Staying focused and getting a ton of stuff done is something we all want to do. I know you’re like me and set goals for yourself and you have every intention to make made progress down that checklist.
When I asked our community what holds them back from accomplishing everything they want to get done, I got a lot of different answers. Answers ranging from “I don’t know what realistic goals to “I put too much on my to do list and I don’t feel like I get anything done” to “I get so busy with my client work that I don’t get what I want to done.”
Today, I’m calling out the biggest mistakes I see creatives making in their businesses that stop them from being able to accomplish things, even when they (read: we, as in – including myself sometimes) have the best of intentions and plans.
1. Unrealistic Expectations + Overloading
What I see most commonly with the creative types is that expectations can be a little far fetched from reality. You expect to get a whole heap of things completed, when in fact, you only have a small amount of time to get it done. Alternatively, you have a list of things that don’t show the progress you can make in one sitting or one day, making you feel deflated.
Let me give you an example:
On a day when you have 6 meetings that usually run an hour (and sometimes run over) you look at your list and write down 5 items that might take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours long because you don’t want to forget about the items. But after your calls are over, you only have a 30 minute window before you have to go and pick up your kids from school leaving you feeling like you didn’t get anything done.
It’s unrealistic to expect that on a 7 hour day when you have 6 meetings that you’ll get anything other than the scheduled meetings and maybe a quick task off of your list.
THE FIX: Unclutter your to-do list and examine what time you actually have available.
In this scenario, you can look at your day and see that you really only have about an hour to get things done. So write one or two things on your “gotta do today” list to handle before you call it quits for the day. By decluttering your to-do list and taking a hard look at your available time, you’ll be able to get a handle on what you can accomplish.
Side note, if you KNOW that you have calls all day and there’s a pressing deadline where you actually have to get those 5 items done by tomorrow, this is where you’ll have to consciously decide that you have to work in the evening to make sure your deliverables get out by the deadline. But in most cases, you have more leeway and can put the items on your to-do list for later in the week (or even in the month, because it’s not always urgent!).
2. You’re working on too many projects
This is one that I am constantly working on managing for myself. As a high achiever, I know that you want to get stuff done. You want to make progress on all the things and get it all handled. Unfortunately, like your computer, when your brain has too many tabs open, the operating system (your brain) can slow down, making it work harder and process less information. Working on too many projects at once makes you have to remember details about the various projects, where you are in each of them, making it more difficult to actually see tasks to completion.
We know the warnings they give us about multitasking. According to this report by the American Psychological Association, shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of somebody’s productive time.
When you concentrate on fewer tasks, you’re more likely to be able to focus and likely do a better job with fewer errors.
THE FIX: Close down those tabs (in your brain + on your computer) and focus on projects
Here’s the real deal. Do you want to spend an entire year working on 10 different projects and maybe get one or two off the ground or would you rather focus on two projects each quarter with diligent focus and complete and show the world all 8 projects at the end of the year?
Even if it feels like if you don’t work on something right now, somebody might take your idea or that the novelty will have worn off, waiting a while and focusing on what’s right in front of you can be fruitful. You can have a more successful launch on your product. You can enjoy the company of the people around you because you’re not harried about this or that. You’re less likely to be stressed and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
3. You’re your own boss and can watch Netflix if and when you want
It’s one of the best parts about being an entrepreneur, right? You are your own boss and you don’t have real deadlines. So what if that blog is supposed to go out tomorrow, you can take the week off, right? You can make your own rules as an entrepreneur. You can watch Netflix in your PJs and bunny slippers if you want. The to-do list can wait. Or, maybe that’s what gets you anxious in the first place?
Holding yourself accountable is one sure way of getting things done in your business. Even if you are your own boss, in order to move the needle forward, you have to set explicit or implicit deadlines and expectations of what will get done.
Imagine this scenario. You wanted to get a client project done but you just got home from work and took care of dinner and the dishes and now you’re beat. You’d rather just sit on the couch and eat Ben and Jerry’s while you mindlessly scroll Instagram. (I speak from experience. I know this feeling.)
Instead of becoming one with that couch and have your thumb start the scroll, here’s what I want you to think of:
- What will light a fire under my butt to get this done?
- Why did I want to get this project/task/assignment done in the first place?
- Who will I disappoint if I don’t do what I said?
THE FIX: Find a way to hold yourself accountable.
Depending on your personality, you can use a few different tools for accountability. Personally, my modus operandi is to write something down and set a deadline, I’m likely to get it done, because i’m stubborn and I said so. If I need an extra layer of accountability, I’ll tell my husband or my team that it needs to get done.
Another way you can hold yourself accountable is by having an accountability buddy who you check in with weekly – she’ll be making sure you commit to something and actually hit that goal.
One client in the past would withhold certain things (like ice cream or her favorite night time ritual of taking baths with her favorite salts) to make sure she got her work done on time.
Whatever accountability works for you, lean in to that. It’s mean to motivate you, energize you and move you to get past the hump and moving into momentum.
Getting stuff done.
I’m excited for more creatives to get stuff done. Your creative talents mean that you should have the freedom to create your schedule, create space for creativity, and also leave room in your calendars for structured work (that we all gotta do). By being more productive in these pockets of times, we’re ensuring that you can have more freedom and flexibility when it really matters.