Marketing or procrastinating?

by Jason on December 23, 2011 · 0 comments

Join procrastination club! photo by Nathaniel F

I’ve spent a lot of this week working on a new marketing program for January.  This is a good time of year to do that kind of thing, since most people are either on holidays or thinking about them, so getting a decision on a project during this window is like pulling teeth (though I did get one approval today, so add dentistry to my skill set…)

The thing is, spending a few days on something other than my core billable activity feels weird.  That said, I have mentors who say that working on marketing is the only core activity I should be doing, ever, but at this stage it feels like I might be doing it to avoid “real” work.

In other words, my marketing activities might be procrastination in disguise.

I’m pretty sure they’re not, but it’s been on my mind, especially as this project goes on and on for seemingly forever (I’m great at estimating technical work, but this is video and copywriting, which is new for me.)  Am I simply hiding from a slow period by “working on marketing?”

I think the answer comes from logging my work and measuring results.  There’s a cost to acquiring customers, and a cost for running campaigns, even if the only expenditure is time.  I’ll be able to directly measure the feedback that this upcoming campaign generates, and the key is to see if it’s working.  If it’s not, and I find myself spending time working on another system that’s almost the same, then yes, that’s procrastination.

For the first run through though, it’s solid marketing work, plain and simple.  Projects like this should be big enough to be capable of generating a measurable result, but small enough that if it’s a total failure (as many early lessons can be) then I haven’t lost too much in terms of sunk time.

Truthfully, this one’s a bit larger than I’d like, but I’ll be able to track if it was worth it in a fairly short period of time, so there’s a good outcome either way – there’ll be more customers, in which case I’ll double down on the program, or it’ll flop and I’ll know if I’m “hiding” from tougher work if I catch myself wasting time doing more of the same.

Photo by Nathaniel F

When doing what you love can hurt you

by Jason on August 17, 2011 · 1 comment

Concept I Rowing Ergometer

As the photo might suggest, I’m trying to reconcile my differences with the Concept II rowing machine, after many many years of us not speaking to each other (I rowed competitively in high school.) You’ve got to love a machine that’s called an erg, short for ergometer, or Thing that Measures Work Done. It’s almost SEO for the gym. Also, you say “erg” a lot when you use it.

I also love running.  Well, I love the idea of running, anyway.  Especially when it means I can get out of a session on the erg. So yeah, that’s why I found myself limping home with a sore ankle the other day (though in nice weather.)

I knew the run wasn’t going to get me the same gains as an equivalent amount of time on the erg, which works all the major muscle groups.  I also probably knew that there was a risk I’d hurt myself to a degree that I’d be unable to exercise for several days, increasing my risk of dropping out of a routine altogether. (I’m fine, by the way.)

But I really wanted to do that run, and more to the point, I really wanted to do something other than row, because even though it’s the best path to results, it’s way harder and makes me want to puke.

This happens in business a lot. Every day, there are things I know, deep down, that I need to do, and there are some other things I haven’t taken the time to figure out yet, but these things are slightly out of my comfort zone, so I fall back on the other stuff pretending it’s productive work.

Except it isn’t.  It might get me somewhere, but it won’t get me to where I really want to be as fast as the other stuff.  And it might distract me to the point, like an injury taking me away from exercise, that I never get where I’m trying to go.

The kicker? Sometimes planning the “tough stuff” is just another escape activity.  It’s hard to tell.

For my fitness, I’m starting a “stop doing, until” list, because just “stop doing” is too heavy on the “forever” for me, and I know I’m going to cheat. But for now? No more running, at all (unless chased) until I’ve finished at least a month of regular stretching exercises to loosen my legs up and lost some decent weight to take the load off my ankles.

And in business? Another stop doing list. That list is way longer, but that’s cool – I could really use the extra time saved by stopping all the crap.