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Saturday, June 2, 2012 Daily Update
My weekend got off to a great start: At 6 pm yesterday, I shut everything down and went to bed. I slept for 12 1/2 hours! Today I’m going to share some thoughts about productivity. At some point, I may write a proper blog post about how to apply all of this to your own life. Hopefully you’ll glean some insight from this.
How I’m Like A Farmer
It recently occurred to me that for the past 15 years or so, I’ve lived my life like a farmer. I spend half of my year planting and working the fields (launching new sites and products, building my team) and the other half is harvest time (where I go into support mode and focus on marketing). While in harvest time, I focus on areas of my life not related to business.
The split of the year works well for me. When I first started doing this, I was able to build one new project a year pretty much. Over time, I got better at it and I was able to do more. It takes me less time to do things now than before. I make fewer mistakes requiring correction than before. This year, I have 6 completely different projects launching over a few month period. All of them will be in play to take advantage of the fall harvest time when more money is being spent.
Focus and Optimizing
I can get a lot done now. I’m able to do in a single day what used to take a week. It didn’t take weeks or months to get here, it has taken over a decade.
People observe me in social media and may think that I jump around a lot. But I’m actually hyper-focused most of the time. I know how my energy flows. I know when it is the best time of the day to do different tasks. I don’t spend more than 60-90 minutes in a day on social media. But it’s 1-2 minutes in between hyper-focused periods of 30-60 minutes. I write a complete article or training piece then I switch gears.
Every workday looks different for me. I treat work like working out – I need to mix things up to keep it interesting, keep my attention and retain focus.
Let me share an analogy of how focusing works: Ever notice in sales & training videos where there is a “talking head” or personality on screen, the person filming the video will zoom in and out and sometimes shift filming positions a bit? This is done to make sure people watching remain focused. Being highly productive most days, at least in my experience, means having to keep shifting gears to avoid dullness.
In some ways, it seems like having a routine makes it easier to accomplish more in a day. Some routine is good. It gives structure. But I think if every day looks the same, we start to dull. Our creativity and our focus wane. We cannot maintain optimum productivity. The more routine and structure we have, the more we tend to dump more on our plates and suddenly we find that we just do the minimum many times to get things done.
Breaking Down My Work Week
Typically, I’ll look at what I need to get done in a week and then break down each day in a way to optimize productivity.
In this past week, I spent 2 days focused on writing (blog posts, static content for sites and training material for paid programs). I get in a flow with writing and in the 2 days I was able to turn out over 50,000 words. Knowing myself pretty well, if I’d taken 2 hours a day to work on this, it probably would have cut my output in half. Plus, my writing is much tighter when I am focused entirely on writing.
As you may know, a core business area for me is in domains. So one day, I wrote 2 blog posts for the weeks ahead, edited another written by my partner, wrote and prepped the content for our July free training video to go into production, researched domain acquisitions and reviewed recent news in the industry.
Another day was focused on doing a project for a client. I had a week to do it but I know that by focusing only on that one thing, it would take me about 50% less time to complete it than if I worked a bit on it daily and had to keep shifting gears.
So there’s a balance I’ve need to find. How grouping like tasks or tasks on the same thing will optimize my personal productivity. What works for me may not work for you. You need to find your own groove. It takes time to do this.
Project Management and Linear Work
What I’m suggesting goes against typical time management and project management accepted views. It is ‘recommended’ that you can be more productive by focusing on one thing at a time and do that from start to finish. If you’re working on 6 different new things, like I am right now, you can see one thing actually launch a lot faster according to project management theory if you just work on one thing.
What works for me will not work for you – not exactly anyway. We don’t have the same experiences, same frame of references and same working styles. It will take some experimentation to find a structure that improves your productivity. But it is entirely doable.
Get One Success Under Your Belt
I can tell you one thing – if I’d never had my first successful business that I took from concept to actually making money – I’d never be able to juggle multiple launches at the same time now. There are a lot of steps it took me to get to where I am right now.
Where I see a lot of people, who could be succeeding as entrepreneurs, go wrong is that they’ll look at people like me who are juggling a lot of different things and think that is what it takes to succeed.
Get successes under your belt one at a time. This applies to every aspect of business and not just the business itself as a whole.
Get one business launched and making money. Get the systems in place for it to continue making money. Then move on to create a new business.
Figure out how one social network works and how that can generate traffic and business for you. Get the systems in place. Then move on to a second social network.
It does get easier over time. The brilliant part of doing business online is that even if your second business is in an entirely different area, much of what you learn the first go can be applied to your new business.
This Brings Me Back to Sleep
Sleep is a crucial part of being able to maximize your productivity. I’m finding that as I’m getting older, my sleep requirements are changing. The last couple of weeks, I discovered that getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night isn’t cutting it for me anymore. I crashed for 12 1/2 hours last night because all week my body was screaming for more sleep. Intuitively I know that to keep in the zone means bumping sleep to 7 hours now.
I have never sacrificed sleep to work more. I’ve always listened to my body. When I’m at home, I don’t even use an alarm clock. Cutting yourself short on sleep is never an answer to getting more done.
Update on My Server Woes
My popular post about how not to do social media resulted in my server going down again yesterday. Adjusting some settings hadn’t helped. Someone at Rackspace noticed that we had not installed a caching plug-in on my sharonhayes.com domain. Oops! We took care of this yesterday and hopefully this will help the problem until I can get moved over to cloud/CDN.
Have a fabulous day friends!