Do you ever got to the end of a day where you haven't stopped working on your business, but there's nothing to show for it?
No tricky emails sent.
No horrid sales call made.
No report published.
No social media posts.
At about this time, I usually start with the critical voice - “another day with nothing done.”
I've used the entire time doing stuff, and whatever it is, I'm worn out. My head will not be gathering its thoughts together to produce anything cogent this late on.
A day totally wasted.
But is it? Well, that depends on how you measure things. If we’re only measuring outputs such as pages written, emails sent, calls made, then yes, it is a total fail.
But what do outputs actuallu achieve beyond being ticking an item off your list? Well, that depends on the outcome.
Outcomes make the difference.
There may not be actual outputs on your desk to show for your day's work inputs; no paper may has moved from the in-tray to the done tray. But what whilst you were bumbling around all day you had the head space to untangle a problem that had been holding you back?
Perhaps you came up with a fresh business idea?
Did you join the dots for a useful collaboration?
Did you plot out a blog post or mini-course?
Creating shift and forward momentum is powerfully productive and we often underestimate the power of invisible results.
I used to be driven by action, busy work, doing something for the sake of getting something done. Now I schedule time for planning and space without anything constructive to complete. I call it pottering time. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, and I found it harder to do nothing than to find some busy work that creates the illusion of a job well done; to accept inside how my value isn’t in doing everything and ticking off chores from my list. I’ve found that action eases stress, so resorting to doing stuff is a fast feel-good drug it's difficult to stop dosing yourself up with.
My solution is setting rules. Intellectually, I know that good business and personal productivity needs good planning. By building in that time, and making it sacrosanct, an unbreakable rule, everything calmed down a bit. It wasn’t long before the value in this time became clear and the rule became redundant.
My planning and writing time is until 11 am each weekday and on Saturday I do a wash up of the week.
I don’t set an alarm and there isn’t a set time I force myself to start, so it could be at the crack of dawn or after 9. Often when I start my actual ‘work’ day I’ve been thinking, writing, planning and sticking pretty things in my journal for over 5 hours.
I’m calmer, more productive, and creative in my ideas and able to appreciate down time as a valuable part of my business instead of guilt laden skiving off.