Working for yourself is a constant balancing act; you always need to be correcting and adjusting to make sure that everything stays on track. But what about when it becomes harder and harder to decide on the battles to fight? What about when there are too many things to try and focus on at one time? — Time to prioritise and purge.
You’re always thinking throughout the day, and as a result, it’s not uncommon to end up with a bible of priorities and a seemingly endless to-do list. To combat this, keep your scope tight and always be willing to say no to things that don’t align with your higher purpose or priorities, including straight up deleting ideas that aren’t relevant now, if they matter so much; they’ll come back later.
Personally, as someone who has worked remote for the best part of a decade, I understand the importance of allocating my energy as effectively as I can. If I focus my energy poorly, I can only expect vague or underwhelming results, and there’s no one there to keep me accountable other than myself. So I’m always hunting down and confirming my priorities so that I can continue pressing on in the direction I need to reach my overall goals. A recent example would be the very rapid appearance (and subsequent disappearance) of my podcast “Five Minutes” — after spending some time thinking about where I was going; the podcast didn’t fit the mould. I had started the show for the wrong reasons, and as a result, it hit the cutting room floor — I liked doing the podcast, and will definitely revisit the form factor in the future, but right now there are more important things to be doing, and as my own boss, I need to make the executive decisions for the best of my future.
Keep this in mind when you allocate your own time and energy or work out what to dedicate yourself to, too many things at once or a pool allocation of time means things slip and the result you want goes with it. Avoid this by focusing on the things you and your audience care about the most, if you always have your validating questions to check what you’ll be doing, you’ll always have the impact you need for yourself and your potential customers. Just find the things you care for that work and relentlessly stick to getting them done.
“When you find something at which you’re talented, you do until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head” — Stephen King, On Writing.
Talent is only the spark though; it’s how you cultivate and grow that small headstart you have from finding your calling and turn the spark into a raging inferno — this is done by showing up every single day once you identify what it is that you can do, that people also want to see or purchase. Turning up day after day requires not just the commitment and drive typically mentioned though, you also need the understanding and empathy with the person on the other side of the screen from you, and how you can make them care just as much as you. Make sure to pay attention to the frame of mind someone is in when they consume what you create — be clear, and the end goal, the aspiration and what it looks like when the stresses someone is experiencing are gone and removed from their life.
Have you ever wondered why many fall off working on their side projects after just a few weeks? Because once they’ve got an idea of the problem they’re solving isn’t as exciting as thought, they give up. You chose to solve the problem you are working on because you care and want to help improve something for someone. To do this, think about what excites you, and what you suffer from frequently. Something that makes you furious every time it crops up. These are the problems you’ll care about solving.
If you can solve a problem you relate to and understand; it’s easy to know the result. You can explain it, show you care and get that across in how you communicate, speak and present what you’re making. The passion that you’ll be able to engineer from the things you care about feels genuine and relatable. It won’t feel like it was written by committee, or that is was even build to solve a problem for anyone other than the SINGLE person reading it, which is how it should be. Make that your priority, and then finish what you start.