Planning the major moves & eliminating all distractions ?
You know the type of book that starts a major debate in your head and makes you reconsider the whole way you approach certain things in life? I’ve recently had such a revelation, while reading Brendon Burchard’s “High Performance Habits” (and I’m only half way through it).
In one of the recent emails I sent to our subscribers, I was whining about how hard I’ve worked since I started The CEO Library (by the way, this week we’re celebrating one year). Constantly putting in 14-hours long work days, forgetting about any weekends or vacations, and so on. However, I wasn’t advancing the needle fast enough towards the one goal that matters: actually building a community of readers who want to improve their entrepreneurial skills.
As soon as the project started to get a little bit of traction, new opportunities popped up from everywhere. Meetings with people who were doing interesting things and wanted to meet me for a coffee. Media appearances. Being a guest in podcasts. Video production for other projects. Attending conferences. Partnership proposals.
I was all over the place, saying yes to almost every single opportunity that appeared, afraid not to miss out on something important. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to make some valuable connections? Maybe that one social media channel will be the one that will make a difference? Maybe that one meeting? Maybe readers will notice all the extra hours put into research and making sure every detail is perfect?
Long story short, I let myself get distracted and spread too thin in too many directions. Multitasking and joggling with all sorts of tasks, always busy. Working hard, but not smart at all. I was (and, in many ways, still am) a headless chicken running around in all directions.
No wonder that at the end of the day I was left exhausted, frustrated and demoralized, unable to pinpoint to any real progress. And oh, I could blame so many external factors, but the reality is it’s solely my fault for taking my eyes off the ball.
So now I put a stop to everything, in order to eliminate all distractions. Decluttering. Getting rid of the bloat. Call it whatever you want.
Here’s the extreme question (inspired by Burchard’s book) that I need to answer to get out of the reactionary life I let myself get sucked into:
What are the five major moves that will make the most difference and help me achieve my goal?
Guessing won’t help, I need to learn directly from the best and ask (or study) those who already are at the level I want to be. Then plan accordingly: break those important moves into small, actionable things I need to do. Set a timeline, set deadlines. Redirect all my effort and block 80% of my calendar for that. Do the deep work. Delegate or ignore everything else (or do it in the 20% of remaining workweek time).
Complementary food for thought: If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do? Or, as Tim Ferriss puts it: “If I had a gun to my head or contracted some horrible disease, and I had to limit work to 2 hours per week, what would I do to keep things afloat?”. This question forces a Pareto analysis and can help eliminate unnecessary tasks.
Easy to say, right? Even so, it’s a lesson I keep forgetting. I need to stop being unfocused and prioritize what matters.
Here’s one activity I recently cut out of my calendar: besides this weekly newsletter, I had another weekly newsletter called “Friday Read” that I was sending to my personal blog subscribers. I started it last summer and it slowly grew to around 1,300 readers, with impressive reactions and interactions (70% open rate, 30% click rate, and tens of replies received every Friday – literally, tens). Some of my favorite entrepreneurs, authors and bloggers in the whole wide world were among them – huge ego boosting factor. And though I wasn’t putting that many hours into building it, it was still a huge distraction, draining my mental energy. Besides, some subscribers were confused by the similarity between the two newsletters, others were subscribing to my personal newsletter expecting it to be The CEO Library newsletter. Since I was the one writing them both, they were similar, my own values overlapping with The CEO Library. It was draining a lot of the energy that would be better invested into building this project, so last Friday I went cold turkey with my personal newsletter. Is it a permanent decision? No idea. I just know that it’s the healthy move right now in order to focus on my long term goals.
As Ray Dalio says: “While you can have virtually anything you want, you can’t have everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.”
So, what’s one thing that you’re going to do today that will advance your career and make a difference over the long term? What will you cut out?