In this sketch I summarize the first half of my Year Of Conquering Resistance and make a plan for the next three months.
Purpose: To reflect on the past six months and make a plan for the next three.
At the beginning of this year I set for myself the goal of conquering resistance, every damn day. There are things I want to make and share, and framing the year around overcoming the resistance that works against my efforts has been a useful strategy for helping me to do the work, even when I don’t have motivation on my side.
As the sketch above suggests, the first three months were mostly about establishing a daily routine that fits me and the work that I’m doing.
The second three months were about using the structure of that routine to meet some ambitious goals and deadlines that I had set myself. I outlined a set of personal projects that I wanted to complete in between two events that I attended this year: Pioneer Nation and the World Domination Summit. I didn’t quite meet those goals within the timeline that I initially outlined, but the effort kicked me into gear, and I’m on track to complete all of the projects within a month of the deadline, which to me is still a success.
In the push to meet those deadlines I found that I abandoned some of my daily routines. Consistent sleep and regular exercise were dropped in the name of shipping on time. I don’t like that I felt the need to abandon those routines that are so important to my long term health and happiness (not to mention the quality of my work) for the sake of completing projects by a particular date.
At the same time, I like having deadlines because they keep me focused and give me concrete goals to work toward. It’s the reconciliation of those two conflicting components of my work life that I hope to figure out in the next three months – a refinement of my daily routines and the short- and long-term deadlines that I set for myself.
So here’s my plan for the third quarter of this year:
- Find a balance between short-term deadlines (the publishing schedule for my three websites) and long-term deadlines (the projects and products that pay the bills).
- Start tracking how I spend my work hours each day to keep me focused and root out inefficiencies.
Let’s dig into each of those in a bit more detail.
Balance Short-Term And Long-Term Deadlines
Of those three sites, it’s only at Verbal To Visual that I have a concrete publishing schedule down: one new blog post and one new podcast episode each week.
Here at The Graphic Recorder, I’d be thrilled to post two new sketchnotes each week, but it has been a long time since I’ve been even close to that output.
At A Trail Of Life (the newest of the three), I’d like to publish one new essay and one new illustration each week, in addition to small daily drawings.
Those are the short-term deadlines.
On the long-term side are the learning resources that I’m developing for Verbal To Visual (the first of which – The Verbal To Visual Notebook – I recently completed!) and the illustrated journal series that I’m working on for A Trail Of Life.
In an ideal world, I’d like to spend a few hours each day working on my long-term projects, while still doing the work to keep up with the weekly publishing schedules I outlined above. The big question is whether or not that is feasible. That’s what I plan to find out in the next three months.
Track My Time
To meet those short- and long-term term deadlines that I outlined above, I need to be spending my time wisely each day. To make sure that I’m doing that, I have started to track my time. Prompted by a conversation that I sketchnoted about the multiple hats of the solopreneur, I began to use the app iTrackMyTime to keep a record of how much time I spend with each hat on. Here are brief descriptions of the hats:
- CEO (big picture planning)
- Worker Bee (working on short-term deadlines to keep up with publishing schedule)
- Builder (working on long-term projects and products)
- Evangelist (sharing my process and progress on social media)
- Email Responder (inbox zero, once a day)
- Learner (mostly spent reading books)
- Tech Guy (tweaks to site design)
- Financial Planner (don’t go bankrupt)
What I’d like to achieve is at least 8 hours tracked each work day, 1 hour of which is spent in Builder mode – those long term projects are the ones that suffer in the rush to keep up with a regular publishing schedule. Time spent in other modes will vary depending on what is on my plate each day, but Worker Bee mode should always be high up on the list.
Here’s what the last three days have looked like since I started tracking my time in this way (the idea of making Worker Bee and Builder separate categories is new; in the stats below both fall into the category of Worker Bee):
By tracking my time in this way it’s easy to look back and see how I spent each day, and easy to notice when I’m lacking in one category or another. I’m also finding it helpful in the moment – when I tap the CEO button on the app, that’s where my mind goes; when I tap Worker Bee, I know it’s time to get to work. That’s helping me to stay focused on one task at a time and get more done within a given day.
Let’s hope that those effects don’t fade as the novelty of the app wears off.
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