice how good the blog is looking now? You can thank the awesome Olivia for that!)
Since January, I've quadrupled the number of subscribers I get each month, simply because I can now focus on the important parts.
As much as I love most aspects of this business, I don't want to have to complete all the tasks needed to promote a blog post. The hour or two it will take is an hour or two I can be generating more subscribers or writing another email for my sales funnel. Or let's be honest, playing a round of golf!
I have a graphic designer working full time on one of my niche authority sites. He produces all the graphics and infographics we need, it takes him 40 hours a week. Since hiring him, we've quadrupled our traffic and the content we publish, simply because I'm not trying to create images. Because I'm not spending time creating the images, we can create more content which is helping the site grow.
Think about time management, is your time well spent doing menial tasks that you can pay someone else to do?
Your work environment is probably as important as most of these tips. If you aren't comfortable, you aren't going to focus on the work you should be doing.
I went through a phase about 6 months ago where I would get really bad neck pain after a few hours of working. It took me months to figure out that my monitor was at the wrong level. A quick trip to the Apple store to buy a 12 South hi-rise stand and my problems disappeared.
I know the current trend (fad!) seems to be for standing desks but that's not for everyone. I know more people who have reverted to sitting than have stuck with standing desks. However, at times it can be useful to stand when working. One option you could try is an adjustable desk that can transition between sitting or standing.
Personally, I went the cheap route. I bought a small adjustable freestanding desk from Ikea, The Svartasen, that I can place on my normal desk if I want to stand.
Introducing The $20 Ghetto Standing Desk
Document Your Processes
Easily replicable systems and processes mean that I can go from idea to first subscribers in a few hours … yes, hours not days.
If you have a system that works … stick to it!
[bctt tweet=”How To Be Productive – Find a System and Stick To It”]
The reason to document your processes is to ensure that you can pass them over to someone else. Do you really want to be the only person who can create a tweet in your business? Your job should be to make sure that the important stuff gets done, not to do everything.
With a good set of processes in place, you can hand the boring and repetitive tasks over to anyone. As much as I love social media I really don't fancy writing 50 tweets this week!
I recently set up a full workflow for SEO. I created a workbook and in depth training files and videos. This now means that I can hire anyone and within a few hours, they can complete a task without me having to spend days training them.
Leverage Existing Content
I also try to leverage as much as possible. Some of the content I want to write this week is based around list building and email marketing.
I have written a lot about this topic in the past so I have a whole series of free reports and products I can reuse and repurpose. By taking ideas from existing content, I can create new content in a fraction of the time it would have taken me.
Articles can be turned into emails, emails can be turned into articles, slidedecks can become videos, videos can become the basis for podcasts, etc.
Do a content audit and see what can be reused, updated and recycled.
(SECRET: This article was originally a 400 word email)
Get a Decent Smart Phone
It's amazing that my best ideas often come to me in the most unusual places. A decent smart phone can be almost as good as having a laptop with you. As I mentioned previously, I use Evernote to capture any ideas I have either with a quick note or a voice memo.
I do however have one rule about smart phones. When I am out with friends and I am away from the office no checking Clickbank or Stripe, no checking my Adsense income or my Google analytics. When I am out of the office I am out, when I am in the office I am in and working. I think keeping this distinction has really helped me to be more productive.
Over To You
What's your best or favorite productivity tip? Let us know in the comment section.
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