Ever feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel?
You’re working constantly, creating new content and hustling to find new clients, but you don’t seem to actually move the needle in your business. You end each day exhausted, but your to-do list remains a mile long. That’s just what entrepreneurship is, right?
Wrong. You don’t need to be working 80 hour weeks to run a successful business. You might not even need to work 40 hours a week (ever heard of the 4 hour work week, anyone?).
In this post on how to be productive instead of busy, I’m going to walk you through how to get off the hamster wheel and take back control of your business in 6 simple steps. You’ll learn the logistics and mindset changes you need to make in order to hit pause and reset. Once you’ve learned how to step back, you’ll be ready to move forward stronger than ever.
Ready? Let’s jump in.
Listen to the podcast version here:
How to be Productive Instead of Busy in Your Business: 7 Key Steps
Step #1: Identify the problem.
Wait, you might be thinking, I thought we were going to talk about how to be productive instead of busy. We are. But first, we need to understand the root of the problem.
Something we talk about a lot in my Freedom and Unstoppable Mastermind groups is solving the wrong problem–you feel overwhelmed and stuck, so you tell yourself, “I’ll add a new team member, then I won’t have as much to do.”
But the real problem isn’t your small team. The real issue is that you keep taking on wayyy too much yourself, and need to learn how to let go of control. In this case, adding a new team member won’t help if you keep focusing on the wrong problem.
First, ask yourself how being busy is serving you.
You may not want to be busy all the time, but the fact is, human beings don’t naturally continue a behaviour unless it serves them in some way. So take some time to reflect on this. How is being busy serving you?
Does working 24/7 in your business allow you to hold onto control, while other parts of your life feel out of control?
Are you trying to stay busy all the time to avoid the inevitable insecurity of entrepreneurship?
Does working nonstop make you feel significant and important?
Are you trying to please your clients/partner/family/coach?
Once you understand how being busy has become a coping mechanism, you can start to replace it with something healthier.
Step #2: Learn to slow down.
No matter the root cause of your hamster wheeling, the first step is to pause and slow down. This is often the hardest part for busy entrepreneurs. It can be uncomfortable. It can feel like you’re losing momentum in your business. But in order to move forward, you need to learn to slow down.
Building a business really is a marathon, and you can’t sustain a sprint forever. There are going to be ups and downs, slow periods and busy periods. You have to learn to trust in yourself and your business to see it through.
Another thing I often see is impatience. You’ve started this business, built it from the ground up, and you want to see results–like yesterday! Again, this comes back to control.
You think that by grinding 24/7, you can control the outcome. But you can’t! That’s business. The sooner you learn that, and adjust your mindset accordingly, the easier it will be to get off that hamster wheel.
Take a step back.
When you’re in that go, go, go hustle and grind state, you can’t think clearly about what your business needs. So take a step back and create some space before you re-evaluate.
Note: You need to create space, rather than waiting for it to magically appear (hint: it never will).
You should also consider giving your team more freedom. If you don’t already have a team, look into hiring your first employee or contractor. Hiring isn’t always the solution to being busy, but it definitely helps. You can read more about why a team is essential to building a six figure business in this post.
If you already have a team, allowing them more freedom is going to give you more freedom. Handing off responsibilities will free up your time to focus on that true CEO role.
Step #3: Get clear on your vision.
We entrepreneurs often have tunnel vision. We’re so focused on the launch, the next income goal, or whatever it may be, that we forget what we’re actually trying to accomplish.
Why did you start this business in the first place? What kind of business do you want to run? What are you working toward?
Sometimes the reason for feeling stuck is that you’re unclear on your vision. So you keep working and working just trying to do something to move forward, but you’re scattered spending time on the wrong things.
Clarity provides bumper car lanes–whenever you bump up against something that’s not a priority, you can say, “Hey, I don’t need to focus on this right now,” then switch to a task that’s more aligned with your vision. Or (even crazier) take a break!
Step #4: Prioritize.
If you got clear on your vision but still feel like you have a million things to do, it’s time to prioritize! This is probably the #1 reason why entrepreneurs feel stuck–their actions aren’t in line with their priorities.
Think about your crystal clear vision you just developed. What do you need to prioritize in order to get there? What actions will move you closer to your goal, and which are just serving to keep you busy?
Tip: If you’re not sure where all your time and energy are going, do an audit. Reflect on which areas of your business you spend the most time on. Are those areas in line with your priorities?
This isn’t a one time thing–staying disciplined with your priorities is an ongoing process. But aligning your actions with your vision is a key part of how to be productive instead of busy.
Another big piece of this puzzle is learning to say no. In order to achieve your goal, you might have to let go of other ones. That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve all your big, ambitious dreams–just maybe not all at the same time. When you’re prioritizing your business goals, also think about how they’re affecting other areas of your life, like your health and your family.
Step #5: Let go of perfectionism.
Mindset affects every aspect of your business. In terms of being busy and overworked, perfectionism is often at fault. Take another look at your priorities and see what really needs to be done.
Yes, you have to write that sales page, but does it need to be perfect? Or does it just need to be done? Maybe your time would be better spent nurturing leads in your DMs, or something more aligned with your goals.
A good question to ask yourself is, Is this the most productive use of my time? Not just productive–the most productive. This can help you let go of that perfectionism and focus your energy on the most important tasks.
It’s okay for certain areas of your business to just be enough, rather than perfect.
Step #6: Create systems and processes.
This is especially important when it comes to content creation. Often I see clients overwhelmed because they’re creating content every single day, without stopping to think about the process. Creating content and throwing it up on your social media every week is not a long term strategy for success and will definitely take up A LOT of your time.
Press pause. Think about how you can automate your content creation, or whatever else it is you’re struggling with. What systems and processes could you put in place to make content creation easier?
Want access to my exclusive streamlined content creation process? Check out The Content Kit and learn how to create high-converting content in a single afternoon.
Step #7: Utilize your team.
They’re there to support you! But you’re also there to support them. Part of your job as CEO is to lead and empower the people on your team, and to help guide them in their roles.
Make sure all of your team members are clear on their roles and have the tools they need to succeed. This will look different depending on your business, but it could include things like SOP videos, content outlines, software, etc.
If you leave your team clear instructions, they’re more likely to:
- Do their job correctly (aka how you want it done), and
- Be happy and confident employees.
Check in with your team regularly and see if they need anything from you. As time goes on, you’ll build a team you can trust and feel more confident handing off those responsibilities.
Learning how to be productive instead of busy is an ongoing process.
I’ve found myself stuck on the hamster wheel more than once. It may feel good to be busy sometimes, but over the long term it’s not sustainable. It will start to affect your mental clarity and your ability to run your business.
The solution boils down to three key points: priorities, people and processes.
If you take nothing else away from this post, remember the first step of how to be productive instead of busy is to pause and reset. Create space. You can’t make a game plan if you keep running in circles trying to get a million things done at once. Lastly, remember that staying stuck on the hamster wheel is a choice. You can choose to get off at any time!
If all this talk of overwhelm and burnout resonates with you, make sure you check out my Freedom and Unstoppable Mastermind groups to help you scale your business with joy and confidence.
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more business tips!
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