The frustration of getting started and the perils of “faffing about”.

I have a tendency to “faff about” before starting really big project work. I can find so many excuses and distractions before I finally sit down and concentrate. Put the kettle on, empty the tumble-dryer, put the bins out, quickly check my social media to see if anybody said or did anything, scan my emails, move something from one side of my office to other – the list goes on.

The psychology around this fascinates me – why do I do that?

This week has been dominated by the need to record my first online course for The Extreme Business Club. I’m using Camtasia to record live videos on my desktop, allowing me to speak to camera whilst showing Powerpoint slides, PDFs, spreadsheets and online examples of best practice in web design, social media, blogging and patient newsletters.

I decided to record segments of 10+ minutes, so that course delegates (owners, managers, team members) can work through the material at their own pace – either bingeing or dipping in and out.

Monday was about clearing the decks – a day full of emails and client calls.

Tuesday there were no more excuses – but my business coach offered help – “call me at 08:45 every day this week (for 5 minutes) so that I can keep you focused and away from distractions.”

On Tuesday, even after my call with Rachel Turner, I still managed to “faff” from 09:00 to 09:45 before I finally sat down at my desk, hit “record” and started talking.

What followed was a slow trial and error process of getting in the zone with the technology, the software, the slides and the handouts. Mistake, after mistake – bloopers in mid-sentence, the realisation that I had forgotten to prepare a PDF for display before it was due to be mentioned, simply forgetting what I was supposed to say next.

By lunchtime on Tuesday I had created and uploaded 2 of 18 videos – almost three hours to create just two 10-minute video segments.

My lunch was taken under a cloud of self-doubt.

Back for the afternoon and, by 16:00, a further 3 videos – 5 in total for a day’s work (and the rest of my client work piling up like flood waters behind a dam).

Tuesday evening gloom – but the opportunity to reflect on how I was doing things and the realisation that what was really slowing me down was the uploading time from my desktop to the cloud – so, a new strategy for Wednesday, get all the videos done and worry about the uploading later.

A good night’s sleep, a fresh start, a call with Rachel T at 08:45, a little bit more “faffing” and then head down.

At 15:30 yesterday I had my 18th video in the bag – the internal sense of relief was worth the wait.

I’ve been uploading overnight and, as I write this, video 16 of 18 is on its way to the cloud and the final two will follow before breakfast.

Job done.

(p.s. now the real work begins for Rachel Barrow – getting all of that video and supporting material across to our brand new online learning channel and turning it into attractive course content for March)

I now have a day and a half at my desk (Leeds to see a prospective new client this afternoon) to catch up with the work that has accumulated since Tuesday morning (and before Friday’s weekly trackers arrive).

It never ends.

Lessons from the last two days:

  • It takes me ages to get a big project started;
  • I “faff” about to begin with;
  • My first attempts at something new can be frustratingly clunky and slow;
  • I have to persevere and learn on the fly;
  • Slowly I get better and it gets better;
  • Eventually it gets done;
  • The feeling when it’s done is worth the effort.

I’ll be doing that again this year and have pre-booked Barrow Bunker sessions to create further courses on the business of dentistry and personal development.

Starting big things is actually harder than doing them.

Having a coach to push me over the start line and keep me focused has been invaluable.

Do you have any big projects at the moment about which you are procrastinating?


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.