Monday Spark: When procrastination is a good thing.

when procrastination is goodProcrastination is a bad thing, right?

Well, it certainly can be. It can be a real productivity killer.

You have a deadline, it’s getting closer and closer, and you still haven’t closed your Twitter page and got started.

Some people argue they work best under pressure, so procrastination is a positive thing. I’m not sure about that. Sounds like a clever, or not so clever, rationalization to me.

All that said, I know there have been times when I have been procrastinating for what turned out to be a pretty good reason.

For example, in one instance I was due to send a prospective client a proposal for a substantial writing project. We had agreed on the scope of the engagement and I had told him I was going to submit the proposal by a particular day and time.

Read the full post…Monday Spark: When procrastination is a good thing.

Monday Spark: Why working is like sleeping [VIDEO]

deep sleep deep workWorking is like sleeping? Absolutely.

I wish I could take credit for the insight, but I can’t. This is one of the observations shared by Jason Fried in the video below.

Incidentally, Jason is one of the people I really pay attention to when thinking about business. He is one of the founders of 37Signals.com. He is also the co-author of Rework, one of my favorite business books. And he is the co-author of a second book, Remote: Office Not Required, which I have pre-ordered and is slated for publication later this year.

In the video he makes a number of points about getting work done. But the point I want to share with you is the one he makes about comparing sleep to work.

When you nod off, you don’t instantly arrive in a state of deep, blissful, restorative sleep. You move through different stages of sleep. And to get to the really good part, you have to move through the parts that precede it. And as Jason points out, if you wake up several times during the night, for whatever reason, you can’t immediately get back to that place of deep restorative sleep. You have to go down through all the stages again.

Read the full post…Monday Spark: Why working is like sleeping [VIDEO]

How to stop wasting time on learning new stuff.

learning too muchIf I look back over the last 10 years, I can’t even imagine the number of things I have learned. For the sake of argument, let’s say I have learned 10,000 different things that might be useful to my work.

I have learned from articles and posts, from books I have read, from conversations I have had, and so on.

Now let’s say, out of those 10,000 things I have learned, I was smart enough to identify10 things which, if I applied them, could actually have a significant impact on my success. Those were 10 moments of learning that had the potential to transform my business in some meaningful way.

But out of those 10, how many did I actually apply? And of those lessons I have applied, did I work at them hard enough to achieve some positive change?

Read the full post…How to stop wasting time on learning new stuff.

Monday Spark: Try something new for 30 days. [VIDEO]

new for 30 days calendarThis is Matt Cutts’ idea, as you’ll see from the video below.

He talks for only a few minutes, because it doesn’t take long to share his simple but powerful idea.

Matt changed his life by giving himself a series of 30-day challenges. He went without sugar for 30 days. He cycled to work for 30 days. He wrote a novel in 30 days.

The idea is powerful, because he’s not trying to force himself to do something new for every day of the rest of his life. He is talking about just 30 days. That’s a much less threatening idea.

One of the things he described really stuck with me. He showed a picture he had taken during his 30-day challenge to take a photo every day. He made the point that he remembered exactly where he took that photo, and goes on to say that by doing these challenges he now has far more vivid memories of how each month passes.

Read the full post…Monday Spark: Try something new for 30 days. [VIDEO]

Monday Spark: Creating a projection spreadsheet will make you feel better.

hands on the wheelI’m not a big fan of paperwork. I don’t think most other freelancers much like it either.

But beyond the paperwork I have to do, there are one or two other things I choose to do.

Foremost among my voluntary pieces of paperwork is a spreadsheet that shows my income, month by month.

I fill in the months that have passed, and also make projections for three months to come.

Projections? That sounds like something that “real” companies do, not freelancers.

Well, I treat my freelance business like a real company. And I think you should too.

Here is what I do with my spreadsheet.

Read the full post…Monday Spark: Creating a projection spreadsheet will make you feel better.

Monday Spark: Tell me again…why can’t you get that done? [VIDEO]

get things doneThe reasons we come up with for not getting things done are pretty lame sometimes.

We set ourselves a task or a goal, and get started.

Then we find our goal is not as easy to achieve as we first thought.

Then we pause. We get distracted. We decide we need to do some more research.

Then we find reasons why the whole plan might not work. We lose confidence.

Then we find that some elements or components to our plan are not easy to find or develop.

Then we get scared of failing. We lose faith.

Then we abandon the plan.

Then we blame all kinds of outside circumstances for the failure of the plan.

Like I said, pretty lame.

Contrast this with the approach of William Kamkwamba of Malawi, Africa.

Read the full post…Monday Spark: Tell me again…why can’t you get that done? [VIDEO]