30 Aug

Finish one thing today

Lately I’ve struggled to get anything done.

Without a book deadline or major product launch coming up I’ve flipped between working on a dozen projects like a kid with ADD trying to find something decent on TV.

The result is that I’ve accomplished very little.

On one hand that’s okay. Books are still selling well, ConvertKit still gets a handful of new customers a week, and my email list won’t just disappear. In short, the work I’ve done leading up to now will sustain my business for quite a while to come.

But I find it emotionally draining to go several days without seeing noticeable progress. I’m used to being quite productive and launching new products, writing like crazy, and generally making things happen.

What’s the fix?

For me, I decided to focus on finishing one thing each day. I looked at my todo list, picked one thing that would move my business forward, and did that.

Today’s was writing another lesson for my free Mastering Product Launches course. Though the lesson was only 1,000 words long it took me 2.5 hours to write. That’s well over double what I am normally able to do. While frustratingly slow, I still accomplished my one thing for the day.

My business moved forward, the day was a success, and hopefully tomorrow I can jump into work with more energy.

What’s one thing you could accomplish today to move your business or goals forward?

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5 Responses to “Finish one thing today”

  1. Your post made me think about Joel Spolsky’s post, Fire and Motion from 2002: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000339.html

    Towards the end he concludes:

    “All I managed to do yesterday is improve the color scheme in FogBUGZ just a little bit. That’s OK. It’s getting better all the time. Every day our software is better and better and we have more and more customers and that’s all that matters.”

    Small improvements still makes sense and provides a huge value over time!


  2. Hey Nathan,

    I have the same problem of feeling drained when I don’t make any noticeable work progress for a few days.
    A solution I came up with was recording what I did for the day, so I could sleep easy knowing I did good work.

    I ended up making an app to do this. Each of my projects is separated into different “cards” where I record my entries for them. There’s also a timeline view, so you can see which project you worked on and what you did for them each day.

    If you’re interested, you can try it here http://jots.me/signup for the beta.


  3. I’ve found this to be a really good strategy, especially when your to-do-list is so scattered and overwhelming. Taking at least one step each day is huge when it comes to staying motivated. Progress begets progress :)

    Great post, Nathan!


  4. Nice app Alex! I too created an app to see my time called reportsfortrello.com. For me time management is more about being aware of the time spent rather than meeting some quota every day. I use Trello and simply move cards from my “to-do” list to my “doing” list and hopefully move it to the “done” list when done. My app can show the time spent behind the scenes and is free. It is very visual and powerful. You can see your Trello activity from multiple perspectives.

    Best of luck. I hope I get one thing done today too!


  5. After reading this post from Nathan, I also found myself making more consistent progress for the last two weeks. I think the feeling of not accomplishing much today is common among us who create things. I learn to accept it and stay positive and am still learning.

    I found myself much more productive using a plaintext file rather than any project management tool. I wrote a post on the system I use if you are interested – http://rayvinly.com/how-to-create-your-own-project-management-tool/


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