Good Morning. I’ve been at it for about 4 hours already so far today, but I’ve gotten things done for clients, cleaned my house, read some very pertinent articles and books I’ve been meaning to get through, and now I’m writing this blog post. It feels good to be productive, and I think that a lot of us (and I’m super guilty of this) get caught up in the minutiae instead of actively looking for ways to make ourselves more productive, and more focused on our end goals.
Tim Ferriss is the best at this, as far as I can tell. I have actually printed out and saved to the front page of my Evernote account his blog post: “The Not To Do List” which is a short, sweet list of things to STOP DOING if you want to be more productive. And they work.
But how does this relate to online marketing? That is super obvious to me, at least. When you’re trying to get everything done at once, or focusing on fifteen different things that you COULD be doing to get more business, to increase conversions, or to build an audience online, you’re too scrambled. You give everything a 10% halfway shot, and you don’t get anywhere on any of them. You lose sight of your end goal and you become “active” and not “productive”
Remember that marketing is a goal-oriented task. You want to define your goal (more subscribers, more sales, more leads for my sales team etc) and then make sure that whatever you’re doing for your marketing plan THAT DAY moves you closer to that goal.
This also means that you’re making sure that you’re not focusing on too many things as well. I have been so, so guilty of sitting down at night, writing down 15 different “to-dos” and feeling like a million bucks as a sail away to dreamland. Then I wake up the next morning, look at my list, and I’m immediately overwhelmed. I see the 15 things and go, “oh my god, I have to run errands today too, how will I ever get all of these done?”
Then I spend most of the morning freaking out, doing other bullshit or reading emails and junk instead of working, get caught up in errands, and never do a damn thing to push me closer to more revenue. Why?
Because I wasn’t focused enough. This is a classic case of “I think I’m a multi-tasker” when in reality nobody is. You can only focus on one thing, maybe two TOPS. So what does that mean?
For a to-do list for marketing, write down your TOP 2 goals for completion for the next day. That’s it. They should be simple, and completely. I’m going to go one step further, though. Write them each down on separate sheets of paper (or one on each side of a sheet)
Now underneath that to do write “Why?”
Answer the question.
Now write “Why?”
Answer the question
And then, write … you guessed it “Why?”
Did you do it?
What did it look like?
If your answers didn’t lead you to your overarching goal of “making more money/getting more traffic/finding more leads,” it’s probably not an important goal. Write down another to-do. Do the same process with the “why?” questioning.
Do this until you have 2 action items for the next day that you know will lead you to your predetermined goal. It’s that simple.
I’ve struggled with to-do lists for years and this is the seemingly best way I’ve found to stay on track, day in and day out. The best part? Those 2 items RARELY take more than an hour. That means that you’ve taken a huge list of garbage that will probably not get you any closer to your pot of gold and pared it down to an actionable list of 2 items that do exactly that: get you more business.
Some examples of actionable items for a 2 item TO DO:
Call your biggest client and ask for referrals
Email your list and ask for referrals
Write new content to SEO your website (triple “why” this!)
Write content for a guest post
Write new PPC advertisements and A/B test them
Email a colleague and ask for a list swap
Call a colleague and ask for a list swap
Call a blogger and see if they need new content
Create a new marketing plan that refocuses your goals.
The list could be a thousand items long insofar as ideas, and not all of them will make sense for your business. This is why it’s so important to ask yourself why….three times on each one.
“But how do I prioritize mundane things, that inevitably need to be done?”
I try and take the items and push them all to a single item a week, sometimes on a weekend. So minor editing fixes, theme changes and general tweaks on things that will only take a few minutes, but will take me off track and otherwise slow productivity I will move to a single day item. By batching this handful of items together and completing them, I will free my time for the remainder of the week to focus on items that drive traffic and get sales, instead of wasting several days fixing minor items that could otherwise be ignored.
Remember to ask why three times, and if it doesn’t bring you to an answer that either drives sales or gets traffic, it can be eliminated completely, or pushed into a batching list that you complete on a weekend day.
Give it a shot with your to-do list in the comments.