Deep dive

The Deep Dive: On mastery, mindgames and doing work that matters

Over the past few days, I've been gearing up to go deeper in my work. Almost all of us do our best work when we're allowed to focus. When we have those elusive hours or days of uninterrupted time. We get into a state of flow in our work, where everything becomes clearer, you accomplish what feel like impossible amounts of quality output.

I've had a couple days already that were like this: It's wonderful. It makes you feel as if you're accomplishing something. That you're doing the work you're supposed to be doing.

If we know that these blissful moments of concentration are the source of our best work, why do we let ourselves and others impede our progress. Why don't we schedule more of them?

And yet those times where we can reach that flow seem like islands in a sea of noise. In our work, and our lives, we have multiple interruptions clamouring for our attention. I'm blocking out some time so that I can get into that flow. I need it right now. I need the win that comes with it, or the loss that comes with at least trying.

I think that's where I'm going with this. Many of us allow the interruptions to happen because it gives us a reason for not trying. "I was too distracted," we say. "I just couldn't get around to getting the project together."

Watch for this pattern. When you see it, break down what you're actually 'trying' to work on and look for what might be really holding you back. You're not too busy. You're not blocked. You're not overbooked. You're stalling. Why are you stalling? What are you afraid of?

I'm not calling you out specifically. I feel that I'm calling myself out more in this post. But if it resonates with you, then keep following along and see where I end up. We can get there together.

This comes back to the idea of being a perfectionist, and using that perfectionism as a form of procrastination. There's better articles on the topic than I could ever write out there.

My work's not perfect, and so it's not ready. People won't like it, and so they won't buy it.

Wait, what are you working on, anyway?

Oh right, I forgot that part. I'm re-launching the Freelance Lab as an online course. Instead of being run through Cowork Niagara, this is a personal project. Cowork Niagara will still run the freelancer lab in-person in the boot-camp format, because we know it's a really effective delivery. It needs adaptation to work online, but it's worth it because there's nothing like it out there.

Okay, so back to the part where I'm calling out my own bullshit.

Your work's not perfect? B.F.D.

It's bullshit, but it's what I've told myself. Rational me needs to step in for a bit and remind myelf that this work has already helped a few dozen people. It's already been used to restart my practice several times, once with a completely different practice focus. I have documented examples of how people using this approach have tripled their income.

And yet, just like with my podcasting post yesterday, I feel like when I put that out into the world that I'm a fake, and that people will find out if I publish that work. So the work's not ready, and then I don't schedule time or execute on that time when I do give it because I'm too busy, or interrupted, or have other things going on, or need to feed my cat, or kids, or family on Sunday dinner.

And as I've been getting better, all these anti patterns I've helped people with over the years I see emerging in my own work. As I've called bullshit with them, I need to do the same for myself.

My next steps.

Here's how I'm breaking that rut and getting back into it.

This week has been about planning out the transition to online course. How to break up the lessons. What online materials to provide. How the information is delivered.

Next week I start writing. And re-writing. And writing some more. And designing. And scripting. I have nothing else significant booked.

Many folks know I'm an early riser. My most productive hours of the day are between 6am and noon. I'm reserving and protecting that time for that work exclusively. So be warned if you're looking for a response on something else within those times.

I'm also just recognizing that these thoughts are a normal part of my process. So I'm accepting when they happen, letting them pass, and continuing. When I do that, they don't have so much power. (That's way harder than I'm making it sound, though.)

Not the only project.

Over the next couple of months, I have three projects that are blocked like this. These projects don't do anyone in the world any good stuck in my head. These ideas have value. I know how to execute on them. And the only thing holding me back is the belief I put in my head that none of you will like them.

If that's been something you're struggling with, let me know on social. If you have other tips for how to handle it, I'd love to hear about it.