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How to double your productivity in 30 minutes

The secret sauce to next level business success is productivity.

Let’s be honest. You started your business so that you didn’t have to sit in an office analyzing spreadsheets. You signed up for being a “highly effective” person. You told yourself that, as your own boss, you’d get more done in a few hours than most folks accomplish in a week. 

Some of the time it’s true. You have been highly effective. There’s been moments when you’ve danced in that state of pure flow.

Then there’s the rest of the time (the majority – again, we’re being honest here) where you tell yourself you’ll smash it … soon. For now, there’s something good on TV. Or people to tweet with (that’s kinda work, right?). Hell, maybe you’ve got meetings to go to – that’s definitely work.

Sometimes you get really busy, but still nothing seems to get done. That’s when you find yourself fondly remembering those days you used to spend hours “researching” on the internet. Now you’re probably more successful than that, but you’re paying the price.

There are people demanding things of you. Something has to get written. So-and-so needs a meeting. You know you’re not delegating effectively. You want to be working on that thing you’ve been telling yourself you want to do, but right now someone needs something from you… like, yesterday.

I’ve watched this evolution happen for hundreds of entrepreneurs – friends and clients. When they’re endless procrastinating on the couch, they believe that life when they’ve “made it” will be a whirlwind of productivity. Tornados of effectiveness.

And it ain’t so.

This post is for the business owners who have gotten to the “doing” part – those folks enjoying some level of success. Or at least telling themselves they should be enjoying it.

These entrepreneurs hit a plateau, without ever realizing it. They reach a level of busyness, responding to the urgent demands of their business, that they have no experience dealing with.

Just as a corporate worker rises to their level of incompetence (then gets promoted no further), the entrepreneur rises to her level of peak capacity. And no further.

Nothing equips an entrepreneur to rise above that plateau. School doesn’t teach it. Your parents probably didn’t demonstrate it. The people who rock next level effectiveness seem like their on a different planet.

Until now.

What is it that robs an otherwise successful person of their momentum? When they were working from their kitchen table, trying to create something out of nothing… they started really crushing it. Then something changed.

As businesses grow, a totally natural increase in urgency happens. The kitchen table wannapreneur has very little urgency – they’re probably financially supported in some way and their business really only exists in their mind.

The “made-it” entrepreneur has other concerns. Payroll. An audience that expects content. Meetings. Joint ventures. Payroll. Client contracts. Did I mention payroll?

This list just scratches the surface of totally urgent demands on your time and attention. Your list is probably different, but the subtext is the same. You’re overwhelmed with urgency. 

That’s the cinch.

It’s urgent stuff. When did you decide that it was also important?

The secret to busting through a plateau of productivity is to recognize that “urgent” isn’t synonymous with “important”. 

This article promised to double your productivity in thirty minutes. Now that you *get* it, here’s how to *do* it:

1. Clear your desk, switch off your phone and power down the internet. Leave this tab open in your browser (duh).

2. Make a list of all the things you have to do – if you haven’t already.

3. Take a moment to think back to when you started this business. That blissful time when you used to procrastinate for hours at a time – when your business, though bursting with “potential”, existed only in your head…

Think about your vision back then. If you didn’t have a vision, think about your dreams. What did you absolutely lust over? What part of starting a business made you weak at the knees? What part lit a fire in your heart?

Most of all, ask yourself: What did I originally set out to create?

4. Now take a look back at that to-do list of yours. Grab a highlighter or pencil and circle those items that the old, business-fantasizing you would have considered mega important. Circle the items that, years back, you imagined yourself doing with glee.

Pay attention to the way that you’re feeling inside, right now. You’re welcome.

5. Go. Do those things. The rest can (and will) wait. Even payroll.

The secret to taking your personal effectiveness (and thus your business) to levels you never dreamed of, is simple. Take action on that which is most important – be it important to your mission, vision or simply to your heart.

Shun the urgent. Allow it to sort itself. Notice how pointless email has a way of making itself irrelevant over time. Notice how those you’re supposed to be delegating to will take initiative on their own. If you’re a leader, support your team by leading a business built on doing the important stuff, not the urgent stuff.

Ignore the urgent. Do work that counts.

What’s important to you? Let me know in the comments… 


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  1. Thinking of our past “us” is a great idea! Thanks Peter! I’ll try that out.

    I also like to tackle the “important” things first thing in the morning for a couple of hours before I even turn to the chunk of “urgent” items.

    This means that I sometimes go “EEEEEK I should have tackled the urgent work hours ago!”, but at least I get the stuff done that I consider important for long term progress.

  2. hehe true 😉

    By the way, Peter, I’ve come to love your blog more and more every day. After having cited you in my own work for the second time, I’ve now added your blog to my blog roll, too.

    I think your blog is not only great for entrepreneurs, but also for other people who want to work more effectively. More and more people have entrepreneurial positions within a company these days, and they need almost the same kind of advice 🙂

    Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  3. This is a fantastic tip. Of course the next step is to really define whether the important is just what you want to do versus what you need to do to realise your vision. Often we really want to work on something that is a small step towards a big goal because it is more fun.

    Really agree that most ‘urgent’ things can be ingnored as there are so many manufacturered emergencies in business these days.

  4. Glad that I came across this post.

    Looks like i have been placing more importance to things urgent than things important.

    Thanks for that wake up slap!

  5. “Shun the urgent. Allow it to sort itself.”

    “Notice how those you’re supposed to be delegating to will take initiative on their own.”

    This is a stab at perfectionism and the timing for me to read it couldn’t be better. Niiice!

    Priceless wisdom, thank you so much! 🙂

  6. Cool site Peter, love the design. And this post, which I found via Twitter, is great. It certainly makes sense to consciously remember why we chose this in the first place. Another way I motivate myself is to remember the tortuous times working for others. And I keep an old time sheet from my very last job as an employee hung up in my office in case I forget!

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