On the Productivity Paradox

When you decide to go into business for yourself, as would be the case when you start to make money online as your primary career, you need to adjust your mindset as it pertains to how you approach the world of work. When you have a more traditional hourly job, you can expect to get a certain number of dollars for a certain number of hours. Even if you have a salaried position and your hours aren’t tracked down to the very last minute, you are effectively trading hours for dollars.

We’ve talked about this many times. The ultimate objective of the dot com lifestyle isn’t necessarily to earn as many dollars as humanly possible, though it’s certainly nice when you’ve got more dollars coming through the door. You don’t want to work yourself to the bone by putting in 60, 80, or even 100 hours a week over the long term, because that goes precisely against why you got interested in the dot com lifestyle in the first place.

Instead, the objective is to work as few hours as possible while simultaneously bringing in as many dollars as possible.

Hours and Dollars and Mindset

This is counterintuitive and runs completely against the “employee” mindset, because it’s no longer about trading hours for dollars. It’s about figuring out how to make the most of the fewest hours, even if that almost sounds completely illogical.

And this is also why you need to think about productivity in a different kind of way too. When you work in a more traditional kind of job, you can likely expect to get paid exactly the same whether you accomplish a lot on Monday or you accomplish very little on Friday. Both days result in the same amount of pay. Working for yourself on the Internet is vastly different.

You could pour in hours of work without actually accomplishing very much in a very real sense. It’s like running on a treadmill. You exert a lot of energy and effort, but in the big picture, you’re not going anywhere. You’re just a hamster in a wheel. It’s not about being efficient with your time; it’s about being effective with your time. What are you doing that’s actually going to move the needle?

Filling the Time

You might remember when we discussed the concept of Parkinson’s Law some time back. It states that a task will inevitably fill all the time that is allotted to it. Remember back in school when you had a whole month to write an essay, but you left it to the night before? That’s Parkinson’s Law. There’s nothing more motivating than an imminent deadline.

So, that’s the first thing you should learn about working for yourself. Even though you don’t have a “boss” in the traditional sense and you can take as long as you’d like, in theory, to finish writing that e-book, shooting that vlog, or launching that product, you shouldn’t. Instead, you need to set a hard deadline, as arbitrary and artificial as it may be. I know that the dot com lifestyle is about freedom, but to achieve that freedom, you need to have some self-imposed restrictions too.

Counter-intuitive and completely backwards, I know, but that’s how it works. It’s a paradox.

The Freedom to Be Free

To achieve the greatest freedom, you must voluntarily take away some of your freedom. For some of you, this might mean establishing set working hours. It might mean setting all sorts of specific objectives, goals and deadlines. But by putting these restrictions in place, it means that you can more fully enjoy the freedom of the dot com lifestyle when you’re not working, because it means you are enjoying that freedom guilt-free. You did everything you could have done when you said you were going to do it.

Maybe you need to try your hand at some useful productivity apps to keep you on track. Maybe you need technology to help you avoid distractions, so you’re not tempted to fall down the bottomless pit of Facebook and YouTube when you really should be working on that sales funnel. No one is going to hold you accountable but you, so take the work seriously.

Be productive because you choose to be, not because you have to be.