I used to be an absolute moron when it came to time management. You have never in your life met more of a recovering time-waster or ex-procrastinator than me. I spent 32 years carefully perfecting the art of lurking, leaving things to the last minute followed by night sweats and panic and of course there was the wabbing (for those philistines out there, this is work avoidance behaviour). I had a masters in beating myself up over things which weren’t getting done without ever realizing that to actually get things done, one needs to physically DO something consistently, constantly and enduringly.
My deadline-work-stuck-distract-lurk-loathe-recommit cycle would look as follows:
To cure this cycle of endless beating myself up, I decided to take on the ultimate challenge a year ago which was to take on 2 businesses at the same time.
With this kind of pressure, I am bound to have a breakthrough, right?
I had a breakthrough all right but first came the breakdown when I realized that the coping mechanisms I had previously designed were completely inadequate. I was burning out and not getting anything done.
SO, I developed some new habits. Initially it was very tough. I had been driving the ship of procrastination on my ocean of happiness for many many years AND NOW I had to turn the ship around to work more efficiently, make use of all of my time and increase my productivity by 150%.
I did achieve it but I won’t lie to you – it required insane patience and an insane amount of concentration to not simply slip back into the automatic ways of being I had always had.
I say concentration because to do anything great and build a new business from scratch you need to put in HUGE amounts of effort for absolutely no result or reward for months and months and months. To keep putting in 10 and getting 0 out takes something. Statistically, most people quit about 12 days before the effort gets rewarded so I want to share with you – NEVER QUIT. Whenever you feel like there is no point to continue, simply tell yourself you are just 12 days away from some traction. Keep going and follow create a method which works for you to keep up the hard work so you can build some momentum.
Here are some tips from me – steal whatever you want from my GETTING SHIT DONE formula and I wish you all the best with turning your ship around!
Getting Shit Done Principle #1: Marathon not Sprint
Building ANYTHING amazing cannot be done by sprinting. Life is not a sprint – building a business or building yourself up to be someone who makes an extraordinary difference is a 10 year commitment. Most people quit because it takes SO LONG to see results. Prepare yourself for the reality that you will probably spend MONTHS putting in ALOT of effort to see not much coming back in. There will be a rollercoaster of ups and downs. So relax. You will get there. Forgive yourself for taking 9 times longer than you imagined. Just keep going. The pace you will move at is ultimately the speed of your biggest bottleneck so focus on managing those bottlenecks vs. freaking out every time you don’t hit a deadline.
Building something amazing takes time. It’s a marathon so treat yourself like an athlete
– Eat well
– Sleep well
– Schedule time for training and development
– Nurture yourself
– Schedule time out
Getting Shit Done Principle #2: ACTION>TRACTION>ATTRACTION
Any challenge: whether you are starting a new fitness regime, starting a business or studying again after 10 years – whenever starting anything big – you do need to throw yourself into it to create some initial momentum.
When I started building my business I worked nights, weekends, didn’t see my family or friends, barely saw my boyfriend, gym became something I paid for but never saw and my hair lost the plot. BUT that is what it took to start something. Be prepared to dedicate your life to your cause and throw yourself into it to create some initial momentum. It took an immense amount of concentration and energy to start naked divorce.
I was on fire and loved every minute of creating something I cared about and breathing life into putting my mark on the planet. Sure that year was a write-off and many friends are still peeved with me becoming a hermit and missing luncheons, catch up sessions or weekends away– but I figure that you have one life and if I want to spend 2-3 years throwing myself into something I care about – that’s cool. It took letting go of being liked, being perfect, having balance and being superwoman. I became the scruffy workaholic for a while.
What it took was taking big ACTION — Eventually this created TRACTION and momentum. Sometimes this takes weeks or even months – the trick is when you hit momentum and some traction – DON’T CHILL!!!!! Keep up the big action and intense concentration. If you do that, you will begin to stabilize and this is when you change your tactics to begin training for the marathon – rather than the initial sprint. During stabilization is when you begin to ATTRACT opportunities towards you.
Getting Shit Done Principle #3: There is no such thing as WORK-LIFE BALANCE when you are building a business or creating something new
Balance is a myth. No one is in perfect harmony or balance 100% of the time. Chasing this concept is stupid and will make you do ludicrous things like bake cupcakes for your kid’s school disco at 3am whilst you attempt to be superwoman (or man).
Trying to achieve work-life balance or have all aspects of life perfect will stress you out. It’s ok to be imbalanced for a while whilst you build something new.
The way I look at it is if you look back over 6 months, overall did you progress in the areas you were committed to? Did your health, wealth, family, friends, business, etc. move forward overall? If yes, you are on balance, balanced – if no – something to look at!
Getting Shit Done Principle #4: Ensure you have funding along the way
Building a business or starting any new huge venture takes about 5 times longer than you first thought. Therefore ensure you have a plan for how to fund your venture OR you can find yourself being so stressed about money that you are not making that you cannot create anything and are paralysed by fear. You need a solid foundation to create so ensure you have funding, a roof over your head and can create some free time to make it happen.
Getting Shit Done Principle #5: Schedule your life around the creation of your new venture vs. trying to fit your venture into your life
Choosing to start anything new, it works when you schedule your life around the creation of your new venture vs. trying to fit your venture into your life. If you try to fit your venture into your life, then you will spend a great deal of time in conflict over what to choose and how to choose it in your quest for balance. It’s easier in the long run to choose your new venture and structure the rest of your life around it.
Getting Shit Done Principle #6: Be honest about what you want to do and then create a project if you are serious
Is what you want to achieve a ‘want’ or ‘desire’ OR is this NO KIDDING what you seriously intend to do? You always win the game you are playing so it’s key to work out what game you are playing. Are you playing at your new venture or are you serious about it? If you are playing at it and simply have a need or desire to do something but are not really serious about creating it. If you have a strong desire but are unwilling to do whatever it takes to achieve a goal then you will be setting yourself up for struggle, depression and a lack of results. Being serious means you create serious intentions which translate into projects with actions to take, milestones, deadlines, investment and timelines. Be clear about the game you are playing.
Succeeding at your new venture is all about creating effective EXISTENCE systems. Write things down, tell people you will do it, put it out there so its hard to run away from achieving it.
Planning ensures you don’t get into SPACELAND – you ALWAYS have stuff to do.
Failing to plan is planning to fail SO I recommend spending a day planning everything out that you INTEND to achieve vs. what you would like to/ want to/ need to achieve. If you struggle with a format, here is one:
Getting Shit Done Principle #7: Set yourself up for success
1. Write everything down, this keeps your head clear of stuff and ensures you remain PRESENT so you can create.
2. Put your alarm clock on other side of the room so you HAVE TO GET UP
3. Have a capture tool/ iPAD/ PDA/ Notebook and write down everything there is to do every day. Before you sleep that night – empty it and record commitments and actions in your calendar (tear out the pages so your notebook is always empty)
4. Categorise things that come in as being urgent/ not urgent/ important/ not important as Daryl Cross explains in his video:
5. If you are already running a business whilst trying to create lots of things, then split your day into income generation, income maintenance (customer service) and administration
a. Generation of income = 30% of time
b. Maintenance of income and customer service/ on-selling = 30%
c. Administration and emails = 10% — Try to put all admin in on one day or half day. Try not to do admin in-between if possible
6. Ignore the beep – switch off your MS Outlook’s email message alerts. Try Xobni (www.xobni.com) which is a tool which tells you the best time to check your email. Read email at end of day if possible otherwise your day is dictated by email.
7. Limit your browsing – mindlessly surfing the internet is a complete time killer. Try www.rescuetime.com which will monitor how long you spend browsing certain sites and give you a heads up when you have been on one for too long. How cool is that.
Getting Shit Done Principle #8: Create more time
1. Tweak your TV time – try to avoid lounging in front of the TV for hours on end. Watch just DVDs or recordings of specific programs you want to watch. Unless I am consciously choosing to relax, I always sit with my laptop on my lap so I work at the same time!
2. Make use of dead time (trains, queues, even when driving) always have something with you to work
3. Become a clock watcher – according to David Allen – author of Getting things done, a lot of us work late because we don’t set a time to wrap things up by. Knowing you have to leave at a set hour forces you to focus. Try this: make a pact with a friend that you will meet them for a gym class after work – if you don’t make it, you have to pay her £5.
4. Get ready in a flash: a minute or 2 here/ 30 seconds there – it all adds up. Have your bikini and armpits waxed once a month instead of shaving. Also throw out things in your makeup bag that you don’t use so you can find things easier.
5. Have interrupt times with colleagues – schedule times when it’s ok to interrupt. When people want to interrupt you, simply say ‘I am right in the middle of something, can we schedule some time at 2pm to go through those things’ – not only will you become more productive, you will get more respect.
Getting Shit Done Principle #9: Get help
1. Help costs less than you think – there are some incredible people in Serbia, Poland, India, Phillipines and Malaysia who are happy to work for $3 per hour. Believe it or not!
2. If you are worried about quality of people, check out www.burnyourtodolist.com
3. Try to limit the admin PER day by hiring an assistant to do the things you don’t want to do (emails, social media, twitter, researching things, updating websites, blogs etc.)
4. There are EXCELLENT websites for hiring people (www.elance.com, www.odesk.com and www.guru.com).
a. Create a clear brief of what you want
b. Say that written English is an important criteria for you
c. Ask for examples of their work if possible
d. Ask for their approach
e. Always hire people fixed fee or agree the hours upfront
f. Trial anyone with a short interim project and monitor their success that way. Only if they pass the first stage do you hire them for the longer term
g. Pay promptly and give good feedback
h. If you find amazing people – promote them – they will then be far more willing to work hard for you!
Getting Shit Done Principle #10: Manage the Procrastination Monster
1. Understanding what motivates you
a. Away from something you fear may happen if you don’t get this thing done
b. Towards something positive that pulls you towards it
2. Move yourself out of procrastination using this process:
3. Schedule rewards I.e. I will go out for dinner if I get the book/project/exam done
Just frikking do it.
You have one life so getting shit done is better than becoming a lounge lizard. Good luck to you till next time!!