Hustling sounds tough and action filled. That’s why it’s a popular catch phrase for entrepreneurs.
Hustling is inspiring and motivating. It implies forward movement. Sometimes, though, it’s erratic, frenetic and scattered. You might be hustling but are you actually working?
Do you have a clear, specific goal?
Entrepreneurial dreams come with really long to do lists. You might wake up with 100 things to do every day but without clear goals for your day, week or month, you’ll likely get little accomplished.
You have the big picture in your head. You know the product or service your business is going to provide. What are the smaller goals along the way? How will you know if you have achieved them?
Breaking down your big picture dream into smaller benchmarks will improve your focus and organization. You will still have 100 things to do but smaller goals will give your hustle organization, focus and direction.
What’s the plan?
If you’re focusing on managing social media during one hour, budgeting in the next and then tackling project development in the next, your focus will be scattered and disorganized. You’ll think you’re hustling but your productivity will suffer.
Take the time to choose a productivity system that works for you and your business. Many business owners swear by Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning as a way of organizing and structuring not only their days, but their lives. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff and JJ Sutherland is another organizational system that business owners rely on.
Choose a system that you buy into. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is doing it. If you don’t relate to the concepts of the system, you won’t follow through with the consistency necessary for seeing results.
Do you have skin in the game?
Sometimes “hustlers” are actually risk-avoiders. If you’re trying to do everything on the cheap or on the quick, you’re dodging the unavoidable risks that come with entrepreneurship. Your focus is more about avoiding costs, time and risk than about actually building your business. You may be hustling but you’re not working.
Are you networking with intention?
Networking is critical for success but not at the expense of building your business. If you’re schmoozing, shaking hands and taking meetings without a clear plan or intention for doing so, you’re not working. You’re wasting valuable time.
Before considering events or meetings, consider your goal and intent. What are you hoping to accomplish from the connection? What are you hoping to offer, and what are you hoping to gain? Have a plan before saying “yes.”
Are you measuring success by number of hours worked?
You’ll hear people say they were “hustling” this week. They worked 75 hours, haven’t seen the inside of a gym and can’t remember the last time they slept a full night or ate a complete meal. They’ll say this with pride and a sense of accomplishment before even evaluating if they’ve actually accomplished anything.
It doesn’t matter if you just finished a 100-hour work week if you didn’t get anything done. As you track the hours you’ve worked, be sure to evaluate how productive you were in those hours. Did you get any bang for your buck? Did you complete necessary tasks? Has there been any forward movement, or was your hustle more about spinning your wheels?
Are you trying to hustle through the fear?
When you’re working 80-hour weeks, scheduling tweets, posting updates and taking meetings, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re working on your business. Those things are specific, measurable and observable. Sometimes, though, they are relied on for reassurance that success will find you.
If you’re hustling as a way of managing the anxieties and fears that come with entrepreneurship, your focus will likely only be on the packaging of your business—on the parts that people can see—leaving you with an attractive facade that lacks substance.
Hustling works when clear intention is followed by deliberate action. Despite what the word implies, hustle is most effective when slowed down and implemented thoughtfully and with purpose. As you’re hustling, check in with yourself. Make sure it’s working.