When we initially decide that we are going to step out on faith and go after the dream God has placed on our hearts, we then have to plan our time wisely. It is all too easy to get torn between consuming/learning new information and actually taking action or implementing what we’ve learned. Everyone faces this dilemma at some point during their creative journey. Read on to check out some useful tips for achieving balance in this area.
View consumption as necessary
First and foremost, we believe learning is absolutely necessary to have a successful creative business. Business is full of trends, and new information is being published daily. As a business owner you’ll have to stay on top of what your audience wants to learn, what strategies are working well for similar entrepreneurs, and how to constantly improve the systems that keep your business running. It can be a lot to learn, especially in the beginning. It can be tempting to try to learn everything you can about starting your creative business before ever taking any action. Instead of trying to learn everything, we believe in consuming information wisely. But what does it mean to consume information wisely? Glad you asked! :)
What do I need to know?
In the beginning of your creative journey, it is important to keep the focus of your business at the forefront of your mind. Always keep in mind the problem that you are trying to solve, the skill you want to teach, etc, and let that be your guide when you set aside time to learn. It would be incredibly beneficial to jot down on a sheet of paper or in a Google Doc a list of the skills that you already have that will help you in your creative endeavor and the skills that you still need to acquire. Keep this handy so that during the time you set aside for learning, you’ll have a relevant guide to help you focus only on the things you need to learn.
To narrow your focus, we recommend splitting your list even further into information that is absolutely vital for you to learn now and what can wait. For example, if you are an aspiring self-published author, it is vital to begin researching the self-publishing process for e-books and physical books, the platforms available to you, editing services, etc. Perhaps not as important to devote time to right away is learning how to DIY design the cover of your book/e-book. By making sure that you consume information that you need to know at the present moment, you’ll find it much easier to begin taking action.
Who should I learn from?
Another aspect of wise information consumption is carefully choosing not only what you’re learning, but also who you’re learning from. If you encounter someone who is doing something even remotely similar to your own aspirations, pay close attention! And at this rate, we can almost guarantee that you’ll encounter numerous others who have attained success in the industry that you’ve chosen. With that being said, pick three people who have the results that you want and learn from them either personally (through coaching or a mentorship) or indirectly (podcasts, blogs, courses, etc). Seriously, just three people! It is way too easy when you’re just starting out to get sucked into reading 10 blogs a day on the same topic, subscribing to every e-mail list you come across, and clicking on every other pin on Pinterest. That’s a surefire way to get information overload. You come across so many differing opinions and strategies that you end up doing nothing because you’re so confused. That’s exactly what prevented Kendra and I from getting our first blog up and running quicker than we did. We were unsure of just about everything, and after saving over 300 pins about blogging and reading every blog we could find, we were no better off because we didn’t know which strategies to act on.
Set timelines for learning new information
A helpful way to break down the daunting task of learning new information is to set timelines. For example, let’s say a topic of interest is Pinterest marketing. You could devote a week to learning about Pinterest marketing via books, blog posts, podcasts, etc from someone you trust. Then, when that week comes to an end, you will be well versed in Pinterest marketing because you narrowed your focus and set a timeline. After studying one topic for a designated amount of time, you will feel comfortable moving on to the next topic.
Action is everything
So, the case has been made for the necessity of wise consumption. But consumption is absolutely worthless unless you implement the knowledge and skills that you’ve acquired. I think one of the reasons action is so scary is because we don’t allow ourselves to be beginners. We want our blogs to be absolutely perfect on launch day. We want our social media accounts to be captivating and flawless, our stock photos cleverly composed, etc. Essentially, we want to seem as if we are pros with one glance at our blogs/social media. However, the true beauty is when we allow ourselves to be beginners. It isn’t humanly possible for us to get everything right on the first try. And more often than not, it is through our shortcomings that we appear genuine and gain credibility. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: perfection is paralyzing. So, don’t chase perfection. Instead, chase authenticity and value. When we focus on authenticity and value instead of perfection, taking action seems more feasible.
A good rule of thumb is spend 80% of your time taking action, and 20% of your time consuming information. But to be completely honest, this can be hard to accomplish when you are first starting out, especially if you find that the skills you need to acquire outnumber the skills you already have (and that isn’t a bad thing! Never give up on a dream just because it involves a lot that you don’t know yet). So when you begin, you may find yourself 80% of the time learning. What’s important is that with each couple of weeks, your balance changes. Next, you might consume information 60% of the time, and then 50% of the time. The key is to get to a point where you are consistently implementing and experimenting more than you are sitting down to learn, and then you will be unstoppable. The amazing thing about taking action is that you will also learn from what you do. If you carefully evaluate the results you get from the actions you take, you’ll often find that you learn more that way rather than by binge-reading each and every blog you could find.
Your goals should determine your actions
Decide what your business goals are early on so that you can start taking steps toward making your goals a reality. When you have your goals in place, you can truly determine the productivity of your days. Some people think they are being productive because they are accomplishing a lot of tasks. But true productivity is when you are able to complete tasks that push you closer to your goals. As an example, let’s say your goal is to gain 100 subscribers to your company’s mailing list in one month. Actions that would reflect your goal might be putting a sign up link to your mailing list on your social media profiles and creating valuable bonus content (or opt-ins) that are exclusive to your mailing list subscribers. By ensuring that your actions are aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll begin to see real progress sooner in your journey.
Remember that every time you take action, you’re bringing yourself closer to success! What are you excited to learn or implement in your business? Let us know in the comments below! And if you want to organize an action and study plan that you can follow, be sure to download our worksheets!