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Why You’re Not Getting Any Business Results (But Still Working Like Crazy)

Why You’re Not Getting Any Business Results (But Still Working Like Crazy)


    You’ve taken the leap, started your business, and have been tackling your million-item to-do list. Problem is, you’re still not seeing the kind of results you want. Whether it’s web traffic, lead generation, sales, etc. By whatever yardstick you’re using, not much is happening. You’re working nights and weekends, but can’t seem to move the needle. You’re frustrated, discouraged, confused, and maybe even depressed.

    And not alone.

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    Every entrepreneur wrestles with these periods. You’re working your butt off, and can’t seem to make headway.

    So what’s the problem?

    You can check out some of the most common reasons why you aren’t getting results to see if you’re falling into any of those traps. Reflecting on my own work habits, a lot of the time I spend working is actually busywork–that is, work that’s pretty low value and doesn’t move me significantly toward my goals.

    For example, starting any business, one of the first tasks that might come to mind is writing a business plan–after all, that’s what any business-school professor would tell you. Problem is, writing a business plan takes a ton of time, and doesn’t have much value–the time spent on it won’t get you customers. Do you really want to waste a month writing a plan that you won’t use?

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    How to get faster business results with “high-value” tasks

    Recently, I discovered something that’s gotten me more results, faster: focusing exclusively on high-value tasks.

    Instead of spending your time on that low-value task, identify and take action only on high-value tasks: those tasks that will immediately propel you toward your goals.

    If you’re familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, high-value tasks are similar to “next actions” (you can read a bit more about “next actions” here and here); a “next action” is defined as “the next physical action that can move the project forward.” For example, if you have a project named “get my first client,” you’re next action could be one of the following:

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    • Make a list of prospective clients.
    • List at least 5 marketing channels where I can find prospects to contact.
    • Call Mr. Flapjack Turnbuckle, VP of Sales, at ABC company to identify his pain points and show how I can help.

    For high-value tasks, I go a step further than the generic “next action” definition, and identify the task that has the biggest payoff. In the above list, talking to a prospect is going to be incredibly valuable, since you can get a ton of info on your market’s pain points and how you can pitch your services to them. That task is going to accelerate ALL your marketing efforts much faster than either of the other “next actions.”

    So, instead of just doing whatever work comes to mind, focus exclusively on high-value tasks and IGNORE everything else. You’ll be surprised at how fast your progress will be.

    Now it’s your turn: In the comments below, list one high-value task that you’ll work on over the next few days.

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    (Photo credit: Hard Work, Businessman via Shutterstock)

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    You should NEVER charge an hourly rate Why You’re Not Getting Any Business Results (But Still Working Like Crazy) How to Really Start a Business (or Why You Don’t Need Money to Make Money) How to Reach Your Goals By (Almost) Ignoring Them

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    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Making Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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