There are two times that suck more than others when working at anything: getting started and pushing through.
I work out almost every day with my wife. We have an intense 30 minute routine that gets incrementally harder as we reach new levels. Most days I do not want work out. She has to push me to get going. Once I’m into it though I get in my groove and experience pretty smooth sailing, until I hit that point. That point in the workout where I have to push through an exercise that has been challenging me. I can either rest or just keep up with it until the exercise is finished. Pushing through at this point makes all the difference in my physical development and whether I hit that next level or not.
Business and marketing are no different.
Often we put off the tasks that, for one reason or another, we do not want to do. We busy ourselves with all types of distractions like “important projects” that are due much later than what we are putting off. Once circumstance, the muse or the demands of the project itself kick our butts into gear we often wonder what we were putting off in the first place. Then the time to ship the project comes. Again we find reasons it isn’t ready yet, reasons we need more time and justifications for wanting to keep it just a little bit longer. This is the point where we have to push through.
Here are some quick tips to getting though the unproductive times:
- 30 Minute Blocks -You would be shocked at what you can get done in 30 minutes. It’s just enough time to feel short, but enough time to do complete work. Take your pain in the ass project (“PITAP”) and schedule 30 minutes per day on your Google calendar where you are going to block out the world to focus on the PITAP. When the 30 minutes are up you can go back to Google+ or Twitter to engage in the really important work that day. Building a routine will dramatically change the way you work.
- Whiteboards Should be Erased – Do you have a whiteboard in your office? I live and die by mine (I dream of the day when I can have most of the walls in my office be whiteboards). How often do you erase them?Too often the whiteboard becomes a static picture in our office rather than the ideation and project development tool it is meant to be. Write your PITAP on the whiteboard, outline it’s various parts and then take a snapshot for your Evernotes to archive the ideas. By the end of the week, the general outline should be replaced by your outlining and honing in on a single piece of the project. This should help you move through the details.
- Use the Buddy System – Just like in swimming you should have a buddy when it comes to your PITAP. Even if that someone is just a colleague willing to listen and give feedback, it need not be someone partnering on the PITAP with you. The idea here is to have someone else be your reality check, tell you when you are stalling and spark workable and appropriate insights. You do not want a yes-man for this.
Getting started and pushing through are just like any muscle in our body, except the mechanism is in our brain. We need to practice becoming more effective in these areas, fail better when we don’t measure up and learn to accept the challenge as an opportunity to work outside the comfort zone. This is the place where real professional growth happens, businesses catch fire and we reveal great things to our market.