Using The Gift

I haven’t had the most productive week.  Well, I got things done, but not the important thing.

This was the week to send out invitations for my next project, but to do that meant standing up and sharing my intentions with people I admire.  To say “This is what I’m doing.”

Instead, I hid.  Let the week slide by.  At one point, I even told myself that my friends would refuse my invitation.

Cindy and I talked about this and she reminded me that every day is a gift.

I’m in this unique position where (for a while anyway) I can spend my time working on projects that I chose, rather than projects that others choose for me.

So a day not spent moving my projects forward is a waste of my gift.

We all have this gift.  A day, a week, or maybe only an hour.

Don’t waste the gift.  The world needs what you’re making.  Please use the time you have.

 

The End Of The Week

I’ve been deep in a post altMBA funk this week. I’ve got my project plan and my task list but I’m just not working at it enough to ship on time.

When confronted by being stuck like this, especially when it’s self inflicted, my first reaction is that my deadlines are soft. Or at least out too far.

One of the best things about the altMBA format is that there is something due every single day. So there’s nowhere to hide. No way to get around to it later. You gotta ship, period.

Some of us, me included, like to set weekly goals. I’ll ship by the end of the week.

But Monday quickly turns into Tuesday turns into Wednesday. Laundry is done, the house is (relatively) clean, groceries purchased, side projects tended to.

Then as the sun sets on Thursday night, you realize you haven’t really got going on The Big Project. The one with the deadline.

That’s when the downward spiral picks up steam. The funk gets funkier. Not good.

No, better to have a daily deadline and mean it. Promise yourself you’ll pay the neighbour (the one you don’t like that much) $20 if you don’t ship tonight. And tomorrow. And the next day.

Get a stack of twenties and put them on your desk as a reminder.

Then get to work. We need you to ship.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

More on Shipping

With Cindy and Ben working and Robyn in Calgary, this Sunday was actually a good time to keep working on my next project. I thrashed for an hour or two before I had to stop and figure out what was bugging me.

Often times I get so eager to get moving forward that I start in the middle and start writing. That’s fine up to a point but sooner or later I need to step back and reset.

That’s where the Shipit Journal comes in.

Seth created the journal several years ago as a way to document the fears around projects right at the start, so you could call them out and then deal with them. It’s also a good way to look at your project from several angles so that you can identify everything that needs doing.

In my case, I was starting the ‘doing’ without really identifying all the pieces that needed to get done. So my head was full of ideas for other stages of the project. And a cluttered mind doesn’t do great work.

So I took an hour and filled in the Shipit Journal from front to back. It was well worth it – even though this is a solo project, I was able to identify several areas where I could get some outside help. Plus, I wrote down all the areas of the project that needed good planning and design, from the pre-launch through to finding sponsors and partners. All in one little booklet.

Back in the day, Seth made these booklets in 5 packs so your whole team could fill them in. But they are out of print. I was lucky to get a paper copy as part of my altMBA package, which is photocopiable. (new word!)

There’s also a free PDF version online, which is what I used. I still can’t bring myself to write in a book. Sigh…

Avoiding the Hard Part

I sat at my computer this morning and started fretting almost immediately.

It was still early. The sun wasn’t even up over the houses across the street. But I knew I needed to work on my podcast. It’s my Big Project. I need to ship something.

So what did I do today? (Project work is in italics.)

  • Start revising the concept and goals for the podcast.
  • Check email.
  • Make a cup of coffee.
  • Check Slack
  • Get a stewing hen doing its thing in the slow cooker.
  • Brainstorm show names.
  • Look at logo sites.
  • Email by buddy about making the show logo.
  • Worry about this weekend’s bake
  • check email
  • Send a reminder email about this weekend’s bake
  • Write a letter to a friend.
  • Check Slack
  • Eat lunch.
  • Go for a walk and mail the letter.
  • Surf YouTube
  • Start a fire
  • Check email again
  • Once more through Slack
  • Start thinking about supper
  • Write this post

Not exactly focused on my Big Project, am I? What’s happening here?

I’m running away from the tension. Avoiding the hard part. In general terms, I’m hiding.

The crazy thing is that I can’t sit still long enough to figure out what the hard part actually is!

But I’m definitely avoiding something.

Introducing the Daily Micro Habit

Avoiding the hard part is expected behaviour. It’s an automatic response from the ancient lizard brain. So the key is to notice the avoidance, then trick the lizard and get back to work.

That’s where the Daily Micro Habit comes in. What’s the new habit that you’ll repeat 100 times a day if needed to notice when you’re hiding?

When I first wrote my podcast goal down, I wrote this as the habit:

I’ll make progress by keeping daily office hours, which I’ll track. Typically they will be in the mornings, Monday – Thursday.

Each evening, I’ll take a quick reflection on the day to make sure I’ve kept my promise for office hours and will set a mini-goal for the next day.

So far, so bad. I’m not blocking time and I’m not reflecting either. I may need extra medicine.

But I see the problem. That’s a start.

Shipping Matters

One of the best things of the altMBA course is that we were forced to ship a new thing every day.

Either a project, or good feedback on other projects, or reflections on the feedback we received.

Every. Single. Day.

One of the best things of the altMBA course is that we were forced to ship a new thing every day.

Either a project, or good feedback on other projects, or reflections on the feedback we received.

Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes two things.

At first, I didn’t think I could do it, especially around my other work. I was literally spinning around trying to get myself under control. Scrambling to make every deadline.

But after the first week, I got my feet under me and fell into a sort of rhythm. I had ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ and ‘altMBA time.’

And you know what, not only did everything get done, but it got done well. Or at least, good enough.

Shipping is More Important Than Perfection

The biggest lesson is that you’re better off shipping something on time rather than getting it perfect.

Why is that?

  • You’ll never hit perfect anyway. It’s just a stall tactic in your head to avoid the vulnerability of shipping something real.
  • The longer you wait, the longer you avoid getting feedback. This is no good. Quality feedback will change your work anyway, or at least your ideas. Better to ship and get that feedback quickly
  • Missing dates is addictive. It’s too easy to miss your second date. So don’t miss even one.

Imperfect Is Not Garbage

It’s just not perfect.

There’s a difference between shipping crap and shipping imperfect work.

I define ‘crap’ as dishonest, shallow, or purposefully vague work.

‘Imperfect’ is still honest, deep, thoughtful work. Maybe it’s not 100% complete, or could benefit from some generous feedback, but the core is there.

If you feel you need to keep polishing, just ship. Get the feedback then ship again.

You’ll be glad you did.