For a long time I would have nights where I lay awake, my mind running 100mph, thinking about my current projects. I had trouble sleeping in general, but entrepreneurial work made it worse. As many of you know, projects are fraught with anxiety and fear, but also possibility and excitement. The fear of failure, the desire for resolution of unanswered questions, incomplete tasks and the exhilaration of having a good idea were just a few reasons for my restlessness. But this has been happening less since I implemented two simple techniques in my daily routine: creating a to do list and identifying potential growth activities.
To Do List and Growth Activities
As I mentioned in What my cat taught me about business, inspiration can strike at any moment. It’s important you have the tools to capture the benefits of your inspired moments. Mobile technology has made this much easier. As an Android user, I utilize many Google tools. One of them is Google Drive. Within my drive I have a spreadsheet designed specifically to capture two very important items:
To-Do Items. These are short-term tasks that need to be completed soon, such as creating a video, changing site layout, updating email capture form, creating graphics, etc. Give them a deadline, don’t just add them to a list.
Growth Activities. These are high-level strategic activities that require more investigation and analysis, such as a new business idea, expanding a current business, creating a new traffic channel, building a sales funnel, taking on a project partner, etc. These typically turn into several smaller projects made up of a number of even smaller tasks that end up on your to-do list. If you prefer to go old school and use a simple notepad to capture this info, more power to you.
For more info on organizing projects, you can check out the Accomplishing Your Goals with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
Capturing Your Creative Moments
Personally, I don’t believe creativity can be manufactured. There are some exercises that promote creative thinking, but most of them are used to help solve an already identified problem or objective. When it comes to new ideas, I often get “the bug” in unexpected moments and feel like I need to take action NOW. If I don’t have the capacity to take action immediately, I make sure to use the tools above to capture the spirit of the idea. By doing this I can accomplish two things:
- Capture my idea (good or bad) for thorough evaluation later. No need to worry about it right this moment, or at 1:00 AM, when I should be sleeping.
- Create the basis for organizing a productive weekly schedule. I know what I’m going to do tomorrow and the next day. If I followed my schedule today, I have nothing to feel ashamed about. I don’t need to stress about getting everything done today because I know I’ll get to it tomorrow.
Knowing that you’ve captured all your brilliant ideas, you don’t need to worry about forgetting them. By preparing your days to be the most productive possible, you can allow yourself to get the rest you need to carry out your mission.