With the hope of returning to some kind of normality in 2021, I realise I’ve been very very lucky to be able to keep working during this period. I know many of you haven’t been as fortunate or been able to find the support you need from the government. I don’t mean to minimise that.
But I’m also aware there are parts of my business that did disappear overnight and surprisingly I don’t miss them at all. Instead, I’ve become very much aware of the parts of my business that I feel have the most potential.
But before a more normal version of life fully intrudes and we become busy again with family events, work and the general stresses of life, we have time now to really focus on strengthening those parts of our businesses which need attention and which will ensure we are as resilient as possible when it comes to surviving challenging business situations.
DO YOU DO YOUR BEST WORK UNDER PRESSURE?
Many creative business owners do. If you are comfortable with creating your best work under pressure, then you’ll probably benefit from some short-term commitment and accountability.
In a mastermind group that I belong to, we recently did an optional ‘sprint’, which is a focused effort over a short period to achieve a big goal.
The idea of a sprint comes from the world of software development. Generally a sprint should be no more than one month and be used to accomplish something significant and tangible.
Although sprints are generally completed by teams, the concept can also work well for solo workers if you stick to a few rules.
Having a vague goal in mind like ‘learn about Facebook Ads’ is unlikely to work because it gives you too much wiggle room and it’s not measurable. Make sure you choose a tangible measurable goal.
It’s essential to be clear about your targets.
“I want to install the Facebook pixel, create a lead magnet people will want and launch my first ad”.
ADD AS MUCH DETAIL AS POSSIBLE
You’ll only succeed during a short timeframe if you know exactly what you are going to be doing each day and that means identifying milestones and tasks you can work through.
If you don’t break your project down into manageable chunks, you’ll be overwhelmed by the enormity of the project, lose interest and fail to complete your sprint.
Divide your project into stages, then take each stage of your project and brainstorm the tasks you’ll need to do to achieve each stage. If you are someone who likes to measure progress by ticking things off lists, there are plenty of task managers that do this for you.
I particularly like ClickUp which even has a ‘Sprint’ project format.
MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS DAILY
This is a simple but effective tip. Daily engagement is key. It doesn’t matter whether you set electronic reminders in your calendar or stick post-it notes on your computer screen, the most important thing you can do is check in with yourself daily.
- “What did I do on the project yesterday?”
- “What am I going to do on the project today?”
- “What obstacles or impediments am I facing on the project that I need to solve to move forward?”
Even if you only achieve one small task daily, you’re far more likely to achieve it if you review your sprint progress every morning.
SAY IT LOUD
It doesn’t matter where you do it, or how, but make yourself accountable to someone. It could be a friend, colleague or partner, but making a public commitment, even in a minor way makes you way more likely to succeed.
In my mastermind group, we all commit a certain amount of non-refundable money to the sprint, which is only returned if we achieve our stated goals. Instant pressure with real money to lose!
That’s definitely the kind of motivation I need to stay focused.
Also consider buddying up with a friend in the same industry and plan in accountability calls once or twice a week to keep you both on track.
PUT YOURSELF IN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Being accountable to yourself or buddying up with a friend might not be enough for you. Personally I know that I need more accountability. Look for a Facebook group where you might find that or think about joining a paid membership. I run a membership myself and I know that many of my members find the community very motivating.
When it comes to improving your fitness, people often say that getting to the gym is the hardest part. Once you’re there, the rest is easy. Sometimes all it takes is being in the right environment in the first place.
VISUALISE THE OUTCOME
Having done sprints in the past, this is the technique that really works for me.
I like to visualise how I will feel having completed that goal and I make a list of all of the benefits that I will gain from having succeeded.
Eg. “I won’t have to worry about x until the end of the year.”
ARE YOU READY?
I know that many people have felt demotivated during lockdown and struggled to concentrate, which is completely understandable and maybe you’re still not ready.
But if reading this article has sparked something in you, then sit down and plan out your sprint, speak it out loud to someone else and think about how you can find the right environment to be in to give you the best possible chance of success.
Melissa runs her own marketing membership, for small creative businesses, where you can find resources, courses, community and accountability at themarketingfix.co