Income Producing Activities are those actions that move you towards your business and income goals. So why don’t we spend our time working on exactly those things?
We Get Distracted
Well, there are as many reasons as there are minutes in the day to get distracted. And, well, we have so many options. What shall I work on this second? Shall I jump into a chat on Twitter? Should I write a blog post? Or should I finish that client item first? Or catch up on my accounting? Or ….
What we should do is focus: carve one stroke at a time.
Focus on your Income Producing Activities. Sounds easy. What are those IPA’s? Well, unfortunately, we each have our own, because we have our own goals.
Start With Your Goals
It starts with your goals. If you’re smart enough to figure out what you are trying to accomplish this year, this quarter or this month, you can figure out what you need to do regularly to get there.
What might be an IPA for a freelancer?
- Working on a client project
- Signing a new client
- Sending out a guest post to another site
- Blogging on your own site
- Answering Q&A on social networks like LinkedIn
Customize these for your own business. Use the self promotion actions that work for you. You can customize it further by assigning a high point value to billable work, and a low point value to stuff you like to do anyway. Client work = 10, Blogging on your own site = 5, for example. (Tweeting = 0 is probably a good rule for Twitter-addicts, like me.)
Now that you a list of potential IPA’s, the key is to use them. Give yourself a daily goal:
- A certain number of activities per day, or
- A total point value per day, if you’ve assigned points.
Review and Adjust
It will take some time to make this fit your work style and your goals. Adjust the actions, the daily target, the points values. Find a level that challenges you to improve, but rewards you for doing what you know you should.
Celebrate your successes. Part of what makes this work is the reward you feel when you take action on your goals.
There is one outstanding resource that I’ve recommended here since 2006. (In this classic: Focus on your IPA’s.) It’s Dave Seah’s Printable CEO. There are many different versions of it, and even a customizable spreadsheet.
Here’s the simple system to keep your mind on track while you work:
- Know your goals.
- Know the actions to get there.
- Set a goal to do a set number of those actions daily.
- Track your performance objectively.
- Review and adjust.
Try this out for a week, and let us know how it goes.
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Heidi Cohen says
Becky–I love it–IPAs something all business people should consider. Also, great advice to line up your activities to support your business. Happy Marketing, Heidi Cohen
Becky McCray says
Heidi, sometimes it’s the easy stuff that’s hard.
Ivan Walsh says
Another tactic is to delegate tasks that distract you from high level activities, for instance, I did my book-keeping for years until I found a good Accountant.
There is always the upfront cost but now he does the books (and saves me money with tax breaks etc) and I focus on more productive activities.
Becky McCray says
Ivan, good point. I’ve listed accounting because it’s one of those things everyone puts off.
Ricardo Bueno says
I love the idea of assigning a point value. I don’t currently do this but I do know what my goals are and I ask myself: “How does this move me towards my goals (both today and long-term)?” If it doesn’t, it becomes less of a priority.
One book I recently enjoyed along this topic recently is: “9 Steps to Work Less & Do More” It starts off of course by outlining your goals first and foremost!
Becky McCray says
Ricardo, thanks for the book recommendation.