“I’ve always been fond of the saying, ‘If you’re not willing to work on your own dream, someone else will happily pay you to help them work on theirs,’’ Charlie said.
The problem? Charlie is too obsessed with making his business successful to stay focused on writing a book. He often spends several hours a day chasing random business ideas that pop into his head — making phone calls, getting lost on the Web. Then the day is over, and he hasn’t worked on the book. “Pursuing all those different ideas takes time, money and mental bandwidth,” Charlie said. “The book is just another thing on my plate.”
THE TIMEHACKS: Charlie worked with coach, Julie Gray, of Profound Impact Coaching and Consulting. Gray suggested four time hacks:
1. Conserve your energy: In their coaching sessions, Gray found that Charlie was feeling great pressure to maintain and grow his company, which is part of why he was constantly chasing after so many potential opportunities at the same time. The company was supposed to be focused on online businesses but he had strayed into podcasting and other pursuits to create additional revenue.
“The stress and anxiety that Charlie is under is impacting his ability to stay focused and sustainably productive,” Gray said. “His self-care and energy management has been overridden by his need to grow his company.”
To keep from getting so drained, Gray encouraged Charlie to take some time every day just to do something for himself. Taking time off will actually help Charlie’s business by enabling him to work more effectively, Gray said.
2. Find the core. To keep from getting so easily distracted, Gray said what Charlie most needed to do was define his core business, and thus his mission for how to plan his day. “The lack of a clear path has made it easy to say “yes” to most business ideas that come his way,” she said.
After defining his core business, Gray suggested Charlie start judging each new idea according to how much it will help that core. Keep the ideas that do, she said, and discard the rest or put them on the back-burner to percolate. “The experiment is to see if he can continue to do this when more opportunities arise,” Gray said. “This is the muscle we are building.”
3. Anchor time. Charlie never had a set time to work on his book project. “It hearkens back to the days of term papers in college,” he said. “I wake up and think, ‘Oh gosh, I haven’t spent a lot of time on the book. Let me cram some time in.”
Gray suggested finding “anchor” time in his calendar on a regular basis to work on the book and scheduling it in.
4. Seek out partners for support. Charlie also felt isolated working on his own. He wanted to be able to bounce ideas off of others, and to get support as he learned to focus on his core business. Gray suggested working with a coach on a regular basis, or joining a group of like-minded entrepreneurs.
DAY 21: By the time I called Charlie, he had just finished the first draft of his book, “How to Build Your Own Dream: A Roadmap to Success,” which he plans to self-publish. For the book, Charlie interviewed more than 300 successful online entrepreneurs, “people who enjoy what they do and built a revenue stream around it.”
After working with Gray, he had defined his core business – helping businesses and individuals set up and run online businesses – which kept him from being distracted by new business ideas. He saw that writing the book was part of his core business, which helped give him mental permission to work on it.
He also gave himself time in the morning to work out, to keep his energy level high and his stress level down. And he anchored in an hour to an hour and a half every day during the work week to pursue his book. It wasn’t always at the same time everyday, but it was always on his calendar. That, he said, is how he got it done.
“I’m on the right track now, and I’m not sure I would’ve been without Julie. She really helped me think through the process of narrowing down my focus, so I could give what I want or really need to do more attention,” he said. “I realized my issue wasn’t so much about a lack of time. It was more about getting me focused.”
Now instead of chasing every new idea and putting it on his To Do list for the day, he asks himself ” ‘Is this a better use of my time? Is this a better shift in focus than what I’m doing now?’,” Charlie says. “A new idea is almost like dating – there’s an excitement and allure of dating different people. But there’s something to be said about being able to relax and focus on one person.”
Gray’s counsel has “given me permission to clear the decks.”
To get support and feedback from others, Charlie runs his own “mastermind” group for entrepreneurs. And going forward, he’s considering working with a coach .
“My message in the book is not about how to get rich quick, or make a million. It’s not focused on money. It’s about how to get something into your life that makes you happy,” he said.
Like his book project. And now that that book is finally done, he said, “I feel superb.”
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