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

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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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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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