Do you see marathon runners doing laps after they run past the finish line?
A marathon, often run in trying conditions is the perfect example of how you and I should feel after completing a project. We should feel exhausted, yet many of us believe we're likely to do laps shortly after our epic run. Take for instance the First Fifty Words course that just ended about 10 days ago. It was high intensity, because Psychotactics courses are based on skill. That means every assignment, or every amendment you make to your assignment is looked at and corrected. Which is why just 25 clients generate in excess of 10,000 posts in 8 weeks.
So what was my plan right after the course ended?
I was readying myself for the very next project, that's what. At any given point in time, I am at least behind by 20-200 projects. Why? Because I dream up all these things I have to do, and I'm eager to start and complete them. However, that stack of work doesn't ever reduce, which is why I assumed I'd be back to work after a short break. We took our break. We left home, went away for a few days over the weekend and then it happened.
By Tuesday morning I was like jello
I was listless, couldn't get anything done and frankly would have been happy to just sleep for half the day and watch Netflix for the other half. Crazy as that Netflix/sleeping agenda sounds, it's what we all need to do to achieve a lot. Just like a day where you have high-intensity and lower-intensity jobs, you need something similar with projects. A day is like a 100 metre sprint. Yes, you can do laps if you like after you breach the ribbon, and the project is, as you'd expect, a marathon.
Designing gaps is crucial for recovery and in turn recovery is important for achievement
In some countries, achievement is viewed as go, go, go. People who stop and relax are considered to be the tortoises. And yet we know how the tortoise and the hare story turned out, right? All of this comes down to a fair bit of planning and energy management. Which means that in every day, every week and every month, the most important task is not doing the task, but carving aside time for planning.
When we plan, we usually need to work around days and projects
A project that's short, like writing an article, can be managed in a day or a couple of days. When I write an article or write the script for the podcast, it can take me between 2-3 days in bursts. The first section to this very article was written a few days ago, then followed by the second section.
It doesn't physically take me 3 days to write an article. The actual time taken is about 45 minutes for about 800-100 words. However, if it's a longer articles or podcast, the way I approach the writing is to treat it as high-intensity. The outline is low-intensity, then every section of the article is high-intensity and the editing is low-intensity. All of these have to be done with breaks in between. Running a course, preparing for a workshop or writing a book is super high-intensity and requires a marathon-like planning.
The planning becomes the crux of the issue
Productivity is far higher when you're working to a plan, because it allows you to be creative. When everything has a draft, you can improvise as you go instead of having to make it up on the spot. Take for instance the early podcasts I recorded. I had an outline but no script. Yes, it may sound very much like a live speech, because that's what it was.
But when I was done with the recording I would be wiped out for hours. Worse still, I couldn't ever use the transcript, because the podcast was more like a series of thoughts than a coherent structure of information. Writing the script in advance takes a lot of planning, but the text can be edited, grammar-checked and then the super-high intensity of recording the podcast isn't so tedious after all.
We've kind of stumbled onto an important point, haven't we?
Any project or daily activity can be classified into low or high-intensity.
What causes a task to be super-high-intensity is the lack of any break, or at least a sufficient break. After slogging it out for about 8 weeks on the course, surely I should have known better than to just go right back to work on Tuesday. But as my niece Keira would say, “Silly Seanny”. And Silly Seanny went to work, didn't do a lot of anything and didn't quite get back to 100% until the following week.
So breaks really matter during and after small or large projects. What also matters is the planning factor.
The preparation is the part that we like to avoid because it seems like such a waste of time (time we don't have to spare in the first instance). So we sidestep the planning, the outlining and we take what is already high-intensity and make it super-high intensity. Not surprisingly, we crash and burn.
Having ideas for dozens of projects is pretty normal for most entrepreneurs
To focus on one thing is nice in theory, but it's easy to bounce off into another project and a third. Part of being in business enables you to jump back and forth, so the advice of focus is nice, but hard to adhere to, all the time. You're constantly context-switching because it's often fun to do so. However, to avoid being Silly Seanny, I have to do what will allow me to achieve my goals as well as prevent any burnout.
But what if we have too much work? What then? How do we know when to stop?
Find out in the next part:
Why Landing Your ‘Planes' Will Lead To Greater Profits