Well I’ve finally done it! Eat Sleep Grow Repeat is up and running! What started off as just one of many ideas discussed during the weekly marathon post-training coffee shop session with my co-presenter Ben Harrison had finally become reality. I know if you are reading this then it’s very likely you are the sort of person who to has an idea that you have just not got around to working on yet. You probably have a lot of good reasons for this to. Maybe you have a high pressured job or all your spare time is going towards training for a marathon or bike race. It could be the kids? The new dog? Or maybe you honestly just don’t know where to start? Believe me when I say I get it, I’ve made similar excuses myself for years. If I had to write a down a list of reasons I couldn’t do this podcast it would have been easy. I could tell myself that I have stressful job and time spent working on this is time I’m not earning money and hitting targets. It’s also time I’m not working towards my 2014 aim of improving my Jiu-jitsu. I could think ‘do you even know how to do this? You have no equipment, your computer skills are limited plus you’ve never worked in media and have no contacts and no-one to help you.’ I could carry on but you get the point. So how did I get past these excuses and actually finally get it done? Well it wasn’t easy.
When I first started working on this project I had no idea where to start so in order that I was actually doing something I just started working on everything at once. I didn’t even know what everything was as I didn’t know what was needed. It was like someone just building a house without so much as deciding what it would look like first. This is not just one of the least efficient ways you could work on a project but is also the most stressful! Some nights I would be working several tasks at once without fully understanding how to do any of them. I would start to be swallowed by the magnitude of the task in front of me and at times thought it was impossible and maybe I should just quit. Then I decided to make two excel sheets which would refocus my efforts. I have to thank Chase Amante for the first and his article ‘The 100 Hour Rule’. Chase is primarily a pick up artist but is also a successful entrepreneur and has some great articles on his site www.girlschase.com. The idea behind the article is that you pick one thing that you want to do and invest 100 hours into it. This could be anything from writing a book to learning yoga. After you have completed 100 hours in your chosen pursuit then you are free to make a decision on whether you want to carry on with it or you’ve decided it’s not for you. The genius of this system is whatever you choose and whatever the outcome you still walk away a winner. For example if you choose to learn Krav Maga after a 100 hours of lessons you are going to know a lot more about self-defence than you did before. Obviously I chose working on the podcast and used a simple excel sheet to record the hours I put in, though a notebook would have been just as effective if you don’t have excel access / knowledge.
“Put the army in the face of death where there is no escape and they will not flee or be afraid – there is nothing they cannot achieve.” – Sun Tzu
Obviously Sun Tzu is not talking about the trouble putting together his website here but is actually saying that when a man knows he is on ‘Death Ground’ he will fight with everything he has to win. Sun Tzu would make sure his army’s had no escape route so that the only way they would survive would be to complete their objective and win the battle. He knew that people often responded best when their backs were against the wall. I decided to implement a scaled down version of this mantra in order to complete my project. I wrote down everything that needed to be done and wrote a date that I had to get it done by next to it. I then put the list in order (this is why personally I find it easier to do this on Excel than paper) and went through ticking off every small task in order until the site was completed. It’s very important if you are going to use this method that you make sure the dates you select are realistic. Take a bit of time to compare the dates against your work and social commitments, are you really going to get chapter 5 of your book written while you eat your dinner or during the pub quiz? If realistically the answer is no then don’t put this in your schedule. Things often take longer than you think so it is best to leave yourself some leeway as getting really far behind on your list is going to be demotivating. To make sure you stick to these dates you can set yourself up with some sort of reward or punishment depending on what motivates you. I’ve heard ideas like giving a friend some money and telling them to spend it if you haven’t hit your target. There’s also websites out there you can use that donate the money to a charity or organization you don’t approve of if you don’t have any trust worthy friends! I didn’t do any of these as for me just getting the podcast done before my next trip to America was my motivation but they may work for you.
If you set your bar at “amazing,” it’s awfully difficult to start. — Seth Godin
I’m always saying how positive an impact podcast have had on my life and that’s also true when it came to getting focused. It was listening to a podcast that introduced me to James Clear who describes himself as an entrepreneur, weight lifter and photographer. He also writes twice weekly news letters and I would recommend to everyone that you subscribe to these through his website www.jamesclear.com. One of the best pieces of advice came from his post on ‘The Power of Imperfect Starts’ where he talks about the very real dangers of procrastination:
‘When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to get obsessed with optimal. This is especially true at the start. I can remember being convinced that my first website would not succeed without a great logo. After all, every popular website I looked at had a professional logo. I’ve since learned my lesson. Now my “logo” is just my name and this is the most popular website I’ve built.’
At the time of writing this I have the same logo issue amongst a few other little improvements I want to make to the site and podcast. I could have delayed the launch whilst I looked into making all these slight improvements but I decided it was more important to get the product out, after all I don’t think there will ever be a time when there is nothing that can be improved plus I can always make these little improvements later on. In his book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ Tim Ferriss talks about the life changing effect ‘Pareto’s Law’ ( commonly called the ‘80 / 20 Principle’) has had on his life. As Tim explains in the book ‘Paretos Law can be summarised as follows: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs’. These small issues were obviously not part of the fundamental 20% of work that had to be done to get the podcast off the ideas board and onto the internet.
The importance of constraints
Dr Seuss’s book Green Eggs and Ham has sold over 200 million copies making it one of the most successful children’s books of all time and his most popular piece of work, but did you know that it was written using serious constraints? He had accepted a bet that he couldn’t write an entertaining children’s book using only 50 different words. Whatever it is that you are working on it is always possible to add more words, to do more research, to try another font, change the picture or whatever it may be that’s stopping you from finishing the project. Give yourself some constraints I guarantee they will help. Personally I use constraints to keep me from getting distracted which is something that can easily happen, especially if you are working at home. Unfortunately my mobile phone has become a massive distraction and I find it very easy to slip into checking Facebook, my emails or replying to that text that just came through. To stop this I now split my time in one hour blocks and the end of the hour is signalled by my phone alarm, so now it is helping rather than hindering my efforts. I make sure I have everything I need, set the alarm and then until it goes off I can’t do anything except what I’m supposed to be doing. No joining in with the latest Whats App thread discussing plans for Saturday night, no making a green tea, no checking the football score, nothing until the hour is up. Then take a break and get that snack or whatever it was you’ve been wanting to do for the last half an hour! Have your little break then make sure you have everything you need and repeat. If you’re worse than me with your phone then you could always do the unthinkable and actually switch it off for an hour! Luckily I’ve not reached the stage of having to do that yet.
What are you waiting for? Get started!
You’ve now got all the information you need to get organised so get you plan together and get started! Remember if you’re focused and have a plan it doesn’t matter if you can only spend 15 minutes a day on your project, 15 minutes is way better than nothing. If you did only 15 minutes a day for one year that’s over 91 hours putting you well on your way to finishing off your 100 hour challenge and in the process finally getting it done.
Good luck with whatever you choose!