Something I've come to understand over the last year is that, as humans, we organize our lives around the wrong things.
The media we consume has done a fantastic job of conditioning us to want things and do things that never make us happy or fulfilled. It's so backwards, that these things actually make us less happy. And yet we continually chase them.
One of these such things is productivity. It's easy to think that you need to be busy all the time in order to be productive - especially if you're not making as much money as you want to be. It's easy to think that somebody somewhere is working right now and so you should be too.
But this is a recipe for disaster.
Busyness and efficiency are only one piece of the puzzle. The other piece is effectiveness.
Effectiveness asks, are you doing the right things?
I lived in New York City in college and we would often walk by a parade of horse drawn carriages near Central Park. One of the things you notice about these horses is that they have blinders on. They are not allowed to look to the side to see what the other horses are doing or get distracted by billboards with flashing lights. They are focused on the task at hand and nothing can distract them.
For some reason, beginners want to learn the tactics and tricks that make them more efficient, regardless of whether they are being effective.
I see this in every niche, from online business to productivity, to dating, beginners and experts all make this mistake.
We would rather be busy doing something than doing nothing at all. But this is precisely backwards. Doing the wrong thing is much more wasteful than doing nothing.
You need empty space, time to do nothing, to think. You need to figure out if what you're doing is worth continuing over the long-term. Not just on existential level but on a practical level as well.
You need blinders. The only reason why you should deviate from your plan is because you intentionally decided to pursue something else. Not because you saw a billboard about affiliate marketing that is too good to pass up.
When I started out in online business, I tried all these gimmicks like LinkedIn spamming, dropshipping junk from China, Amazon book reselling, you name it I tried it.
I was focused on the tactics of how to make money online instead of first deciding what I wanted to do. Why would I want to be in dropshipping? Do I enjoy selling crappy t-shirts to moms on Facebook? No? Well what would I enjoy doing instead?
And so I moved one step closer to finding out what I wanted.
Let me put it another way. You've likely heard of the Pareto Principle, that 80% of the results come from 20% of the activities.
All of the sensational tactics, tricks, swipe files, and gimmicks are the 80% of things that give you 20% of the results. Efficiency is this 20%. It only gives you an edge if you're already doing the right things.
What's the 20% that gives you 80% of the results? Effectiveness. The high level strategy.
The few things that you can do consistently - every day - that ensure you continue to grow your business, stay healthy, and achieve your goals.
So again, we as an industry have it completely backwards.
Success isn't a compilation of tactics. It's consistency and focus in doing maybe 2 or 3 things every single day for the next 20 years.
If you want to be busy, there is an endless array of tactics and tricks for you to keep working on. But if you want to be productive, you ought to do less. Find the minimum amount of work you need to grow and start from there. It's easy to add more work. It's hard to take it away.
So where do you start? What are these magic things?
First, start by realizing this tendency and simplify your life. I've written about zero-based budgeting before, and this is always the best place to start form.
Starting from a blank slate is better than trying to modify from where you're at.
Second, read and write every single day. This will be the single most impactful thing you can do for your business, your mindset, and your own personal development.
Create content every day. Do something to grow your audience. It could be posting that content on social media or it could be getting yourself booked on a podcast. Whatever you prefer.
Then instead of finding something to keep you busy, do nothing.
Give yourself space to think and reflect. Space to figure out what's working and what isn't. And then pursue that intentionally and consistently.
Keep the blinders on.