To Chase the Goals, Remove the Distractions

In This Episode...

  • First, an answer to the question "where have you been?".
  • Then, I go through some of the things that have been distracting me lately and what can be done about it.

Where Have Dan and Speaking of Products Been?

Basically, when Covid19 hit hard and the Black Lives Matter situation started happening, I felt that the last thing people needed was to hear from some bloke in Australia talking about creating technology products.

I essentially shut-up shop for a while to focus on family and my own situation.

However, things are now starting to get back to normal a bit and so I'm back!

This Episode's Topic: To Chase the Goals, Remove the Distractions

In order to make anything great, we need to focus. Creating a new product requires time, thought, dedication, care and attention.

In 2020 we are both blessed with the convenience of modern life that enables us to pursue our dreams and cursed by the seemingly never-ending array of things that want to distract us.

The Distraction Removal Challenge Begins

Welcome part 1 of what I expect to be multi-part journey toward freeing myself of distractions and being able to focus on my current product development goals. Rather than coming at you with all sorts of motherhood statements, I thought it would be more genuine and interesting for you to see what I'm going through. I'm pretty sure there will be something in my story that you can relate to.

I'll approach this as kind of a stocktake and simply list out the non-essential things that I think are not contributing my goal. From there, I can consider some options for freeing myself from those distractions.

Ok then, lets get into it.

Why Do This?

First up, before I get into what's distracting me, let's take a look at what is driving me.

My heart is dead set on getting into my own products. For years, I have been providing services as well as producing technology products and systems for other organisations. While I love what I do, I've reached the stage where I want to challenge myself further. There are also a number of problem-spaces I have picked up on which I would like to see if there is a market for helping people.

My early studies and my career so far have given me a stable income. They have help me live a fairly humble and happy life. Additionally, I have been able meet so many lovely, interesting people and I enjoy spending time with the people I work with.

The thing is, I know there is more in me. The skills and knowledge I have built up over the years suggest to me that I have at least a fighting chance of being able to get a product-based business up and running and solve some definite business problems. Who knows? All going well, I may even be able to start generating a side-income from products.

Based on how I've described it, my situation sounds a bit nuts doesn't it. Why would I want to switch out of a good thing for something way less certain and much more risky? I hinted at this in a previous topic titled Why Focus on Products Instead of Services In Your Business? Given this, I definitely think I should do more of an honest self-assessment regarding my thoughts in a future topic.

For now, I'll sum up my current situation as this. I'm doing fine with services but I want to explore the potential of products. I want more of a challenge. I would like to help others in additional ways. I'm burning to see whether I have what it takes to achieve some of the benefits available from a product-based business.

My Current Situation

I am definitely struggling with distractions lately. I find that outside of my day job and family commitments, I am not making the most of my remaining spare hours. If I want to switch out of services and into products, I am going to need to spend more time on product development.

I'm not sure why it is happening at the moment. Usually, I am quite good at focusing and making progress on side-projects outside of work hours. I wonder if I am simply procrastinating or if there is something else going on this time. That is, are the distractions the cause or the symptom of my current lack of focus on product development. Could it be symptom? Am I worried I won't be successful? Is there a fear of the unknown future holding me back? Possibly... maybe. Am I subconsciously creating distractions instead of the distractions being outside my control? I suspect it might be a bit of both.

This situation is most-likely related to the fact that the world is totally upside-down at the moment.

Regardless, I know I want to do more with my time and get back to my productive best. I am willing to make some sacrifices to get me there.

In a way, this approach has echoes of Gary Keller's "The One Thing". It could also be seen as the beginnings of establishing commitment strategies for myself similar to approaches described by researchers like Dan Ariely and Dean Karlan. In his work, Dan talks about using pre-commitment strategies in order to try and avoid procrastination and make progress on one's goals. Similarly, Dean describes commitment devices as arrangements people make to formalise and facilitate their goals. I know for sure that recording this podcast and working in public like I am is a way of helping me focus on my goals.

Distractions I Struggle With

Here is a list of some of the main distractions I can think of.

Note, I don't include working in my day job in the list below since I actually enjoy what I do in my job and I don't really have a choice at this point in life. I need it to survive. I also don't include spending time with my family since that is something essential for me that I highly value and I wouldn't give up for anything.

Checking social mediaWhen I wake up, and late in the evenings.I instinctively open a browser tab into one of my various social media accounts.Once or twice a dayFrom 5 to 20 mins
Reading news sitesMornings and lunchtimesIt seems to be a habit that I'm inA few times each dayFrom 5 to 10 mins
Dealing with emailEvery dayI have too many emails. With many coming in each day and hundreds stored in my inboxSeveral times a dayFrom 5 to 10 mins
Watering my gardenDuring summerI worry that I'm not watering enough, or I actually see plants start droopingEvery day or soUp to 1 hour
Other household choresUsually on weekends and weeknightsWeeds show up, the lawn gets long, the house gets dirtyEvery weekFrom 30 minutes to 1 hour
Driving and waiting at my kid's activitiesWhen it's my turn to be the parent taxiWhen I'm not a participant, I have no option but to waitSeveral times a weekFrom 30 mins to 3 hours
Watching TV seriesWhen there is a good seriesTo help me wind down for the dayDailyFrom 1 to 2 hours
Walking to the coffee shopMornings before work or at lunchtimesAs a way of staying connected with friends and colleaguesEvery few days or soFrom 15 to 30 mins

Options for Dealing With These Distractions

Here are some options I am considering for overcoming some of these distractions.

Checking social mediaUse a website blocker; Turn it into a reward; Make it a scheduled activity
Reading news sitesUse a website blocker; Use a news roundup service; Use Google alerts
Dealing with emailHave another go at Inbox Zero; Limit email checking to set times
Watering my gardenInstall an automated drip-watering system
Other household choresLook into hiring someone to help
Driving and waiting at my kid's activitiesOffer it as a part-time paid job for a family member; Bring a laptop along
Watching TV seriesSet time limits; Cut out weeknights; Binge series less often; turn it into a reward
Walking to the coffee shopLimit down to once a week or so; Turn it into a reward

Where To Next?

I think what I'll do with this introspective info is to pick one or two of the options above and see how I go. Let's see if I can swap distraction time for product development time. Let's see if the distractions really are just a form of procrastinating or if there is something else going on.

Well, that about wraps it up for this episode, I hope you enjoyed it.

Resources and People Mentioned in This Episode

Shout Outs

Shout outs this week goes out to Ben Mann, creator of Playgroup - a modern take on online community forum software.

Ben is awesome at dealing with distractions. He has recently been building Playgroup, on the side, while working a day job, also while moving into a new house and setting everything up at the same time. During this time, Ben has been quietly (but effectively) building Playgroup and generating interest in it, to the point where he is almost ready to launch it to the world.

Well done Ben, you're approach at dealing with distractions is inspiring.

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