I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tammie Bennett, the founder of the Show Up Society podcast and coaching practice to understand what’s really important when it comes to getting things done. As a coach, Tammie has first-hand experience assisting creatives in achieving their goals.
I wanted to know how Tammie helps her clients increase their productivity and what she sees as the key factors holding us back from living up to our full potential. Tammie shared these crucial tips to help ratchet up your daily productivity. Try her toolkit for yourself.
Tool #1: Identify YOUR Priorities
One of the most frustrating things as a business owner can be working long hours every single day and never making the progress you want to make. You might be doing a lot, but still not accomplishing your goals. Tammie says that focusing on the feeling you want to be feeling at the end of the year, month, or day, rather than on any specific task, can help you to prioritize your goals.
“Really, at the end of the day, all of our goals as humans boil down to something that we want to be feeling,” she says.
So double down on identifying which of your goals will bring you those feelings you’re seeking and prioritize or let go of the goals that aren’t taking you there.
Tammie also says that having a larger goal broken down into small tasks can lead to a sense of accomplishment. Each day she reminds herself of the goal she’s striving for and then she looks at her tasks for the day to make sure she has something on the list that will bring her closer to that goal. Connecting your overarching goal with your daily to-do list will bring you a small dose of accomplishment each day and keep your momentum and enthusiasm healthy. Try this out for yourself. First use Tammie’s strategy for prioritizing, then create a daily reminder of your goal and ask yourself each day whether you’re doing at least one task to bring you closer to that goal.
Productivity coach Tammie Bennett believes in learning as you go rather than striving for perfection at the outset.
Photo courtesy of Tammie Bennett
Tool #2: Just Keep Swimming
When in doubt, follow Nike’s lead and, Just Do It. Tammie says, “I believe in doing the thing and learning as you go.” Perfectionism can keep us from making progress because we’re too afraid to put anything out there that isn’t 100% polished. Remember, you must start somewhere, and that somewhere is where you are right now. Tammie’s philosophy, “believing is seeing” is a gem to live by. Everyone expects larger results from small input. It’s important to keep believing because this generates the effort and momentum that eventually leads to seeing the results you’ve been believing in. Tammie uses visualization as a tool to keep the brain believing in what you’re striving for. (Want to learn more about this technique? Watch Tammie’s webinar, Overcoming Common Obstacles for Creatives.)
One of the most common scapegoats for lack of productivity is procrastination. Tammie notes that procrastination most often happens because “there is some kind of emotion or feeling that we want to avoid.” To get past this Tammie recommends identifying the feeling you’re trying to avoid, then asking yourself whether you’re willing to feel that emotion for a short time, to feel the relief of being on the other side and getting closer to your goals. Tammie notes that most people will answer, that yes, they are willing to feel that unwanted emotion for a short time. Another strategy that Tammie suggests is choosing to change your emotion surrounding the task to something positive. Tammie uses the example of filing paperwork that’s cluttering your desk. Once the filing is complete, you’ll get to enjoy a clean and organized work area. You can flip your feelings about that task to excitement about optimizing your workspace.
She notes how important it is that you truly believe what you’re telling yourself about the task and that it’s not enough to repeat positive affirmations that don’t feel true to you. Test out strategies and then make your own list of the ones that have helped you beat procrastination. Keep this list handy on a post-it on your mirror or in a word doc on your desktop. You can pull this up whenever you are feeling negative about an upcoming task.
Tool #3: Celebrate Every Single Thing
Create a “did it” list in addition to a “to do” list. This one can be challenging for high-achiever personalities. As Tammie points out, many times the issue with productivity isn’t the number of things you’re accomplishing each day, it’s just that you’re not acknowledging what you did do and boosting yourself up for doing it. And this can lead to major burnout.
“Before you go to bed at night, write down everything you did that day.” Acknowledge everything you did accomplish instead of focusing on tasks you did not complete.
Tammie offers the caveat that if you find yourself upset that you only have a few items instead of 20, change your strategy to only recording one thing that brought you closer to your goal. This helps to shift your focus away from the number or quantity of completed tasks and toward the quality of them.
Try looking at this from the perspective of an employee. If you were, or are, an employee, tune in to the feeling of a time when your hard work went completely unnoticed. It’s frustrating and demoralizing. On the other hand, when your work is acknowledged it can be very motivating and even inspiring. As the business owner, don’t you deserve to be acknowledged, motivated, and inspired? You can do this for yourself by claiming every single win and giving yourself a pat on the back.
Remember that productivity doesn’t determine your worth
Tammie reminds us that despite what we may have learned as children, productivity does not determine our worth. Don’t forget to bring the fun and the joy. If you’re having a low energy day or putting yourself down for not accomplishing enough, Tammie suggests asking yourself questions like, “What would be fun to work on?”, “What if I tried ______?”, “Let’s just see if _____”. These kinds of questions change your mindset from productivity-pressure to fun, curiosity, and joy. Just bringing the fun back into your work can remind you why you do what you do and keep you going strong.
If you’d like to work with Tammie or listen to her podcast. you can learn more on her website.
Carrie Miller is the textile artist and designer of the Natural Luxury collection. She specializes in botanical dyes, handweaving, and silk painting. Carrie is also a marketing consultant and writer who lives to be in the mountains near her home in Colorado.