Increase Productivity Through Addition

Increase Productivity Through Addition

So, you’re looking to accomplish more as a creative or creator.

But you wake up late, check your phone first thing in the morning, and end up watching videos on YouTube before even getting your day started.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But motivation is an inside job, and unless you have a reason to get up and do what you know you should be – and want to be – doing, you either won’t do it or won’t give it the attention it deserves.

One productivity hack that has worked for me, and that goes against conventional wisdom, is addition.

Doing More is Doing More

I’ve shared much about focus and doing less, but the ugly truth is, the main reason I get so much done is because I have deadlines to meet, and because I keep adding new to-do items to my list.

What!? How does that work?

Look, I’m not saying I don’t cull my list periodically. Whether it’s things that don’t bring me joy, don’t help me create an income, or simply aren’t effective, I actively eliminate, automate, or delegate what shouldn’t be on my docket anymore.

But before I ever reach that point, I just keep adding new items to my to-do list. Currently, my weekly list is up to 18 items (with some representing three to five tasks each). I’m due for a serious culling.

But if I’m looking to get things done, this is the way to do it.

As they say, if you want something done, ask someone who’s busy.

And I’m busy (although not in the sense that I’m out of control).

Both Positive & Negative Motivation Produce Results

There are plenty of pieces on Medium about writing a certain number of blog posts per week, or how to set up your writing processes to support the creation of new content regularly.

Look, I’m all for maintaining a library of swipe files, templates, and references. Processes are great to have.

But here’s the thing – you’re not going to do the work unless you have a reason to. It doesn’t matter how nice your keyboard is unless you start putting those fingers to work!

A deadline, however unsexy, is highly motivating (even if it’s what some would call “negative” motivation).

Towards the end of March, I decided I wanted to replace my digital magazine with an eBook, and there weren’t many days left in March.

So, in four days, I wrote 8,000+ words, edited, and formatted a brand-new eBook. Just in time for April 1.

I was clear on what I needed to do, and when it needed to be done by. I got to work, and any creative challenges I encountered, I solved along the way (instead of planning for millennia before even beginning).

Can You Handle Organized Chaos?

If you’ve been at this for a while, then you might know what organized chaos looks like.

In fall 2014, I started ghostwriting blog posts from home, teaching guitar at nights, and working at the University as a theater tech on the weekends. I even tech hosted community gatherings, played gigs, recorded music, and maintained my own websites and blogs. I kept up that pace until summer 2016, when I started working completely from home.

But if you haven’t been to that point yet, then I’m sorry (not sorry), you still have no idea how much you can accomplish in a day or week.

If you’ve been through organized chaos, I would give you a pat on the back and congratulate you on emerging victorious through the smoke of battle.

Otherwise, you’ve got to keep stretching. You will not write or create more just because. You will write or create more if you have non-negotiable deadlines to meet and clients you’re accountable to.

People on Medium often talk about earning $1,000, $4,000, or $6,000 per month writing. Trust me, it’s easy to earn at that level when you’re disciplined and have a solid work ethic.

Don’t Forget to Cull

I couldn’t handle organized chaos forever. Unless your name is Gary Vee, I suspect you won’t be able to either.

It’s all well and good to push yourself, at least within the limits of what’s healthy. But that line can get mighty blurry when you start waking up in a fog every morning (could be an early warning sign).

So, if you’re going to increase productivity through addition, please remember to purge from time to time. Discard tasks and projects that no longer serve you. Replace them with better ones. Or begin to cultivate more discipline and focus for the projects that matter to you.

Use addition as a tool to get things done, not as a strategy for freelancing, business, or life.

Final Thoughts

You could achieve more if you were in a position where you had no other choice.

If you get too comfortable, and have no reason to stretch, you’re not going to do more.

It’s as simple as that.

If you have a lot of free time in your day to stop and think, it might be time to start adding more to your to-do list.

Because you will begin to see just how much you can accomplish in a day or week.

There’s a lot more time than you think.

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Just Show Up

Just Show Up

It’s a rare business that blows up right out the gate.

Generally, business growth is unsexy. It’s a boring tedium of consistent, hard work and gradual improvement through analysis and iteration, as well as strategic pivots.

What many try to do is come up with the perfect idea (e.g., the next Facebook). The right idea ought to propel you to riches and stardom overnight, right?

You can pray for a unicorn, but you should never plan your life around it.

You can pray for a unicorn, but you should never plan your life around it. Click To Tweet

There’s nothing terribly sexy about an antiques store. Yet, there is always a market for seemingly worthless old trinkets and dusty home furnishings.

I don’t find the sewage business to be a fun one. Yet, some of the highest paid jobs in the world revolve around excrement.

The best businesses aren’t necessarily those that have a sugary candy coating.

The best businesses aren’t necessarily those that have a sugary candy coating. Click To Tweet

And so, we come to this topic of showing up, which is boring.

“What’s the point in writing when Artificial Intelligence can do it for you?”

As someone whose livelihood has revolved around writing for 10 years, that thought had occurred to me more than once. And as I started to hear rumors of an AI takeover, I seriously began to question whether I even had a future as a writer.

I even shared about it on the Using Your Power podcast.

But five years later, here I still am, doing better than ever as a writer and blogger.

I am present to the reality that what I’m doing now may not be secure forever. Fortunately, I have developed skills in a variety of other fields that will continue to be of value to people. And I believe enough in myself to be able to acquire new skills too.

But the greatest contribution I make is not that I am a genius, but rather that I show up daily. And by virtue of showing up, I get gigs and contracts I am not the most qualified for.

That’s the value of staying top of mind with your family, friends, followers, fans, and target audience. They see you. They come to know, like, and trust you. And before long, they’re doing business with you.

People assume they must be the most qualified or innovative in their field to become high achievers and top earners.

But at times, I have been paid good money for Googling something anyone could have done in about five minutes.

It’s important to realize that many people value their time more than their money. And that is a worthy virtue. You may not want to be their personal assistant, but for $200 and five minutes of your time, you might just find yourself saying “yes.”

People want to know whether you’re genuine. And most importantly, they want to know whether you’re going to keep showing up for them. Can they depend on you?

There are different ways of showing up for your audience. My favorite way is to write.

Showing up isn’t always easy, and I don’t want to make it sound as though it is. Some days, it will feel like a grind.

But if you want to stay top of mind with your network, attract new clients and opportunities, and create an independent income surpassing your wildest expectations, I know of no better strategy than showing up. Especially since you don’t need to do it perfectly to get the results I’m talking about.

I’m not saying you won’t one day come up with an amazing idea. But in the meantime, you could be showing up anyway.

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