Have you ever wondered why the most successful professionals in your industry create more impactful content, land ideal clients easily, and ride off into the sunset?
They’ve mastered the art of productivity and effectiveness.
Back in the industrial age, Frederick Taylor ushered in the idea of time-management with his time and motion studies. These were relevant at the time and had a direct application to workers on the factory floor.
Productivity (in the economic context) has been synonymous with effectiveness since then. The term productivity has found its way into today’s vernacular but probably isn’t as relevant to us knowledge workers as it was to the factory floor.
Productivity for us knowledge workers is not necessarily about getting more done in less time. It’s about doing less. It’s about doing the right things at the right time in the right sequence and delegating or eliminating the rest.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in his second act as CEO, one of the first things he did was eliminate about 70% of Apple’s product lines.
It might’ve seemed extreme, but this proved to be the key to Apple returning from the brink of bankruptcy and going to become the first trillion-dollar company in the United States. Apple also was the first US company to hit the $2 trillion mark soon after.
Eliminating certain tasks in your marketing or sales process can be the productivity hack you need to reach your marketing goals faster.
Thomas Frank in one of his YouTube videos talked about how he used to have a triple-camera setup and continuously switched between camera angles whenever he recorded new YouTube videos..
This method was problematic because it took the editor hours to sit and switch camera angles during the podcast, and required even more hours to edit the videos.
He eliminated the triple camera setup so the editor could focus on the center camera. This freed up more time for the editor. Now, she just had to spend 15 minutes editing the videos.
This alternative method was more productive and freed up more time for the video team to create more content instead of editing existing content. These are some examples of how eliminating some tasks can help you improve your productivity.
Former United States President Dwight Eisenhower created a template that allowed him to delete, delegate, and do important tasks. It’s called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.
The principle of this decision matrix is simple: urgent tasks are seldom important, while important tasks are seldom urgent. If you follow this principle, you will learn how to group important business tasks and get the most out of the most productive hours of your day.
Before we dive into the whole Eisenhower decision matrix principle, what does productivity mean for professional consultants?
When we say productivity, what does that mean for professional consultants?
For some, productivity means getting many things done in a shorter amount of time. There is nothing wrong with this definition of productivity. But this definition focuses on quantity rather than quality work.
I asked Ameenah; a dentist and a digital marketer what productivity means to her. According to Ameenah, “Productivity for me means doing sensible things, resulting profitably in terms of business.”
I once worked with a graphic artist who would never discuss the creative process of any project in the nighttime.
According to him, his mind works best in the morning, instead of wasting time trying to come up with something creative, he uses the time for other tasks like replying to his emails - he does serious work in the morning.
Your most productive hours are when your mind is at its sharpest. For some, it’s in the morning while others come alive in the nighttime.
The first step to creating a framework that guarantees productivity is to know your most productive hours.
When does your mind work the best?
If you know the answer to this question, use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to prioritize your task accordingly and get the most out of your active hours.
You can become an effective time manager using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. The decision matrix comprises four quadrants, each quadrant differentiates tasks in their order of urgency and importance.
Tasks on this quadrant are time-sensitive, add immediate value to your goals for the day, and mostly revolve around managing some sort of crisis or deadline.
You don’t delegate or decide when to do the tasks in this quadrant; you act on them immediately.
Reduce more time spent in this quadrant by doing more tasks in the second quadrant.
The top 1% in your industry spend most of their time in the second quadrant of the matrix. The tasks in this matrix require initiative and strategic thinking.
Put these tasks in your calendar and complete them in due time. Remember, you want to spend most of your time in this quadrant.
Schedule the tasks on this quadrant and complete them yourself in due time.
P.S: The tasks here have no set deadline and can be easy to procrastinate on.
Tasks found in quadrant 3 of the decision matrix are tasks that need to be done immediately; however, they don’t particularly need your direct input to get it done.
Some tasks you will find on this quadrant may include
Delegate or automate the tasks on this quadrant. If that’s not possible, do them after completing tasks in the first quadrant.
P.S: You can assign tasks here to members of your team. by assigning tasks on this quadrant to them. Helps with independent decision-making for team members.
Tasks on this quadrant are not important to your long-term goals, neither are they urgent. But many people spend unknowingly productive time in this quadrant.
These distractions are not that bad. You can always wind down after a busy day at work. But If you’re not disciplined with your time and intentional with what you aim to achieve, you will waste time in this sector of the quadrant.
Some tasks you’ll find here include
Ruthlessly cut out these tasks from your life or relegate them to a time of the day when you’re not active or productive. You can decide to check your social media right before you fall asleep or watch your TV shows when you’re done with more productive tasks.
As you can see, the Eisenhower decision matrix helps you manage time, decide what you need to do now and what you can do at a later date.
If you integrate this template into your daily life, you will improve your productivity and achieve outstanding business success.
You can set your consulting business up for success this new year with these simple yet effective strategies.
One of such strategies is the Pomodoro Technique.
Many successful businesses have used the Pomodoro technique to improve productivity and set their business on the right path. The idea is simple: work for 25 minutes and take a break for 5.
Here are other simple strategies you can employ to help you achieve excellent results in your business in 2021.
For a while now, I have helped entrepreneurs set up their businesses for financial success. During these years I always tell them this, “write your financial goals”.
Stats show that 42% of people who write their goals achieve them. Write your goals and act on them.
We only have 3 effective hours each day. Wouldn’t it be more productive if we spent those hours doing tasks that align with our goals?
As a consultant, what are the tasks that align with your long-term objectives? Ideally, these tasks are in the second quadrant of the decision matrix.
Within your mind is the tool needed to achieve anything you dream of. You can become the best in your field or the top name in your industry.
All you need is to improve your creative process. Napoleon Hill once said, “whatever your mind can conceive, you can achieve.”
Hack your digital habits
There’s a simple hack to alter your habit and achieve your goals in 2021.
Map your habits to your goals and track those habits accordingly. Cultivating good habits is a low-energy way to execute tasks consistently. Doing this takes you a step closer to your business goals.
Key lessons from the previous year can prepare you better for a new business year. What did you learn last year?
Write them down, write what you learned from the events of the previous year. I promise you’ll find them useful as the new year runs out.
Looking back at the previous year and what you’re learned, which goals do you think will bring in more results?
Brainstorm ideas and remember; the goals that bring more value to your customers are the most profitable for you.
What are your top 3 goals in your profession? Which of your ideas makes other ideas secondary? If you are clear on these goals, start working on them immediately.
Design a strategic plan to help you achieve these goals.
I have created a template that helps you design your ideal day. You can combine this template with the Eisenhower matrix to improve your productivity in 2021.
Download the template here.What to do when your plans fail
What happens when we cannot implement these new habits or when we do and fail?
This is when to implement the if-then version of this strategy. “If this doesn’t work out, then what?”
The if-then strategy gives you a coherent plan of action against unexpected circumstances in your plan to conquer 2021.
Now get ready to grind and win in 2021. You can do this.Download The Free Productivity Checklist For Busy Consultants
Ash Roy has spent over 15 years working in the corporate world and collected an MBA (Masters In Business Administration) from the Australian Graduate School of Management along the way.