If you want to make a great living doing work that you are brilliant at and you enjoy, you are going to need to make the distinction between Action and Activity.
At its most basic, the differentiator of Action it that it comes from a conscious intent to create an outcome. Activity, on the other hand, is much more general, and tends to be an end in itself
For example, making a follow-up phone call is an example of Action – the intent being to create a sale. Another Action might be creating an autoresponder series – with the intent to increase the proportion of the people opting in for your list who go on to make a purchase. Action doesn’t just have to be about making sales though; sitting down to do your accounts could be an action – the intent being to have the info needed to submit an accurate tax return and avoid penalties.
Examples of Activity might be tidying the office, or messing about on Facebook. It could also be writing a blog post you know no-one is ever going to read, or posting on social media because you think that’s what you are expected to do. Activity is generally a distraction from Action, and frequently it is what us coaches call “displacement activity” – stuff you do to convince yourself you are too busy to commit to the Action you know you ought to be taking but are reluctant to get on with.
Action results in good business; Activity just creates busy-ness.
If you are not sure whether what you are about to do is Action or Activity, there is a very simple “acid test”: ask yourself what outcome you intended to create by doing it. If you have to think about that for more than a split second, then the chances are, it was about to be Activity for its own sake or to fill in time, rather than purposeful Action.
So your challenge for this week is (go on, you know you want to take it): for the next week make sure everything you do is a purposeful Action towards a known and desired outcome.
(PS: and repeat that next week and the week after – after 21 days or so, things generally become a habit).