Procrastination in the form of ‘working on work’
I’ve noticed a pattern people follow when it comes to starting on projects.
When I first started my blog, I focused on all the wrong things.
I already had a blog hosted on Wix. It was quick to set up and easy to navigate. But with these characteristics, I realised it didn’t have all the customisation I wanted.
I switched to Wordpress. It was the site all the cool bloggers recommended. So I spent hours setting up the new blog and figuring out the differences between ‘pages’ and ‘posts’ and organising the website with all these new features and capabilities.
I quickly realised the free version of Wordpress still didn’t have the flexibility to lay out the site in the way I wanted.
Aha, self-hosting was the answer! This meant I had to set everything up from scratch. I could upload my own theme and customise it the way I want.
I spent hours setting up the website. And even more hours on customer service live chat with the hosting provider because I had no idea what the heck I was doing.
I kept getting stuck on where to point my domains and the size of my logo altering when I uploaded it. And once I started on the process, it was hard to back out.
I always found a way to distract myself from the actual writing of posts. Ya know, the whole reason I started the blog.
I spent way too much considering unimportant details like these:
- Should the posts layout be in list or tile format?
- What style of social media icons? Color or outline?
- What are the best photos to go with this post? I have to edit them first. Hm, the file size is too big to upload.
- Do I add text to my post image? Yes. Just kidding, Facebook won’t allow more than 20% text on images if you want to boost them.
- How should I categorise my posts? Can I organise them in them in the menu? I didn’t do it right the first time so I need to re-categorise them again with these new topics.
Although I put a lot of effort into the writing, I spent an excessive amount of time on the unimportant aspects.
If I had spent that time actually writing I’d have three times as many posts and my writing would have improved much quicker.
It's a form of procrastination that goes under the radar because it FEELS like I'm working and getting things done. When in reality, I'm not working on the truly important thing.
I met a guy in Melbourne recently who had spent close to $200K building an app for his ‘billion dollar idea’.
He spent weeks creating his own logos and branding which he could never get quite right.
Then he outsourced building the product to an expensive app development company that built his dream app with all the bells and whistles.
He spent way too much of his time at "networking" events where people robotically exchanged business cards in hopes you would promote them and/or give them money.
The problem was, he wasn’t getting customers and he wasn’t getting investment.
He had zero proof that people actually wanted the product he had created.
And it’s not just this poor guy that’s making these mistakes. I've worked closely with many new entrepreneurs over the past two years, and I noticed they all focus on all the same fluffy aspects of starting their business:
Designing a logo and building a website themselves (I want to note that brand is actually super important but most people are terrible at it...hire a professional, my friends)
Writing a huge business plan
Creating social media accounts on every social platform available
Picking the perfect photos for their website and social media
Choosing a service provider for email
Talking at length with their accountant
Finding the perfect business name or title of a blog post
And the worst one: rushing to design and build their product BEFORE they’ve even validated their idea. And I mean TRUE validation, not a survey that says 100 people are "willing" to pay for the product.
Entrepreneurs avoid the important work because they have a fear of people not liking their idea or the product they make. In the same way, I was avoiding writing blogs because I was worried what people would think of my ideas and my writing style.
Tim Ferriss likes to ask the question,“What would this look like if it were easy?”
For the blog, it would look like a simple website hosted on a blog platform like Wix or Wordpress. Then write and share your thoughts with the world.
For a startup, it looks like talking to everyone who experiences the problem you want to solve, and finding the people willing to pay you money for the product you will create.
Eighty percent of your week should be spent on proving people actually want your idea and getting real momentum, not planning and ‘working on work’.
When you sit down to work, ask yourself, “Is this real work that gets me closer to my goals, or is this just ‘working on work’ to avoid the truly tough and scary work?”