Startups frequently align with the idea that you need to be absolutely perfect before you launch your product/service. That's a surefire way to never make progress.
Part of me thinks it's because they want to be seen as the best and idealized, rather than being something good.
I'll be honest, I know my website could improve. I know I launch articles and newsletters with spelling errors. I know that I sometimes forget pieces of information that would have made a difference in a sales call. But we cannot go on expecting that everything has to be, or will be for that matter, perfect.
It's as if startups conflate being vulnerable and human with being undesirable. That fear of being undesirable is a dragon, snarling and biting, waiting to inevitably breakdown your door and consume you rotisserie style.
Screw that, take the offensive. Launch with imperfections, bumps, and blemishes to say, "we are not perfect, but we will continue to get better."
Slay the dragon.
One of my closest friends lives in London, but he's in San Diego now for his sister's wedding. It was a pleasant surprise. I hit him up and he told me he'd only be in town until tomorrow evening.
Tomorrow evening!? Dang, that's not a lot of time to get together.
I checked my calendar and saw a bunch of scheduled items. All of them are black, so there's no distinction between them. How could I have scheduled so much stuff on one day?
Cue color coding. I created some alternative colors to use to showcase different meeting types I have. Red for in-person and green for digital meetings.
Sure enough, I have three red items today. That's a lot of meetings in a very short amount a time. Don't get me wrong, I love people (a lot more than most designers, I'd think), but this showed me that I'm spreading myself thin for time. This burns the most when I don't have flexibility to see friends from out of town because of it. Something had to change.
So I set a rule: if I see two red/green slots in one day, that's it. No more. A red flag, if you will.
Color-code your calendar.
Routine is what produces results. Consistent dedication to a series of habits will beat talent any day of the week. Personally, my morning routine consists of the following:
Obviously, I'm not perfect so this routine gets muddied on occasion. But, it serves as a solid compass for letting me know when I've derailed. So why would I completely forego this routine during the last two weeks of the year? Most productivity hacks will tell you that you should always stick to your routine regardless of what day it is.
I'm gonna be honest and say screw that.
Routines are effective during normal times of the year, when I've got client emails to answer, phone calls to make, and, of course, design work that needs to be done. Here's the difference: none of that happens regularly during the week of Christmas or the following week for New Years. Could it happen? Sure. But the truth is that it doesn't.
This presents two opportunities: stick to your routine despite the change in circumstance or let it go for two weeks. Neither option is wrong, they just present two different outcomes and that's where it gets interesting.
When I give myself these two weeks to completely let go of my routine, I give my willpower a rest. Furthermore, with all of the bustle of the holidays and trips to Las Vegas and Mexico on the horizon, those routines quickly find themselves going out the door.
That's not an excuse to let any obstacle get in the way of your routines. There are 50 weeks out of the year where I don't see a valid excuse to let go of routine. But failing to recognize the significance and abnormality of the holiday season is a recipe for self-defeat. Things will happen and routines are good, but they also become a rut. In the spirit of creativity and constantly adapting, ruts must be broken.
Can you think of a better time to break a routine than two weeks filled with festivities, good food, and time with people you care about? Didn't think so.
So what are my plans for the next two weeks? Eat some good food, stay up late watching Star Wars movies, see my grandmother, and think about all of the good things that have happened to me this year. Lastly, think about my routine and what could be improved for 2020 ;)
That being said, it's time to take a break from these as well. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Check back in 2020 for the MF Punch.