I have a discipline problem.
I have so many “great ideas” for the business that I wind up distracted. Rather than focusing in on one idea and seeing it through, I often start many of the ideas and then feel overwhelmed by the amount of work necessary to make it all happen.
Some call it shiny object syndrome. I call it a lack of idea discipline.
I’m betting that a lot of you reading this have the same discipline problem. We’re not so different, you and I. Working to grow businesses from scratch, doing things differently than what we’re “supposed to”. So I get it. When it’s just you, or you and a small team (as it is with me), all the many ideas are left to you to make happen. And it’s difficult.
Difficult to decide which ideas are best pursue and difficult to get focused on one thing and see the ideas through.
While there are certain times of year when this feeling comes in full force– start of the new year, in Autumn just as the fun-filled summer has come to an end and we’re ready to “get serious”– really it can and does happen any time. So the sooner we can get good at handling our lack of idea discipline, the better off the business will be.
Having a certain amount of idea discipline will go a long way in helping to make stuff actually happen, rather than everything becoming an idea you once had.
Discipline is a muscle that we can all strengthen if we really want to.
By forming certain habits, we can get way better at organizing our ideas, assessing them for do-ability, and creating the plan to make them happen.
So this week’s musing is a challenge. Here’s your step-by-step for making 3 ideas happen, and disciplining yourself to ignore all the other ideas (for now).
- I want you you to open up a notebook and write down every idea you currently have for your business. Just write, don’t think about whether they’re possible.
- Now read through the list and, using your gut, circle 2 ideas that put a giant smile on your face and give you excitement butterflies. Examples of this are things like: Instagram giveaways, new styles, blogger collaborations, an event, updating the content on your website, freshening up your branding…
- Next underline 1 one that may not be super exciting but will have an impact on your business operations. Examples of this are thing like: start using accounting software, organize your workspace, switch to a new website platform because your current one is too limiting…
- Now you’ve got 3 ideas you’re going to focus on.
- Take your 3 ideas and open up a free platform like Asana or Trello, whichever works best for you.
- Make each of these ideas a “project” in your chosen platform.
- Add a due date to each project, thinking honestly about the amount of time it will take you to complete.
- Under each project list every single tiny task you need to do in order to see the project completed. And I mean tiny.
- Assign due dates to each task based on the project completion date you set for yourself.
- Now block off time in your calendar, throughout the week, specifying which project you’re going to focus on. i.e. Thursday from noon-3pm is focused on Project #1.
- Add your time blocks every Sunday for the week ahead and don’t ignore them. No matter what. The thing is, if you’ve parsed down your project into the tiniest possible tasks, then you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed when you sit down to focus, because you know exactly what you’re going to do.
As I say to my StartUp FASHION Community members all the damn time…
Now take those left over ideas you had and create a new list (perhaps in your new fancy project management platform!), and don’t look at it again until you’ve got these 3 ideas completed. And I mean completed.
The only caveat to not looking at it again is to add your new ideas to the list when they pop in your head. That way, rather than letting these new ideas challenge your newly created idea discipline, you are storing them for the near future.
And honestly, when you know that you’re not “allowed” to work on your new ideas until you’ve completed the ones in front of you, I swear it will get your butt in gear because you just can’t wait to get to the next ones.
Designers, you can do this. I know that business is difficult. I know that sometimes it seems like there is far more to do than one person can handle. But I also know that when you can learn to take one step at a time and really see it through, progress happens.
I took this blog I had 8 years ago and turned it into a multiple six figure business. Not with investment money, not with a team of 20, not in possession of anything that many of you don’t have yourselves. I did it with at first one person, then two people, now four people. I did it by constantly challenging myself. And though I still struggle with idea discipline, I’ve gotten much, much better than I used to be. And I know you can do it, too.
Lots of love and encouragement,