How do you get back into a flow after time away from an important project or initiative?
I see it all the time sales. A company founder or a sales team finds the flow with a regular prospecting or product demos or working their sales pipelines every day. There’s magic in the consistency of the work and seeing results from the effort.
But then the system grinds to a halt — the product breaks, a conference hits the calendar, last-minute travel to your top customer across the country, a Board meeting — and we’re often unaware the system halted until days or weeks or even months have passed…
For me, it happens with writing… I get busy implementing with clients, launching a new program, or teaching workshops. Then all of a sudden, it’s been weeks since I’ve published anything new.
Recently, I’ve been sitting on a manuscript for days, then weeks, and now months. It needs my attention, and I have to figure out how to find a flow again.
If you need to crank up your sales work, or any dedicated work, again, here a few tips to help you get started…
1 — Start first, at the easiest place possible.
Ask yourself: “What are the first three steps?”
You can’t finish anything until it’s started, so start first, and start where it’s easiest to get yourself going. Instead of worrying about how you’re going to finish the project, think about how you can START the project. Those first three steps should be the easiest and most basic so that they are easy to achieve and build forward momentum.
This is why copying the phone book solves writer’s block. The process of writing anything tells your brain — “I’m performing the action of writing, so I should write.”
If you need to restart your sales prospecting, begin with a 30-minute sprint. Send out ten LinkedIn connection requests. Or look at your LinkedIn feed and send personal messages to the first ten prospects that posted an article. Tell them that you enjoyed the article, and you’re reposting it to your feed.
Or go through your CRM and find the last ten prospects that came to your website and requested a demo, but never replied to your follow up. Forward the email you sent them two weeks ago with a short message, then pick up the phone and give them a call. So what if none of them reply — now you are started and you can go back and revise your strategy for the next ten.
2 — Reduce friction, distractions, and variables.
Morning time is writing time for me, so a productive morning writing session begins the night before. That means:
- Setting my alarm for 5:00 am the next morning.
- Getting to bed so that I get in at least seven hours of sleep.
- Setting out my clothes.
- Prepping the coffee pot so that I need only to turn it on.
- Putting my phone into airplane mode.
In the morning, I don’t crack open email until it’s time to do email because I KNOW there are emails and messages and work waiting for me there. Right now. Right freaking now! Ahhhhh!
I also know that they don’t need my attention at 6:38 am. Most importantly, I know that if I let myself peek at email, my brain goes into work mode instead of writing mode, and the opportunity to focus on writing is lost.
I head to the same coffee shop, order the same drink, and sit in the same seat. I plug in my laptop, open Evernote, and start writing. No surprises. No experiments. Nothing new to my routine. That’s for another time. Today I need to write.
If it’s writing time, make it writing time. If it’s sales time, make it sales time. Don’t straddle. Focus on Now, now; worry about Later later.
3 — Be kind to yourself.
This morning, despite all of my preparation, I hit the snooze button at 5:00 am (hey… I’m human too…), putting me back nine minutes from my schedule. Coffee took longer to brew than I wanted because I’m in a new house and still figuring out the stove settings.
By the time I finished my Morning Pages, meditation, and my six-minute stretching routine, it was 6:15 am before I left the house, even though I wanted to be at the coffee shop at 6:00 am. I have a hard stop at 8:15 am so that I can take my son to summer camp, then get to the office for our Weekly Sales Standup, and I’m 20–25 minutes behind schedule — plenty of reasons to beat myself up.
So what? I’m here now and writing.
Okay, so I let 20–25 minutes slip through the morning, but here I am at 6:38 am at Philz with my Turkish coffee in front of me, fingers tapping, 455 words into this post. I’ve already won.
4 — Celebrate your progress and maintain your momentum.
Congratulations — you’ve started! Anything you do is progress. Even if that progress is planning for the next work sprint you book with yourself.
Restarting this morning, I didn’t begin with public commitments or self-imposed writing challenge. But in the middle of writing this post, I jumped over to my calendar and discovered that I have a block of time tomorrow morning where I can follow the same routine — up at 5 am, or maybe even 4:45 am — and find 90 minutes of writing time before my first call at 8:00 am.
Wednesday is blocked off as a “Genius Day” which includes writing time. That means I can pretty easily knock out three straight days of writing this week!