I’m quite fortunate in many ways. I realise this. And yet, as I sit here gazing out of my study window it occurs to me that I’m way out of my comfort zone right now.
I’m supposed to be writing some marketing material for my business and I have no idea where to start or what to do. And so I procrastinate. And ponder. And daydream. And wonder what it is that I should write about.
And all the while the answer is staring me in the face. My laptop lays open in front of me with a blank screen.
What I need to do is put some words on the screen.
I need to start the thing I’m putting off.
And once I start I just need to keep going until I’m finished. And then, once I’m done with that thing, I can just move onto the next thing and repeat.
The Process Shows the Way
So simple in theory. But so hard in practice.
I mentioned in my last post that I was in the throws of taking a sabbatical from my testing work and instead going into business with my wife.
Well, my testing work is now done for the immediate future. But finishing that up was the easy part. Now comes the hard bit.
As an “entrepreneur” I am totally responsible for charting my own course and figuring out what it is I need to do each day in order to make my business grow in the way I want it to. It’s more challenging than you might think.
As an independent contractor, I’ve generally been pretty good at managing my time. But then, I’ve always had a client, and I’ve always had some deliverables, and I’ve always had a deadline.
When you’re running a business then, at least at first:
- There’s no boss.
- There’s no deliverables.
- There’s no deadline.
So how do you decide what to do each day?
Well, it’s probably different for everyone. But I’ve found the words and philosophy of Nick Saban pretty helpful over my years as an independent consultant, and they can well be applied to the challenge of building a business too:
Don’t think about winning the championship. Think about what you need to do in this drill, in this play, in this moment. That’s The Process: think about what you can do today. On the task at hand.
Following The Process challenges me to stay in the moment and not get lost in thinking about the end result. It focuses my mind on what I can do right now to move things forward and provides me with a toolkit for making sure I’m moving closer to my goal every moment that I’m working.
Want to know how to apply it?
How to Apply The Process
 Break things down into pieces
It’s obvious right? But how often do you just freeze up when you have a difficult job ahead of you. Or when you have a whole load of stuff to do and you don’t know where to start?
Breaking the work down into manageable chunks is a tried and tested technique for Getting Shit Done.
Project Managers use it. Programmers use it. Business owners use it. American Football coaches use it.
You can use it.
Ocasionally you may come across an exception to this approach. If and when you do, just try breaking it down another way. Try slicing instead of dicing.
 Do the thing you can do right now
Naturally the next step is to actually make a start on doing the work. Where do you start? With the thing that you can actually do right at this very moment.
Lots of folk we talk to get stuck into a pattern of thinking 5 or 10 steps down the road, when what they actually need to do is just get on with the thing that’s staring them in the face.
You want to carve a sculpture, or paint a picture? Start chiseling or making marks on paper.
Need some customers? Start talking to people.
Writing an app? Lay down some code.
Whatever the thing is that you can do right now. That’s the place to start. It may not be easy. But it’s simple.
 Do it well
Some wise person once said “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” (The quote is attributed to T. Harv Eker apparently.)
If it’s true, then you should get into the habit of doing everything well. In fact, I’d say go the extra mile and do it better than well. Do it great. Do the best work you possibly can. People remember great work.
To be fair. People probably remember bad work too. But you don’t want to be remembered for that, do you?
 Move onto the next thing you can do right now
If you’ve broken or sliced up your work into more manageable pieces, and done the thing you can do right now, and you’ve done it well – congratulations. It’s time to move onto the next thing.
Repeat steps 2-4 until…
 Finish what you start
This is probably the most important thing. You’ve got to finish. The Process doesn’t work unless you finish the thing you started.
If you don’t finish, what do you think is going to happen?
That’s right. You end up with a bunch of unfinished work that doesn’t serve anybody. Probably not even you.
In this respect, I’m a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy – Touch It Once. Basically what he says is if you pick something up, don’t put it back down again to finish it off later. Do the work to deal with the thing there and then.
If you’ve gone to the effort of breaking down your big project, whatever it is, into manageable chunks – and you’ve started doing the work… Great job! Pat yourself on the back. But don’t stop there. Rome wasn’t built in a day to be sure, but whatever you do pick up and start working on – make every effort to finish it.
Once you’ve done that, you can get ready to do it all again the next day! And so long as you keep doing the work, over the course of time – you’ll see the results.
If you’re finding it difficult to nail down exactly what the work you should be doing to build your business is though… Or if you’re not getting the results you think you should be. Feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll try to help you out.