There is no linear path to true success. Everyone who has ever made it in a big way has been on a journey more like a roller coaster or a game of snakes and ladders.
Doing the same things every day for years probably won’t grow your business to new heights. But what do you want? Finding the stairs. Avoiding snakes. Evaluating your actions to get rid of what holds you back and do more of what will move you forward.
There are five daily actions that most of us do because we think they are productive. But they are not. Here’s why they’re holding your business back and here’s what you should do instead.
1. Jobs, jobs and admin
Doing things well below our potential is keeping us playing well below our potential. If you’ve seen a job posting for a taxi driver, cleaner or administrative assistant, but you’re aspiring to become a multimillionaire, you wouldn’t apply for this role. However, you are effectively doing this when you run errands, tidy up, wash and go through tax returns. Once you’re making more than $20 an hour, there’s no point doing things you can outsource for less than $15 an hour.
If someone else can do it, don’t do it. Instead, spend your time resting and recharging or just getting more clients or doing things that will grow your business. There are no awards for the tidiest house, someone else can do your washing just as well as you, and your insistence on keeping the small tasks at bay is preventing you from tackling the big ones. Outsourcing is the way.
2. Working around the clock
Working non-stop between the alarm clock going off and being too tired to move can cost you the success of your business. Without rest, you are never fully charged to do your thing. Without turning off all day, even if only for a few hours, your default mode network cannot start to solve the challenges for you.
Your mind needs rest and distraction for epiphanies and breakthroughs. Without intentionally switching off throughout the day, you’re always in beta brainwaves, sorting through tasks without looking at the bigger picture. You’re plowing all day, with your head down, so you can’t see the wood in the trees. You will miss out on opportunities that could help you overcome, because there is simply no space.
Multitasking means trying to get the best of both worlds, but ending up with the worst. Relaxing while checking email, thinking about tonight’s run during an important meeting, or scrolling through Instagram at the gym are all a waste of time. Multitasking is less of a productivity hack and more of a quality hack. The cost of switching tasks is hours a day, so starting something and sticking to it is the only way to go.
Instead of jumping between tasks or working all the time, carve out parts of your calendar where you work intensely on one thing. Then rest, or change, or reflect. Create your perfect repeatable day and plan your productivity cadence. There will be a perfect sprint duration that works for you, so experiment until you find it. Within that time, turn off everything else and don’t be tempted to check. Sit uncomfortably until your attention span stretches and you reach that place of flow.
4. Starting side projects
If you are not so concerned about your main venture, you should start side projects. If your business matters to you, side projects will cost its potential. Buying that domain name and registering that new business without acknowledging that your energy is now divided is a type of ignorance that does not lead to happiness.
A large business or many small businesses. You decide. If you suffer from FOMO and like to have your fingers in every pie, then go ahead. But if you have bigger plans than that, close the other avenues and go all out. Keep a list of businesses you want to start, but don’t start them. Take the time and effort you’ve saved and do more with your core business. Your future self will thank you.
5. Being very available
Being highly available means keeping your business small because it means your team members aren’t progressing on their own. Instead of becoming resourceful, independent and useful people, they are in your shadow and can’t make a move without your consent. If you don’t trust your people, get rid of them. If you trust them, leave it to them. Standing in the middle of being confused about being there for every question and judging their every move is suffocating their motivation to own their role and see what they can do.
If your ego can’t handle having someone else answer questions and solve problems in your business, that’s on you. There are very few emergencies and you don’t need to be there all the time. Swap some of your office hours for time doing deep work. Take some status meetings to brainstorm your company’s vision. Create leaders, not dependents. You are a CEO not a babysitter.
Avoid chores, errands and administration. Work in intense groups rather than non-stop slog. Avoid multitasking and say no to side projects in favor of all your energy in one direction at all times. Be less available so your team members become partners rather than employees. These daily actions are easy to do and hard to stop, but doing so will remove a ceiling you may not have realized was there.
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