We are working longer and it’s burning us out! Most of us respond to the rising demands in our businesses by putting in longer hours. Entrepreneurs end up working 12-14 hour days. This inevitably takes a toll on us physically, mentally and emotionally. That leads to declining levels of engagement, increasing levels of distraction, lack of results, and soaring medical costs as our health suffers. Warning: This is a longer blog post than normal, but I think it will add massive value to your life.
I think there are some inherent problems with the way we view productivity that actually hinders our productivity. In this blog I’d like to look at 3 key assumptions that many of us hold and challenge them. I suggest 3 new ways for looking at productivity that will shift your paradigm. I will share a tool that will help you feel more fulfilled, satisfied and productive than ever before.
Much of what we understand about productivity has come from the industrial age. The focus was on maximising output and production efficiencies. As a result we have taken on three key beliefs that hinder modern productivity:
- Productivity is about getting the most done.
- Productivity is about doing it all.
- Productivity is just about doing it fast.
The current scenario
We have moved to the knowledge and connection economy. Our work is radically different. The current scenario is that entrepreneurs with smart phones are working more than 70-80 hours a week. We operate in the distraction economy that is killing our focus. We are constantly being bombarded by emails, whatsapp messages and social media notifications.
We don’t have time to get it all done. We go to bed overwhelmed. We are stressed and this is affecting our health and personal relationships.
Opting out is not an option for entrepreneurs. Yet you’re not getting the kind of results that you want in your business. You don’t have time for those projects that can really grow our business. You are working more than ever, but accomplishing less than ever.
Your business seems to consume all your time. You don’t have time for yourself, doing hobbies that you once enjoyed. Maybe you can’t even remember the last time you took a decent holiday and completely switched off? This cannot go on forever!
Time for a new paradigm in productivity
If this sound familiar then I’d like to introduce you to a new paradigm called Super Productivity. Underlying this new paradigm is 3 new beliefs:
- What if productivity is not about getting the most done, but about getting the most important things done?
- What if productivity is not about doing it all, but doing the things we love and want to do?
- What if productivity is not just about doing it fast, but about executing with excellence?
Buckminster Fuller said, “if you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
I’d like to share a new tool that will help us in this new way of thinking with regards to productivity. I call it the Flow Matrix.
Let’s look at what it means to be in the “flow.”
Being in the flow
In positive psychology, flow is also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, the flow is characterised by complete absorption in what one does. (source Wikipedia). Outstanding performance is the hallmark of being in the flow. I believe it is an area where both, proficiency and passion is high and leads to superior results.
I believe every entrepreneur needs to be strengths focussed. They should focus on key parts of their business where their talents are fully utilised. The areas where passion and proficiency is high. This is how they can be of maximum value and benefit to their business.
Think of a time in the last couple of months when you were operating in the flow? What were you doing? Deconstruct what specifically energised you about that activity? Do you specifically set aside time in your week for this sort of activity?
Doing so will help you tap into the human spirit. Doing this sort of work will make you feel truly alive, fulfilled and super productive.
The Disconnection Zone
This is opposite of being in the flow. These are activities that you have a low passion and proficiency for. Take for example on of the things I really don’t like doing or have a proficiency for is follow up. However there is a person on my team who loves follow up and is excellent at it.
It is vitally important that entrepreneurs build a team that has diverse strengths. I delegate all my follow up activities to this member of staff.
The first set of activities that we need to get off our TO DO list are the things on our disconnection zone. We need to question whether that activity is still relevant to your company. If is not then stop doing it. Eliminate it!
If it is important then delegate or outsource it to someone else for whom this activity would be in their flow zone. This would be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
The Disinterest Zone
We all have activities that we have a high proficiency for, but a low passion for. These are the tasks that we tend to procrastinate with. In one of my mentoring masterminds, I have a business owner who had massive amounts stuck with clients simply because she had not invoiced her clients. While she was highly proficient at this activity, she was not passionate about it and simply avoided completing the activity for a few months.
Finally she became present to this fact and outsourced this to an accounting firm that does it once a week. This has massively improved her cashflow and she now has the funds to further expand her business.
What activities currently are in your disinterest zone that you can delegate or outsource that will have a huge positive impact on your business? This would be the second set of items to get off your TO DO list.
The Escape Zone
These are activities that we are highly passionate about, but have a low proficiency for. This is where we “escape” to when the work becomes difficult. Because we are passionate about the activity we love to do it, but because our proficiency is low we don’t get best results we can.
The decision we have to make is that if the activity is of crucial importance to our business then we need to figure out if we are willing to invest in training to improve that proficiency. How long will it take to get proficient at it? If it is going to take a long time then it may make sense to delegate or outsource it to someone who is more proficient at it.
For example, in my case I’m passionate about teaching, but had to develop proficiency at blogging as a new platform to teach. I look at developing this skill on a regular basis and signed up for online training on the same.
Put your TO DO list through the flow matrix and begin to focus only on activities that keep you in the flow. Begin to delegate or outsource activities in the other zones and see your productivity soar as you embrace a new paradigm.
Leave a comment below with what activities are in your flow zone. What activities are you choosing to delegate or outsource in your disinterest or disconnection zone?