Building something is hard not least because it requires a consistent balance of ideas, planning, and execution. Wearing a lot of hats is invigorating, but it sure makes your head tired. My friend Jeff at Ugmonk echoes this statement:
I’ve been inspired by three pieces of content lately: Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Clouds & Dirt” concept, Jessica’s Hische’s Ultra-Schedule, and Dan Mall’s thoughts on scheduling & priorities. I’ve come to realize the punchline is this: to build anything you have to get shit done by default, BUT you have to give yourself time in the clouds, and you need a plan.
1. When In Doubt, Do.
It’s easy to get trapped in the vortex of perfect planning. I love a good organized calendar, but it doesn’t help to take an entire day to plan out your day. The best entrepreneurs are the best executors.
- Time Limits — I’m great at giving myself time limits, I suck at actually following them (unless it’s a workout, then the time just SLOGS by). One little thing that’s helped is to go on laptop battery…I know I only have 30% left, which equates to 1hr, so I better get this shit done before my computer dies.
- I’m a perfectionist, but “done” is better than “doing.” It’s a balance between excellence and speed, but don’t keep polishing a perfectly good deliverable. Get it done, get it out there.
- Build templates — carve out time to build yourself a system that helps you ship faster in the day-to-day. I build social templates so I can release content faster, I build out a pitch/presentation system at the beginning so I can rapidly send out value, I create email snippets to speed up responses, and a lot more. There is SO much value in always hacking your time.
- Don’t stay half-pregnant — I’m a human pendulum swing with this topic. I swing from working long hours trying to get something shipped, to feeling guilty and spending a ton of time with the family & kiddos. Nothing wrong with either, but it’s a constant tug of war. I’ve realized two things: a) we actually have more time than we think (in the long-term), and b) it’s better to sacrifice in the short-term than half-sacrifice over the long-term. This topic requires a full post, but this year we’ve made a commitment to build like hell.
2. Spend Time in the Clouds
This time is broken up into two categories: learning and thinking. I need to study trends, evaluate markets, determine necessary skills, etc…and I also need to think about the best course of action, decisions, where to go, and what to do.
- Cloud time needs to be open, with minimal distractions. For me, this time involves a lot of reading and pondering…I read the best on my iPad at night or early in the morning. I ponder best when my mind can wander, but not get distracted…two very different things. Car/travel time, long cardio sessions, walks are all great times.
- I get a ton of ideas listening to podcasts, talks, and videos. If I’m in the car or traveling I’ll record audio messages saved into Evernote to record my thoughts, or if I’m by my notebook I’ll jot them down.
- Pocket is my best friend…I don’t read articles right away, I save them for later, close the tab (cause I have a terrible open-tab habit), and make sure I keep Pocket organized and cleared out once I’m done.
- Don’t forget people: some of my best “cloud” moments come when I’m interacting with a real person. Get lunch, get on the phone, have a drink with a peer…
3. Plan Enough
I’m OCD about organization. Nothing pleases me more than an organized calendar with every minute accounted for. But, knowing myself, I find I spend way too much time when I try to organize to my liking. And usually, it cuts into my “do” time, which immediately becomes counter-productive.
- Block out weeks (or days) by percentage: right now my ratio is about 60% “Do,” 30% “Clouds,” and 10% “Plan.” Evaluate this ratio regularly based on your goals.
- I spend 60–90mins in a coffee shop on Monday mornings doing three things: reviewing goals/priorities, setting weekly deliverables, scheduling broad time blocks (I fill in specifics daily).
- Each day around 5p or 5.30p I’ll take 15m to see where I landed, and plan out the next day’s time blocks.
- Cut back email time by 50% and social media time by 75%…at least. I’ve tried to block out time like Jessica Hische suggests, and it does help. I’m not great at it yet, but getting there.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Be flexible, stay relaxed, if stuff shifts, a few things don’t get done, or you have to re-orient around a practice, soccer game, school recital, whatever…it’s okay.
Jason is an entrepreneur, designer, and writer // he’s starting a new business in 2017 and documenting every step // dad of 3 // affable