Beware of busywork

The winter has finally arrived in New York. I feel like a bear down here in my basement and let me tell you, the cold shower that I take every morning got a lot colder, to the point that it burns your skin if you stay there for too long.

We got about 12 inches of snow yesterday and I was busy shoveling around.

Speaking of being busy… Did you ever have a moment when you start a day full of energy, sit in front of your computer excited to rock the world and actually do the things that you did put off a while ago, only to find hours later that you didn’t really accomplish anything important?

You start your morning by checking your inbox, then a bit of facebook, then you have to check a funny picture someone sent you, more unread emails arrive in the mailbox that you absolutely have to open immediately because you hate the feeling of having unread emails… then a tea break with a small piece of chocolate (or maybe two), too late to start working on that big thing as the lunch is approaching, lunch, more emails and texts (we have to relax a bit to digest the food, right?), another tea break, too late to start that big task as it’s almost 6pm aaaannnd another day is over.

Sounds familiar? I bet it’s. I wasted so much time that way it’s not even funny… The worst part is the regret that comes at the end of another unproductive day.

That’s probably ok if you work for someone else and don’t have any big goals / dreams to achieve, but definitely not ok when you run your own thing.

Want to know how you can break the pattern and actually get productive once in your life? You need to have a plan!

I know, I know – I hate big detailed plans myself, but it doesn’t have to be a plan like that.

I think I mentioned in the past that a few years ago I switched from Gmail to Google Inbox. Both products are from Google, but Inbox is a separate app that you can install on your iPhone or Android and it gives you new and refined Gmail experience. It’s like Gmail on steroids.

The biggest thing that I love about Google Inbox app is the ability to create reminders that live in your Inbox. Before that, I was sending emails to myself and then every day I would reply with a word “UP” to keep those reminder emails on top of my mailbox.

With Inbox I can create real reminders (even recurring ones). Once the reminder is created, I have a filter in the app that allows me to quickly find them in my Inbox. Super cool. If I need to postpone a reminder for a bit, I click it and press Later Today and it will show at 6pm that same day.

Overall Inbox is probably one of the apps that I literally can’t live without, along with LastPass for passwords and secure notes.

Google Inbox is completely FREE by the way! Thank you, Google – another truly spectacular product!

Ok, so here is how my normal day looks like. Once I’m ready to tackle the business stuff, I open my Inbox and find all of the reminders (which I scheduled the day before). Then I quickly sort those by the importance in my head and start working through those.

The sorting by importance literally takes like 5 minutes of my time, but I feel like that’s the most important step.

Here is why.

I’m sure you heard of Tim Ferris before (hint: got famous for his 4-hour workweek book).

When one of the reporters asked to follow him for a few days to see if he had some special routine that makes him produce so many useful and impactful things, he immediately declined the request saying that his normal days are pretty boring.

“There is no magic” – Tim explained. “A lot of the time I just do nothing but thinking and trying to identify the Big domino, the one big thing that would knock all other small dominos”.

Pretty cool right?

Almost every day I see a lot of “entrepreneurs” who appear extremely busy doing “things”. They even call themselves “hustlers” and other fancy words. Yet, most of the time they tend to focus on fun, easy or not important stuff.

For technical people, it’s typical to jump into some shiny new technology and waste A LOT of time learning and writing everything from scratch. Business guys tend to focus on renting offices and buying furniture and computers.

All of that without having a single customer! Not surprising 8 out of 10 new businesses fail in the first 18 months…

MARKETING! You got to become a marketer! It doesn’t matter what you do, you have to learn how to package and sell the thing. Identify what to sell and how to sell it. This is your number one priority if you call yourself an entrepreneur.

Next time you have an urge to jump in and “grind”, ask if that’s really the most important thing that you can do for your business. If the answer is yes – by no means, you have my permission. But if the answer is “well, probably”, then you need to zoom out and re-focus yourself.

Yes, the most important tasks will be the hardest to do (that’s why we push them aside by the way). It’s likely you’ll be pushed to do things you never did before. Remeber one thing – the unknown is always scary, but that’s the ONLY way to grow.

Wake up, Neo... The matrix has you...

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