Why You Never Feel Productive in Your Online Business
I learn differently.
I have my entire life - or for at least most of it.
It’s one of my stories, my traits… my defining features that I tell myself makes me somewhat unique compared to most people. And it comes from my childhood, my time spent in hospitals - one that consisted more of doctor visits and days spent in drug-induced darkness than making friends on the playground or spending summers at camp.
For most of my youth, I was in and out of hospitals, homeschooled - or moving in and out of school days like a ghost. I had no connection with other kids - and although I remember a lot of them, most of them probably have no memory of me.
So instead of curriculum created my someone else, I spent my days reading books. I skated through math and science with little to no help - only ever getting the point of the assignment, but never really learning HOW.
So I did it my way.
I made it make sense FOR ME.
I learned a different way and explained things out of order. My mind didn’t conform to the “right way” - and when that was forced on me, I resisted. Pushed back. I challenged the “because I said so”’s and the “that’s the way it works” fallbacks.
I didn’t respect authority or age simply because they had a title or were my blood.
I learned differently - and it made me see differently.
If it didn’t make sense, I didn’t do it (which became one of my rules of life).
As I got older, the “way of life” - of our culture rather - held no interest for me.
Graduate high school. Go to college. Get a job. Get married, have 2.5 kids and buy a house. Pay bills. Get old. Die.
I got to the “get a job post-college” part and jumped the fuck off that crazy train.
Why any of this matters
You might be wondering why I’m telling you this.
Well, you know that feeling when you work and work, but never feel like you’re getting anything done? You feel lethargic, unproductive or guilty because you haven’t knocked out your to-do list. Hell, days can go by and you may constantly feel like you’re always working instead of getting your creativity juices a-flowin…
Learning how to make things work for you, instead of the productivity tips or strategies you hear from other people is the difference between success and failure... alignment and burnout… productivity and wasting time… living your life the way you want and constantly feeling like you have to hustle and grind until you can’t breathe.
And I know you want the good parts of all of those, am I right?
For a long time I thought that the fact that I learned differently or questioned how life unfolds made me weird, different, somehow behind compared to the normal people I saw everyday that were “happy” - and yeah, sometimes I am behind in some ways.
But learning HOW something worked FOR ME was a game-changer.
Sometimes I forgot. Sometimes I followed the path that others laid out for me, but whenever I feel in a funk or blocked, I’m reminded of this subtle strength I have. I’m reminded that I need to figure out how to make that work for me.
And it’s something you have to figure out, too.
You can take a million courses, get certified in a thousand different things, have degrees up the wazoo, and still have no idea how to get where you want to go.
Why is it so hard?
Because you haven’t figured it out FOR YOU.
I think it’s the most important lesson we’re never taught growing up. Instead of following our parents footsteps or chugging along the dusty road of I’m gonna go to college, graduate and still have no clue what I’m doing, we don’t look at 1) what we really fucking want and 2) where we need shift to make things work for us.
Knowing how to make things work for you affects things like your ability to work or be productive, your love of life, your daily routine, how you can build a business, what you expect, where you boundaries are (if you have any at all yet), your energy levels, your drive to exercise, your mental health and so so much more. When I started looking at my "I learn differently" as a strength, I figured out how to use it for me.
So where can you start doing this?
Where are you doing things that don’t feel right to you?
Are you waking up early when you hate it?
Are you making to-do lists that leave you feeling more overwhelmed instead of structured and ready to conquer that shit?
Maybe you’re working 12-14 hour days, but never feel like you’re getting anywhere.
Stop. Forcing. Yourself.
I’m not talking about making yourself go to the gym or kicking your ass in gear to get things done. You still need that sometimes.
No, stop forcing yourself to do things you hate or don’t feel good - and find a way to make it fun for you.
There have been a lot of studies that show that we don’t tend to stick with things if they aren’t easy and don’t feel good. And really why would we? Forcing yourself to do something you hate everyday doesn’t sound fun at all. Why live like that when you can try a different way?
So, what are you doing right now that doesn’t feel good?
Write it down. List out a few ideas of how you can turn that into something you enjoy. Maybe it’s changing the environment or the way it’s created.
A good example of this is writing blog posts. I know plenty of people who hate writing, but they love speaking or teaching. A few ways to make it work is by recording a video of yourself and having it transcribed into a blog post. Or you can just make your blog posts video posts instead.
If you are doing things that don’t feel good, why are you doing them?
Where are you spending time that doesn’t serve you?
Scrolling through social media. Overplanning on calendars and to-do lists. Binging that Netflix show because you just need a break.
Do any of those things make you feel good? I mean really really good. Like down to your core, oh-my-god-I-feel-like-I’m-walking-on-clouds good?
I spent A LOT of time on things that didn’t serve me and ended up paying for it through burnout, lots of nights spent crying from the bubbling emotions, and wasting time on things that did nothing for me.
So what can you do?
Make a list of things you do everyday. Write every single thing down from the moment you wake up one day until you wake up the next. Write down sleep, going to the bathroom, when you checked out Pinterest, making that to-do list, writing that blog post - everything.
Now divide those things on your list into two categories: Serving Me | Not Serving Me
If you put something on the Serving Me list, jot down a little note of why. If you put anything down on the Not Serving Me list, strike it out of your routine…. Better yet, look at where in that action you can make it work for you.
Where are you creating obstacles to things you want?
I created more obstacles than I care to admit.
Every time I said I didn’t have time or sat down in front of the TV instead of giving myself space to create freely. Every time I let myself become overtaken by thoughts of “I can’t do this” or created more and more tasks, I was doing myself a disservice.
These obstacles might look like a structure or a way out of overwhelm when really they’re causing even more of it. Sometimes they’re as small as not getting enough sleep or never taking a break during the day. Often times they come in the form of tasks that we think are totally necessary or need to happen, but really, the world doesn’t end if we don’t do them.
Take care of you first. Look at all your tasks and fallback actions and really see if they’re helping or hurting you.
Where can you begin taking things off your plate?
Start removing those obstacles.
Delegate. Automate. Eliminate.
Break things down into those three categories first.
Delegating might be handing off work to your VA or telling your significant other to do the dishes instead of you. If you’re a loner like me, delegating probably isn’t an option for you. The few places I delegate is by paying for services to transcribe my blog post recording or handing off work at my job that doesn’t need to be on my plate.
Automating is much easier. Where can you take away some of the overwhelm? Put your bills on autopay. Set up your email systems so your readers are in a workflow and you don’t have to email them every single week. Automate your social media posts by batching them first and scheduling them out. You can even use IFTTT to recycle social media or keep track of certain things.
Eliminate things that don’t work anymore. Sitting for hours in front of a computer screen and never getting anything down? Quit that shit. Writing blog posts that aren’t fun for you and don’t seem to be going anywhere? Stop. Posting on every single social media channel and you want to pull your hair out? Focus on one and eliminate the rest.
Do what’s fun for you.
Remove the obstacles.
Make work and life fun.
Where can you make things easy, fun and a fucking amazing thing for you?
We don’t think of this very often.
The mantra of our modern life is “work hard” or “hustle and grind”, but that leads to burnout and hating the shit we’re doing.
Yes, hard work works, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it can also create a bad habit of overworking yourself.
What if, instead, you could make things easier, more fun and “work hard” at things you fucking love doing? (Not just work yourself into the ground.)
I know I work harder when the reward is bigger for me and I know I’m actually going to enjoy the result or the journey.
So take a look at what’s fun, easy and fucking amazing for you. What does that look like? Where can you start making small changes to create that?
Strategies work. Courses work. Coaching works. Everything works for someone but you can’t make everything work for you.
I learned differently. This trait of mine affected every course I took, every exercise regimen I tried, and every adventure I’ve been a part of. So I had to figure out how to make all those things work for me so I could be the best when I needed to be.
I’ve seen hundreds of people go to work everyday and force themselves through routines they hate. Instead of looking at the tasks in a way that works for them, they become disengaged, and waste a lot of time not being productive.
I know because I’ve been that person. I think we all have.
Your online business is different though. You’re a badass entrepreneur with a good idea and a strong heart, so don’t waste that amazing energy by forcing yourself through productivity routines and days you hate.
Instead, make it work for you.