Why You Should Play Productivity “Small Ball”

Over the last few months, I have hosted (or co-hosted) a webinar of some sort every week. This wasn’t something I planned to do. It just happened to take shape. I knew I wanted to do more video work in the months ahead, but I didn’t expect things to start out like that.

But it did.

So I decided to keep at it by playing productivity “small ball.”

Small ball is a baseball term used when a team focuses on placing runners on base through a few extra base hits with the plan to deliberately move the runners into scoring position. The speed of the runners plays a huge role, as do walked batters. It’s a methodical way of playing the game in order to manufacture runs with less powerful hitting involved.

Instead of going for the home run with a big marketing push on video, I just tacked it on to my workflow. I wasn’t swinging for the fences with it. I was just getting on base and trying to get some runs in to see what would happen.

You don’t need to play small ball with everything, and you don’t need to do it with a project or outlet like I do. Instead, you could do it by adding a mini-habit to your daily routine. You could optimize your email workflow through creating different signatures. Small ball works really well for some things and can even help build momentum towards bigger things.

If you’ve read my Year in Preview piece for 2017, then you know that I map out my months by theme — and you even know how each of my months has been themed. The way I can live up to those themes is by working towards small, measurable gains over the entire month. Sometimes I am able to make great strides with a Monthly Theme, but there’s no guarantee that will (or can) happen. That’s why playing small ball makes sense. It allows me to make incremental progress almost every single day.

Playing small ball also allows you to stay focused because it is very detail-oriented. It breaks things down — such as goals and projects — to the smallest of tasks. Each task you complete for a project gets you that much closer to finishing the project. Small ball may give you more tasks to complete (or more instances of a task to complete), but it keeps you moving things forward…even in a small way.

Small ball may not be as glamourous as a home run, but the chances of achieving forward progress are far greater. Why? Because the tasks are easier to work with and to complete.

So swing for the fences every once in awhile, but more often than not you should strive for making contact instead. Then you can touch all the bases deliberately…and more often.

And that’s how you win the game.

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