Batch Like-Minded Processes

Every January, my parents do a brilliant thing: they map out the year’s birthdays, buy cards for everyone in a single trip (often armed with coupons to save big bucks), sign & address every card in a single sitting, and slip them into the mail one by one as each birthday approaches. They save dozens of trips to the store (as much as 35 hours per year in round trips!) and finish the project with an annual peace of mind.

It might sound like cheating, but how many people’s birthdays have you missed? When faced with impending birthdays, it’s a lot of work to go to the store every time – the deed rarely gets done! Better to do it in a batch than not at all.

Batching like-minded tasks plays a key role in productivity. While multi-tasking, priorities get disheveled. You only carry out part of a task before moving on to another. By the end of the day, you’ve touched hundreds of things and finished nothing. Better to finish one stack and move on after it’s done. You may not make progress in other areas, but at least you can take pride in crossing something off your list.

The “like-minded” part is important. Managing money uses a different part of your brain than design. It takes a lot of mental effort to switch gears between creativity and cold numbers. The transition between may cost you time and quality. While the financials and design may fall under one project, they are not like-minded processes. Better to do the financials for three different projects at once – even at the expense of crossing a project off your list. You will hone your focus and build mental momentum to get you through similar tasks much quicker. In aggregate, you will save a lot of time and yield better results.

Study your to-do list. Group similar items by tool used, skill needed, energy level, people involved or any other comparison metric. Split tasks into sub-tasks if they need more than one different thought process. Tackle the biggest group pile of like-minded processes first. Then revel in your accomplishments.

“No” Is Not An Acceptable Answer

I’ve been blessed with momentum in my life, due largely to the fact that my parents never really said “no” to me. They never told me a cardboard spaceship couldn’t break orbit; I had to learn that the hard way. They let me make my own mistakes at my own pace and on my own accord. At a young age, I was allowed to dream, face the limitations of my dreams, and solve my way around them on my own. Nothing stopped me – unless I accepted failure as a lesson. As I got older, I continued to push the ball forward. The momentum continued to the point where “no” was never an acceptable answer.  I let nothing slow me down.

You are only as strong and resilient as your dreams. You only have one life; don’t take “no” for an answer.

Treat Loneliness Like A Shark

When I was 13 years old, I realized the popular kids were not always happy – they just looked really happy when they were busy hanging out with friends (which was often, but not always). When they went home and found themselves alone, they suffered the same withdrawal that I did when they thought too hard about it (some hyper-social kids are never comfortable alone and have worse withdrawals than anyone else). We find ourselves at our lowest points at home left alone with nothing but our thoughts. In rough patches, these lulls sap our energy, optimism, and confidence. Loneliness cripples us.

The popular kids taught me early on that staying busy and surrounding yourself with good people dramatically increases your positive energy and quality of life. Like a shark, you are happier if you keep moving. Stay active, keep friends close, and only stop to reflect if you dare. Before long, you might even become the popular kid.

The Snowball of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is all about momentum. Hell, business is all about momentum. Ever roll a snowball to build a snowman? When starting a business, you need to push everything to a start, pack more snow on, recruit people to help you roll the ball as it gets bigger, and keep things going smoothly. If the ball stops, you will have to apply extra force to get it started again. Keep people excited, keep the idea alive, and keep people having fun. The energy alone will inspire your team, the caliber of work, and the vision at hand. Stop for no one.

Be careful and mind your surroundings. Some leaders get too excited about the work to notice the cliff ahead. One sharp rock could shatter your snowball. The trick with momentum? Stay fresh and always look forward. Avoid tunnel-vision at all costs so that you can chart the best course for your project. Listen to your team, your mentors, and the market around you. They may see something you don’t and could save the snowman’s life.