Paul’s Note: yesterday for various reasons I didn’t get to do any writing – here’s a post I wrote a while back that was originally written for my bass guitar students and then adapted for running an online business. It applies just as well to the task of writing a book in 30 days.
How To Maintain Your Business Routine When Shit Happens
In the 1994 movie ‘Forrest Gump’ there’s a scene where Forrest is running and steps in dog crap. Someone asks him if he knows that he’s stepped in dog crap and Forrest replies: ‘It happens.’ The guy says: ‘What, shit’ and the movie makers cleverly cross cut to a truck with a bumper sticker that says ‘Shit Happens’ that’s just about to get blindsided at an intersection by another vehicle.
What’s That Got To Do With Online Business?
Most of us start our online businesses whilst we’re pretty occupied with something else. For example we could have another job. Or we could be the primary carer for our kids.
And as such we only have a few hours a day where we can schedule work activities for our online business – you know creating content for our blogs, or creating videos to attract potential customers to our websites, or creating products to sell on our websites and blogs. That kind of thing.
And in the early days of our online businesses – when we are not generating much (if any) revenue – we have to do these activities in what would in a more normal life be our ‘spare time.’ And when we have to do these activities in our spare time, it’s much easier for events like these to have a massive impact.
(i) A friend comes in from out of town and you go out for a drink.
(ii) There was something great on the TV and I watched that instead.
(iii) One of the kids gets sick and you have to go to the Doctor.
These kinds of events are what we’re talking about today – Shit Happens.
So What Does Shit Happens Mean?
It’s a simply phrase that people use to describe random stuff that just happens. And you know what – in all of our lives random stuff happens. The car doesn’t start and you have to wait for the repair guy. Or a friend’s computer goes down and you’re his ‘go-to’ guy for fixing. We get a flat tyre and have to spend an hour changing it.
These random events happen all of the time. And unless they’re extremely clever, when people study their time and what they spend it on, they never factor any time in for random events. So when shit happens and takes an hour of their time, or two hours of their time, suddenly the time they’ve allocated for their online business disappears.
A good friend of mine calls this ‘Chaos Time.’ And he’s one of the few guys I know who factors it into all of his time calculations.
How Can You Factor In ‘Chaos Time?
If you know you’ve got two hours worth of activities to do for your online business today, make a time plan of what you’ve got to do and find a THREE hour window for your business activities. That way if something crops up you’ve got some spare time to play with.
There’s also an additional bonus in that if nothing comes up you can either spend some time doing additional business activities (if you want to feel really virtuous) or you can spend that time listening to some inspiring music, or going for a walk with the kids, or whatever it is that floats your boat.
I’ve Only Got One 60 Minute Window For Business Stuff Today -What Do I Do If Something Crops Up?
In this scenario you have to ruthlessly prioritize. If the something that comes up is social (e.g. meeting friends, going to the Cinema or a game) take a raincheck. Tell your friends you can’t make it and put in some time on your business.
If the event that crops up is something you can’t put off and you have to do it, then you have to do it. If it’s a one off often I make up the bulk of the time by doing those business activities once the random event has been dealt with, and just staying up later. (If you find yourself doing this regularly make sure you’ve got strong coffee in the house for the next day).
This is not the most effective way to work though (end of the day, fatigue levels up, concentration levels down), and if you find that this is something that is happening regularly – say a couple of times a week or more – then there’s a simple change you can make to your schedule that will turn things round.
What Is This Simple Change?
What you do is this: say you put in a couple of hours a day on a regular basis, then what you do is set your alarm for 130 minutes before you’d normally get up and get up early and get your work done then. (The extra 10 minutes is a bit of ‘chaos time’ so you can clean your teeth, brew coffee, etc etc).
If you can do this, then it won’t matter what random events are thrown at you – BECAUSE you’ve already done your work for the day.
Two quick tips for you if you try this: don’t check your emails or turn your phone on until AFTER you’ve finished your work. No-one will expect you to be awake anyway, so anything that needs dealing with can be dealt with WHEN you’ve finished your work and not before.
Why Is Dealing With Random Events Important?
Being able to effectively deal with the random events life throws at us will allow us to maintain our practice schedules. And studies now show that one of the factors that successful people in many different areas have is that they practice consistently.
The way you approach your business activities when life throws up unexpected events also teaches your brain how important you consider those regular business activities.
The next time you watch Forrest Gump watch out for the ‘shit happens’ sequence (it’s about two thirds of the way through the movie). Does Forrest let it put him off his stride? Nope. Does Forrest keep on running? Yes.
That’s a good lesson right there. When shit happens the amateur stops and cleans it up. The professional just carries right on and works around it. Shit happens. The way you deal with it says a lot about how successful or otherwise you’ll be in your goal to running a successful online business.