Like how I can be watching Netflix while strapped into a small armchair, hurtling at 888km/h over the Pacific Ocean.
Or why there was a homeless man selflessly picking up trash around the perimeter of the swanky Google headquarters in Santa Monica this morning.
And don’t even get me started on how we could possibly be hanging out on a huge chunk of rock spinning at a 1000 miles per hour
Yet as creative entrepreneurs we are constantly trying to make sense of everything. As solo-preneurs we are often doing it alone. I heard Tim Ferriss say on his podcast that it’s what separates real entrepreneurs from the rest is that we know how to make something out of nothing.
That made a lightbulb go off for me.
Something out of nothing.
Recognising opportunities where they might not otherwise exist, seeing things differently. Knowing that everything can be figured out.
But what happens when we are so full of ideas but can never seem to turn them into actions. What happens when the first step seems so hard to take or difficult to decide on.
How do we make sense of it all?
The key is to break it down. Bite-size chunks.
Got an idea, one that is becoming too big to hold back anymore?
Let’s use the example of creating an online course. I hear from a lot of Hoop Love Coaches that they would love to create a course for their students online.
Let’s just say you write “Create an online course” on your list of goals. When you stare at those 4 words lingering on your list what feelings come up? Does it feel easy? Doable? A piece of cake?
Chances are it starts off feeling exciting in the idea phase but gets heavier and heavier in the reality phase. That’s because “create an online course” is a huge project.
It is doable, it can be accomplished but you need to figure out the chucks, the action steps. The bits and pieces.
And you need to get them out of your head.
Let’s try writing things like… “Decide on a name for online course” “Write a short description for online course” “Buy domain name” “Research and decide on online course platform” “set up a space to record”
Small chunks. Actions that you know you can take. If you get stuck on one you can move on to the next.
1. Brain Dump
The first round of planning I like to call a brain dump. Just getting everything that you think you are going to need to do out on the paper. Set some time aside to just sit for a moment, you and your journal and if you are pressed for time just grab a few quick minutes in your lunch break each day for a week, coming back tot he brain dump time and time again. Getting it out of your head each time. Think about writing down chunks of ideas that will make up the big project.
Asking yourself questions can help to recognize the chunks.
What, specifically do I want to share?
What is the first piece of the project I can work on now?
Who do I want to share with?
Who will actually need this?
What do I want to call it?
What connections do I have with these people or what connections will I have to make?
How long do I think this project (designing, creating, planning, shooting, editing uploading online classes, promoting, selling) is going to take?
What equipment will I need?
Will I need some help or can I do this alone?
What are my financial projections?
How much will the project cost me?
How am I going to make sure I keep this fun and creative for me?
Write all the answers down. Get them out on the paper.
Be mindful of the thoughts that come with this brain dump. Are you judging your skills and abilities as you put them action chunks down on paper? Do you hear yourself saying “I don’t know how to do that” “I don’t have the money” “That is going to be too hard” Turn them into actions e.g Research video lighting. Ask friend about grant writing for financial support. Reach out to the community for help. They are tasks too. Dump them out.
2. Get Clear
Once everything, or at least everything you can think of now, is out on paper start to bring some clarity to your list. On a fresh page turn the answers into action steps.
For example, I want to create a 6 week online beginners course for new hoopers. Write a list of specific actions. Mini steps. Everything you can possibly think you might have to do. You will likely discover new steps along the way but for now just write as many direct actions as you can think of.
Here is a short list to start you off, in no particular order, you can finish the rest….
– Decide on a platform to host the course online
– Write the structure and content of the course
– plan the photo shoot and video shoot for promotion
– create thumbnails for videos
– write an email sequence to send out to my mailing list
– make a list of ideas for short Instagram videos that talk about or share the course
– write the description of the course
– schedule 4 hours of rehearsal time and teaching to camera practice
– decide what angles are best for your students
– ask a friend how much it will cost to get them to film and edit
– decide on the total budget for the project
– schedule approximately 20 hours of shooting for a 6-week course.
– create a playlist
– plan Social Media promotion
– edit videos
– choose royalty free background songs
Now things are starting to make sense. It is beginning to look like a kick-ass action plan with some clarity.
3. Schedule it
By now you probably have a pretty long list of actions. Don’t let that stress you out, chances are some will take 2 minutes and some might take two hours. Try checking off the easy 2 minute ones first and things will seem lighter. A tip I learned from Mr Getting Things Done David Allen
Schedule the times that you are going to spend creating the project.
For some people this means a super neat, color coded calendar that they check daily and for others it means blocks of focus time. I am definitely in the later category. I have some daily time scheduled events like “go to dentist” “Skype meeting with Alex” but other than that I have blocks of time set up for “deep work” (If you haven’t read the book be Cal Newport I highly recommend it) time without distractions when I just work on the one task or small group of tasks.
And try not to resort to the, “but I never have any time” thought.
If you have got ten minutes, do the first quickest and easiest thing on your action thing. If you have one hour per week, spend one hour totally uninterrupted per week. You will still make progress.
Setting yourself a deadline for each action chunk and making yourself accountable is key. Tell a friend, put it on a calendar, have an accountability buddy, mentor or coach.
If they are locked in your head that is usually where they stay, taking up space, leaving tabs open and cluttering things up in your mind.
Again I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to write down the small tasks that you need to do to “create an online course” Make it visible. Make it real.
OK suddenly some sense is made. I know I just added a huge number of creative tasks to your list of things to take action on but the point is that when they are spread out and easier to see then they are easier to take action on. When they are all lumped into one big, insurmountable task it is impossible to make sense of them and instead of making something out of nothing you are doing nothing instead of something. When they are mapped out in front of you like a tempting obstacle course then you are more likely to ready, set, workflow.
Wait, did that make sense?
If you pick one project and break it into 3 phases it can feel so much more manageable.
What is your one big project that you can start breaking down now?