You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. At least not right now.
Luckily, you have plenty of time.
Entrepreneurs in the Farmer and Tinker phases are beset by ideas. And many of them are great ideas. But even the good ones slow you down, because they’re distracting.
Here’s how it goes:
“Today’s the day I build my team playbook, set up an evaluation schedule, and publish it!”
“I’ll just check my email…oh, a sale on t-shirts! I’ll just click through…”
“Oh, I wonder if anyone in my Facebook group has used this shirt vendor before?”
“Hey, that guy just posted a video about member retention. I’ll just watch it…”
“Man, it’s lunch time?!? I can’t believe the morning is already gone!”
Multitasking is a myth. Serial single-tasking (doing one thing until it’s done or handed off, and only then starting the next) is the secret of most successful entrepreneurs.
So how do you stay focused? How do you sprint ahead on one idea to the exclusion of all others?
- Prepare to sprint. Set up an “ideas” file in a place you won’t see it every day. I just use “Notes” on my Mac.
When you have a great idea, write it down immediately. Then forget about it for three months.
It’s important to get the new idea out of your head so you don’t dwell on it.
Our Incubator program is a 12-week sprint. It’s step by step, guided by a mentor, and we tell our clients to take an “idea fast” until they finish.
- Remove the time-fat. My friend Shawn Rider is a fellow Tinker. In his new book “The Relentless Pursuit of You: Six Pillars to Take Back Your Life“, he writes:”You have zero control of most of the things that happen around you on a daily basis. But what you read, what you see, what you engage in, and who you follow on social media is 100% within your control.”
Go onto your Facebook account, and quit 50% of the groups to which you belong. Then “unfollow” everyone on your friends list except for the 20% you engage with most.
Do the same on Instagram and LinkedIn (if you use that last platform.)
Finally, create “recess breaks” for Social Media scrolling. Give yourself 15 minutes at 10:30am, and 15 minutes at 2:30pm. Stay off Instagram when you wake up and Twitter right before bed.
- Cancel half of your meetings. I use this rule: to get me to attend a meeting, I have to see the agenda in advance. If there’s no agenda, I don’t go.
Keep only the meetings that advance your progress on your current action items, plus ONE more per week for future planning, max.
- Set up Key Performance Indicators so you know you’re on track. Have someone else hold you accountable for meeting weekly targets.
- For every new suggestion, ask “Does this move me closer to my current goal, or farther away?” If a new idea moves you further away from completing your current task, put it in the Ideas file for later.
- Finally, discuss your ideas with your mentor on your monthly or weekly call. Most of my calls with Dan Martell ended with me doing less, not more. We’d spend at least half an hour weighing the value of my time against the value of my ideas, and then deciding where to focus. Then I’d sprint for a few weeks until the new ideas piled up again.
You’re smart. You’re going to have a lot of good ideas. You can’t do all of them right now.
Great entrepreneurs are able to focus on one thing at a time. Most of them lean heavily on a mentor to keep them on track. But progress is made when you move in one direction.
For more on this problem, read How To Trap A Mule.