7 Life-Changing Productivity Tips That Lead to Business Success

In an effort to “practice what I preach”, I was stumbling for ideas last night and came upon one that really hit home.

I’m coming on my one year anniversary of self-employment (November 1st); I’ve learned a lot about myself, my motivation, and mostly about areas where I can improve.

Productivity is “the state of being productive”. (in case you weren’t sure)

One of the things I’ve learned as a self-employed entrepreneur is that there is rarely anyone watching over your shoulder to make sure you get things done. In many ways this can be a relief from the micro-managing manager who wastes more time trying to “catch” his/her employees doing something WRONG as opposed to working on projects that will make his/her team BETTER.

The down side of not having someone monitor your progress is that it can be easy to waste time and not be productive.

Luckily, for the most part, things have gone pretty well for me in this area, but as I read over the article I found via Stumbleupon, many points hit the nail on the head and reminded me that there’s always room for improvement.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite business productivity tips with you in an effort to help all of us be more accountable in our business success.

7 Productivity Tips That Will Change Your Business Life Forever

1. Get Moving!

Sure, it’s important to prepare, plan, etc. but if you never start a project due to “over-planning” and preparation, most times nothing will happen. We must challenge ourselves to take action sooner rather than later. The minute you start acting (ie. outlining your next eBook, listing potential JV partners, sharing your simple idea with a trusted group, etc.), you start getting valuable feedback that will help refine your original idea and move forward with a more informed perspective.

2. “Small Success leads to Big Success!”

This has been part of my “mission statement” since I started online marketing almost 8 years ago. Ideas in our head are generally really big, pie-in-the-sky concepts. The downside is that such thinking makes the barrier to entry – and action – quite high. To avoid “blue sky paralysis,” break up your idea into small, simple action steps (I call these performance goals). Once you’ve mapped out your idea with small action steps, you’ll have loads more insight on how to take it to the next level.

3. Chip Away at Your Project a Little Bit Everyday.

Again, that “small success” every day really will lead to “big success” as your consistent. It’s incredibly important to maintain momentum. It’s just like exercise: when you run everyday, the exercise gets easier and easier. As Jack Cheng argues in a great blog post, “Thirty Minutes A Day”: “the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.”

4. What’s Your Routine?

Part of being able to work on your project a little bit each day is carving out the time to do so. Routines can seem boring and uninspiring, but – on the contrary – they create a foundation for sparking true insight.  In his recent memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about how a rigorous routine – rising at 5am and going to bed at 10pm every day – is crucial to his impressive creative output. (In a side note: Alex Iskold derives a series of lessons for start-up entrepreneurs from Murakami here.)

I quoted this tip in its entirety because I’m not the best as keeping a consistent routine: I stay up way too late sometimes and have a really hard time motivating myself to get up before the sun.

Any ideas on how to improve in this area?

5. Most Meetings are a Waste of Time.

Few activities are more of a productivity drain than meetings. I saw this first hand as a middle-manager. Just when I was in a good flow and getting things done, I’d get a notice that we were going to have another pointless meeting about some stupid idea. Not only did the meeting get me out of a rhythm, but it also wasted sometimes nearly half the day and rarely did the crap we talked about ever get truly implemented.

If you must meet (and this should be a big “if”), make sure everyone knows what needs to be accomplished from the outset.

6. It’s OK to Say “No.”

When you’re in execution mode, keep in mind that “unexpected opportunities” also mean distraction from the work at hand. Saying no is an essential part of the productivity equation.

Take author Jim Collins for example. His books Built to Last and Good to Great have sold millions of copies. The well-known author is in high demand. Yet, “even though Collins demands over $60,000 per speech, he gives fewer than 18 per year.” If he gave more of his creative time than that, Collins wouldn’t have enough time to focus on the research and writing that yield those bestselling books.

7. Even Productivity Rules are Made to Be Broken.

Yeah, I talked about following a “routine”. However, this tip and the other tips here should only be followed as long as they are working. If forward motion has become impossible with your current routine, try something else. Whether it’s taking a long distance trip, popping into the art museum, walking around the block, or talking to a perfect stranger, make sure you occasionally shake up your normal routine. Many times, breaking the monotonous routine offers new perspective and helps recharge our creative batteries.

What do you think?

Which tip(s) helps you the most?

Are there other suggestions you implement that help you be more productive?

10 thoughts on “7 Life-Changing Productivity Tips That Lead to Business Success

  1. Dan Patterson says:

    Good tips Nate. For me, the hardest thing I run into with my side business is being consistent. Between kids and other things, something always comes up. My goal right now is to at least get something, no matter how small, done each day.

  2. Nate Moller says:

    @Dan Patterson
    Indeed. One thing I’ve found helpful is to have to “return and report” to someone (even if it’s your wife). Just knowing I have to tell someone what I’ve been working on and the progress has helped me be more accountable.

    Thanks for the comment Dan.

  3. Mat Siltala says:

    #2 hit home … I remember when I first started out I took on a client, that in my mind, was “too small” and I realized that I needed to humble myself and take the business … turns out, they have referred more business to me than anyone to date. You just never know. Be smart and NO, I am not saying take every little project that comes your way … (ie; learning to say no) but yes, small success can bring HUGE success. Thanks Nate

  4. Nate Moller says:

    @Mat Siltala
    True Mat. My “biggest” success to date was the first sale I made on eBay of a pair of levi’s for 99 cents: it helped me see that I can sell anything.

    Saying no to me is more like saying “Not Yet” because it shows the client that you aren’t blowing them off, you may just want to give them some homework so they know what they’re getting in to and can have realistic expectations.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. joe says:

    This are really great tips! I especially like to keep my momentum even on small successes, small but consistent will lead to big ones later.

  6. Matt Kinsella says:

    Loads of great tips. I have been self employed or running a business for 10 years now and I can relate to what you have written here. One thing I do to make sure I do the boring tasks I don’t like is setting myself targets like: “I must make 10 sales calls each day I am in the office” or “Get all the invoicing finished on the last day of every month” and make sure I stick to them. If I don’t I can easily and conveniently “forget” to do them.

  7. Jomson George says:

    Awesome tips:) I hope it will be very useful for but always I am lacking at some points especially “It’s ok to say NO”, I am not doing that one but I will. Thanks for sharing this inspiring tips with us:)

  8. Ron @ San Jose Jumpers says:

    Hi Nate,
    I am a full time student and started my own business about half a year ago and I have to say it’s not an easy job. I am still at a young age and still like to party so it’s really hard for me to say “NO.” I’m constantly fighting for it so I can build my business, but always find myself slipping away. I am constantly learning and better myself, thanks for these great tips.

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