How to Move Multiple Projects Forward Powerfully

How to Move Multiple Projects Forward Powerfully

“Don’t multitask – it makes you unproductive.”

“Everything needs to be done one step at a time.”

“If you’re suffering from project overload, it’s time to purge.”

Most productivity advice originating from the mainstream and even the gurus are thoroughly unhelpful or plainly bunk, as they seem to be under the mistaken impression that all of us only have one job, freelancing career, business, or client.

If you find yourself in a position where you can freely choose what you want to work on, and for how long, discard this – it’s not for you.

For most of us, the reality will be moving multiple projects forward simultaneously. Once you’ve accepted this, and I stress this – once you’ve accepted this – you will be ready to move multiple projects forward powerfully.

Project Management is the Bottleneck

At the risk of beating a dead horse, there are no textbooks on project management, as people lucky enough to be tasked with the responsibility, unless especially talented or experienced, find themselves needing to invent a system in a company that’s reluctant to set forth the necessary resources for a new initiative, and want to do everything by the book.

I’m a champion of artistic success, and as such I’m aware that I’m speaking to creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.

But understand – even if you’re mostly a one-man or one-woman show, having no structures in place will be the downfall of your success in moving multiple projects forward. Without structures, you will drop the ball on projects, experience major cash flow problems or lose income to prolonged silence and neglect. And no whiz-bang invoicing system will save you the trouble. Read this paragraph again.

We need structures, though complexity is unnecessary. A simple written list of projects can serve as a good reminder (just beware of it blending into your environment so you don’t even notice it anymore). As well, there are tools plentiful enough to satisfy most personalities and inclinations – Evernote, Google Drive, ClickUp, Asana, or the now trendy Notion. Pick something, commit to its mastery, and make it your own. Start simply and don’t second guess.

Crack the Whip on Your Time

As a passionate adventurer, I take it upon myself to dig for the gold in countless resources, whether books, courses, mastermind groups, coaching programs, or otherwise.

No one can give you the tough love you need like author Dan Kennedy, especially in his timeless book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs. And while his methodology may appear draconian to the microwave success crowd, it’s worth reading for the mindset alone. Let it impact your workflow, and you will expand beyond any level of productivity previously imagined. Anything else I could say in this regard would be redundant or a pale imitation.

Nir Eyal’s timeboxing process would also merit a look, as I have personally experienced great success taking on blogging daily, a yearlong intensive leadership program, community projects, staff writing duties, freelance and ghostwriting clients, and multiple business projects simultaneously. And I still workout at least three times per week, meditate most days and have time enough to wind down for a couple of hours each night.

Act with Great Urgency

There is no time to sit around waxing eloquent about the theoretical. You’ve committed to multiple projects, and now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Don’t wait to get started. Don’t expend more time and energy on planning and project management. Don’t try to fine-tune your routine or time management processes. It’s time to act with urgency.

As actor Will Smith says:

Bite off more than you can chew… Then chew it!

Start chewing now. Don’t wait until later. Adopt the mantra “do it now” and have it lived in your life.

And as you get into motion, you will recognize that there isn’t time enough to be tired or sick. There isn’t time enough for excuses. Only time to do and restore integrity when and where you are out of it.

Create a start and end time for every activity, and unless completely impossible, move every project forward every single week.

Create Margin for Hired Help

If your fees are barely enough (or not enough) to keep you afloat financially, increase them immediately. Your personal solvency is paramount to your initiative’s future success.

In most projects, there will be opportunities to outsource the workload, if not in whole then in part, and that will bring some relief to the project load. Over time, you can create even more leeway.

Smart entrepreneurs won’t outsource everything, though, and will instead discover and feed their passion for marketing and continue to sign paychecks and monitor staff activity.

Final Thoughts

My book, The Music Entrepreneur Code, introduces several real productivity techniques I use to get results. It was written for musicians, but freelancers and entrepreneurs alike have benefited from the read.

Let go of the need to fight against multiple projects and instead embrace it as a way of life. Get good at advancing every project every week of your life.

How do I Stay Sane When There is an Endless Stack of Work Waiting for Me Every Morning?

How do I Stay Sane When There is an Endless Stack of Work Waiting for Me Every Morning?

My friend has been steadily developing his books and courses over the course of the last year or so.

What he’s been able to accomplish in that time is impressive.

He has yet to release his product to the world, though, and deadlines keep shifting as layers are added, technical issues are dealt with, and next steps reveal themselves.

Although not discouraged or deterred, he asked me in all sincerity, “how do I stay sane when there is an endless stack of work waiting for me every morning?”

Truth be known, he posited the question in even more graphic detail.

No Rest for the Modern Creator

Truly, there is no end to the grind. Not when you’re looking to share your message with the world.

Just when you think you’re done writing your book, you enter the editing phase. After that’s done, you need to get a cover designed, write up a compelling description and author bio, submit your content and materials to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (in the right format), wait for them to be approved, and finally your book goes live to the world.

It’s the same with most creative efforts.

A musical album is not done the moment the last note is captured by the sound engineer in the studio.

The music is then edited, mixed, mastered, oftentimes by multiple engineers. Recording credits are collated, and are submitted to the designer, who crafts a beautiful cover for the musical work. These materials are then submitted to a music distributor like CD Baby, along with additional details about the artist. The artist pays for the service, waits a few days (until their music has been submitted and accepted by distribution partners), and only then is their music ready for mass consumption.

And what my friend has been finding is much the same. His book isn’t done the moment he’s put the finishing touches on the final sentence. That’s just the start, especially since he’s looking to create a sales funnel for his offer, which requires some technical expertise.

“Do You Take Breaks?”

My friend asked whether I took breaks during the day. He understands that I am in the same crazy hustle.

For the most part, my work is enjoyable. I do not take many breaks.

I will get away from my devices during walks and meals. Sometimes, I will steal away for a meditation or a little guitar. I will disconnect from work while engaged in learning (reading books or taking courses). And, of course, I will get up multiple times during the day, walk around, stretch, or go to the bathroom.

Then again, I am not new to the game. And I know for a fact entrepreneur Eben Pagan gave a similar answer to mine in an interview when asked if he ever took breaks. He got up, stretched, made tea, went to the bathroom, etc.

Author Jim Kwik asked Will Smith how he was able to achieve so much, and apparently his answer was:

Bite off more than you can chew and start chewing.

Breaks are important. I don’t want to underplay how important it is to take breaks. But it’s important that you find what works for you.

Practices to Keep You Grounded

Okay, but so far, we have only to speak of the problem itself, and talking more about the hustle probably hasn’t done much besides agitate the pain.

I am a big believer in a few practices that keep me grounded. I do not do all of them perfectly. Some days, I skip over them completely.

Nevertheless, I have found these practices to be of immense value. Here’s what they are:

Walking

These days, I walk at least 15 minutes per day first thing in the morning. I take deep breaths, absorb the sun (even through the clouds – it’s okay), and just appreciate life.

There are different ways of starting your day, but this is a good one. You can get some blood moving through your body and collect your thoughts. You will be in a much better state to engage in work when you get back.

Meditation

These days, I meditate about 10 to 20 minutes before bedtime. This ensures that I stay consistent with the practice.

At times, I have meditated quite a bit more than that (up to 85 minutes per day), and when I did that, I often felt a greater connection to my deeper self and benefited more from the healing effects of meditation.

Meditation isn’t just for feeling calm and grounded, though – It carries with it innumerable health benefits. It can even give you a bit of an energy boost. So, it’s worth making time for.

Annual Getaways

At least once per year, I book a two-week getaway. It doesn’t matter much whether it’s 20 hours away by plane or two hours away by car.

The ideal, honestly, would be to do this twice per year. Especially considering the load us creatives and creators take on.

Most recently, I spent two weeks in Vernon in November. My timing was good, because I managed to get out there just before lockdown measures started ramping up again.

Mindset Hacks to Help You Stay Sane

Thinking differently about our work can also help us remain sane. Here are some mindset hacks that have made a difference for me:

  • Who not how. As creatives and creators, we sometimes forget to delegate work. There is work we are bad at and don’t enjoy doing. This work can be handled by people who are good at it and do enjoy it.
  • Focus on the mission. On days when I feel exhausted or worn out, it’s my mission (to inspire creatives and creators) that keeps me going.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate your wins. Creators often forget to celebrate and end up buying into arrival fallacy. Chances are, you will not know when you have arrived. When something good happens, acknowledge, and celebrate it!
  • Enjoy the journey. If the journey isn’t enjoyable, then consider that whatever you’re doing is just a means to an end. The destination won’t be of much interest either.
  • The risk entitles you to the reward. Sometimes remembering that most people aren’t willing to take the risk is a reward all its own. I’m not advocating the comparison game. But entrepreneurs do need to remember that it’s the risk that entitles them to the lion’s share.

Final Thoughts

There will be something to do today. And more to do tomorrow. And after that, there will still be more to do.

You can’t live a week, a month, or a year at a time. You’ve got to learn to live a day at a time, a moment at a time.

It might appear as though drifting snow is quickly forming an avalanche, but your job is just to put your head down and do the work you need to do today. Nothing more. You can worry about tomorrow when you get there.

Then you start to see there is no avalanche. And if there is, you can cross that bridge when you come to it. Technical problems can be solved. Team members can be hired. Demand can be met.

But that’s too much right now. Right now, just putting that next word down on the page is enough.

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P.S. My new course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass is available.

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How to Crush Your 2021 Goals

How to Crush Your 2021 Goals

Once you’ve set your goals, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to accomplish them.

In this guide, I share multiple steps you can take to ensure that what matters gets done in 2021.

But think of it like a buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Here’s what to do to ensure you make monumental progress this year.

Determine Your Focus(es)

After over three decades on this planet, I am only now beginning to recognize that I am not a monomaniac. I admire those who are, as well as their accomplishments.

I, on the other hand, thrive on multitasking and engaging in several projects simultaneously. I’ve tried doing it the other way, and to my surprise, it left me feeling sad.

So, do what feels right for you. But make sure you have a focus (or multiple focuses, as the case might be). If you don’t, you will start many projects but finish none.

Get into the publishing habit and you will win 2021.

Work Backwards

Take a moment and envision everything you’d love to accomplish in 2021. Then, begin to work backwards and figure out what actions you need to take today to bring about that result.

I remember sharing this with a showing agent who had never heard of this approach before. It kind of blew her mind.

Although crude, it’s that old saying:

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Although I forget the source, apparently actor Will Smith’s secret to success is biting off more than he can chew, and chewing until it’s digested.

There are little things you can do today to work towards desired outcomes. Start making time for them. Put them in your schedule. And be realistic about the amount of time and effort it’s going to take.

Which brings me to…

Schedule it in

If you don’t schedule it in, it doesn’t exist!

Don’t leave things floating around in your mind. Ideas should be captured. Goals should be written down. Priorities should be scheduled.

Don’t leave things floating around in your mind. Ideas should be captured. Goals should be written down. Priorities should be scheduled. Click To Tweet

In 2019, I earned my location and time independence. But in 2020, I quickly discovered that having nothing in my calendar was kind of sad.

If I had something in my calendar to look forward to, I felt happier overall.

Bottom line – your goals will not take care of themselves. Document them, organize them, review them, and most importantly, schedule them in.

Ask for Help

As noted, I thrive on a full schedule with a variety of projects. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t menial, time sucking tasks I’d rather hand off.

These include:

  • Proofreading, editing, formatting, and scheduling posts in WordPress
  • My podcast – editing, show notes and transcriptions, uploading MP3s to Amazon S3, lead magnets, formatting, scheduling in WordPress, syndication, and distribution
  • Keeping websites up to date, including SEO

If these tasks were off my plate, I’d be able to focus more on the creative aspects of what I do and spend more time generating business.

I’m preaching at myself more than anyone else. Getting help and hiring can be hard, but that shouldn’t stop you from speculating on possibilities for collaboration.

Systemize

Whether in your creative or business efforts, if your work isn’t systemized, you’re basically flying by the seat of your pants. Another term for this is “total chaos.”

If your projects are small and manageable, and you find your work fulfilling, and you intend to keep things that way, then perhaps there is no value in systemization. Otherwise, there is.

I’ve written a helpful post on how to create systems on a creative, so if you’ve never done this before, and don’t know how, it’s worth a peek.

But whether it’s organizing your schedule, using a scheduling tool (like Calendly) to book your meetings, automating your social media posting, or otherwise, you can benefit a great deal from simple, basic systems that tame the chaos.

You can do a lot with a tool like Zapier. I’ve known about this tool for a long time, but I’m just beginning to recognize the possibilities.

At times, it may seem as though there’s nothing more uncreative than making systems but trust me when I say anyone with ambition will benefit from them.

Embrace Minimum Viable

In an earlier post, I shared about how minimum viable products can help you overcome perfectionism.

Personally, when I don’t insist on perfection, I seem to make more progress faster.

For example, when building a new website, it would be easy to fuss over the logo, fonts, color scheme, placement of elements, and so on.

But if you just start blocking everything in and worry about the finer details later, you’d be able to bring your website to market faster.

And in most cases, that is more advantageous to you, since the website could be up working for you, helping you get traffic, leads, business, and so on, sooner.

Start with wireframes or low-resolution versions of your product and start getting feedback right away. Add the icing later, after you’ve generated interest in your creation.

Follow Inspiring, Knowledgeable People

Curate your social media feeds. Start muting those who add no value to you and instead start listening to – and interacting with – those who inspire you.

If you humble yourself, you will quickly discover there’s always more to learn. And when you follow inspiring people, it will change the way you think. You will become a possibility thinker!

The late Dr. Schuller has a book called Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking. And while it rooted in Biblical ideas, regardless of your faith or persuasion, it’s worth a read. If I’m not mistaken, David J. Schwartz talked about it in The Magic of Thinking Big (affiliate link) as well.

You will know when you’re thinking big because your ideas will seem uncomfortable, but they will also actively excite you beyond measure.

You will know when you’re thinking big because your ideas will seem uncomfortable, but they will also actively excite you beyond measure. Click To Tweet

Unsubscribe

Is inbox zero just a dream? Do you find your inbox get cluttered overnight?

There’s a good chance you’re subscribed to too many newsletters and email lists.

I recently heard SuperFastBusiness founder James Schramko say that even if you get someone to handle your email for you, chances are they won’t do it perfectly.

Suggesting that email is your responsibility, and you should be the one to handle it!

But make sure your process is clear and simple. Know which emails to respond to, which to delete, and which to unsubscribe from.

(By the way, I used to believe in putting some emails in another category – later. The problem is I never get around to them. Perhaps later should not be a category.)

If you do this, your inbox will become much quieter and more manageable.

Eliminate

You will not crush your goals in 2021 by adding more to your to-do list or schedule. Ruthlessly eliminate anything that’s not in complete alignment with your focus or focuses.

Ruthlessly eliminate anything that’s not in complete alignment with your focus or focuses. Click To Tweet

Many entrepreneurs, like Quazi Johir, say they set out to accomplish three to five things per day, ignoring all else. Of course, knowing which three to five things to focus on is critical!

Do you find yourself trying to finish 10 to 20 things per day? Maybe it’s time to prioritize your list and make time for the few key things that will move the needle on your career or business.

Spend Less Time Watching the News (Unless it’s Part of Your Job)

Whether we like to admit it or not, 2020 is the year many of us spent glued to the tube.

And even if it wasn’t the tube, it was Flipboard, or YouTube, or Facebook. We kept an eye on the headlines, worried about what might happen next.

I don’t think 2021 is going to be any different. It will probably get worse before it gets better.

You should stay up to date, but not to the detriment of your mental and emotional health, which always ends up impacting your physical health too. Think of it this way – if you can’t sleep because of your worries, your physical health is already suffering.

Many people will say 2020 was a year unlike any other (because it’s a theme that’s been repeated in the media), but when you take a cold, hard look at the facts, it was a year much like any other. So, all that worrying was for nothing.

If you want to crush your goals, focus on them instead!

Follow Your Heart

When goal setting is a slog…

Planning seems like a chore…

And being in action only leads to frustration…

Remember ONE thing – your heart has the answers.

If something does not inspire you, motivate you, or excite you, it could be of some benefit, but it probably won’t yield huge results.

Now, I’m not talking about exercise or other habits that you may not want to do but benefit you anyway.

I’m talking about your projects and focuses. If they don’t make you want to jump out of bed every morning, they should at least prompt you to conscious and deliberate action. Otherwise, you’re off course and should reconsider.

Final Thoughts

Setting goals is great. But you must put some action behind them if you want to reach them.

Thinking, reflecting, and planning are all critical to your success. But all things being equal, action always carries more benefit. So, this year, develop a bias towards action!

All things being equal, action always carries more benefit. So, this year, develop a bias towards action! Click To Tweet

What are you doing to ensure you reach your 2021 goals?

Let me know in the comments.

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