Brian Casel
Brian Casel

Impatient Execution

by Brian Casel on February 2, 2019
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I’m an impatient person.

Always have been.  Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me.  I don’t like waiting around for things to happen.  I have a constant need to make things happen.  Now!

That can be a problem sometimes.  Sometimes I don’t give a strategy enough time to start working.  Sometimes I’m waiting on people who aren’t working on the same self-imposed deadlines that I am.  Sometimes I misfire because I acted too fast.

But I also believe that the ability to execute, and the ability to execute fast, can really work to your advantage.  I know it has for me.

I found that it’s a snowball effect:  The more I work, the more problems I discover.  Problems are blockers—which, for an impatient person like me—light a fire under my ass to find solutions!  As I collect more solutions, I’m able to move faster, find better ideas faster, build and ship things sooner, and make noticeable progress in less and less time.

And when you’re self-funding new ventures, moving fast can really pay off too.

Here are some mental hacks I use—and I hope you’d try—to keep executing as fast as possible:

Look backward

This might seem counterintuitive.  But it’s a big one.

When you step back to assess what you’ve accomplished in the last month, the last quarter, the last six months, the last year, it can be truly eye opening.

Products you’d estimate should take a year to build, actually got done in two months.  Metrics goals you thought you’d never see two years ago are routine occurrences for you now.  Things you had no clue about last year are common knowledge to you today.

How does this help you execute faster?

When you don’t look back, you only have your present day-to-day to work with.  That can feel grueling, slow, and inefficient.  Fires, distractions, setbacks, and a little bit of progress.  That’s the normal daily grind for you, me, and everyone else.

But when you add up those bits of daily progress and measure in longer spans of time and you will see meaningful progress.

That’s the inspiration and motivation to fuel your next thirty days, your next quarter, your next year.

Time box

No, I’m not going to tell you to set a pomodoro timer to disrupt your flow every 25 minutes.  Gimmicks like that do more harm than good.  At least for me.

Time boxing for me consists of frequent “hard stops”.  A.K.A. deadlines to stop working, no matter how much I might want to just keep going a little bit longer.

Here are a few hacks that work really well for me:

  • Have kids.  Just kidding (but seriously, works wonders for limiting your time!).
  • Always have your next vacation booked.  Upcoming travel plans always force me to focus on finishing certain projects before I get on that plane.  I think I enjoy booking the trip just as much (if not more) than actually going!
  • Take your work to the coffee shop, but leave the charger at home.  Nothing like a low battery indicator to light that fire you need to ship before… black screen!

Fast decisions are good decisions

Will you misfire sometimes?  Of course!

But you’re far better off just deciding one way or the other than spending extra time waiting for more information.  Your gut has a natural tendency to “be right” more times than not.  Trust it!

The faster you can decide on what to do (or what to not do and be OK with not doing), the sooner you’ll learn whether that was the right decision or not.  That’s the key information you actually need.

The truth is, there are very few things that you can’t reverse course on if things go terribly wrong.  And chances are, you already have a healthy level of risk aversion built-into your (fast) decision-making process.  That improves over time, as you make more (fast) decisions.

Do 100% or don’t do it

There’s nothing that irks me more than a job left un-done.

Why?  Because it means I’ll need to come back to it later.  It’s so much better if I can put in the work today, give it what it needs to keep running, then not have to touch it again, and move onto the next thing.

Some projects are larger.  Break them down into smaller pieces, and trim down the scope if you need to.

Sometimes those “hard stops” intervene before you’re truly done.  It happens.  Just make sure you finish the job first thing when you’re back at it.  When this happens, I like to write a quick to-do list of those last few things to finish, and put it in the center of my screen before I close the laptop.

I just hit a hard stop!

Tomorrow morning:  Hit publish, write a message to my newsletter, done.

What’s next?