Welcome to season 6 of The Merriweather Council Podcast. Yes you read that correctly. This is the first episode of season 6 of the podcast. Yay!
I wasn’t sure what to do about the timing of season 6 and then pandemic 2020 happened and I thought to myself, “self, just do it.”
So here we are!
For the first episode of season 6, I wanted to chat about something we hear SO often from makers in business – daily, in fact!
People always tell us they struggle with PRODUCTIVITY!
“Danielle, I really struggle with productivity!”
I am not exempt from this either, of course, I have to remind myself the truth of productivity pretty regularly, too.
One note I do want to make: for me, I think time management is DIFFERENT than productivity. Just to provide some context on this going forward, I believe they are two separate things.
Time management is an essential skill – not just for business but in life as well.
It is REALLY hard to nail down specific time management tips – because literally, every single person has different things to manage and different priorities, so there is no one size fits all answer to time management and honestly I’ve seen a lot of “time management” hacks that maybe avail like, three additional minutes a day for people and it’s just kind of one of those things you have to sort for yourself what you do with your time because you have to sort for yourself what things need to get done in your life. So that’s a whole other bag of worms.
BUT productivity I think is a more important metric.
So that’s what we are diving into on this episode!
If you are ready to get MORE productive for real and start moving the needle forward doing things that actually matter, you are a future Council Member. Visit The Council to find out what we do and how we do it, take a tour and hop on the waitlist so you can join us the next time we open to new members!!
So here’s what I sometimes see – in myself, our followers and students.
We feel “unproductive” because we are trying to accomplish a lot of things and if we don’t get them all done we feel like we have a productivity problem.
We feel like, “look, clearly I have a productivity problem because I wasn’t able to get everything done. If I was just more productive I would get to all of these things.”
Plainly, having too many to-dos is a recipe for failure. You set yourself up to fail.
And this really wreaks havoc on your mood.
ALL of that comes from thinking we have to do so many things.
So here’s what that looks like.
Right now, you probably have a list – either physically or mentally of at least ten different things you HAVE TO DO – ten things or more that you feel like, ‘if I could just do XYZ or get ABC right, I’ll see results, or feel better or whatever’ … right?
Everything on your list feels like a really important and powerful thing to get done and you are positive that if you just get them done, things will be better. Or you’ll get whatever result it is you want.
I know exactly what’s on that list —
- rebrand, get a better logo
- invest in a better camera
- work with an influencer
- make new Pinterest images
- list more items on Etsy
- increase my email subscriber list
- send more emails
- set up a thank you coupon code
- run a sale
- get better at using Instagram
- run a Facebook ad
- pitch to podcasts
- etc etc
All of these are TASKS.
But what you really want to be focusing on is strategy.
Tasks are cool because they make us feel like we are doing something – and that makes it easy to make excuses when we don’t see progress. When nothing gets done, it’s easy to say “look, I’ve been doing so many things, it just doesn’t work!”
Every single day your list gets longer and longer because you feel like the things you’re doing – you aren’t doing them well. You go out and try to find new things to do – things you can certainly do better, or so you think. Every blog post, podcast, and other freebie has you convinced that THIS ONE THING is the key — so you add it to your list – okay out of all these things something is going to work.
Soon, your list has you creating an Instagram feature account, doing a giveaway, running a challenge. All of those are fun ideas but you have to know which of them are best suited to you – and a free blog post is not going to be able to help you diagnose which things are best suited to you.
It is very hard to know the difference between a task and an intentional, focused action that will move your business forward unless you fully understand your big picture strategy.
You will fragment your attention, each task will get sort of done, produce sort of meh results and you will feel drained, unproductive, and like a failure. Then you start over, looking for new things to try and you get exhausted again.
You convince yourself that you have a productivity problem.
It is a slow process of getting anywhere – maybe where you wanted to go, maybe not – can’t tell because you followed a random list of tasks, not a strategy— and it’s full of distractions.
So it’s not that you are terrible at being productive at all.
You aren’t. You just are wayward.
You have a list of things someone told you to do – not a strategy for your own business.
You do NOT need to increase the number of followers you have, you do NOT need to start a YouTube channel or get a better camera, in 99% of cases, those aren’t solutions they are distractions! You need a big picture strategy and then it will be much clearer what things should be on your to-do list, it’ll be much shorter and more realistically accomplishable and you will see — you are productive, you just needed to be putting time and effort into the right things.
You will not feel productive or good about the things you spend time on until you have that.
Moving forward on a strategy towards a goal is what creates “productivity” – not the volume of tasks you get done or the number of things you scratch off your to-do list.
You are capable of being productive.
You just keep setting yourself up to fail so you keep confirming that you aren’t any good at it.
Let’s also be honest about the vanity metrics and drop it. Growing your Instagram account ends where? When do you finally feel satisfied? Never. People with ten thousand followers want fifteen thousand, people with a million want two million… there is no end.
You need to drop the idea that numbers = progress or that DOING ANYTHING = productivity. It doesn’t.
A big bold beautiful dream business like the one you have deserves more than internet crumbs. It deserves more than an out of the box list of tasks to accomplish. it deserves more than a tired, unhappy CEO.