“Why isn’t anything happening?…”
That was my exasperated woe-is-me refrain when I was starting my first business. My days would end and I would be convinced that I had done all the right things, but I never felt any satisfaction or accomplishment. What the hell was happening?! Where was my progress?! Where was my business growth?!
It felt like I was on a hamster wheel (and it wasn’t as much fun as it looks above, either!). I’m not dumb, so if I was doing as much as I thought, why wasn’t I seeing any results? I needed an independent way of checking up on myself (and I’m a bit of a data/numbers geek), so that’s when I decided to Track my Stats.
On an Excel spreadsheet, I broke down my working day into 15-minute increments, and put those times down column A. Then, for two weeks, I filled in what activities I was doing during those time slots (“0830-0845: financial analysis; 0845-0900: plan for client call with X, 1200-1245: work on investor presentation” and so on for the whole day).
I quantified as much as I could and at the end of two weeks reviewed what my days actually looked like. My results made me want to vomit with disappointment.
The first problem was that I was working from home. And anyone who works from home knows how easy it is to be lured into distractions: “Oh that pile of laundry is annoying me. I’ll just start a load and then settle down at my desk”; “I am hungry, maybe I’ll finally make that recipe that I’ve been wanting to try”… and then the next thing you know, it’s 6pm.
The second problem was that I didn’t set targets for my days or weeks. Each day was a blank slate and I would sit down at my desk and then look for work to do instead of working off a plan. I’d make a few phone calls, do some research (then take a coffee break), make a few tweaks to my spreadsheets, respond to some emails and do whatever else fell in my path that day. My days had no structure. I was reacting to events instead of taking control of them. And objectively Tracking my Stats showed me that.
While it was disappointing to see how my time was being spent (not invested), it was also a huge relief because suddenly I could see that my lack of results wasn’t because I was unlucky or destined to fail; it was because I was working too obliquely and without a plan.
So I started creating a plan for the week, setting targets for my days, and working to those plans and targets. The other stuff (emails, laundry, etc) got done too, but now I was working every day on the right things that would create the results I wanted.
And literally within weeks of my changing how I approached my days, things started to progress. But It was only because I took the time to be honest with myself and Track my Stats that I was able to course correct.
So, save your precious time, avoid the mental anxiety that comes from not knowing. Track your Stats and take the guesswork out of success.