Here’s my typical day a year ago.

Wake up thinking ‘Today will be different! Today I’ll be doing my best work’.
Open up my gmail, start answering to some creepy commercial offers, oh, Anna’s is calling, what’s up, Anna? Aha, you don’t know how to cancel an order? Ok, I’ll help you…
A few hours later I realize I still didn’t start doing something that matters. But now I need to answer these two emails that sit in my ‘To Do’ folder and became really urgent a week ago…

This is an intro to my personal productivity for small business owners series. Read on.

The day passed. I’m tired. What have I done? A few hours answering but mostly archiving email, lot’s of back and forth calls and chats with my team and partners, fixed another Google Spreadsheet that didn’t work, helped with a ‘hard’ customer. Is that all???

You would think I wasn’t very efficient those days. Me too. But wait, I had been making up To Do lists for a couple of years, became Gmail ninja with all those shortcuts and canned responses, had been reading GTD before it was cool. And still. What was wrong with me?

Digging down to the roots

I’m thinking about times I started my business. I try to trace routes to the first day when I started living this way. Without my own goals and plans. Constantly interrupted by my staff, parents (with whom I was working), salespeople, by their demands and requests via cell phone, email, and various chat apps.

I get the impression that I never lived the way I really wanted. I never had a goal that I would be working towards to. Well, I did have goals, I even posted them on the walls, wrote New Year resolutions etc. But did I actually work towards them? Sometimes. And more often not.

Despite the enormous number of self-help and time-management books, inspiring videos and blog posts I have consumed since I was around 17 I wasn’t making any progress.

Maybe we all start this way. Maybe it’s the feeling of self-importance that makes us so dependent on others. ‘If they call me they need me’ → ‘If they need me, I’m useful, I’m doing my work.’ I suppose this is the line of unconscious thoughts one has when he starts driving his life to this hell of servitude I found myself into.

Ok, this is not the only reason. There are a lot more. Unfortunately, we were not taught to do things we do now. We were raised to work at an old-school steel casting plant. At least this is how I feel about our educational system. We were not taught to build a life we want by conscious efforts, we were not told to fight for our goals and protect our sanity from instant messengers. Our brains really need a software upgrade. Well, you probably already heard all this stuff.

Any ideas?

As always there’s no simple solution. But there are a few possible things to start with. The most powerful one is trying to change the way you communicate with the world and especially with your team. There should happen some kind of a paradigm shift. As for me, it was after reading Dan Kennedy’s ‘No BS Time-Management for Entrepreneurs’.

Yes, it sounds ridiculous — saying that you’ve changed your life after reading some popular self-help book. But it seems to work for me. So I thought I have to share it. Maybe it could be useful for you too. I’ll try to explain it in more detail in next posts and for now you can read about my ‘silent mode’ policy.