The Importance of A Daily Work Practice
No matter what kind of side-hustle you create, there’s no bigger gift you can give yourself than to find what works and keep doing it. It’s so easy to get trapped on the hamster wheel of bigger, better, and never.
But when we leave behind the tasks that propel us forward, all we do is replace a task that works with another task that works.
This way of work is no way to grow your creative business.
Instead, we’ll build a daily work practice where we add instead of subtract. We’ll uncover the tasks that work and remove those that don’t. Instead of chasing the new, exciting, and different, we’ll focus on the tried-and-true.
It’s time to develop a daily work practice.
What Got You Here?
As entrepreneurs, the same gift that helped start our business is also our curse. We love the new, shiny, and different. If you consume any level of new content you’ll be bombarded with fantastic ideas to try in your business.
When you chase the new and shiny it also leads to dropping what already works.
When you drop what works you bring your business back to zero again. Think of it like this: Let’s say to start your business you wrote a new article every day. That article generated 25 new email subscribers per day, or 9,000+ subscribers per year. But you found something new and dropped your original article practice.
The new practice maybe generates the same level of subscribers.
You feel like you’ve grown, because you tried a new idea and it worked. But you didn’t. You’re back to zero. And next month you listen to a podcast with another new marketing idea. You dump the new practice for a newer practice. The cycle continues.
What Isn’t Working?
Not only should we take stock in what works. We also need to dump the wheel-spinning tasks that don’t work, or stopped working. This includes paying close attention to the sunk-cost fallacy. This is a trick our mind plays on us, where we keep doing a task because we’ve already put so much time into it, even though the task is a flop.
Part of this optimal daily work practice is to find what doesn’t work and stop doing it.
Sometimes this removal process can be a painful experience. You might have some daily projects you love doing, but don’t get you anywhere. Look at the time you spend on social media, trying to gain followers and responding to comments.
When you spend a lot of time on social you’re working for the social platform as a free employee. My guess is all that time you spent probably could’ve been better-spent on your own platform—growing it.
Take hard-stock of the your daily work.
If a task isn’t growing your business or increasing customer loyalty, it’s probably time to go.
What’s the One Thing?
What’s the one thing you do right now that already works? That one thing doesn’t have to scale as big as you’d like. If the task or behavior helps grow your business, never stop doing it until something at least 2-3X better can replace it.
If that one thing doesn’t take time away from a more-lucrative activity, never stop doing it.
Even if you do things that don’t scale, like answering emails one at a time, this little extra effort might help convert a few lifetime customers per month. I respond to almost every email I get.
This is a time-consuming process.
Sometimes I don’t respond for weeks, depending on the question and whether the person is a paid customer or a prospect. But those personal responses get remembered. Even if the process can’t be automated. The work doesn’t scale, but the outcome is growth. So I keep doing it, no matter how many people are on my email list.
What is the one thing that worked for you?
What’s the one thing that helped grow your business to the place it is today? Don’t stop doing that one thing. When you find a new concept to test, add the new idea to your work process. Don’t get rid of the old one.
The Power of Cumulative Effort
If we want to grow our business, we’ve got to stack the daily tasks that work. One atop the other. I write an article a day here. I reach-out to social influencers there. I place one ad. I follow-up with five prospects. I record one podcast. I spend an hour writing my latest book.
The idea is to build a daily practice. A permanent daily work process where you turn the crank until your shift is done. Rain, sleet, or snow. Monday or Sunday. The business can’t help but grow.
Think of your day like a stack of donuts.
Each donut takes a certain amount of time to complete. Each donut grows your business. As you work your way through the stack, taking small bites from each donut, eventually you’ll finish your work process for the day, ready to stack the same tasks tomorrow.
25 email subscribers per day adds-up over time.
What might feel like busy work is another leg on your stool. Every working task you can stock atop the next is another customer stream for your business. They may not all work all the time. The more legs you add to the stool, the stronger you fortify your business against the tough times.
Building the Daily Practice
Willpower is weak and unreliable. If you focus on sheer willpower to grow your side-hustle, you’re in for the hard path. Instead, build a daily work practice—a habit that becomes permanent. We brush our teeth and shower without forcing ourselves to do it.
Let’s say you wanted to build that habit of writing one article per day.
Instead of trying to start a new habit from scratch, attach the new habit to a habit you already have. Maybe you make coffee every morning. Instead of washing the dishes as you make coffee, open your laptop and write that article in your kitchen. You’ve already completed your most important task before the day starts.
Your daily work practice doesn’t have to take a long time.
Even if you write 500 words a day, something you can accomplish in less than an hour, you’ll write 182,000 words a year. That’s enough to finish 2-3 novels a year. This is the power of cumulative effort. And the power of a daily work practice.
The process doesn’t have to be glamorous.
You don’t need a fancy office or a series of rituals to get you started. Find your one thing and do that thing before you finish anything else for the day. If you’ve got three tasks that grow your business, do all three.
Scale your daily work practice to fit your schedule. This is how you design your own life. If you want weekends off, take weekends off.
Time to Build Your Daily Work Practice
What works right now? Keep doing that task tomorrow. And next year. As you learn new ways to grow your business, never forget the behaviors that got you here.
- Define your time—how big is your daily time window? If you have an hour, plan an hour. If you’ve got eight, take eight.
- Use a daily checklist and a weekly calendar— There may be some tasks you can do once a week, while others need to be completed multiple times a day. Define the repetition required for each task and schedule the time to get them done every day. No matter what.
- Track your progress—use a big calendar, like Jerry Seinfeld. Make a red x on the days you completed your task. Try to see how many consecutive days you can perform your daily work practice without breaking the chain. You’ll have more done than anyone in your niche, without having to work harder.
This is the power of cumulative effort.
We do the work today. Tomorrow, we do it again. Next year, we’re still doing it, while performing the work more-efficiently. This daily efficiency makes room for new work tasks while you maintain the old ones.
I write a lot faster than I used to.
Now, at max speed, I can write three short-form articles in an hour. A few years ago this would’ve taken me three hours. Now I have room to add more tasks in my daily work practice without adding time to the schedule.
Stack the donuts.
You don’t have to add more time to your day. As you work your daily practice you’ll get more-efficient over time. Some of the old tasks will drop-off, replaced by more-efficient new ones. A daily work practice is not only a gift you give yourself, but it’s also an insurance policy against your competition.
With your shorter daily work load, the cumulative effect from working the same daily practice 365 days will produce more work than anyone who operates in fits and starts.
We are now in the attention economy.
There’s a war going on for your customer’s time and attention. The more work you produce, the more opportunities you have to get your ideas in front of your audience.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.