Are you a compulsive, list making machine?
It’s Monday and you arrive at your office at 8:00 a.m. sharp.
A general malaise has set in already. It’s not just started, it’s your life.
That disquieting feeling of not being ready, ever. I must plan some more, you think.
Constantly restarting, reorganizing and resetting. Chasing one’s tail, you might say.
Are you good at running in circles?
Today, I will be brash. I will have an epic mind-set and I’ll crush the world with my confidence! That feeling lasts, doesn’t it? (Insert sarcasm)
Back to your Monday. You decide you need a jump start. What was that blog post old What’s His Name wrote that inspired me to conquer the world?
I don’t feel like conquering the world today, so I’ll hit Google and see what I can find. Or maybe I’ll write another list. Yeah, that’ll do it.
You see where I’m going?
Rabbit holes and time wasters.
Paralysis by analysis and avoidance.
Lists can be great, but a list-making habit will kill productivity.
I used to have lists for current projects, large projects, small projects and mindless tasks. Home chores, every day items and research.
I created piles of big rocks and smaller stones, but the little pebbles always got in the way, no matter what.
I’m surprised I didn’t put in time for a bathroom break.
Do you do this?
Lists for when to take a walk, when to break, when to meditate, when to do number 1 or number 2. Do I exaggerate?
I run a business and once blogging and social were added to the mix, I realized my habitual list-making was sucking that most precious of commodities. Time.
I had to change to survive. Well, I exaggerate, a bit.
Analysis paralysis resulted in distress and I was losing time and patience.
For now, we’ll call the blog a Side Hustle. For the blog to become more, I needed a system for business AND blogging.
So, what did I change?
Define goals and assign tasks.
How simple, right? But this system works great for me.
Step 1 (goals):
I set aside a half-day to write down goals. With a little help from my friend, John Falchetto I worked to make those goals specific, attainable and realistic.
I decided to set up goals three to six months out. Larger goals one year out, as well as a list of long-range goals.
For example, by the end of April, I plan to be speaking publicly in Seattle. My specific actions are part of step 2.
Step 2 (tasks):
I spent a morning coming up with actionable tasks, based on my goals. And the way I work, I decided to create weekly tasks, based on my goals.
(e.g. Speaking page week, outline speech week, get booked week.)
The specific goal is to speak to a club or group here in Seattle, the speaking page is an actionable task.
Step 3 (clients):
I also have daily client work and because of this I really needed to structure my day so I could fit in the larger blog-related goals with my daily client load.
This is why we’ll call my blogging a side hustle, for now. It’s the term of the day and everyone is using it, so what the heck.
The WEEKLY list.
Every Friday, before I go home, I make a list for the following week.
It’s usually broken down like this:
A. Big to-dos – blog related (1 hour):
Basically step 2. For my speaking page week, I have specific tasks for each day and by Friday of that week, my page will be up.
B. Client work (4-6 hours. Often longer, depending on my project load):
This is McBreen Design work. I work on no more than two client projects per day. Otherwise it’s just too much. This includes client contacts, vendor coordination, creative time, etc.
C. Blog design and technical work (1 hour at day’s end):
This is from another list I’m now calling, “Blog design and technical work.” How creative of me, huh?
Here I pull from another set of shorter-term blog goals that have to do with design, coding, email, etc.
(e.g. Email week: I’m now using Aweber, so I’ve set aside a week to learn it.)
Other tasks have become habits, so my list-making only involves A, B and C.
I hit the treadmill every morning, otherwise I would never exercise.
I write for at least one hour every morning. Remember, put in the hours.
I arrive at the office as early as I can, so I don’t have to stay late.
Tasks like email and social media are squeezed in during the day and sometimes, evening after I get home.
Here’s a daily breakdown:
As soon as I get to the office, I write for one hour. It can be a struggle, but I just put in the time.
A. One specific task related to my Big to-do list.
(e.g. Outline my speaking page today.) 1 hour
B. Work on tasks for 1-2 clients.
4-6 hours or more. Clients take priority, so I won’t always fit in everything.
C. One technical or design task for my blog.
(e.g. Email: Revise Opt-in form on home page.) 1 hour. You know how long these things take!
Email, social, calls, etc.
Are fit in and I try to hit email only twice daily.
Sometimes it’s impossible, but I try my best.
I fit in breaks no matter what, ever 2 hours or so. Walk, stretch, whatever, but get out of your chair. You need to recharge.
It’s a very basic system that has saved me and I’m now more productive than ever.
(This is Part One of a series on making IT work. Let’s call it the “Killer Freshman Advice Series.”)
What is your system?
Do you often suffer from Analysis Paralysis?
How do you make your side hustle work?