Big or Granular? (from Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional, part III)

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After the initial, guilt-free, capped in time period of stillness, it’s time to ask yourself: Do you have plans from before?

If you do, time to gently review these plans, gradually adjusting them to your current circumstances. Did anything change? Are there easier things to execute, while you’re not fully functional? For example, getting your books in order doesn’t require much creative energy. Same might be true for choosing pictures for your next blog post or product. Fun, easy, somewhat mindless stuff.

Following an existing plan removes the need to spend cognitive energy on decisions. In other words, it’s relatively easy to do, and you’ll need to do it anyway.

If you don’t have an existing plan, time to start planning. This is trickier that it may sound, especially of you’re not the planning type. The key here is to go either really big (I’d build my blog to 5 million subscribers over the next 2 years, and build a online store for my audience) or really small and granular (I’ll load the dishwasher, call Rebecca, and get out of the house for a 15 minute walk).

The key here is to go either really big or really granular.

Remember, we’re taking it easy now. You’re recovering, which means you haven’t recovered yet. Grand plans, as well as immediate plans are way easier to make than the dreaded and often avoided mid-term planning.
Grand plans are seductive and inspiring. Immediate plans are tangible, easy to execute, and therefore highly satisfying. As you build up your strength, this is where you want to be. (If you're ADHD-gifted, congratulations, you’re stellar at both!).

Grand plans are inspiring. Immediate plans tangible.

Speaking of planning -  when you go small and granular, you gradually build a repository of small wins. Why is this important? Because small wins make you feel good. They give you motivation, create momentum, and make you feel you're back in control of your schedule, your business, and possibly your life.  

More about small wins in the next post.

Cap it! (from Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional, part II)

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Hello again,

Welcome back to "Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional" series!

Yesterday we talked about allowing yourself a still and quiet time after The Big Crunch. We've established that an adrenaline-packed vacation doesn’t count as recovery. (If you missed part I in the series, you can catch it here).

What does count? Which tools should inhabit your “recovery toolbox”? 

Here are the first two, more to follow.

1. Recognition, awareness, and  letting go of guilt.

We kind of talked about it last time, but it’s so important, I want to reiterate, and give this another angle. 

Before everything else - recognize there will be a downtime. 
Make peace with the fact that you won’t get immediately back in the saddle, galloping towards the sunset with the same speed as before. You’ll get there eventually, and the sooner you let go of your guilt, the quicker you’ll recover.

In my twenties we used to say “guilt is fattening”.  Meaning, if you inhaled a pint of ice cream, it’s actually a bad idea to obsess over it. Guilty => feeling bad => more ice cream to drown the guilt.

Same is true for “inactivity guilt”. You feel guilty about not charging ahead full force, you feel useless, and ashamed, and that’s hardly motivating. Doing stuff seems even more out of reach, because you’re useless, so you don’t get up and do stuff. You feel even more guilty. Circle closed.

We don’t want that.

2. Cap it in time!

Recognizing that you *need* a significant period of downtime after a crunch is half the battle. Another effective tactic to let go of “inactivity guilt” and of this nagging  “I should be working, but I’m powerless” feeling, is to set concrete boundaries around your resting time. 
Try this: “For the next week I’ll be completely, utterly, deliberately useless. I’m resting, I’m letting my brain, my body, and my emotions to recover and get back to “balanced”.

Now you claim (perhaps out loud) the fatigue won't last into the nebulous forever. After the deliberately useless week is up, you'll be doing stuff again. 
It's liberating.

You survived the Big Crunch Time. You're "only mostly dead". Now what?


You’re sitting here, reading this post, with your favorite drink in hand, exhausted from the recent crunch time.
A successful launch? A big conference? Maybe a huge family event?

The point is you’re DONE. You’ve given this project your absolute everything, and now you have barely any energy left to read the scant few people you follow. (Thank you for choosing me among those, it’s much appreciated!). The idea of getting back to "normal" work seems ridiculous, and very distant at best.

Now what?

You know that you’ll have to go back to normal at some, not so distant, future. You might feel it’s nearly impossible. It’s hard to imagine curriculum writing when you can't form a coherent thought about what to eat for lunch.

Over the course of this week I’m going to offer 7 effective ways to recover from a Crazy Crunch and get yourself back into working shape.
Guilt-free, easy, and let-me-reiterate-because-it's-important, effective tactics. 

Here’s the first one, more will follow. 

Let’s start with refuting some conventional wisdom:

Tempted to dive into an exciting activity right after “giving your everything” to a project? BAD IDEA.


Skydiving, or extreme antiquing, or whatever gives you an adrenaline rush, sounds amazing. It’s exciting, it’s unrelated to work, it “clears your head”. What’s wrong with it?

Well, you’ve probably figured you need to allow your brain and you body to recover. Here’s a not-so-obvious concept: you need to let your emotions to recover as well. That crunch time, that “I’ve given it my everything” project, was emotionally exhausting. This is just how things work. The stakes are high, the stress levels are off the charts, your emotions are working just as hard as the rest of you.

You need to allow time and space for emotional recovery.


Let me illustrate:

This summer I’ve launched a pilot course and a podcast  within the same month. Having never done either, and having no idea whether I can live up to my own standards, the entire experience was was freaking panic-inducing.

Then, one bright Friday, I finished editing the last show note at 4:25 PM. At 5 PM a taxi came to take me and my family to the airport. We were going on an epic trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.

It was one of the best trips in my life.

An amazing vacation with my family, a packed schedule, and overall a tremendously profound and meaningful experience. Of course, it was also a highly emotional time because it tied into my family history (I might talk about this in a different post).

In all honesty, that was one of the highest points in my entire life so far. 
When I came back home, I. Was. A Wreck. For two weeks.

Turns out I needed a “still time” to process everything and to gain my strength back.
A period of of doing absolutely nothing  in order to come back to my senses.

So to conclude - if you want to schedule a treasure hunt, or a white water rafting trip, or a salsa competition right after a Big Crunch - you can. But don’t expect to come home full of creative energy, ready to sink your teeth in the next project. You’re way more likely to be even more exhausted than before you boarded the plane. 

Allow yourself some time to be inactive. Quiet. Still.

Really, it’s the productive thing to do.

Mid-term planning: Don't panic! Use a towel!

Don't Panic Use A Towel Day Infographic Design by Lemonly Learn more about Towel Day and Infographic Design

Reason #54673 why entrepreneur's life is awesome: I'm leafing through quotes of Hitchhike's Guide to the Galaxy for this very post!
Why? Because today we're going to talk about panic vs. "using your towel" when it comes to changing Mid-term plans.

Mid-term plans change.

That’s why we make them in the first place - to follow changes on the path to our goals. But sometimes the changes are so fast and frequent, they set off highly painful anxieties. You may decide to stop planning altogether, because nothing comes of it anyway.
Not your best decision. 
So when is it OK to let mid-term plans change, and when it’s legit to panic? Let's see.

External circumstances:

Say, your designer won the lottery and quit 2 weeks before the Big Launch. 
Yeah, time to panic.
On the condition that it’s limited in time. Ideally you have a plan B. When you’re done with panic-party, go ahead and crush the Plan B, even if Plan B is “never mind, I’ll live without that JV/website/training/whatever”.

Internal circumstances: 

It’s legit to panic, or at least stop and think, when you notice that your plans change in a major way every week or so, for 2-3 months in a row. Of course, I’m not talking about getting 3 times as much traffic as you planned, or booking twice as many clients as you hoped.

We are talking about NOT hitting your goals.

This is where it gets tricky.
It’s OK if you have discovered new things (I need a patent! Next week! My SEO is hurting my outreach, it needs immediate attention!). It happens. The problem begins when you plan 5 key things for the week, and consistently accomplish 2 of them max, because... reasons.

Time to panic.

After your panic attack has subsided, look for patterns. WHY are you constantly changing your plans? What is happening? More often than not, you need to ask yourself one of two questions:

 - Do you have executive function issues?
 - What are you avoiding

I wish I had clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answers and recommendations for both scenarios. I don't.
But YOU probably do.
When you find that thing you tend to avoid, this is where your towel is. This is what you need to take care of - either by yourself, or by enlisting a friend, or hiring a professional. 

the ESSENTIAL piece of your Planning: stop avoiding it!

This post was originally published for Coach Andrea's blog in 2015. But people still avoid THAT, so here goes...

If you hang around this blog, chances are you’re a leader in your field, probably with a pronounced entrepreneurial streak. Therefore, your work in the world must require a fair amount of Planning.

I'm willing to bet you're good at setting goals and making big-picture roadmaps. You often get incredible amounts of work done in a single day. However... Visionaries like you tend to neglect the mid-term planning. And enjoy the side effects of overwhelm towards the deadline, stress-induced mistakes, and unnecessary strain on you and your team.

We've talked before why people hate planning.  

With that in mind, how do you turn a Grand Plan into a clear step-by-step map, rather than a set of great goals, shining out of the weeds of urgent to-dos? And how do you make make mid-term planning an organic part of your business culture?

Step one: Awareness.

Now that we’ve pinpointed the reasons people avoid mid-term planning, it will be easier to recognize these behavior patterns, and therefore easier to change them. Go beyond inspiring speeches, and break down a grand goal into weekly tasks. Know that a fear of failure is unavoidable, and accept it as part of a healthy process. Better to face it ahead of time and prepare for a number of possible scenarios, than discover your fears come true because you avoided basic planning. Yes, it will be boring and overwhelming at times, but you’ll be saving yourself from much greater overwhelm in the very near future.

Step two: Review mid-term plans on a regular basis.

You may think this part is obvious, but... This is where many leaders drop the ball, because mid-term planning can be sobering, or boring, or overwhelming, or all of the above.

There are two main benefits to a regular review: the obvious one of tracking progress and identifying problems early, and the less obvious one of reducing noise. Teams regard a weekly review as a natural opportunity for communication, the time and place to talk about a project. This way, everything but the most urgent issues would be discussed during the review, instead of randomly distracting the leader.

Go ahead and put a recurring planning session on the calendar.

Step three: Make it enjoyable.

Otherwise, it will be too easy to just skip it in favor of something urgent or shiny. Here is one of the most effective ways I know: vividly envision the outcome for every mid-size task. It takes surprisingly little time. Sometimes no more than a fraction of a second. The payoff is huge – you now have a clearly defined task and you have enjoyed the process. Next time you have a detailed plan to make there will be far less resistance. You may even find yourself looking forward to the planning session.

Let’s Recap:

A habit of mid-term planning increases the chances of Big Goal accomplishment by orders of magnitude. To ensure this habit takes root, make it enjoyable for everyone by teaching your team to vividly imagine mid-term outcomes.

“Vividly imagine” equals “clearly define”. You will have a map of well-defined tasks, and everyone will have enjoyed the process. Enjoyable stuff is much more likely to be done consistently, and on a regular basis, which is absolutely crucial to make your planning effective.


Schedule a mid-term planning session and put in on your calendar! Tell us how adding these sessions to your planning has helped your plans turn into reality. Share below.

Just touch it!

When we procrastinate, sometimes the hardest thing is to start.
A good friend and an ADHD Coach Jennie Friedman teaches this fun and useful strategy:

Just touch it!

You had to pay bills three weeks ago, but the dishes, the new article, that microscopic spot on your nose, felt way more urgent? Just touch it! 
“It” being your favorite Bill Pay app, or the top of that stack of paperwork, shooting you resentful looks from the coffee table. Paying an Everest of bills is understandably scary. Touching the top envelop? Doable.

Packing your entire house for a move? (Liv, I’m looking at you)  - God-awful.
Can you touch that a flat cardboard box for me? Of course you can. And just like that you fold and tape it. And then put a few books in it. See, how you get into flow?

This Just-touch-it! hack no less effective for work-related tasks.

Making outreach calls can be paralyzing. But if you just. touch. your. phone… your brain will slide more naturally into making that first call. And then maybe the second.

Writing a book? Forget it. Even writing a chapter is daunting. But just-touching a mouse, double-clicking and writing a few characters of abracadabra is… silly. Way to gain momentum!

I could get into a lengthy scientific explanation why “Just Touch It” works, but it’s beautiful outside, so here’s the TL;DR version: When you touch something, you crush the barrier to start telling your brain “I’m in the middle of this task, catch up!” And your brain dutifully begins working at solving the problem at hand.

(If you want more detailed information on the topic - here’s a good book)


That’s it for today
Let me know what helps you start a big, daunting task!

I'm building a course geared to help frenzy-creative entrepreneurs to better deal with business systems. The idea is to teach how to build and use a framework that will allow you to streamline back-end operations - managing time, money, information, communications - and focus on core, meaningful work. My goals is to enable people to make a bigger impact and enjoy the process along the way.

If you’re willing to talk to me for 10-15 minutes and share your perspective,
click here to schedule a chat.  I'd be infinitely grateful!
No selling, pinkie promise.