7 approaches ultra-productive people use to get things done
A lack of motivation can be a productivity killer. We often hear people say they don’t feel motivated to complete a project and inevitably it never gets done. Or, if it does, it’s nowhere near as good as it could be. But that’s because we let the desire for motivation stop us from achieving. That’s why so many New Year’s Resolutions fail – once the initial impetus is gone, people can’t sustain the action needed for change.
For some people, it’s become OK to let motivation be the driving force in productivity. But not for me – and not for the most productive people. As Star Wars’ Yoda says: “Do or do not: there is no try.” It’s the same with any project you have to complete.
If you’re chasing the motivation to complete a project, you’re not actually working on it, and you’re not taking responsibility for getting it done.
From motivation to productivity
So how do you move beyond the myth of motivation into true productivity? Let’s take a typical business project and work through the steps. One project most companies need to work on is their website. A good website brings in regular customers and affects the financial viability of your business. Instead of letting technical issues demotivate you, here’s how you can make things happen.
1. Set a goal
First, set a goal. Goals are the bedrock of productivity. In this case, a good goal is increasing traffic to your website. The more traffic you get and the better you succeed in converting that traffic to sales, the more successful your business will be. Increasing traffic is your macro, overall goal, but in order to make something happen you have to break it down into something a bit less scary and a lot more achievable. That’s the second step.
2. Quantify the goal
Goals that are too nebulous don’t get results.
The most successful goals are specific and measurable.
That’s good because when you achieve them, you automatically feel successful and motivated. In this example, it’s not enough to say that you want web traffic. Instead, think about what kind of traffic builds your business. You actually want to attract the attention of more of your key customer personas – the people who are most likely to buy from you. And you need to set a baseline for where you are now so that you can measure success as your traffic number start to build. In other words, you are beginning to quantify that goal, making it easy to see when you achieve it. Add a timescale for achieving your overall goal and you have something specific to work towards.
3. Strategize the goal
The third step is to think about strategies for achieving your goal. In other words, how are you going to attract that traffic? That’s where you start to break your overall goal into sub-goals. For example, if you’re building blog traffic, you might use a combination of social media marketing, content marketing, and advertising. Each of those could be further subdivided:
- Social media marketing (sharing content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and elsewhere)
- Content marketing (creating blog posts, social media posts, presentations, and webinars)
- Advertising (pay per click and social advertising)
You can also consider how to identify and reach the audience you already have to get them involved in promoting your business. Creating and using your tribe of advocates and influencers is another way to build that website traffic.
4. Be specific about responsibilities
Next it’s time to get even more specific about the cost, time and effort required to handle these initiatives. Do you need to spend money to help achieve your goal? How much is available in the budget? How are you going to allocate it?
Do some research and then work out who will be responsible for each task. You might not be the best person to achieve a particular goal, especially if you have in-house or outsourced experts who can achieve it more effectively. For example, if you’re running the company, you might be the one giving the overall strategic direction, but you might have team leaders in charge of managing content and advertising.
5. Break it down
Think about the results you can realistically expect within a particular time frame. Break each sub-goal down yet again, this time focusing on specific, achievable daily and weekly tasks. For example, your social media strategy could include:
- 3 posts shared on Twitter daily
- Image shared on Pinterest and Instagram daily
- 1 business article shared on LinkedIn daily
And your content marketing strategy could include:
- Creating one original post for your blog every week
- Turning one old post into a presentation every month
- Identifying one potential webinar topic every month
Set some due dates and you have a list that the person responsible can do and check off – no need to be motivated.
6. Set targets to measure progress
Similarly, set some targets for the results you want to see. This could include items like:
- 10 new email newsletter subscribers each week
- 15 interactions with customers and followers across social media each week
- 20 social shares of your own content each week
Measure your progress and you will know whether your goals are too ambitious, just right, or far short of what you can actually achieve. Adjust these as you go along, so that you always get more done.
7. Plan for failure and rise above it
Sometimes you won’t meet all your targets. That’s the point at which some people think it’s time to give up, but the truth is that you’re just getting started. This is where you reassess to see if your targets were right and create new targets and goals for the future. If you learn from falling short of your targets, you haven’t failed. The point is to keep going, keep learning and keep evolving your strategy and setting better goals.
The approach outlined here will work for any project. The bottom line is: if you set goals, break them down into sub-goals, allocate time-scales and responsibilities and keep measuring and assessing, you don’t need to be motivated to be productive. You will just get things done – and that will be motivation enough!