As much as I wish get rich quick schemes and programs promising endless short-cuts really had all the answers, nothing beats doing the work. The thing is, we’re always looking for that so-called shortcut because doing the work is HARD. And who can blame us for wanting to reach the finish line a little faster?
It’s so easy to fall into the procrastination trap when the work that needs to get done challenges you — but it’s a bit like climbing a mountain, in a way — going up is incredibly difficult but once you reach the peak, coming down is full of relief and a huge sense of accomplishment.
Prioritizing your own projects can be one of the most challenging areas because there’s always something more you can do for someone else instead (and see those immediate gains)! If you work for someone, maybe it comes down to taking on a few hours of overtime at your day job and collecting a bigger paycheck. If you work for yourself, taking on an extra client and getting a deposit provides a hit of instant gratification that your own projects just don’t have. The payoff is a bit more invisible.
One project I’ve really struggled with over the last year is the Branch media kit. I had so many excuses — I wanted to learn how to use my camera on manual settings so I could take better photos, I wanted to re-write my packages and bump up my rates (that comes with its own sense of fear) and finally, I wanted to make the page layouts more comprehensive, adding in more work examples (which meant doing plenty of mockups). Basically, there was no quick fix for getting this project done.
So, I did what many of you will relate to — I found every excuse possible to put it off. I blocked out the time on my calendar so I felt like I was moving forward but it was an empty promise. If a friend wanted to go out for drinks, I said yes. If my husband wanted to go vintage shopping, I said yes. If my phone rang, I’d basically say yes to anything to escape thew work. What was I really running away from?
You already know the answer: the work. Nobody likes to talk about actually doing the work because it sounds like they’re whining. “This is SO hard! I spent ALL DAY on this! I’m SO TIRED!” And really, there are a million other fun things to do. I’d rather spend the day on the couch reading fashion magazines.
The problem is, when nobody talks about doing the work but shows off the shiny, beautiful outcome, it looks effortless. And then, when we do the same thing and fall short (basically, it always takes 10 times longer), we think there’s something wrong. That internal voice kicks in and we think that comes down to a lack of knowledge, skill or talent. Really, it’s none of the above – it’s simply unrealistic expectations.
I wish I had some efficiency tips for you to get your own projects done but the truth is, it comes down to priorities and willpower. I ended up sitting in my office for a solid 15 hours over the weekend, slowly piecing together the 30 page document. It was slow, it was painful and I wanted to run from it. Trust me, I nearly did. But, I knew from experience where it would leave me so I powered through, finishing it late Sunday night.
It sucked. But it got done.
Instead of offering you inspirational mantras, I’m going to keep it real:
If you want to get something done bad enough, you’ll find a way.
Go after it with everything you’ve got and when the going gets tough and you feel frustrated, don’t give in.