This article is part of a series on the power of asking, What business am I really in?
In Part 1, I shared the power of asking what business am I really in? using my business as a case study.
This question is more than just a mere thought exercise. It has implications for your productivity, your marketing and branding, how you price your offerings, and how you can expand your business. Indeed, asking this question can keep you in business as the world changes.
In this article, let’s look at how asking what business am I really in? can help you keep your productivity on track so that you can make progress on what matters most.
3 Ways to Keep Your Productivity on Track
(1) Connect to the Purpose
Purpose is a key driver of productivity.
I’ve previously written about how shifting your focus from tasks to results — from what do I need to do? to what’s my desired outcome? can extract you from the swirl of your to-do list.
Deeply connected to the result you want is your purpose: why you want it.
I know many people roll their eyes at the mention of “purpose.” I’m not talking about this in the amorphous sense of “what’s your Life Purpose” — although there is certainly an element of that in asking what business you are really in.
What I’m talking about here is more practical:
What’s the point?
I’m a questioner. I don’t do things just because someone tells me to do them. I need to know what’s the point of it. If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, how will you know if it works and if it’s worth your time and energy?
The Takeaway: Eliminate pointless tasks
Asking what business you are really in connects you to the larger purpose of your business, which reminds you to stop and question whether all the things on your “to do list” really need to be done in the first place
(2) Define Your Product
The core of productivity is product. It’s literally baked into the word.
It’s easy to define your product when your product is tangible. It gets a little more complicated when your “product” is a service or something else that you can’t see or touch.
Even if you are in a service business, think of your service as a product.
What is the product you sell? And what do you need to do to produce that product?
At one time, if you wanted access to information about homes in your neighborhood, you had to get it from a real estate agent. Many real estate agents once believed that this information was their product (some still believe this). Others say that they “sell homes.”
As a real estate agent, I don’t “sell information” any more than I “sold law” as a lawyer.
Nor do I “sell homes.” My role in a transaction is not the seller or the buyer unless I’m acting as a principal in buying or selling my own residence. I market homes, but that’s not the same.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not selling something. Every interaction in life is a sale in some form. You need to know what you’re selling.
In my business, I sell many “products.” For example, I offer tools, skills, and resources to help my clients find calm in the midst of change and chaos. I sell confidence that comes with knowing you’re making the best decision for yourself and your family.
The “products” I offer in my business are informed by my understanding of what business I am really in: helping my clients navigate change with ease and grace.
The Takeaway: Take necessary action to produce your product
Productivity means doing what you need to do to produce the product you sell. This requires that you understand what business you are really in — what do you actually sell.
(3) Dictate Your Priorities
One of the challenges with the urgency/importance matrix is that most people don’t know what tasks go where.
This is because there’s no universal rule. Where a task falls within your matrix depends on what business you are really in.
Let’s use email as an example.
Most email is neither urgent nor important. The content of an email may be important, but the form is best for memorializing things. If the message is truly urgent, it should be delivered in an alternate form.
In my business, creating the mental space for deep work and creative problem-solving, and staying present when I’m with clients is essential to my business. If I’m constantly checking and responding to email, then I’m not doing the important work that drives my business.
But, if you are in the business of providing immediate customer support via email, where responding to email quickly is your actual job, then email is important and urgent.
The Takeaway: Create a filter for urgency/importance
Understanding what business you are really in creates a filter that helps you assign where things fall on the urgency/importance matrix.
A Framework for Productivity
Understanding what business you are really in creates a framework for defining your purpose, product, and priorities — three essential elements of productivity. When you’re spinning in to-dos, take a moment to step back and look at these three elements through the lens of what business you are really in.
If you found this helpful, please share it with your friends, colleagues, and strangers. Get more by subscribing to my list.