We’re all building an income online, right? I mean, in general, we call that business. In Old English, the word means something like…Busy. But different from anxiety or mucking around or preoccupation, more like busy diligently. Working towards something productive. Middle English advances the word to the newer translation “busyness”, or “occupation or state of employment”, eventually landing in the sense of “trade, commercial engagements”.
For our purposes, I want to take the word back a few hundred years. Busyness – busy, with a purpose. For productivity and usefulness, producing things that people want and need, that provides income and satisfaction to the one producing.
The Cycle of Un-Productivity and Procrastination
I’ve mentioned in past emails and blog posts that I struggle with depression, feeling lonely, useless and like an abject failure. It ends up in a vicious cycle of defeat; I feel bad, so I don’t want to produce. I feel unproductive and depressed because I don’t produce.
You’re unproductive because you don’t feel like you’re productive, which makes you unproductive. That sort of cycle can drag you down fast. It can make you feel guilty, which doesn’t exactly help.
Now granted, you might not have depression and anxiety like I have. I sure hope you don’t because tossing it on the normal flame of procrastination and a general “meh, fuck it” attitude can really destroy a business, one that was highly successful and profitable…and it can destroy it quickly.
For the past year that’s the cycle I’ve been following. For last six months of the year before this one, I was highly productive, and my income was exploding. Before that…another cycle of depression and unproductivity. But during those six months, it was amazing what was achieved.
I had two full time employees, myself, my wife, a full-time customer support person, a web developer and a whole load of books being published. Income was coming in. I had consulting clients, software sales…it was amazing. Until it all came crashing down. I’ll tell that story another time.
So how do we break out of that cycle? How do we pick ourselves up from the vicious, destructive cycle that eats at us? That keeps us from writing the book, keeps us from building something successful?
While I’ve talked a lot about the 15-minute hump when it comes to getting stuff done (and I’ll explore this more in later issues), I want to emphasize something different this time. Beyond just “getting started” and gaining energy.
See, while knowing that it takes my brain about 15 minutes to “warm up” to get into the zone, it takes something more than just getting into the zone. Getting into the zone – defeating those 15 minutes of pain, lack of motivation and frustration is like starting the car. Once the car is started, it runs, right?
Well, until you run out of gas. And the gas that keeps the car running is what I want to talk about in today’s issue.
Just Do What You Love?
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you some bullshit about taking a break, refilling your batteries, or discovering your passion…because I think we all know we can’t all just do what we love. But boy, do self-help preachers love to talk about their passion and, more importantly, your passion.
I can hear them squawking now. “Do your passion! Discover your passion! Or make something you hate be your passion!”
You know what I love?
Going on vacation and traveling, meeting people in bars, laughing, playing video games, writing music for myself, and helping my friends. If we could only make money traveling and drinking in bars, I’d be loaded and successful.
I’m going to cut the crap. What you enjoy the most in life is likely not what will reduce your stress and make you feel successful. What you love and what you become passionate about might not be the same thing.
As I get older I’m starting to realize there is a lot of gray between those areas of love and passion. In fact, I’m 34 years old and I don’t even know what I’m passionate about. Whatever it is, I’m not entirely sure I can be financially successful with it.
And financial success will reduce stress. Reduced stress will allow me to enjoy things like vacations and meeting people. And will allow me to afford to do it.
So, whatever your passion is, whatever you love…realize right now it might not align with what you need to do.
Now, I’m going assume you love writing…or enjoy it enough to want to make money doing it. That’s why you’re here, right? Or at the very least, you think you can make this work somehow. You can make money with self-publishing. That might not be a “love”, but it’s at least an “interest”.
Fine. Let’s go with that. (And no, I’m not going to tell you to somehow make it your passion, my broken brain is fucking clueless about making something a “passion”)
Filling Your Car Up with Gas
So how do we fill our car up? How do we sit down and write a book?
This isn’t about writing a single book. This is about writing all of them. This is about promoting all of them. This is about doing what is necessary to make sure you can make a full time, possibly better than living wage from self-publishing.
This is about becoming a powerhouse of productivity and becoming effective, without burn out, at building an entire empire of books supporting you and your passions and the things that you love. This is about doing everything you need to do, from research to collecting the money, to make yourself financially successful.
And you fill this engine of success up with four things:
- Achievable, monitorable goals and milestones.
- Systems that support success (including automation)
- Focused work
Number four is a bit of a “duh”, right? I mean, we’re in the business of publishing books. So, no shit, Sherlock?
The one thing you can do to get more done is by writing more. But, I bet you haven’t thought about this…and when I explain this, I think you’re going to be blown away.
Writing goes beyond just writing books and promotional emails, ad copy or Amazon descriptions and blog posts. It involves everything you need to do to build a successful independent publishing business. Everything.
- Those achievable goals don’t become achievable until you write them down.
- Those systems won’t get implemented…unless you write them down.
- That focused work, the money makers? Books, promotional emails…that’s writing of course.
- Those systems…that support success? Writing. Writing lists, prioritizing, checking off, and writing again.
Do you want to fill your car engine up with motivation and success?
ABW. Always. Be. Writing.
Write down everything and be damn specific with it. What do I mean?
I am primarily talking about managing my day and keeping track of everything I must do and organizing it by priority.
I use some software to help me manage my daily activities. One such activity is writing this very newsletter. Do you want to know what this checklist looks like?
- Brainstorm Idea
- Compile Research
- Select Promotional Item/Link to Lead to
- Gather Links and Back Up Material
- Organize Material
- Plan Newsletter
- Write Article
I spent 5 minutes putting that list together and writing it down. I am also checking it (and the rest of my list) a lot. In fact, I keep it up on my desktop indefinitely because I want to constantly be reminded what is going on in my life today.
Now you might be thinking this is a bunch of hogwash. Everyone says “use a list!” Hear me out…
Do you know how satisfying it is to look back at your previous week and see how much shit you finished?
Those baby steps that I’ve broken them down in to keeps these massive projects manageable. It makes me realize that, yes, I can do it. I can take on these massive, long term projects and I can stay organized and systemized.
Because I keep writing. I’m spending my entire day writing in this damn list. Adding to it, checking off, and organizing.
I never used to do this. I would just haphazardly do projects, not sure of what I need to do next, get burnt out half way through and quit.
In fact, it’s only something I’ve started here recently, and it’s made a huge difference so far. I’m quickly becoming far more productive because I’m constantly going back to my main list and adding more details to these projects. I’m realizing, as I go along, the steps I need to take to complete a major task. And so, I add it to the list.
(BTW – I need to pause here…I’m using software that has a repeating daily task list, which I can customize to repeat whenever…so weekly, daily, certain days, etc.
This is part of the #2 bullet, systemizing. I write it down, I don’t need to write it down again. It saves me time in the long run!)
I take time every morning, especially Sunday nights/Monday mornings to get my shit together. Write in my lists. I then stop throughout the day and write more in my list.
Always. Be Writing.
This has a side benefit of training my body to write quicker and to think less. Because I’m writing down all my thinking into a nice, neat list which keeps track of everything, I can actively get it all off my mind. This means when I do major focused production time, I get more done without stress.
Why is Writing the Gas?
The gas of productivity is writing and it is for every industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re making toilet paper or high-end computers. Making video games or just playing them on YouTube for advertising dollars. The fact is…writing is gas.
Add stuff to your to-do list, constantly. Constantly be writing in this list and constantly be checking stuff off.
You write, you succeed.
Why? I explained it a bit above, but I want to make it clear here before we sign off for today.
- Writing in a to-do list…a detailed and organized to-do list…takes these individual tasks off your brain and allows you to focus on things individually. I will explain more about this in the next issue. (Going back to focused work)
- Checking things off from this to-do list feels damn good. It powers motivation. And by continuing to work with this to-do list, it trains your brain that being productive feels good. It builds habits.
- Writing is the key to success because it enables you to set plans down in stone. It enables you to share these plans with others. It trains you to communicate plans better.
- Obviously…writing as a publisher makes sense, even if you aren’t writing the books directly.
So always be writing things down. Let the writing fill up your gas tank. Then when you figuratively start your engine, you will last through the entirety of the project. Because writing down goals, milestones and to-do lists will keep you on track and focused.
In the next issue we will discuss focused work. Then we will talk about systems that make you successful and prop up your work ethic, keep you working even when you don’t feel like, and enable you to have others do the work for you!
The issue after that – goals and milestones. How to plan your independent publishing business so that it works for success. Just remember…
All of this takes writing. ABW my friends, always be writing.
Be sure to comment below! If you have any questions, feel free to post them and I’ll try to answer.
Latest posts by Rob (see all)
- The Sneaky Independent – Issue #6: Planning vs. Pantsing – Part 1 - January 22, 2018
- The Sneaky Independent – Issue #5: Master of One - January 11, 2018
- The Sneaky Independent – Issue #4: Building Systems - January 8, 2018