Engaging the Producer Mindset
Do you struggle with motivation? It is NOT just procrastination. Knowing more specifically what you are dealing with can help you get things done.
The COACH Method supports you to switch from a consumer mindset to a producer mindset. Even with the switch, a cognitive restructuring is needed to maintain intrinsic motivation, overcome overwhelm, constrain perfectionism, and reduce the fear of failure. A producer understands the planning required to achieve her goals. A sustainable planning process results in a structure allowing you to order tasks, goals, know-how, outputs, timeline, and tools.
STRUCTURE. The Project Collaboration Alignment Plan (Pro-CAP) is great tool for structuring your tasks, goals, know-how, outputs, timeline, and tools. Identifying the small steps that lead to completion is the most important task when preparing to tackle a project. Break the project into tasks that can be completed in 20 minutes to 1 hour. Outline goals or achievements that provide you with a sense of the groups of tasks that must be completed in a certain order. List the know-how you will need and include time to get that knowledge. Consider what the outputs of the project will include. The project will be done, but “outputs” refers to products that you may produce en route to completing a project. For example, while writing a training course, you my come up with a new systematic way of delivering a course. Calculate the time that the project will take by adding your tasks completion times. Compile the tools and set up the environment with everything you need for the current task within your grasp. [Find an editable copy of a Pro-CAP here: Project Collaboration Alignment Plan ]
If you are not consistently implementing your plan, you may need help engaging your Producer Mindset. The following tips may help.
MOTIVATION. Many would be producers lament, “I just don’t have the motivation!” Replace this phrase with “I have no goals!” What I have just done is change your statement, one you believe is true, to a phrase that you believe is false. I have moved from an abstraction of “motivation” to a concept that we can provide tangible evidence of… “goals.” If this is your lament, go to your journal and reflect on your goals. Go back to your project parameters and consider the behavioral steps that you have prioritized. If you are not able to engage in 20 minutes of productivity, you must begin to accept the behavioral reality that you are not interested in the goals you have made. Move to another project. No shame.
There are some instances when the tasks on the list must be completed in order to get to other projects that in which you want to engage. For example, you may need to complete a course or degree in order to gain a promotion or competence to work in an area. Or, you may need to clean the house or the yard in order to clear space for your project production. In these moments, you must lean on DISCIPLINE.
Discipline is doing what needs to be done even though you do not “feel” like it. You have to create an alternate reality in which you “want” to do the task. You have to force yourself. But, just like any other project, order tasks, goals, know-how, outputs, timeline, and tools. Break it up and begin with the pieces in order. Cleaning the house begins with cleaning the kitchen. Cleaning the kitchen begins with running dishwater. Set up your wash and dry areas. Determine the outcome to be dishes in dry area, not put away in cabinets, for example. Task duration will be 40 minutes. Get your soap, scrub brushes, gloves ready for the task. Run the dishwater, start the timer, and begin.
OVERWHELM. Some producers lament, “I’m just overwhelmed. I want to produce, but when I think of what it takes, I get overwhelmed.” Replace this phrase with. “I have not broken up the project into tasks nor have I calculated how long each task will take.” From abstract to behaviorally specific!
Utilize the Pro-CAP to outline tasks and assign times to each task. Organize your ToDo list for the day with daily tasks, MustDos, and some tasks from the Pro-CAP. Engage in those tasks for at least 20 minutes at a time. Your job is not to finish them. You only need to make consistent contributions according to your project plan. If you are having trouble putting the project away after 40 minutes, consider whether you are revising or producing. If you are producing—creating content—continue for another 40 minutes. If you are revising—critiquing and correcting content—stop and move to another project.
PERFECTIONISM. Some producers lament, “The project is done, but it is not ready for others to see.” Replace this phrase with, “I have not submitted the project to reviewers because I am afraid of what they will say.” Own it! Allow me first to say that all your work is a draft. The first thing to do once a project is completely drafted is to submit it to your trusted editorial staff. Once you receive it back, make your corrections, package and disseminate the product.
Some producers have this challenge to a larger degree than others. They are paralyzed by the need to perfect their product. These producers will need to create an alternate reality in which products are BEST when they are incomplete. Consider that this allows the users to have some input into the continued evolution of the product. Take joy in the fact that the next edition of the product will be the result of collaboration between those who value the product and the creative mind of the producer. The next edition will overcome limitations of the previous edition and increase the value of the product overall.
FEAR OF FAILURE. Some producers lament, “I’m afraid that I will fail.” Replace this with, “I’m afraid that I will lose interest in this idea and waste time and money.” This challenge can only be addressed through the creation of an alternate reality. Consider that it is advisable, even laudable, that you evolve and grow. Fail early. Lose interest quickly. Often, those changes are you shaking off the wishes and expectations of others. The richness of finding your enduring interest and engaging will cover any loss from prior failures.
[A version of this article appeared April 3, 2013 on coachmethod.com]