We’ve all seen the productivity suggestion “Do What Matters.” Can’t argue with that one.
But if you’re a person who sees the possibilities in everything, then suddenly everything seems to matter.
Here’s a filter you might try instead: stop polishing poop.
We all do it, messing around with things that we know aren’t exactly fresh and aren’t ever going to be.
Did that make you feel relieved or just a bit anxious? If you’re relieved, then it’s probably because you instantly recognize the poop in your catalog of activities with procrastination and distraction at the top of the list. Checking email every 30 minutes or popping by Facebook every time you think about working on your blog post are both flagrantly fragrant examples.
But what if you’re working on something, polishing away, and you’re just not sure if it’s poop or not? That desire for certainty is a huge crusher for so many of the creative entrepreneurs that I know.
Here are some ways that I separate the poop from the pearls.
Create – and finish! – one big thing at a time.
This one’s hard for me, really hard, because I like to have multiple projects going at once. But when I have too many projects going on at once, they all slow done and, inevitably none of them get done. When I go months at a time without a big thing getting done, then the huge monster of self-doubt creeps in and starts to call all my little simmering pots poop, even if they really aren’t.
Have creative partners who tell you the truth.
I’m not saying that your partners will always be right but having trusted colleagues who believe in you and who will lovingly argue with you is invaluable. That mutual trust and faith in each other will liberate you to flush the poop quicker than almost anything that I know. This doesn’t mean you can stay in your Creative Lab forever, debating away the time that your project could be earning or gaining traction. Treat your creative discussions like the Supreme Court: very limited time for arguments, then make a judgment and move on.
Let the market speak.
I won’t lie: this is the hardest one of all for me. Shipping. Releasing. Putting it out there. Holding your nose and jumping in the deep end. Tipping from dreaming and creating into delivering. It feels raw, it’s scary, and it hasn’t gotten easier for me. Yes, the mechanics of production get easier with practice (hallelujah!) but the emotional part of putting my pearl on the platter and hoping it’s not poop, well, that’s just excruciating. The only way I know to make delivering easier is this: I trust my creative self. Whatever happens with the project I’m releasing now, I keep reminding myself that there is another one in the lab that is queued up next.
I’ve got more ideas but I’d love to hear yours in the comments first. How do you stop polishing poop?