Productivity Filter

What’s this post about? Probably not a synopsis of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, probably…

I believe it was Sun Tzu who said:

The internet is full of shiny objects and productivity sinks. Pick your battles wisely, and focus. – Sun Tzu

Nay did we listen.

Every day we’re bombarded with a hundred new articles on the latest tactics & methods and our Facebook feeds are full of course marketers more aggressive than The Wolf of Wall Street.

Staying both productive and focused is tough.

I’m quite shit at it.

But, I do have a “filter” that helps keep me much more focused than I would be without it.

The first card on my Trello board (where I keep my to-dos) has a 3.5 question filter, and only items that get a “yes” to at least 1 of the questions are allowed to remain on this board.

Anything that fails this test gets moved to a different board (the “ignore” board) where I’m only allowed to look when my main board is empty.

What are these mysterious questions?

Glad you asked.

#0: Is this a distraction?

Simple and to the point. This is question zero and requires a ‘no’, otherwise, straight to the ignore board.

If this is going to take me in a completely different direction than what I’m working on right now, then it’s just a shiny object and it needs to be destroyed.

I can work on this when I’m out of priorities to do.

#1: Could the business fail if I don’t do this?

If I don’t do this, is it possible the the business could fail because of it?

99% of the time this is a no, but if It’s a ‘yes’, then it’s going to be a very high priority item.

Let’s say you bill post-work (at the end of the billing cycle) and don’t auto-charge the customer or retain a card on file.

Could the business fail because of this?

Yes, it’s entirely possible that if a large bill goes unpaid, or several small ones, it could severely cripple the financial health of the business and possibly drive it into debt.

#2: Am I doing a disservice to clients by not doing this?

This is 50% subjective.

If I do not do this:

  • Will I be harming the success rate or ROI of the campaign in a major way?
  • Will clients not be as happy as they could be (retention)?
  • Would I make their lives easier if I did this?

From there, it’s a matter of how important it is. Which is the subjective part.

I could make my clients lives easier and possibly improve retention if I make a video explaining this deliverable in detail rather than sending it across and waiting to see if they ask questions.

But, how much of an impact will take make? How much time will it save them? How much time will it take me to implement?

#3: Am I doing a disservice to the team by not doing this?

And finally, question number 3.

This is the same as #2 but focusing on the team rather than the client.

  • Would the team be happier if I did this?
  • Would the team be able to work more efficiently and effectively if I did this?

As an example, I recently had to increase our agency’s pricing for one of our offerings.

The team needed about an extra hour a week to work on these clients in order to perform to the best of their ability without feeling rushed or being too restrained in delivering for the client (see point #2).

In my opinion, not enabling the team to perform at their peak ability due to budget constraints was a disservice to them. So, I spent a day improving our pricing structure and reallocating budgets for existing clients.

A Header That’s Not Just A Boring Old ‘Conclusion’

If the item passes question #0 and at least one of #1-#3 is a ‘yes’, then it’s something worth doing.

Otherwise, into the ignore board.

This helps me stay focused.

Will it help you? Fuck if I know.

Try it and let me know


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Author: Jarod Spiewak

Marketer by day, frustrated programmer by night. I build businesses through digital marketing, without all the BS.

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