Recently, my son started playing soccer. Now, I use the words “playing” and “soccer” loosely because it’s semi-organized chaos. It’s two high school kids chasing around a dozen miniature humans and trying to get them to kick a soccer ball, something that they would absolutely do, unless you actually wanted them to. My son is pretty intense but seems to focus relatively well in these settings. It seems that he really enjoys authority figures as long as that authority figure isn’t me. But I digress. This weekend at soccer, my son repeatedly came over to the sidelines where I sat with the other parents and yelled, aggressively and happily, “Daddy I’m having so much fun”. Fine. Then why are you over here talking to me and not playing soccer?

It’s a symptom of something we do all day, every day. We talk about what we’re doing. We report on what we’re doing. We take pictures of what we’re doing. But when we’re doing each of these things, we’re NOT doing what we’re supposed to be doing. So what? Don’t get me wrong. I love Instagram. All those pictures of lunch I’m not eating and beer I’m not drinking is actually still pretty entertaining. And none of this is to suggest that I’m not guilty of these exact same things. But the point is that we’re wasting an awful lot of time.

I split my time between taking care of two kids, writing for an inbound marketing firm and growing OneRedCat. But I waste an awful lot of time giving lip service. I talk about how exciting it is to work on new projects…rather than working on new projects. I check out new resources on the latest and greatest trends in web development…instead of building sites. I scroll through page after page of e-learning resources…rather that just signing up for something and getting my learn on. Now, I’m not suggesting I’m lazy or a procrastinator, although there are times when I can certainly be both. What I’m saying is that we all have a tendency to talk, to look and to listen instead of doing.

So how do we fix it?

Use resources faster. 

When you learn something new, use it or lose it. Here’s a prime example. On my first day at Kula Partners, my boss Jeff asked me if I wanted a cappuccino. When I said yes, he said great…let me show you how to use the espresso machine. He then proceeded to walk me through how to make a cappuccino. He was a good teacher. I understood. I was excited to start enjoying cappuccinos. Now, when I finished the one I was drinking, I should have made another right away but I didn’t. And then I wasn’t in the office for a while. So the next time I came in t the office…I didn’t drink cappuccino. It had been too long since I’d learned the skill for me to practically apply it. And I didn’t want to waste Jeff’s time in teaching me again. So now I sit, coffee-less.

Make a plan. Write it down. Publish it. 

I often post my to-do list on Twitter. It makes me accountable. I get some positive reaction to it and since many of my clients follow me, when they see their project up there, they have the opportunity to say, “hey…I thought you were going to do x…what happened?” Having people that hold you accountable is a very powerful tool. I’m intrinsically motivated in many ways but one of my biggest motivators is not letting people down when they’re counting on me. By writing down that plan and making it public, I’m creating a situation where I’m held accountable.

Less media. More work. 

Get off social media platforms. This is coming from someone who LOVES social media. I’m on every platform all the time. But I’ve come to realize that each of these things takes a little percentage of my focus. Sometimes it’s not enough to even consciously notice. But if you really want to get it done, go with some internet free time. Turn off notifications. Lock it down. Even better, if you have some writing to do, put all the tech away and write in a book. Now a book, for those that are curious, is a whole bunch of pieces of paper, like what your grandmother would have used, bound together with a harder piece of paper. They’re great for kindling and making you look smart on bookcases. Seriously though. Turn off your devices whenever you can. Sometimes that’s when the real work starts.

For more tips and productivity tips, drop me a line. I’m always happy to lend a hand.

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