Becoming a full-time entrepreneur calls for a big change in mindset and organization skills!
Old Productive Me
I have been a big fan of productivity techniques and hacks since I started freelancing almost a decade ago. I wanted to get more done during lunch and in the evenings, more effectively. To this day, I test software and applications, read books, and follow thought leaders. My YouTube Home is half nerdy stuff, half productivity-geeky stuff, half video-memes (too many halfs?). In addition to learning and consuming content, I share what I learn through my work and with my teams. I continuously evaluate my systems to make the best use of my time and increase my impact in what I do. Sometimes it feels like this is my main expertise.
New Confused Me
So... it was a big surprise that a few months ago, going from employee to full-time business owner threw things off balance. I left my role in a video game company to start my own business coaching firm, aiming to help entrepreneurs in Halton, my new community. Suddenly, everything I thought I was doing right felt like a distraction, and I finished many days feeling as if I had accomplished nothing. I was a victim of the busyness of our time: doing a lot of things, yet running in place. And in retrospective, it was obvious. I went from managing an amazing team of Operations professionals to launching a new business from scratch. And it took a while for that old team leader in me to realize that he needed to BE the team, in particular the Marketing team. A few weeks ago, it dawned on me that I needed to change my old systems and how I track my own impact if I want this business to succeed.
Is that Light at the End of the Tunnel?
I had some ideas of where to start, but my coach challenged me in some dimensions I wasn't even considering. The first step I've taken is to measure where my time is going. I found a simple app to track and categorize my activities. I discovered long work days and yet very little focus on generating new contacts. Checking email, anyone? In addition, I realized that I wasn't doing activities that I consider important, such as creating content (ahem), so I needed to allocate and block enough time for that. Here's a snapshot of what I tracked...
The next step was going back to my ideal week/ Default Diary, to design my day-to-day routine and define where I would like to spend my time. I needed to rethink my wake-up routine, plan for seven different launch strategies and block some of those activities in my calendar. It was not easy for me, as I was at the same time starting from a blank sheet of paper as well as iterating for the fifth time, with too many tasks to do. My biggest insight was that I need to sit down and work on business-building projects on a daily/ weekly basis. These activities take weeks or months to complete, and need to coexist with the constant pull of the day-to-day. Sometimes that has meant doing Operations work on-the-fly!
Default Diary, version 5.01?
I know this is the ideal and it may never happen, but it provides guidance and a baseline to measure my progress in prioritizing my work and using my time. In order to make it easier for me to get closer to this ideal week, I've used time-blocking. I have added a few "appointments" to my calendar of non-negotiable activities (those I don't want to keep ignoring or canceling).
A tool that I went back to in order to prioritize tasks, was the Eisenhower or urgency/ importance. I explore more about it in this video:
I need constant reminders, so one additional step I'm working on is to help my routine and habits stick through my environment. My journal is on my desk, my watch reminds me of the different activities in my routine and I am sharing the steps I've taken with a few accountability partners.
This is absolutely work-in-progress, just after publishing this, I'm reviewing my Default Diary with my coach. I'll continue to share how things go. I'm planning to make better use of my time starting now and hope that results follow. I've seen many of my clients struggle with prioritization, "making time" and juggling a new business with a daytime job. I wanted to share that this is a struggle for many of us, even more so with life changes in the background (or foreground). I hope some you find some of this adventures in Time Mastery useful. Please share with me your own learning and challenges, I would love to chat!