Lack of time is the most frequently-mentioned reason for failing to write a book, create a blog, or write a brand-building series of articles. Employees, as well as entrepreneurs, blame “lack of time” as the biggest obstacle holding them back.
Perceived lack of time is the most common reason for not writing a book, or engaging in other personal brand-building activities. But, is this a valid excuse?
Yet, each year, hundreds of thousands of new books are published, and new faces suddenly appear with strong, respected, brands on the social media landscape.
So, obviously some people have managed to find the time? What do they know that others don’t know? More important, how can you find the time to create your personal brand?
3 keys to brand building time management
In the course of interviewing hundreds of successfully published, and personally branded, authors of career-building nonfiction books, three lessons emerge over and over again.
- Daily progress. The vast majority of authors who have created strong personal brands work on their projects in short, daily, working sessions. They don’t suffer “deadline madness,” because each day they make consistent progress. This daily progress quickly adds up.
- Efficiency. Successfully-branded authors don’t “reinvent the wheel” each time they sit down to work. Instead, they know what they’re going to accomplish and they work as efficiently as possible. They have the tools and the system they need to get things done.
- Commitment. None of the hundreds of successfully branded authors I’ve interviewed enjoyed the luxury of 36-hour days or 8-day weeks. Everyone has the same amount of time; everyone has “day jobs” of one sort or another and everyone has family responsibilities. The only thing everyone doesn’t have is the commitment to recognize the urgency of personal branding and the discipline to make personal branding a priority in their daily lives.
Step 1: Commit to daily progress
One of the biggest misfortunes I had in college was the ability to turn out A quality work at the last minute. I was able to write term papers and my senior honors thesis at the last minute, and do the same for a couple of my close friends.
For a long time, I thought I was “beating the system.” Little did I know that I was seducing myself into complacency and learning bad habits that would take decades to unlearn.
Stress-filled, last-minute writing may work for term papers, but it simply doesn’t work for personal branding. Personal brands are built incrementally, a couple of pages at a time, or a couple of decisions at a time.
The best personal brands are built incrementally, based on consistent daily progress.
Now, I write to a different drummer–the same drummer that established writers follow.
Books and personal brands are created in daily working sessions as short as 30 minutes, and only rarely more than an hour a day. This is the formula that successful writers since the time of Cicero have follow.
Nulla dies sine linea – never a day without a line. (from The Essential Don Murray)
Build your day around your brand building
The biggest step an author or personal brander can take is to commit to daily progress on your project, then build your day around your writing.
The easiest way to do this is to create an online calendar–like the free calendar that Google offers–and schedule your week days around your daily brand-building working sessions.
But, don’t make the mistake of making this a personal online calendar, offer access to your co-workers and your family. Get their buy-in as early as possible! Explain to your family and co-workers why you need their support, and how they’ll eventually benefit.
Once your family and co-workers understand that you are not going to be available for calls or meetings during certain times each day, they’ll respect your commitment.
Tips for setting up your online calendar:
- Use the calendar’s “repeat” and “until” features. This way, your working sessions will automatically appear each day in the weeks and months that come.
- Schedule a short review session each evening. Use this time to review each day’s progress and identify what you want to accomplish the next day. These 15 to 30-minute sessions keep your brain engaged and prime it for progress while you’re sleeping.
- Leave your weekends free. There are no rewards for martyrdom. Work hard during the week, and–when you feel like it–invest time on the weekends. But, give yourself time to recharge your batteries.
- Start your week late Sunday night. Review what you want to accomplish on Monday, as well as each of the following days.
Step 2: Work as efficiently as possible
Avoid working harder than you have to, and avoid spending more time than you have to.
Readers don’t care how hard you worked, or how much time you spend on your personal branding projects. Readers only care about how you can help them solve their problems or achieve their goals.
Efficiency runs the gamut from big decisions to small working habits.
“Big” efficiency decisions involve answering questions like:
- How big does a book have to be to brand me as an expert in my field? Do I have to write a traditional 250-page book, or would a shorter book of tips that appeared a year earlier be more helpful to my career?
- Do I have to write every word myself? Or, could I “crowd-source” my book, work with a co-author, or hire a ghostwriter?
- Do I really need a “big name” publisher? Or, could and should I self-publish?
“Small” efficiency decisions involve:
- Do I know as much as I need to know about the writing tools built into Microsoft Word? Do I know how to automatically insert frequently used phrases, apply text styles, count the words, and check for common grammar mistakes?
- Should I work with a mind mapping software program? Mind mapping software programs, like Mindjet’s MindManager, make it easy to analyze your market’s needs, create content and marketing plans, schedule your time, track your progress, and identify back-end products and services.
Step 3: Commit to discipline and the right habits
Recognition that successful authors write as efficiently as possible in short daily working sessions doesn’t do a thing to advance your personal branding goals.
The only way you can break out of the “undifferentiated multitude” of other qualified individuals competing for your jobs and your clients is to commit to applying the formulas that work to your specific circumstances.
Taking action by committing to daily progress–even relatively small steps each day–and continuing to take action is the best way you can take control of your career and your future.
Think about Keith Rosen. Keith is the author of Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives.
Keith had a lot on his plate as he was writing his book. He was a nationally-recognized executive coach, his wife was pregnant, and he had numerous other family responsibilities. He could, legitimately, have asked for a deadline extension.
Instead, he got up every morning at 5:30 and went into a unheated room to work on his book. That’s the spirit that drives personal branding success!