i had a good weekend! interviewed seattle toymakers marnin-saylor, which will be up on youtube and podcast soon. what struck me about them is that they are immensely creative – they are never short on ideas for products or stories for their pastry pet toy line. their struggles mainly surround time management. it’s hard to be a manufacturer, a salesperson, and an administrator all at once. however, outsourcing is also scary to them. it’s hard to get the initial capital to expand, and you also run the risk of losing creative control.
in response, marnin-saylor are waiting for the right moment for growth. they care about their business so much, and as a result they have something that i don’t: patience. taking a leaf from their book, i am trying to enjoy my successes for the time being and to quietly be on the look out for the right conditions to next-level my own projects
finding time to do the thing you love is incredibly difficult. a lot of us simply don’t have a lot of time to spare, and we end up buying books, getting gadgets, and asking for advice for ways to get more time.
time, like money, is a resource. and i’ve learned that we can get more time if we pay attention to the time that we already have.
in ramit sethi’s book i will teach you to be rich, he claims that people don’t actually want to be rich. they want to feel rich, which means being able to spend money guilt-free on the things you enjoy. buddhist thich nhat hanh tells a similar story in his book the miracle of mindfulness. he tells a parable of a man who spends time at his job, with his kids, and running errands and doesn’t have any time for himself. but, at one point he learns that all this time is actually his time.
This kind of perspective shift frees us – if you don’t have time, what are you doing with the time you already have? How can you reframe your day so that you can properly use the time that’s already given to you?
a lot of my friends are trying to run a business on their own. the tools available allow them to do this, but at a certain point they can’t do it alone. their ambition gets the best of them, and they bite off a little bit more than they can chew. i fall into this category as well, which is why i start and stop on so many projects.
there’s only so much one person can do before you have to bring in help. the problem is often that you don’t have the capital to pay others to share your vision. if this is the case, you don’t have a viable business model. you have to rethink your approach.
if you’re keeping costs low by running a business by yourself until it is profitable, you have to set achievable goals. this means realizing that you can’t compete with the big companies that have dedicated teams to product development and marketing. you are one person, so make sure that your online shop has moving parts that can be operated by one person.
i wish that i could write a full-on magazine. but this requires a team of staff writers, editors, graphic designers, and photographers. this blog is what i can reasonably expect to do as one person. hopefully, if we prove that we can do this well on our own, we can grow and become valuable enough to either join another team or add someone to ours.
i want things to happen very quickly, and unfortunately that’s an unrealistic expectation. so, i need to develop systems to ensure that i don’t get ahead of myself. one of those things is making a considered effort to slow down. another is giving myself projects that i can complete very quickly, or in a day. if i divide a project up into these specific chunks of constructions, suddenly i’ll have a big final product at the end.
i always forget this, the fact that what we do with our lives is what we do with our days. routines, then, help dramatically with my ability to finish a huge task. i know i will spend a little time every day, and this gives me comfort and allows me to envision the final project. for example, if i write a book, i need to know that i will write 600 words a day, and i need to know that i will have time every day to do that specific thing.
right now, i lack direction because i don’t clearly see my end goal. so i am gathering information and trying to build up my plan. it is loose, there are a ton of tangents, but i know that if i make at least one thing today, i’ll be that much closer to having a fully fleshed out final project a year from now.
people are different, and the way people work varies as a result. i am a morning person, my girlfriend is a night owl. our productivity levels heavily depend on the differences in our personalities, upbringing, and values.
i’ve noticed that i get a lot of my writing done in the morning. in the evening, after 6pm, it is incredibly difficult for me to write. however, it is a great time to study. studying requires long instances of uninterrupted silence, which is more easily found when the day is done.
on the bus, i can get very little done. but, this is when i either listen to a podcast or a playlist. i can scroll through twitter and instagram, or take a moment to just think. the best part is identifying this window (and others) in a mindful way.
by identifying my morning hours as “office time”, evening hours as “study blocks”, and bus time as “focused play”, i now can sort my to do lists into the scheduling slot that works. i know that if i need to research health insurance plans, i might get the most out of it if it do it in the evening. if i need to write an e-mail to a client, i will do it in the morning when i’m writing anyway.
your system may be different from mine, but identifying the cycles of your work allows you to name them, and to categorize the tasks you can reasonably get done. and this is a kind of superpower.
if you’re like me, you have a ton of ideas an prototypes in the works. it’s very difficult to sustain one hundred ventures, and the ones that end up succeeding may be only about two or three. a friend of mine pointed something out to me recently over a bowl of ramen.
“i tend to go through cycles of interest. i’ll work on one project for a period of time, and then lose interest and move on to the next thing. this happens for a bit, and then maybe a month or so later, i’ll come back to that first thing i was working on.” how exciting! this is an orbit that functions on a longer scope than the daily routines we are used to. can you imagine if we had the scope to see how our interest wanes on a project only to be rekindled months later?
i love emergent systems. these are methods and processes that just sort of happen. my friend saw that the gets things done, but at a slower pace with wide breaks. imagine sitting in a kitchen. boil water for pasta, let bread bake, and make the pasta sauce. you don’t have to sit and watch the bread bake – you can walk away and work on something else and return when you need to.
similarly, notice that your interest is an orbiting thing. banging your head against a wall on a project traditionally is not helpful, and walking away is a great idea especially if you can bring fresh eyes to something else. by cultivating this method, you can have a continuous set of fresh eyes on your project, and soon you will have a fully cooked meal.