Let’s get busy! Or would you rather say – let’s get more productive. Which one do you prefer?
I’ve been in the online business world since 2009 and while coaching wasn’t my passion back then, I’ve seen how people romanticized the word busy just to make themselves feel better.
I knew because I’m one of those people. I used to work 14 long hours a day (even more when I was still in the corporate world and also building my scrapbook design business on the side).
It was exhausting and I barely got any sleep.
But I thought that’s how it should be. That if I want to be more successful, I need to work more hours – that’s how I was brought up!
I used to see my grandparents wake up early for the farm and come back late in the afternoon. Manual labor and long working hours were their jam.
And I’m pretty sure that I am not alone. You were also inundated with this belief that long working hours is equivalent to being successful. Am I right?
If you’re listening or watching this and you’re nodding your head right now, you know I’m speaking the truth.
Now, I told you I’ve been working online since 2009 and I’ve seen many businesses, people who’ve gotten way more successful than others. And the funny thing is – these are the people who can still do the things they love, spend days with their friends and family, go on vacation and still be able to run a successful business.
I was boggled and I kept asking myself, I thought we need to be busy and working all the time? How can they afford to be away from the business?
It took me years of doing the same thing over and over before I got my answer and it was after my son Alphonse was born.
When I had the twins, raising them was a walk in the park..They were pretty independent. Which meant I could work for long hours uninterrupted because they would play all the time. I just need to occasionally check on them to make sure they didn’t get up to any mischief.
But with Alphonse, it was different. Because he has special needs, we had to go to multiple doctors’ appointments, lab tests and therapies. And because of that, I’ve learned how to value my time.
Because I knew that what I was doing previously was no longer sustainable.
That’s when I learned to charge more for my work – because if I’m spending time away from the kids, it better be worth it. And that’s also the reason why I didn’t get to experience many low-ball offers. I simply said NO and only took clients who were willing to pay more for my creative services.
I didn’t care about what others were doing and what they were charging. I stayed in my lane and kept doing what I love to do.
I was able to work within 2-4 hours a day, sometimes even less depending on Alphonse’s nap time and I delivered the work my clients needed. Because I knew that at any given time, Alphonse would wake up from his nap, I knew that when I sat down on the couch to work, I had ONE THING to do – the project I needed to work on. That’s it.
No social media, no chats, no messages and phone calls. Unless it was from Kris and the school.
I learned how to prioritise the work that needs doing, focus better, finish the task at hand and if I’m really efficient, I sometimes still have room to watch my favorite TV show.
And that’s when I realized – so this is how being more productive feels like!
I worked efficiently like this for a year and was able to make a pretty solid income to support our little family.
Then, a year later – we hired someone to care for Alphonse.
I immediately reverted back to my old ways. Working 14 hours a day and I was strangely super proud of that because I equated busy and long hours with being productive. Forgetting the fact that a few months ago, I can be productive with just a few hours a day.
When I found myself exhausted all the time and feeling like I’m barely accomplishing anything, I knew it was time for me to step back and do a serious reassessment of where my time is going.
So I started tracking what I was doing throughout the dayfrom the minute I wake up to the time I go to bed.
And lo and behold, the majority of my time was spent on browsing, social media, chatting, checking my statistics. Basically, I was on my phone, checking it obsessively while I was working.
The result? Unfinished work and exhaustion.
Eventually, I got tired of being tired. I got to get my act together and become more productive instead of just being busy all the time.
Want to know what worked? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
But before I do – you need to know that this tip I’m about to share with you is pretty flexible. Use it as your guide to create your own schedule and tailor them to your own needs.
My schedule is ever changing but there’s one thing that I’m consistent with no matter what. And that is – are you ready?
Having core working hours.
The rest of my schedule could change anytime but no matter what I make sure that I set aside these number of hours to do work.
So what exactly is core working hours? It is the time when I do work continuously without any interruptions. I do this so I can focus better on things that matter most to my business like income-generating activities.
In my case, I have 4 core working hours everyday. It can be 4 straight hours (can be in the morning or afternoon), 2 sets of 2 hours, or sometimes if Alphonse needs me I work 1 hour in the morning and the rest of the time I work in the afternoon when he plays with his dad or sisters.
This is what works for me because I have a child with special needs and despite having a fairly consistent routine – it all depends on his mood for the day so things change on a daily basis. Balance is something that I’ve desperately tried to have before but the more I search for it, the more I fail so I just go with the flow and learn as I go. From that, I developed my own system and that’s what I want you to do as well. Commit to dedicating a set number of hours a day as your core working hours.
But of course be realistic and be honest with yourself especially when you have kids like I do. There will always be interruptions but what worked for me was and if you can, involve the family in your business matters. If the kids are old enough to understand that you need to work, tell them you can’t be interrupted on certain hours unless it’s absolutely necessary. If they’re still babies – things might be different for different people but I found in my experience, nap times are the best time to work.
And over the years I learned that when I only work for a few hours, I can focus better and really deal with the tasks on hand. But if I have the whole day to work, I tend to lose focus and deal with stuff that isn’t helping me get closer to my goals.
When you have limitations, you don’t get to make many choices. You focus only on the important things. And statistics show that when we’re focused, we spend 35% less time on non work related sites, our efficiency increases and our life gets better because we’ll have more time for connection and activities we love.
So it’s time to stop being busy and focus on being more productive by working less.
Try it for yourself, experiment on the best timing that works for you and set your own core working hours when you can work without interruptions. See how it’ll change your life and your business.