We’re constantly playing tug-of-war against distracting small tasks.
You know, the ones that fill up an entire day, but once 5 pm rolls around, you feel like nothing got done.
When I started freelancing, a good day would result in a tie with small, mindless tasks.
I’d probably spend 40 percent of my time on important work-related tasks and 40 percent of my time on fruitless activities, like social media management, organizing my inbox and creating profiles on every freelancer job board that exists.
The last 10 percent was spent on stressing over whether or not I’d ever figure out how to be legitimately productive (and maximize my time).
I thought being active on social media was super important for my ~brand~. I spent a weekend re-doing this here website. I poured hours into a services and packages page that I took down less than one week later (more on that in a future post).
Guess what? All of those activities had nothing to do with the progress of my business, which is why below I’m giving you the scoop on seven power moves that you can make this week that have a much higher ROI on your time.
Time is a limited resource.
We don’t control how much time we get, but we can manage it to maximize our own output. We can spend it on what really matters.
The phrase “time is money” didn’t really click until I started my business.
Yes, hitting “post” on Facebook or Linkedin or Twitter FEELS like I’m doing something. And looking deeper, there’s a heap of psychological effects of social media that keep us hooked.
The problem with small actions:
Small actions that suck up your precious time are disguised as accomplishments.
And the truth is, tweeting at someone is not something to check off your list. If you want to focus on power moves, social media shouldn’t even BE on your to-do list especially if you’re a small business owner or have a side hustle.
In her recent piece for Forbes, branding expert Pia Silva of Worstofall Design put it perfectly:
It’s important to remember that there are many ways to market your business and social media is only one of them. And it’s not even the most important one… Review all your options, evaluate where your efforts will have the greatest return, and double down there instead.
Before I started doubling down on what efforts yielded the greatest return, I felt like I’d work hard for hours… but accomplish nothing.
I don’t want you to fall into the cycle of taking small actions hoping they’ll add up to big change when in reality one power move can propel you forward in half the amount of time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some “small actions” that you can take daily that help you build good habits or learn a new skill. Doing 10 minutes of meditation or yoga every morning could be considered a daily small task that has a big impact on your life.
I want to clarify that I’m specifically talking about what we do in our workday that FEELS productive but isn’t in the big picture.
Yes, keeping up with social media is important if it makes sense with your overall strategy or serves an actual purpose.
However, if you find yourself spending a significant amount of time on Twitter, you may want to consider reallocating some of that time towards making power moves that get you closer to your goals.
A power move is doing something that’s challenging (and maybe scary) but makes a large impact on your career or gets you closer to a goal.
When I was interning at SNL and looking to secure another one at a talent agency, I asked one of my well-connected superiors to send my resume to the one I wanted to work at.
Going for that “ask” terrified me, but it landed me an amazing internship at a major talent agency. Without that opportunity (which I created for myself), I wouldn’t have gotten hired so quickly after college.
If I had taken the small action busy-work approach here’s what it would have looked like:
- I would have spent hours tweaking a cover letter and resume.
- I would have poured over job boards and waited around until that agency posted their internship program (hint: they don’t do that).
- I would have asked my network for advice. I would have stalked the employees on LinkedIn and possibly cold emailed them.
Instead, I got a referral. And there’s really nothing more powerful than that when applying for anything.
The TL/DR of this post: Be aware when you’re spending way too much time on activities that get you nowhere (like social media), and spend MORE time on activities that really push you forward.
Here are seven power moves you can focus on that will make real, impactful change on your career trajectory (and life).
These power moves can also apply to anyone who is just looking to create more space in their lives. We ALL have to manage our time and energy carefully. They’re the two most valuable (and finite) resources we have.
Try one of these power moves this week and see where it gets you.
What’s the worst that could happen?
1. Asking for help
Think asking for help makes you look powerless? Think again.
Only people who are serious about improvement will ask for help instead of just trying to figure it out on their own which can take sooo much longer.
For example, I asked my friend Dom Cappuccilli of The Clean Sell for help when I was struggling with finding clients to cold email.
Honestly, I felt annoyed at myself for not being able to figure it out on my own. I just had no clue where to start. Dominick, who is really amazing at outreach, chatted with me for a few minutes about what he does to find prospects. Then I tried it myself and it totally worked.
Now, imagine if I hadn’t asked for help? I’d be stuck Googling “how to find clients to cold email as a freelancer” for a few more weeks. Instead, I went to someone I trust who has a great track record and asked directly.
Action step: What’s a business challenge or personal development challenge you’re currently facing? Maybe it’s one you’ve been avoiding. Try asking someone you trust for specific help this week and sees what happens. My bet? You’ll feel refreshed and less stuck.
Remember, even the most successful people have coaches and ask for help. Asking for help is part of what got them to where they are.
2. Carving time out for planning every week
Planning is a power move you can make every single week.
This year, I started carving out 40 minutes every Sunday to plan each week. That includes my social engagements, work schedule and even what food I’m going to eat that week all in one go.
This has had a powerful effect on how I spend my time.
First, I look at my big goals for this year. My number one goal this year is saving an extra $10,000 for my move out west.
Then I look back at everything I did the last week. What did I do to support that goal? What did I spend time on that was irrelevant? I write it all down. Then I write what I want to accomplish in the following week. After that, I plan my calendar around those weekly goals.
Sounds kinda complicated, I know. But it WORKS. You can find a system that makes sense for you, but properly planning and carving out time to spend on high-value activities is what’s going to get you closer to your goals. (Instead of letting time slip away while you binge-watch The Bachelor.)
Action step: If making a 90-day plan is too overwhelming right now, start with a 21-day plan and see if you can carve out time to look at it and make plans based on it every week for just three weeks.
3. Starting before you’re ready
Okay, real talk: if there’s something you’ve been thinking about starting for weeks, months or years, stop reading this article and start NOW.
I don’t care if you’re not ready, and the world doesn’t either.
I promise that all eyes are NOT on you. No one cares if it’s not perfect. Just start.
I wasn’t ready to be an assistant when I started my first job. I wasn’t ready to be a writer when I started writing at Elite Daily. I definitely wasn’t ready to freelance when I started either.
In fact, the original plan (before I got let go) was to start freelancing around the same time I planned on relocating out west. Because only then would I be ready.
Obviously, that’s not how things panned out.
You’re more ready than you think.
Waiting, planning, and spending more time asking for/consuming advice than actually DOING something gets you nowhere. Those are small actions. Starting is a power move.
The earlier you start, the better you’ll be when it matters.
Action step: No matter the dream or goal, start something small now. For example, if your dream is to have a blog with millions of monthly readers, see if you can get 10 readers first. If you’ve always wanted to run your own Etsy shop, put one thing up for sale instead of overwhelming yourself. Just start. Take one step forward. You have nothing to lose.
Not convinced? Just go watch any video on Gary Vaynerchuck’s channel right now and you’ll get it.
4. Reaching out to someone more successful than you
Never underestimate the power of an awesome email sent to the right person at the right time.
I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of outreach before.
You have nothing to lose (and lots to gain) by emailing your favorite author, influencer, entrepreneur, blogger, athlete or social media star.
Recently, I reached out to an entrepreneur who has an incredible career path and impressive success. I seriously love what he does. I reached out to him as a fan in response to his newsletter. A week later, he hired me to work for him… which I still can’t get over.
It took much more courage to send that email than it does to retweet something or share an article on Facebook, but that email ACTUALLY helped grow my business. Retweeting something? Not so much.
You don’t even know what opportunities are within your reach right now, just by connecting with people in your network.
Action step: Go read my step-by-step guide on how to email anyone the right way (and actually get responses). Have you read anything amazing lately? Get in touch with the author. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.
5. Taking stuff off your to-do list
One of my favorite authors, Sean D’Souza, talks about the importance of having a “stop-doing” list on his podcast, The Three-Month Vacation.
Basically, having a stop-doing list is necessary when it comes to creating time for accomplishing something important.
Even Beyonce only has 24 hours in a day. Think about what she had to stop doing in order to get to her level of success. You can’t do everything.
Keeping a stop-doing list might even mean walking away from something that’s working incredibly well for you. For example, Sean shut down a program at his site, Psychotactics, that was bringing in $150k a year so that he could focus on something else and push his business further.
Action step: Take something off your to-do list to create those extra hours in your schedule. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself once you do. It’s freeing to stop doing stuff.
6. Going on vacation
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? But it’s not.
We underestimate the power of relaxation and down time. Especially for busy professionals and business owners, are free time is precious.
It’s shocking to know that most people don’t use up all their paid vacation days. And if you are one of those people, you’re holding yourself back from a potentially amazing experience AND a chance to recharge your brain.
Fact: we’re not machines. If you fee like you’re losing control over something in your work, or you feel like you can’t get behind the ball on something — take a break. You’ll come back and see challenging situations with fresh eyes and your brain will probably work better.
Small tasks fry us. I’m someone that expects herself to be working and producing and thinking CONSTANTLY. If it were up to me, I’d never stop. Since starting my own business, I find myself basking in any free time I can afford.
Action step: Take a whole weekend off to do nothing either at home or elsewhere. You don’t need to go far. But if you do stay home, no errands. No work. Just relaxing and spending time doing what you love.
7. Investing in your education
For about a month, I was totally hooked on one gigantic online business-related Facebook group. I loved chatting with the other members and answering/asking questions to the entire group. The problem? It was a huge waste of time.
I wish I had those hours back so I could put them towards learning from pros (instead of just listening to people who only care about Pinterest and logos).
Taking time to read books, watch interviews, listen to podcasts and take courses is a total power move.
Remember, your VALUE as an employee, freelancer or whatever you do increases with the more knowledge you have. It’s not just about experience.
If I hadn’t put in time learning about copywriting, marketing and online business from experts, I wouldn’t have found as much success with my own business as I have so far. And it’s only been four months.
I studied film production in college. Do you think that if I stopped educating myself after I got my degree, I’d be as valuable to my clients who hire me for writing, marketing and outreach? No. Way.
Make yourself valuable. Make this power move and start using your time to improve yourself by learning more.
You don’t have to drop over $3k in investing in yourself like I did either.
Action step: Think about where you’d like to be a year from now in your career or personal life. What skills do you need to acquire? What convenient (and cheap) resources (apps, e-books, podcasts etc) can you use to develop those skills? Once you nail that down, try looking for a free podcast or book on the subject and dive in.
What you can do today to stop wasting time on small tasks that really get you nowhere:
Overall, be mindful.
We can earn all the money we want, but we can’t get time back.
Spending more time scrolling through Instagram or watching stories on Snapchat or hanging out on Twitter and less time on making power moves that actually contribute to improving your life will result in you looking back and asking yourself, where the heck did time go? You know where it went.
When I catch myself mindlessly perusing Twitter and Facebook, I remind myself that it’s a total waste of time, even when my brain needs a break from work.
If the above action steps seem overwhelming, I encourage you to be in the moment and really think about what you’re doing and how it contributes to your big picture when you’re focusing on small wins instead of big ones.
What’s a power move you made lately that propelled your career and/or life forward? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to comment below or reach out directly at taliasarakoren[at]gmail[dot]com.
5 thoughts on “Are You Wasting Time Or Making Power Moves?”
Great post!! Thanks
Great article 🙂 What was the advice you got from Dom about finding your first clients? Just curious
Thanks Cody! Reach out to me directly and I’ll share.. it’s a lot for a comment! firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh my god.. your articles got me addicted. I read about five now and just cant stop. Your writing is so encouraging! Thank you so much.