Testing: Will working on my business for 1 day a week make a positive difference?

I want to try to limit myself extremely and work on my business only one day a week. I hope this will be a substantial improvement mental and result-wise.

Note: my current lousy work schedule(as a self-employed) is “sometimes during the weekdays”. I definitely need a better structure…

Why am I doing this?

I have lost the enthusiasm

For the past couple of months I noticed I don’t want to work on my existing business.

By removing the need for creativity I painted myself into a corner effectively making my work boring. I don’t get to the creative stuff, because there is never the time for it. But you know that “the lack of time is a lie”, don’t you? The real reason is that…

I have lost my focus

Trying to fit OMFramework and all my side projects in the same day forced me to juggle with them daily, eventually dropping many of them on the ground.

My task-juggling olympics are actually known to the world as “switch-tasking”.

I would like to avoid that, please.

Switch-tasking leads to attention deficit. No attention—no focus.

Should I start working now? How much time do I need for this task? Oh no, I got caught up in researching about [insert side project]… and so on.

These are the usual thoughts during a day of mine. Questions like these only tax my glucose system, because I think about them. Glucose in our blood is essential for the non-default-decision-making mode of the brain. Important if you want your business to grow instead of just react to the environment.

Removing these questions will leave me with more “decision-making” power which I can invest in solving business-related problems.

Bonus: I have lost sense of direction

Yes, there are tasks to be completed ranging from marketing to copywriting, design and development, yet I feel lost. And I procrastinate.

I expect to feel good when working on these tasks, but there is no way I can do it if the only time I have left for them is at the end of my workday.

Why do I put my side projects first?

Because if I don’t work on them early in the day, later on I will be tired or would want to go out. Also at the end of the day I am easily distracted.

So, how do I plan get by with only one day of work?

I will return to my trusted tools, the tools that got me trough the initial war with myself that OMframework’s launch was. I needed focus, because I knew I had the time, it was just me not using it very well. Applying them was also fun, too.

My “battle-tested and trusted” tools are the following reputable principles:

  1. 20% of the work accounts for 80% of the desired effects—the 80/20 rule or otherwise know as Pareto’s law
  2. Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.—Parkinson’s law

I won’t go into details, but the application of these two alone helped me focus my efforts during initial development of OMFramework. I worked only on the most essential tasks and features applying the 80/20 analysis and kept them from blowing up with the help of shorter-than-I-wanted deadlines.

What am I going to do now?

Here is what I intend to do every monday during the time of this test:

  1. Work for the day ONLY on the OMFramework project

    This is intended to help me eliminate the questions “Is it time to stop working on this side project and get back to ‘real work’?”, “Should I work on OMFramework today?”, “When during the day should I check the Slack and Trello notifications I received?”

  2. prioritize tasks to be done for the day using Pareto’s principle(80/20)
  3. Put incredibly short deadlines (Parkinson’s law) to focus on execution thus avoiding any loss of attention

    You can’t afford to lose concentration when you are pressured by a deadline

Achievements waiting to be unlocked

Trough this monday routine I hope to achieve the following:

  1. Work regularly on OMFramework
  2. Improve the conversion rate of OMFramework’s landing page (aiming for 10–12x in general)

    Primary focus in my long-term business strategy

  3. Re-evaluate the project’s direction, it’s goals and the way we achieve them right now (i.e. work “on the business”, not “in the business”)

    secondary focus in the long-term biz strategy

When?

Starting today(June 30) this test will run for the next 5 weeks—last workday in this schedule should be July 28. Expect updates/detailed report at the end.

Posting here in the hope someone besides me will find use of this, and of course, as a public reminder. Otherwise I would have buried it in some of my awesome notebooks filled with amazing stories, brilliant ideas and clever notes… that never see the light of day.

Procrastination Sans

How your feelings and habits fuel your procrastination

Why do we procrastinate on doing things? We think that “it is not the right moment to do this” or “I am not ready for this”. These are all manifestations of the high quality standard that we impose on ourselves.

The desired result from completing a task becomes our identity. We have become attached to the outcome because we want only the best for ourselves, hence we want the best result. A painful sign of perfectionism.

Facing a task with high quality standards we may never get to complete it. How often are “the planets in perfect alignment”? Having high requirements may never get us to the ideal time when the task can happen. After all the chance of having all the ideal circumstances, especially if we have defined them in great detail as requirements, is next to none.

It gets even worse when we put our feelings in, as a pre-requisite: “I have to be motivated in order to do this, but I don’t feel motivated now”.

Motivation

Motivation is a feeling. Like such, it is not under our control.

We believe that we always have to feel a certain way in order to complete a certain task. This belief only adds an unrealistic item to the list of requirements for starting and further lessens the chance of even beginning to work on the job.

If we ditch the belief, that we need a certain feeling for a certain type of job that needs to be done, we give the task a chance to happen in spite of us as a factor. To do this we must change the habits associated with execution. The cue that leads us to execute, to be precise.

Anatomy of a habit

A habit consists of 4 parts: cue, action, reward and desire for the reward. The first three are essential, but the fourth is what gets you moving trough the chain.

The desire for the reward is what makes us, upon receiving a certain cue to perform a certain action. For example:

“It is sunny outside(cue) so I will take a walk in the park(action) because walks in the park make me feel good(reward) and I want to feel good(desire for the reward).”

Can you guess where we are heading with this?

The habit, that you have formed, for achieving the task that you are postponing relies on a variable that you have no control of, yet you want it to happen in a certain moment. What if the time has come but the incontrollable variable signals “it is not the time”?

Lets assume that you have the task of “cleaning the living room”. This is the routine action that will lead you to the reward that you actually desire—”to live in a clean living room, because it makes you feel better”. If the requirement for cleaning the room is “I have to feel motivated to do it” then motivation, among others is now part of your cue. Now, cleaning, when relies on feeling to be started, is a lot less likely to happen. If you are not a housewife who gets insane when she sees dust(“dust” is her cue), which of these two has the bigger chance of happening:

  • I have the desire to clean the living room -> I clean the living room -> I feel good in a clean living room

or

  • I clean the living room every Sunday. Today is Sunday -> I clean the living room -> I feel good in a clean living room

Procrastination – Motivation = Results

Feelings are transient, but for most of our goals to happen we need consistent results. To achieve them we need to regularly put in effort. That’s the reason why many great writers have set daily quantitive goals (“3 hours of writing before work”, “2 pages of shitty drafts before breakfast”) instead of quality related ones. This way they have turned their goals in routine actions so as to remove the dependancy on feelings. There is no place for feelings when something has to happen regularly. “I don’t feel like the sun will set today” sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

This, of course, does not imply that to fight procrastination you have do the thing you postpone every day. In fact braking down a big goal into a small daily habit can be an useful approach, but that is not the point here.

To get over procrastination you just have to accept that you don’t need the feeling of “motivation” as a cue for action. Change the requirements instead. Find a time when this task has to be done and do it. Accept your lack of motivation or lack of the desire as the trigger for starting. “When I am not in the mood for cleaning the living room(I am not motivated) I will do it, so that I can enjoy the cleanliness after that”.

Still having trouble starting? Begin with just 5 minutes of work or use the famous (10+2)*5 productivity hack, which focuses you on working, not on feeling.

Further reading: “The Power of Habit” and “The Antidote”