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October 18, 2018
This is an oft-used cliche that’s trotted out from time to time to motivate employees and athletes alike. I’m not sure it’s true though. I’d change to something like “There’s always someone working longer than you.” But longer and harder aren’t the same thing. Just being at the office for more hours doesn’t mean you’re getting more stuff done.
It’s true that there are people out there like Steve Jobs, who can work basically constantly and be productive most of the time, but I think those people are far more rare than people tend to think. Everyone thinks that they should spend more time working, but the real question is how can you get more done. Time spent working is not the first knob you should turn if you’re trying to figure out how to get more out of work or fitness or life in general.
It’s way easier to figure out how to get more out of the time you already have. Are you sleeping enough? Are you eating well? Are you getting a bare minimum of exercise? How’s your mental health? Are you using caffeine strategically or just as much as possible all the time? Do you care about your work?
Thinking about these questions will give you a solid foundation, but even after you’ve addressed all these questions, you can still ask a similar set of questions about your work! Are you getting the most out of your working hours? How much time do you spend browsing Facebook or the news? (Pro tip: If you’re unhappy with your productivity, this is probably a much bigger time sink than you think) How much time do you spend on administrative tasks? How much time do you spend on email that doesn’t accomplish anything?
In our experience with business, there are actions you can take that move the business forward, and there’s everything else. And sometimes it’s hard to tell which category something falls under.
Here’s a common hypothetical in service businesses:
Someone emails you inquiring about your services, but they have a few questions first. Great! You spend an hour emailing them back and answer all their questions. They email back with a few more questions, you respond once more. They don’t exactly want any of the packages listed on your website, so you spend another couple hours putting quotes together for them. They hem and haw, and after another email or two with questions, they pick one. But then they’re not sure about the schedule, so there’s another couple emails back and forth picking out the perfect dates. Finally, everything is in place, you send them the contract or the first invoice. They disappear.
This felt like real productive work the whole time. You had the excitement of a potential client along with interacting with someone about business related things. But it accomplished nothing. You spent something like 10 or more hours emailing this person who didn’t turn into a client. You could spend 2,000 hours a year doing this and not make a dollar. Worse yet, nothing you did for this particular person is reusable in any other part of your business! You sent a bunch of custom emails and came up with custom quotes for packages that you don’t actually want to make into full-fledged services anyway.
So there’s actual work, which is doing things that clients have already paid you to do (or are contractually obligated to pay you to do), there’s stuff that feels like work, but doesn’t accomplish anything, like the emails above, and then there’s things that are “not work,” like skimming Facebook. I would bet that possibly even the majority of what most people do on a daily basis falls into the latter two categories. Of course, I have no proof of this, other than my knowledge of what my average day looks like when I don’t feel productive, along with paying attention to what Kyrsten’s doing over the periods of time where she feels like she’s putting in a lot of time but mostly just spinning her wheels.
Raising Abundance is mainly a daily personal journal to look back on while we live our unconventional lives with the additional hope of helping others do better and get more out of life.