Every so often I hear a dad-ism from my youth ringing around my head: “In the time you spent complaining about the work, you could have had it all done.” It came back to mind this morning as I was thinking about a piece of work I did recently.
It’s all done and dusted, the piece of work. I sent it over to the person in question a few days ago, agreed a price for it and that was that. The person in question seemed very happy to receive it though. Above and beyond it being a quality piece of work (obviously!) And, as I dug around a little I began to see why.
There were a number of other people that were supposed to be producing similar pieces of work. But they hadn’t done so yet.
They were busy talking about the work they were going to do.
Or they were talking about when they were going to do the work.
Or they were talking about why they couldn’t do the work yet, and how many other things were getting in the way.
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
In the meantime, I had done the work, sent it, gotten it approved, and agreed some repeat business in the future.
When I think about situations like this, my old dads words make a lot of sense to me. Stephen Pressfield (not my dad) has written an entire book on this very subject called The War of Art. The whole book basically says one thing. Just. Do. The. Work.
Of course, I recognise that sometimes it’s not quite that simple. The work you have to do doesn’t always lend itself to a neatly time-boxed or discrete activity. In those kinds of situations it’s easy to procrastinate. It’s more helpful though to get SMART instead. Try to make some progress with the thing your goals and objectives by implementing the following principles:
The thing you’re doing needs to be as clear and unambiguous as possible.
Break down the task, project or goal, and try to figure out exactly what is required by answering the five W’s:
- What exactly is it that you’re trying to accomplish?
- Why are you trying to accomplish it?
- Who else is involved? What is their role?
- Are there any geographical constraints?
- Which stuff do you need to accomplish your target?
From a marketing or business building perspective, you might end up with something like:
- Build a list of 10,000 subscribers
- In order to generate £10,000 p/m revenue
- Copywriter needs to produce content and calls to action
- List is targeting western, educated, affulent, english speaking demographics
- Website, articles, mailer software/platform, opt-ins, lead-magnets
Once you’ve identified where it is you’re headed, or what it is exactly that you’re trying to achieve – it’s useful to have some way of measuring your progress.
Following on from the example above, I’ve already provided a specific number of subscribers, so I can very easily measure progress towards this target. It might be useful in this instance to set some milestones though, e.g.:
- 1000 subscribers per month
You might also choose to measure revenue by adding a target of £1k revenue per month. But that would depend on whether you’ve formulated a clear plan as to how you’re going to monetise that list in the first place. If you haven’t, then at this point you might choose to split that activity out into an entirely separate SMART objective.
You might think this step is a bit superfluous. But standing back from a bit from what you’ve thought about so far and asking “is this goal actually achieveable?” – particularly when viewing within the context of any other plans or activities you’re involved in, can be a useful checkpoint.
Ask yourself whether the goal can actually be accomplished given what you know so far. Are there any constraints or limitations (such as time, finance or other resources) that will prevent you from achieveing your goal?
Following on from our list-building example above… You may have all of the pre-requisites (platform, opt-in, lead-magnet, mailer software); but what about traffic? Where are all of those subscribers actually going to come from?
Asking whether your goal is achievable based on currently known factors can help you identify challenges you may otherwise have forgotten about. You can then go ahead and try to address additional obstacles with your plan.
Of course your goal is important to you. You wouldn’t be thinking about it otherwise, right? But is it relevant to wider, longer term objectives? Is it sufficiently relevant to the people around you or on your team for them to want to support you in achieving it?
Try to make sure you’ve answered the following questions:
- Is this worthwhile?
- Is it the right time?
- How does this align with my/our other objectives?
- Am I the right person to do it?
- Are there some big picture factors I’m missing?
Finally, when devising goals you should always try to put some kind of time constraint on them. And stick to it. Ideally with enough pressure built into the target-date that it induces some degree of urgency into the activity. Try to figure out:
- When do you need to have done the thing?
- What can you do today to make some observable progress?
- What do you expect to have achieved in a week, a month, 6 months, a year?
So now you have a method for breaking down the work or thing you’re trying to achieve, measure and time-box it… You don’t need to procrastinate any more. Plan the work, then work the plan – as they say.
Or you can just skip the planning stage and go straight to actually doing the work to grow your online business. We’ve done the planning for you here. You can just skip straight to implementation.
You’re welcome! 😉