The Case For Not Doing Everything

There are things you do as a matter of necessity when you run a business. Things like filing and paying business taxes, following up with clients, networking with peers, renewing licenses, ensuring your data is backed up and your website is running optimally, and so on.

Then there are things you do as a matter of preference. Stuff like checking email first thing, or scheduling calls at particular blocks of time,  or putting in brainstorming sessions in at a coffee-shop just to get out of the office mindset. Maybe you shifted to a dual monitor set-up, and it worked wonders with your coding, or perhaps you made your own hotkeys to save time on repetitive tasks.

Whatever tweaks or set-ups you make to make your life run more smoothly,  you  know you’re not alone in looking for the sweet spot. An entire industry has grown out of the productivity movement. Life-hacks, apps, methods — whether you use bullet journals, kanban,  the urgent/important  matrix, GTD — all of these things grew out of the need to determine and make the most productive use of our time. It’s our modern way to take control and make sense of all the stuff that goes on in our lives.

Not all methods work right on the first go though, which is why we can take a lot of time tailoring and testing them to fit our own needs and circumstances. Part of the problem stems from mixing up our goals with the various set-ups we use to get to them.

Helpful article: “Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.”James Clear

Just as one size doesn’t fit all, chosen methods won’t mean squat if they don’t help make measurable positive changes in our work flow.  With testing and tweaking, we can use an assembly of specific practices swiped from various methods — as long as they work. And work well.

It doesn’t even need to be you that does the work — outsourcing low-value tasks or work that you aren’t equipped or qualified to do, saves you time and stress. Productivity relates to reliable results, see. And an entrepreneur’s productivity is boosted by smart decisions. Hard work at low-value items isn’t smart when it means you’re spreading yourself thin. Trying to be ‘fair’ in allotting your energy on various  tasks isn’t smart, because some things will always need more attention than others.

Try not to fixate on the To-Do list.
Lists are a great memory and focus tool, as are schedules. But your life happens off the list. The reality is, we will never finish to-do lists. We just make new ones. For all our work to make reliable schedules so we can map out and break down our goals over time, we also make them to provide order because things are spread out and chaotic without focus and purpose.

New things come in all the time, but our time is finite. You have this much time in a day, you need to be clear and  focused on what  actions gets the most from you— because where you spend your time is where you spend yourself : your energy, your effort, your attention.

Now, are you spending yourself on things that just take from you and wont give anything back to you or into a project or goal you hold dear? Rethink a little bit.

You don’t need to finish all the things.
You get good returns when you focus on the things that will give back to you. Whether that means recognition and promotion in your area of expertise, or better health to manage the stresses of your life, or deeper, stronger relationships with the people who make your home a home.

You don’t need to do all the things yourself.
As things go, sometimes we already know what can make us more productive, only it’s very hard to get the time alone to calm ourselves down enough to be still and just ask ourselves what to do. We look outward a lot for answers, forgetting that ultimately, we are the ones in charge of our own choices and thus, how we choose to react to what life throws at us.

It’s also hard because that kind of honest, inner questioning is uncomfortable and raises things we’d rather not face– and yes, sometimes busy-ness is a socially and culturally acceptable reason to avoid soul-searching. Workaholism is still an admirable addiction in our busy, high-pressure culture. To admit that you can’t do everything that needs doing is akin to admitting you’re not on top of things. But that isn’t a sin, you know. You’re just accepting that you’re human.

Now, earlier we discussed processes, now we touch down on drive. What is moving you to do the things you do? There is, of course, the inner push to make money to look after yourself. Then there’s creative freedom. And being able to live your time by your own choice, instead of having your moves dictated by corporate rule-books and manuals. You can do the work that choose to and let others handle the rest.

It could feel awkward. For example, dropping things may make you feel like slacking off.  It could be a control issue. You know a project inside and out, of course you’d know best how to write the content about it….except you have a hundred other pressing things to do, and you’re not so good at the writing thing.

It could be a conforming issue. Again, we can hide in busy-ness because it’s often seen as a badge of honor — and sometimes bragging rights. But that kind of thinking isn’t built for healthy living…. Too many things to do is still too many things to do, no matter if ‘everyone else is doing it.’

To get a good, sustainable system for being a productive and happy entrepreneur, you have to work on building flexibility and resilience in your processes. Nothing too lax, nothing too binding — the extremes are where most of the stress originates. You need to keep asking yourself questions and not take what you know as gospel. That way can lead to stagnation.

For instance, how would you institute a good work flow?
You’d come back to assessment  of your requirements and resources (what do you have, how much time do you have), priorities (in what order or by what time what needs to get done to keep the To-Do’s done and the work flowing). and you look at where you can make the most impact.

Make a list and lop off the bottom — those things you can outsource, delegate, or simply drop. By putting yourself in the best position to make the most out of your talents and focusing on the high-return items, you get more for your effort in a few areas rather than pouring it all out on the small things. You  get to making a living while  freeing up more time for a life.

Implementing changes means consistent , small tweaks over time.
One tips is to mark stuff down…don’t trust human memory, stress gives that a beating. Centralize your notes and your planner(s) so you can have important information easily accessible.

“Getting things done” mashes up with “first things first.”
Being productive in a good way tend you with a good tired.  There’s bad tired — the sour, exhausted, fruitless aftermath — and good tired, where you know down to your bones that you gave your best to a good thing, and it was accomplished the result. An unbroken good streak can be a source of pride, but we all have bad days, bad months..hey, even bad decades. Knowing where and how to spend yourself can help you get through the hard times. Once you’ve got an established, workable, and sustainable system down, you can do what you need to do.

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