Product Development May 10, 2020

Too much THINKING. How do I start DOING?

Perry Raskin @perryraskin

I'm catching myself do something I'm sure happens to many of us. I just keep thinking "oh yeah I'm going to tweet this and then blog post about that" but I do next to none of it.

I'm trying to market myself as a developer on my personal site and of course somehow get some marketing done for my new side project Pointway. But nope, it's just not happening. I believe the reason is a mix of not feeling confident about writing out these ideas and just the time/energy it takes to do it.

What advice do you guys have as indie makers?

  1. 6

    Hi Perry,

    First off, I like the design of both your app and your site, they actually look a bit like indie hackers with the colors and fonts.

    When I struggle with making meaningful progress, I write a short list of very small things that I can do (like really small things: add an image to the site, write one paragraph, send one email) and just focus on working through that list and then use the momentum to tackle larger things.

  2. 2

    I felt the same way many weeks ago. There are many solutions, as many would tell you. I will not be able to enumerate through all of them. I can however, share what worked for me. The context matters and I will include them:

    1. Find 1 habit that you want to keep for a long time – for me it was writing. Make it simple to start and to keep going. In before this, I was a zombie, feeling lifeless and aimless. I couldn't find anyway to concentrate my energy into any one thing. I picked up the habit of writing daily and this helped to slowly orientate me. As I wrote my thoughts and ideas, it clarified my thinking and overall direction. The process of habit building also emboldened me to try and build more habits.

    2. Building the second habit: build in public. I tweeted everyday about my progress to followers. This got me followers who saw what I was doing. They felt inspired and encouraged me to keep going. Some of them even started doing the same thing. This further gave me the motivation to keep building in public. Over time, I noticed that tweeting in public nudged me into being more conscious about the kind of work I was doing. Not all work produced useful output (Pareto's principle). I became more aware of what kinds of work would give me the output I wanted (followers, subscribers, monetization, community growth etc)

    3. Keep building good habits incrementally. Now I'm trying to build other habits that complement the above 2. They'll only keep compounding and the goal is longevity of habits + consistency. Even on bad days where I have a terrible mood or health issues, I keep going.

    Here's where I build in public: Confronting my fears

  3. 2

    Writing it out is challenging. I've been working at shifting my brand as a founder. I have a ton of experience driving traffic and building authority running a law firm, but the shift has been more difficult. I've gotten wrapped up in some great projects, which helps, but I've set a realistic goal - write once a week. With my firm I have resources to get help, but with a personal brand, it's just you and time. Even worse (better) if you're marketing yourself the way you want, you'll have more work and less time to market yourself.

    Here's what I see from a quick read - it doesn't jump out at me that you're marketing yourself at all. What I mean is, you don't have a soft call to action or even a highlighted way to get in touch, you don't indicate what you're looking for, if anything on your personal site. If I were looking for someone to partner up with on a project, I wouldn't be clear that you were looking for that, or just looking for a place to keep your cv. I don't know if that makes sense, or is particularly helpful, but I think all you're missing is that little bit of connective glue. Maybe that's the first thing you write up. Keep kicking butt!

  4. 1

    I like to 'habit stack'. Commit to something, but start off really small, then keep adding to it as it becomes more of a regular habit.

    So, if you wanted to get better at Twitter, you could make one tweet a day. Do that for a week or two, then do one tweet a day plus one responding to someone else's tweet a day. Then just keep adding over time until you get to a place you feel comfortable.

  5. 1

    Try scheduling time for marketing/outreach each week.

    That's what I'm doing now, because otherwise my desire to make progress with software development will push it aside, and it won't happen. Plus, I remind myself that all the progress on my software matters little if nobody knows about it...

  6. 1

    Pointway is not clear what it does, I spent a few seconds to scroll the page and I didn't get. I didn't read anything because anything caught my attention.

    Spend some money on a good designer, make sure your copy explain on a short sentence what are you trying to solve.

  7. 1

    Something I found works well is setting a goal and penalty with a friend or family member. I'll describe 2 cases where it's worked well.

    #1
    I wanted to lose weight but found it hard with all the free food at work and beers on the weekends. I set a penalty of $100 for every kg I was above my goal weight after like 4 months. A found a friend who wanted to finish his book for years but never got around to it. He agreed to like $5 per page under his goal at the same date. We wrote a contract and had 1000s of $ on the line.

    We both destroyed our goals! I ate so well during that period and felt great. He consistently wrote his pages and never wrote so much in his life. What worked was that we were in it together. They were different goals but we would catch up often and see how we went. The money was the kickstarter, but the shared experience really helped.

    #2
    Last month I was building an app. I wanted to keep it lean, have specific features, and release at the end of a month. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I set two deadlines. I would complete a set of features by week 2, release it, and have my Mom be able to test it. Same at week 4. I would give her $200 if I failed either release. It went great too! She's my Mom so wanted to see how it went and was enticed by the money. The deadline and penalty kept me laser focused on what I need to release.

    I definitely recommend the technique. You don't even need a financial penalty. You can be creative and come up with something that is more motivating than finances.

    Even if you just want a buddy I'd be happy to keep track of your progress 👍

  8. 1

    Just sit down and launch an MVP. 90% of the products I launched (list and live stats are here: borodutch.com) were launched in 1-2 days, tested with audience and then improved on user feedback.

    If an idea takes more than 2 weeks to launch MVP, chances are, you will never launch it or it will never find a market fit.

    Good luck!

  9. 1

    Hey Perry,

    I normally start setting up microgoals, this works wonders.

  10. 1

    It's far easier to have thoughts about doing things than it is to actually do them. Don't beat yourself up too much about it.

    That said, one strategy I've found useful if you're lacking motivation is to force yourself to do at least 10 mins anyway. More often than not, after doing 10 mins worth one of 3 things will happen.

    • Sometimes your motivation will be boosted by starting and you'll do a lot more.
    • Sometimes you'll only do 10 mins the first night but then you'll find yourself thinking about it and looking forward to next time.
    • Even if you're still lacking motivation, doing 10 mins every day adds up and you'll have something to show for it.

    The best way to force yourself to do those 10 mins is to schedule it in. Set an alarm for say 8pm and when that alarm goes off, you do it no matter what. Of course, you can come up with your own variation on the rules.

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