Having your own online business can be an exhilarating experience, at first. Then reality hits and you realize that it requires work, lots of work. If you haven’t cared before as an employee working for someone else, you, as an entrepreneur, care now.
Before you get into how to manage time and improve efficiency and all of that other tactical stuff, you first must realize that productivity starts as a mental game. If you get the psychology right, you’ll get the productivity right.
40 years ago, secretaries and entire departments full of typists were normal. The secretary would write down memos, letters, and other communications from their bosses. It would then get sent to the typist pool to get transcribed. Then it would need to be delivered to the appropriate parties.
Technology such as personal computers, email, and the internet changed all of that. It eliminated entire departments in corporate buildings. And in so doing dramatically increased the productivity of our economy.
That technological revolution to increase productivity has continued since then. That means entrepreneurs, particularly ones online, must embrace technology to increase their productivity or they will become a thing of the past.
Just like email and personal computers exponentially boosted productivity in our economy, so are things like online project management tools, collaboration software, and video teleconferencing platforms today.
Beware of Technology
That being said, online entrepreneurs must also beware of technology and its proclivity to distract you and your team. Social media has become a great way to market your brand, but it has also cost billions in lost productivity.
The internet, computers, smartphones, and other technologies have given the knowledge worker the sense of being busy and productive when they’re not. Real work of value comes from intense focus and energy on important and critical tasks. Technology distractions have driven our modern workforce to work on shallow projects that make us busy, but not really productive.
Take open workspaces for example. That is a relatively new innovation in office ‘technology’. It has taken root because workplaces value openness, transparency, and collaboration.
But studies have shown that it has also been devastating to productivity. Some studies show that there can be as much as a 30% decrease in productivity when a workplace moves into open office environments.
The increase in distractions and culture of interruptions has led to a decline in productivity. That doesn’t mean it has to.
Just like with any seemingly bad news, if you and your team are aware of the pitfalls of open office spaces, that means you can tactically meet its challenges.
It might mean you put ‘do not disturb signs on your cubicle when you’re in deep work. It may mean you lock yourself in a meeting room at times. It may also mean you work from home when you have a project that requires full concentration.
There are many ways around distractions and other things that may tank productivity if you are aware and have a strategy to not let it impede progress.
Motivation to Change is Hard
The stark reality is, is that in order to improve anything in your life and business, including productivity, you have to be willing to change. It’s more difficult than it sounds.
When it gets right down to making the change happen, even in areas where you are completely sold need change, breaking through to actually take action can be painstakingly difficult.
For example, I know many online retailers in the e-commerce business. They love what they do and many have done it for a relatively long time.
But the reality is, in any technology-centered industry, change happens and it happens fast. Once you get comfortable with one platform, another one arrives that disrupts the entire industry.
For many of these online retailers, they started on a legacy platform called Magento Enterprise. It was the leading platform for many years, until more recently when a lot of competitors have entered the space and have improved the productivity and efficiency of their business.
Although they consciously know that there are much better Alternatives to Magento Enterprise that would drastically improve their productivity, they don’t want to do it. In fact, most e-commerce retailers know that Magento is behind the times, but they are still on the platform because they can’t find the motivation to change.
If you look closely, there are many areas in your life and business that you know can use improvement and that it would dramatically increase your productivity, but you don’t do it because change is hard.
The reason it’s hard is that our brains are wired to be afraid of change. Our brains like predictability and it signal safety. But when things change, our brains automatically become fearful.
Being aware of that tendency and our neuroscientific response to change can go a long way to steam ahead with our change initiatives. Knowledge has huge power, in this case, to move us forward.