Last week I woke up to an email from my friend and fellow bootstrapper, Tyler Dane inviting me to join him and others on a 15-day productivity challenge.
The premise is simple: For 15 days, spend 30 minutes a day being productive towards your chosen goal. To make it easier, we're doing this challenge with an accountability group of 15 people and we're sharing our progress in a Discord group.
The problem is – this really isn't an optimal time for me to do a challenge like this. The rest of my week is busy. And, my weekend is busy. And, next week is busy. You get the point. But, Tyler addresses this well in his invite email:
And, this is true. Life is always busy. And, while things may seem busy, I believe the act of being too busy to do something really just boils down to prioritization. If you're not able to make something a priority, that's fine. But, if building a SaaS product is a higher priority than some other things in my life, then I need to re-evaluate my priorities.
So it forces me to look deeper. Am I really too busy? Do I really not have 30 minutes a day to work on a product? And, the answer is no. I do have the time.
What's stopping me from creating?
The truth is – what's stopping me is fear.
Every time I've launched something in the past, I feel like there was a month or two of adrenaline that pushed me through the initial fear of launching a new product.
With Skiwise, I was pushed forwards because it was November and the skiing season was about to begin. I physically had to launch the product in the next month or risk waiting a year. And, that motivation worked, since I built and launched the MVP in 30 days.
Likewise, when building Engine.so I was also time constrained. I had a limited amount of time to launch my product before starting my first post-graduation full-time job.
So, I ask myself:
I think a challenge like this is the best way. I've written about how to regain productivity as a bootstrapper in the past. I believe the best way to do that is to build a small project in public. Exactly as this challenge suggests.
What's the plan?
I'm going to build a Chrome extension that hooks into Gmail and auto-populates your email reply field.
I had this idea because I frequently use email to communicate with customers at Engine. Sometimes customers have purchasing questions, billing issues, or feature requests, and currently, my flow is annoying.
Currently, I have a repository of answer templates in Notion that I copy/paste into Gmail then fill them out to respond to a customer. But, what if this process could be smoother?
Instead of copying a template like this:
What if I have a button in Gmail that can populate my reply automatically with this template? And better yet, what if it can even fill out some of the fields in the template automatically using AI and the context of the email thread?
That's what I'm planning to build in the next 15 days.
Cheers 🎉 to shipping new things!
I feel like the idea stage is an easy place to get stuck when building a business. My brain is really good at filtering bad ideas. Almost too good. So good that I rarely give decent ideas the benefit of the doubt.
As I'm writing this, a snippet from one of my favorite songs comes to mind:
Full song: Soulmate by Mac Miller (Spotify)
With that in mind, I'm hoping to clear the distractions and just focus on shipping the next 15 days. I know it's likely that what I build in these 15 days won't be a success. There's probably an existing product that does it better. But, building it will do the following for me regardless:
(a) Solve a pain point in my current workflow
(b) Get me in the habit of shipping software
(c) Give me a product to iterate from when developing my next SaaS business
And at this stage, the multiplier from these things will contribute 100x more towards success than the multiplier from a better idea.
Anyways, you'll hear from me again at the end of the 15 days!
And, if you're reading this and considering doing something similar, take this as a sign that you should start this challenge yourself. Count this moment as your day 1. Don't start next week, don't start tomorrow, start right now. Do your first 30 minutes, and create something extraordinary!