(This is a guest post by Ed Gandia, a former speaker at one of the Double Your Freelancing Conferences.
Time management is… well, a waste of time.
And the more you try to apply that kind of mindset to improving your productivity, the more frustrated you’ll become.
Let me explain.
Time is a constant. You can’t store it or make more of it. You have to work with what you have.
Sure, you can try to make the most out of the time available. But you’re still ignoring the biggest factor in the productivity equation…
That’s because your biggest resource is NOT time. It’s your unique combination of talents, gifts, and creative energy.
Want to be more productive? Then figure out how you can spend more time on the tasks, projects, and endeavors that make you great … and less time on the things that drain you.
When you do that, you’ll achieve higher levels of focus. And that, my friends, will enable you to develop superhuman productivity.
Discovering Your True Genius
Let me ask you. What do you do better than most other people?
Have you given some serious thought to that question before?
Most freelancers haven’t. As solo professionals, we have to wear all the hats in our business. Which creates a false belief that we have to be great at every aspect of our operation.
But at the end of the day, each of us has innate gifts — one, two, or three things we do extremely well.
These talents are our gift to the world. And that’s why I call them your “true genius.”
When it comes to your true genius, you are probably 100 to 1,000 times better at that “thing” than most other people.
Yet on any given day, most of us spend less than 10% leveraging our unique gift.
What does this have to do with productivity?
It has everything to do with it. Because trying to solve the productivity problem while ignoring your true genius is like being stuck in the mud … and wishing you had a bigger engine and monster truck tires in your Prius.
There’s no point in getting better at doing energy-draining activities more efficiently!
For instance, I’ve discovered that my real gift as a writer has less to do with writing than it does with organizing ideas into a very powerful, logical, and persuasive argument. I’m also better than most people at framing an issue, and I’m an excellent strategist.
These natural abilities enable me to craft powerful white papers, articles, and case studies for my clients. I’ve found that it also makes me an excellent coach and business strategist for ambitious freelancers.
At the same time, here’s what I’m NOT good at doing: managing a bunch of details for prolonged periods of time. And spending a lot of time on the first draft of a client project.
Those tasks drain me. I can’t stand them!
Fortunately, I know this about myself. So I now hire people to help me with those aspects of my work (other writers, editors, proofreaders, a transcriptionist, etc.).
The Magic of Flow
When you recognize your true genius, you can purposely spend more time and energy on work that requires you to apply that gift. And when you spend more time practicing your true genius, your productivity problems start to fade away.
You’ve probably heard the term “flow.” It’s generally defined as a mental state in which you are fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of doing an activity.
The absolute most productive time you could ever experience is when you’re in a state of flow. That’s because it’s the most focused state you can possibly be in.
So if boosting your productivity is one of your goals, your first job is to purposely create a few “blocks” of flow during your day. And the first step to developing more flow is to find and better leverage your true genius.
Practicing your true genius will bring real joy to your work. This joy will enable you to get into a state of flow. And this state of flow will give you the focus you need to deliver your best work quickly and almost effortlessly.
The second step to developing more flow is something you can actually start doing right away. And that’s to schedule uninterrupted time every day to practice your most valuable skill.
That’s right, just block that time in your calendar — preferably during the time of day when you have the most energy for that particular task.
Turn off all distractions before you start. No email, social media, YouTube, texting, or checking out the highlights of last night’s game. Those seemingly innocuous tasks will kill your flow state. They can wait.
And try to block off at least one hour (two is better). Once you see the benefits, you’ll want to do more. But start small, that way you’ll actually do it.
Time management is so 1980s. That mindset won’t serve you in today’s environment. Find your true genius instead. And commit to spending more of your day practicing that one thing.
Who knows? You might fall in love with your work all over again!