How to Get More Done Every Day as a Creative Entrepreneur

If you’re in online business, you’ve likely heard of the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule) which states that (from Wikipedia), “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” For example – and those of you who have an email list will know this to be true, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.

The reason this rule is examined in the online world is because it’s a hack for doing more of what matters to your bottom line. If 20% of your working hours produce 80% of your results, then that means that the other 80% of the time you spend produces only 20% of your desired results. How would your results improve if you focused all of your attention on the 20% of work that adds to 80% of your bottom line? That’s what we’re going to explore today.

How to Get More Done | Marketing Creativity

Figure out what’s working

During my recent mid-year review, I prompted you with these 2 important questions:

  1. What was your best creative payday?
  2. What’s costing you time and money without generating a return?

Therein lies the answer to figuring out which of your efforts are producing the results you want. For example, to my best creative payday, I answered The Summer Shift (a group coaching concentrate I offer). In the last three months, it produced 80% of my income for a focused 20% of my time. To what’s costing me, I answered my tendency to hesitate on big decisions, and the rule rang true again. Him-hawing on major decisions that will take my career to the next level was certainly eating up the other 80% of my time and producing 20% of my results.

Ask yourself the above questions to find out which 20% of your applied efforts are producing 80% of your desired results. 

Focus is a muscle that can be strengthened

Let’s be brutally honest with each other for a moment. How much of your time is spent checking email? How many times do you visit Pinterest a day? How often do you check stats? How many times have you visited Facebook this morning alone?

The time-wasting temptations for an online business owner are many! Experiment by turning your computer off for one full day, and count how many times you try to take a detour just to “check on” or “look something up.” It boggles the mind how our newly developed, yet incessant need-to-know eats up our time.

Now imagine what would happen if you could eliminate all of these time-wasters during your working hours. Imagine how far you would get in one calendar year if you only focused on the 20% of your work that produces 80% of your desired results. 

[Tweet “Focus is a muscle that can be strengthened. – @_LisaJacobs_”]

I ask you to entertain the idea that each of us has a reserve bank of willpower, and that once it’s been depleted, it’s spent until it has the time to replenish itself.

For example, have you ever had a highly-productive Monday? The kind of day that makes you think, “Look at all I’ve done! I’m going to knock it out of the ballpark this week!” Only to wake up on Tuesday and find yourself mentally and physically spent; so much so that it’s virtually impossible to get anything done? That’s because we have a reserve of willpower, and when it’s spent, you’re out of fuel. An empty willpower reserve is the black hole of productive energy.

To build a business that serves you, to be an incredibly efficient operation, you need to learn how to spend your time wisely (homing in on that 20%), refill your reserves more quickly, and expand that bank so that it can hold more of your sacred energy.

How to train your focus muscle

Think of building your focus like training for long distance running. In order to improve, to go farther at a faster pace, you would gradually (and regularly) push yourself just past your personal breaking point. If I can comfortably run 2 miles in 20 minutes today, tomorrow I will have to run 2.25 miles in 22 minutes to build up my strength and endurance.

The same goes for your personal reserves of willpower. That focus muscle needs to be trained for increased strength and endurance.

Name a goal and at least one priority for each day.

Here’s an exercise for you to try: Name a goal for the coming week based on what you’ve just learned about your result-oriented time spent, and then sit down this weekend to schedule your work time in advance. For each working day, be sure to prioritize at least one task that will help you meet that goal.

Set a timer.

As I write this, I have a free app called, Alinof Timer counting down my 50-minute interval of pure focus. Having a timer counting down in my peripheral view while I’m working helps me stay on track.

Working from home (and on the computer, no less) is full of distractions! The rule is that while the timer is on, I can only work on the project at hand: no snacks, no bathroom breaks, no internet clicking, no phone calls, etc. When my time is up, I take a short break, and then I set it again. Each day I allot at least two hours for laser-focused production time.

The level of energy or resistance I have for a task determines how long the timer will be set between breaks. Here is my guide:

  • Difficult tasks and grudge work: 15 minutes
  • Work I’m resisting, but perfectly capable of doing: 25 minutes
  • Work I enjoy: 50 minutes

The results from a laser-focused, timed work session are truly amazing. Try it out for one week to see how much you’re able to accomplish.

Push through the resistance

Where resistance pops up in our work day is different for everyone. I coach some creatives who meet resistance before getting started. They resist the risk of “putting themselves out there” and the majority of their projects get stuck in a perpetual planning stage.

I coach other creatives who get stuck somewhere in the middle. They meet resistance when it’s time to take real action toward their hopes and wishes, and often get stuck seeking outside approval or waiting for their “big break.”

And then there are creatives like me, who meet resistance when excitement fades, when the work is 70% done and needs a regimented schedule in order to see the light of day. We stall out in the end-game.

To beat resistance, I offer the same advice I give on becoming a professional business owner:

The best hack to boosting your production is to realize that making this business a success is your job. Anyone can give up when they hit that wall of resistance, and most do.

In the opening of Kevin Hart’s movie, Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny, he and his entourage shout: “Everybody wants to be famous! Nobody wants to do the work!” People are waking up to the fact that greatness awaits, BUT YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK – even when the going gets tough. Outlast the quitters, and you’re already famous.

Rest often

When you cross off a big goal, take a rest because you’ll need a break! Yes, I’m typing to you in my pajamas under a blanket on my couch with a cup of decaf vanilla chai tea beside me. The irony is not lost on me. But that doesn’t make this statement any less true: a creative career is demanding.

Look at mine for instance: I make it all up as I go along! I don’t know where next month’s paycheck is going to come from; I’ll figure it out next month. I don’t know what’s going to sell or what’s going to fail. I don’t know if I’ll get paid for the forty hours I’ve already invested into my next project. It could be all for naught.

I’m always creating my next move, and my inner-dialogue sometimes feels as frantic and high-pressure as a stock exchange trading floor. My family comes home from work and school, and sometimes I’m present, but other times I’m still mentally lost in the frenzy.

Sometimes you need to shut off the business to remember why you started the business. When you don’t take a break, the break takes you (in the form of a flu, cold, or similar outage, and it’s not nearly as much fun).

And that, my dear creatives, is how to get more done every day. Here’s wishing you a big boost of productivity! Until next time and all the best~

{Image credit: I’m loving the free-for-blogs stock photos from Lime Lane Photography}

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3 comments

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  • Ah this is so true. Me, I’m great at coming up with ideas, great at taking action, but when it comes to the grudge work I struggle to stay motivated.

    I’m going to try out that timer trick – I like that the really sucky jobs have a 15 minute time limit. It makes them seem a lot more palatable.

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