How to Be a Prolifically Productive Entrepreneur

This piece was published as a guest post for entrepreneur Will Mitchell on FirepoleMarketing.com

Productivity is how you establish yourself as a leader and innovator in your niche. The brands that produce the most high-quality content succeed because they have a natural advantage over the rest of the field. This isn’t some complex equation, it’s just a fact. But you already knew that.

Unfortunately, even though we know it, most of us don’t have the discipline or drive to practice consistent productivity. Most of us have “productivity phases” where we’ll get a lot done during a week or a month, but then laziness sets in and progress halts.

The problem is that a successful business is cultivated, not built. If you stop the construction of a building, it’ll still be there when you come back. However, if you stop watering your crops, they’ll die. You must put in consistent effort everyday to get the most yield out of your harvest. You can’t let yourself fall into motivational highs and lows because those days or weeks that you slack off will literally kill your results. The tortoise really does beat the hare.

Success is built on momentum. You’ll hamstring yourself and your business if you can’t put in consistent effort to keep the snowball rolling.

We’re all adults here, so let’s be honest… Steady productivity should be easy, but in reality it’s extremely difficult to maintain. The ability to constantly generate new ideas and stay fueled up on motivation is not a trait you’re born with. It takes practice. Lots of it.

How do you start practicing prolific productivity?

Segregate Your Time Into Projects

Managing your time without any structure or priority is impossible. Rich people become wealthy by prioritizing the way they spend money. Successful people become productive by prioritizing the way they spend their time.

Defining objectives is vital; decide what’s most important to your business, and rank your current projects in order of brand-impact. The tiebreaker for project-importance should be which one impacts the most people, or which one has the lower barrier to entry.

Once you have a clearly defined ranking of objectives and projects, you can defeat productivity’s worst enemy – multitasking. Stop trying to do a little of everything every day. Instead, dedicate large chunks of uninterrupted time to the most important projects on your to-do list and leverage the power of continued focus. It’s okay to only accomplish two or three really important tasks every day.

Lastly, refuse to let low-impact activities dominate your time. Batch slap time-consuming everyday tasks by devoting an hour at the middle and/or end of your day to staying caught up. Never start your day with email or Facebook because it’s important to set a tone of meaningful accomplishment in the morning.

Streamline Your Decision-Making

Perfectionism is a productivity-killing disease, and an unfortunately common habit among entrepreneurs. It’s easy to believe that there’s only ever one right decision. But, this way of thinking forces you to waste time evaluating all your options because you can’t afford to take action on the wrong choice.

It’s wasteful to spend 200% more time making a choice that’s only 20% better. Oftentimes, “good enough” will get better results than “perfect” because you’ll see the results faster, and you won’t give procrastination time to take hold.

Decision-making is a process. Like all processes, it can be streamlined. There is a template you can follow to make it easier. Here’s a good starting point for all decisions:

  1. Quickly brainstorm five or six solutions. Use the first five or six that come to mind. If possible solutions are already outlined for you, skip this step.
  2. Pick the two solutions you like the most.
  3. Make a final decision based on (1) how it fits your overall objectives, (2) the speed at which you’ll see results, and (3) the practicality of the solution. Those are listed in order of importance.
  4. Take action!

I want to draw special attention to #4 there. Taking action should become part of the decision-making process. You’ll feel most energetic about a solution right after making your choice. Leverage that motivation and take immediate action – speed is how you beat procrastination.

For example, the next time you have an idea for a new product or service, take action immediately. Talk to your friends, talk to your customers, get feedback and outline your ideas… Do something to get started. Too many business owners throw away potential progress because they wait to figure out the “perfect plan” before moving forward. You don’t need to know your sales funnel, delivery, pricing or support before you start creating a new product or service. You just need a desire to do something new. Then you need to make the decision to get started.

Above all, start actively practicing making faster decisions.

Practice Enjoying Productivity

You know that guy or girl you know who’s doing something new every time you talk to them? It’s as if they have an unlimited pool of productivity to pull from. They’re like the Energizer Bunny… They just keep going, and going, and going.

Have you ever wondered how these people maintain unrelenting productivity?

The answer: they enjoy it. More specifically, they’ve learned to enjoy it.

And FYI, enjoying productivity is not the same thing as “it doesn’t feel like work”. If you wait for taking action to sound more appealing than going to the beach, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Work is almost always going to feel like work, but you can still learn to thrive on the fulfillment that comes with creation and achievement. Very few of us bloggers thrive on the actual act of blogging, but the interaction, outreach, helping and teaching… That’s why we do what we do.

Don’t be fooled here – even though this last tip may sound intuitive, it’s not easy. Fortunately, there are two habits you can adopt to start acquiring a taste for productivity:

Visualization – For every project or task that work on, visualize the end-goal. Make it the first thing you do when you get ready to work… Mentally picture how you’ll spend your time, and what it’ll feel like to finish.

As with all productivity tips, make visualization work for you. Figure out how to think out your projects in a way that resonates. Trust me, it’s there. Whether you visualize specific tasks you’re going to do or the benefits you’ll experience for doing them, find what lights your fire and make it a habit.

Self-Affirmation – If visualization is the first thing you do when working on a project, self-affirmation should be the last. Yeah, yeah, it sounds corny, but self-affirmation is how you associate feelings of happiness and confidence with productivity.

You might be scoffing at this on the outside, but most of us are secretly starved for affirmation. Please just try going way over the top with self-affirmation. After every individual step you complete in whatever you’re doing, literally congratulate yourself out loud on what a great job you’ve done. You can be sarcastic or whatever it takes to maintain your dignity – just do it. This is how you learn to savor accomplishment.

Productivity is Never an Accident

Leadership, success and fulfillment are inevitable when you thrive on the practice of creation. And remember, creation is a practice for a reason. It’s a skill that you sharpen, not a trait that you’re born with. Whether you’re a business owner, an executive, an online entrepreneur or something else entirely, start practicing productivity right now.

As Paul J. Meyer says, productivity only comes when you’re committed to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort. You’ll find yourself making a much bigger impact each day if you can learn to balance the three. Figure out where your productivity habits are lacking, and start taking action each day to improve them.