Keep your project moving with an activity trap escape plan
Avoiding the hamster wheel effect
Do you get stuck in the hamster wheel?
I’m talking about activity traps… “The risk of becoming so busy with an activity as to forget what it is supposed to achieve.” — Wiktionary
When we work alone especially when taking on a promotion or website project, it can be easy to get caught up in the details or stuck on technical issues. Here are a few things to look out for to be sure you keep moving in the right direction, not scurrying ’round in circles.
Common activity traps and how to avoid them
Planning and goal-setting can be exciting, but if you get stuck in the planning phase you won’t get anything finished. You need to set a deadline for your (research and) planning, so that you move on to implementing your plan.
What to do
- Set a timer, or set a specific deadline to complete your plan from beginning to end
- Set milestone deadlines. Each part of your plan needs to be chopped up and given a mini-deadline
- Set a date to review where you are with your project and consider if your goals have changed.
Do you get caught up with your logo and branding style guide? Look, branding is very important, maybe that’s why it’s such an activity trap. If you’re creating a brand from scratch, for the first time, on your own, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll get caught up in details. Lots of people that I’ve worked with have lost a lot of time on choosing the perfect business name, tweaking and changing logos, replacing fonts, endlessly updating all their social media cover pictures. Obsessing and ‘perfecting‘ a logo and brand can stall even the most well-organised of projects. There are so many parts to a brand that you HAVE to be decisive! But you don’t have to decide everything yourself.
What to do
- Do a rough version and get feedback
- Test it with your market if you can before applying it across all your social profiles and website (it takes ages to go back and recreate all that stuff!)
- If doesn’t resonate with your audience after testing, ask them their opinion. You don’t have to make all the decisions alone. This brand is essentially for them anyway. Let them feel part of the process
- And if you can afford it, work with a good brand designer! They do this for a living. Trust them.
There are loads of different factors involved in creating a website. You need to focus hard on avoiding the hamster wheel. The difference with this activity trap is that technology is involved. If you’re doing it all yourself you have to learn software and tools to create the site as well as creating content and designing.
What to do
- Plan it all out with your goals in mind
- Write your content in advance, even as a rough draft of the first 5 pages
- Test out different platforms to find the one that you’re comfortable using, so you don’t get stuck again, every time you need to make changes in future
- If you need pages online ASAP, create a landing page with links to your social platforms and email
- For the SEO of your site, be sure to write for humans first. Be sure your Google titles and descriptions look good and encourage people to click through. Chose key topic per page and reuse the same key phrase as often as you can, but be sure your text still reads well
- For social media, chose the platforms where your customers are likely to find you, rather than just trying to be present on all platforms! Schedule a time slot each day to check in and post/share etc.
Avoiding the hamster wheel
There are many, many, other things, that can cause your project to stall. The most important thing is to be aware when you’ve stopped making progress. Here’s a breakdown of how to avoid the dreaded hamster wheel.
What to do
- Set goals and plan what needs to happen to realise them
- Set timers and deadlines (try the Pomodoro method)
- Work in sprints – work intensively for a short period of time towards a specific objective
- Work in drafts – see out your plan from A to Z without getting caught up in details. Then go back and improve everything from A to Z in version 2
- Get an accountability partner – join a mastermind group or team up with someone and you can keep each other on track!
- Remember: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — Clay Collins
I hope that helps you along with your project. If you need help developing your website or running an online promotions project, let me know if I can help 🙂
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