TIB #25: Use these 6 tips to stop feeling that you are never doing enough

Written by Arno Jansen

Have you ever had a moment when you looked at your business and life and just wanted to give up because of the extraordinary pressure it puts on you? Feel like you are never doing enough? I have. These 6 things help me balance that. They might just help you too.

The freedom and autonomy of being an independent entrepreneur are awesome, but creator life is not all 🌈 and 🦄. You have a lot on your plate; creating content, products, or services. SEO, finances, research, marketing. It all comes down to you. You have to be productive.

Being productive is only helpful if you know why you are doing it. Productivity is not about stacking a dozen different apps and api’s to streamline a process that you saw online, but does not really fit you or your goals. Productivity is how to be efficient and effective in the limited time under your control.

The solutions

Yes, you need to be productive. Yes, you need to keep looking for ways to make progress toward your goals. But, you also need to acknowledge that this business, this lifestyle, is supposed to be an infinite game.

This requires continually balancing all the things. Notice how I am not telling you to “find balance” as if it is some future state that, once achieved, never changes. Balancing is a verb, a doing word.

That is where productivity systems help, to help you do the balancing, find focus and direction what to work on next. Especially when you have relatively little time iunder your control, because you are also a parent, partner, employee, or otherwise active member of your community.

You are not not that voice in your head telling you to do more, so you should not let those choose your next actions.

Work is never done (and that is a good thing)

Imagine if you would end your workday and everything is finished. Why would you come back the next day? You’d be out of work, which is not what you want in your business.

To realise that work is never done, is to accept that it cannot all be done today. Spending more hours does not equal getting more meaningful work done. Step away before your energy levels are in the red, and recharge.

Take your head out of the work, maybe spend some time remembering why you started this to rediscover your “why”.

Come back tomorrow refreshed. You get to do this again, how awesome!

Delayed gratification

We are used to, even addicted to, instant gratification; Hearts/Shares/Likes, same day delivery, all-you-can-eat on-demand audio and video, so many things are instantly obtainable at all times.

If you are starting something new, it is tempting to go overboard with the effort. Of course, you need and want to put your heart and soul into this. But catch yourself if you are doing things for (near) instant gratification: continually checking social media posts for engagement for example.

It is a nice dopamine hit to see hearts and likes appear on your social media posts, but it does not get your course created, your software built, your podcast recorded or new customers found. It may help your exposure, but that is only worth something if you can provide a value to them they are willing to pay for.

Meaningful results are a delayed effect of the efforts you put in. Weight loss is the delayed result of (many) healthy eating decisions and works. Organic search traffic to our sites, is the delayed result of creating a body of great work.

Make plans (plural!)

And keep them simple. Maybe not this simple, but keep it fairly simple.

If you haven’t done so already, first spend some time to describe your One Major Goal (or OMG), discussed in more detail in this article). Then use your OMG as a direction for your plans on how to get there.

Next, dream up various possible scenario’s that could get you to your goal. And about eventualities that you be confronted with along the way.

Make a simple plan for the most likely scenarios and eventualities.

Then pick the best one.

Which one is the best one?

Your guess is as good as mine. Pick one, you probably have a gut feeling about one or two, don’t ignore that.

Making a plan gives you a sense of direction as well as an indication of the journey ahead.

The further into the future in your plan, the less detail you want to add. There is no point in trying to be a fortune teller.

A plan is as much about what you are not going to do (now) as it is about what you are. Many roads lead to Rome. You pick one for now and go see if that works for you.

Thinking about different scenarios and eventualities eases the mind. It gives you the feeling that you have done what you can and let go of what you don’t control.

The sense of direction and journey gives peace of mind to let go of work at the end of the day. You know why you are doing what you are doing and get back to it later when you are recharged and refreshed.

Finally, keep making plans regularly. Again, no kidding. Don’t spend days on it, but regularly check in to see what plan you made, best matches your current reality and adjust if necessary.

Follow the process (not the plan)

Now that you have a plan, toss it aside. No kidding. The plan has already served its purpose. It provided you with increased clarity, purpose and motivation.

Accept that your plan is only your best guess at this moment. It is not what will happen from now on moving forward.

Now it is time to follow the process. Show up every day you work. Moving in the direction of the OMG on the road you laid out in your plan.

To follow the process means to make 100% of the decisions with 50% (or even less) of the information required to make that decision.

You will hit bumps. You will have setbacks. You will be surprised by whatever you did not anticipate. That does not automatically mean you need to increase your efforts to compensate for the inevitable.

You need to be resilient, healthy, and balanced to deal with this every step of the journey. Sometimes that means putting in extra effort, sometimes you need to step away and come back later.

Stop comparing your results to those of others

You have probably heard this before, but keep reading! There is more to it than this oneliner…

The journeys of others, especially the ones we look up to, skew the perspective on your own results. It is easy to think we need to be doing more to get the results somebody else has.

Comparing yourself and your results to that of others means you are comparing your plan and process to that of others.

It is apples to oranges.

The best way I found to stop comparing myself to others, is by defining my own success. Or, describing what success looks like to me. To come up with an accurate (albeit vague) description of what success looks like for you, use the L.O.F.T.Y. acronym to define your OMG.

L.O.F.T.Y. goals are: Limitless, Obscure, Feelable, Transformative, Yours.

Knowing your LOFTY goal, means you are aligned with your list of personal values, which is a big help to stop comparing yourself to others. You are now working toward your version of success. No need to chase somebody else’s version.

Keep track of your achievements

Keeping track of your achievements is a great way to get a realistic sense of your progress. It provides an objective indicator of progress and can make it easier to give yourself permission to step back.

My “achievement tracker” is called the ‘Captains Log’.

It is called that to extend the analogy of the LOFTY goal (a “pie in the sky” if you will), which requires an airship (the business) to get there, of which I am the captain.

Keeping a list of achievements helps to visualise your progress. I call mine my "Captains Log"
Keeping track of your achievements can go a long way toward getting rid of the feeling you are not getting enough work done. I call this my Captains Log 🚢😀

Every time I ship something, anything, it goes into my Captains Log. Publish a post, record a video, do a live webinar, deploy a software feature, optimise a post for SEO, anything that I create for the world to see, goes on my Captains Log.

And nothing else.

It keeps me grounded: I can read, watch, listen and learn all I want. But if it does not benefit the people I am trying help in one way or another, it does not go on the Captains Log.

That way I prevent a false sense of achievement by reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, and watching video’s but not creating anything. It helps put an end to my desire to “do more research”, which is just thinly veiled procrastination.

This is where my “productivity system” is highly automated: I have setup a global hotkey on my computer that, when hit, pops up a window with all the right settings filled in, and I only have to provide a one line description of my achievement.

Unexpected benefit from my ‘Captains Log’

Besides keeping track of achievements, the Captains Log had another, unexpected, benefit. It made me realise and accept that there is always something to ship. I usually plan bigger chunks of work in my calendar or to-do app. But sometimes, some days just do not go as planned. On those days, I will find something small to ship just so that I keep the streak going of shipping every day I work.

This can be optimising a post for SEO, fixing a bug in software, anything. At the end of the day (that did not go as planned), I will still have done something to move my airship/business forward.

Some days feel like going 100 miles/hour for 10 hours straight. Others are more like going 2 inches.

Accepting this has made it a lot easier for me to stay well-balanced most of the time.

This is what healthy productivity does: it provides tools and systems to help you determine where to put your efforts when you limited control over your time. That way, you keep moving in the right direction efficiently and effectively, while being aware of your progress.

I hope these words help you let go of the feeling that you are not doing enough.

Please be kind to yourself.
Push yourself when possible
Pull yourself away when necessary.
It takes courage and discipline to do both!

It is a requirement if you want to keep doing this for a long time, and nobody is going to do it for you.

Please let me know if this resonates, and tell me what works for you!
Oh please share this with anybody who may need it. Creators make the world a better place, so we need to take care of ourselves and each other!

Looking to get more productive, focused, and resilient?

Join my free Focus Finder email course to transform yourself from deeply distracted to fully focused.

    Looking to get more productive, focused, and resilient?

    Join my free Focus Finder course and go from deeply distracted to fully focused.

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