How Planning Can Make You Broke

This post was guest blogged by Alex Shalman author of free ebook How To Get A Girlfriend.

When is the last time you worked on your time management skills? Many experts tell you that the most important component of managing your time like a pro is the planning stage. I couldn’t agree more! However, if you’re stuck in the planning stage, and never taking action, you’ll never make any money online.

For over a year I have wanted to write an ebook for the site. It was even before John released his Make Money Online with John Chow ebook. The plan was, and still is, to create a masterpiece of personal development.

The reason that I say that it’s still the plan is because I’ve never quite finished this ebook. I always plan to do it, which means I never take the final action of completing it. However, something interesting happened last week, which helped me to bypass this whole analysis paralysis segment of my ebook writing, and I completed a full ebook in 3 days.

That’s from concept to finish, meaning I put together the content, formatted the book for pdf, did interior graphics, front cover graphics, sidebar graphics, introduction blog bost, and finally the proper newsletter calibration. If this sounds like a lot of work, then you’re hearing me correctly.

How I Banged Out A Full eBook in 3 Days

It all began on Tuesday when Jordan Harbinger from Maxim Radio’s show on SIRIUS Satellite Radio contacted me. We previously discussed having an interview towards the end of November, but he informed me that there was an opening this coming Friday (the one following the Tuesday in question).

This left me with the end of Tuesday, all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and half of Friday in order to prepare for this interview. It was very important for me to have a downloadable information product in time for the show, because I knew that offering it for free in exchange for newsletter subscribers would greatly increase my subscriber numbers.

Yes, I totally learned this from reading things here at John Chow .com. That’s why I’ve got to tell you, if you’re just reading the content on this site, and planning to take action, without actually taking action, you might as well be reading a comedy site in your spare time because it’s sure to be funnier than John 😉

The challenge was that I had work 8-6 Tuesday, an internship that would take my time from 6:30-2:30 Wednesday, and another 8-6 on Thursday at work. That left evenings and nights for getting things done. The second challenge was my zero experience in putting together ebooks, and my less than stellar graphic design skills.

The first order of business was the define the MITs (Most Important Tasks)

  1. I had to create enough content for an ebook, and it had to be quality.
  2. I had to find a designer that would be willing to work overnight, and at a tiny budget.

I was trying to initially gear this book towards the radio show audience, since SIRIUS Satellite radio has 12.4 million subscribers, but then I needed something that would do well with the regular readers of my site as well. I decided on ‘How to Get a Girlfriend’ as the title of the ebook.

I took into account that I have over 330+ articles on my website, and that a significant portion of them are about dating and relationships. I also remembered the How to Get a Girlfriend series I did right here on John Chow .com. With John’s permission I snatched those articles, changed them around significantly, and made them a part of the ebook.

I did the initial part of this on my bus ride in NYC on Wednesday. I can work on the bus because I tether my iPhone to my Mac book pro (another trick I learned from John). I also compiled other relevant content from my own site, and generated ideas for what I would write later in the day. I continued this same process on my bus ride back.

Once home I had to tackle my second MIT, which would prove to be a challenge. I had to find a designer who would work super cheap, and stay up all night. I had no doubt in my mind that such a person existed, so I began to bulk e-mail all my online friends asking for references to starving homeless designers that would work for food.

After getting about 10 replies, and contacting people with my generic e-mail, I still wasn’t hearing back, or having any luck in particular. Not until I found Nate Whitehill online, who pointed me to the man who would prove to be my knight in shining armor, Joshua Denney.

Two all nighters in a row are more fun than they seem.

I stayed up a good portion of the night Wednesday putting together content for the ebook, and to even my own surprise I was done, with a good couple of hours to spare in order to sleep before work. By Thursday morning Joshua was already working on the design.

Thursday night we stayed up all night, unless you count one hour of sleep some significant amount. Due to my brilliant managing skills, I was able to torture Joshua into completing the full ebook and all the site graphics associated with it by deadline.

I continued my preparation for the radio interview on my train ride into NYC. At the actual interview, I’m not going to lie, I think I sounded kind of bad, mostly because this was my first radio appearance and I didn’t know how to control my pitch in the microphone.

You can listen to the personal development podcast if you want to laugh at me, but I’d still say that the whole endeavor was absolutely successful. Over a year of planning brought me no result. Three days of action brought me amazing results.

You might say that this wouldn’t be possible to do if I didn’t already have so many existing articles to use, or that without Joshua not of this would be possible. That might be true, but I’m pretty sure I’d find some other alternative, because I was in the zone to take massive action.

At the end of the day you need a deadline, because when the pressure is on, the work gets done. You need to absolutely define what specific actions you need to take, and then go all out on completing those actions.

John will tell you that the hardest part of getting people to sign up for useful programs to make money online is to actually get people to put the proper code on their site. That’s because people are always planning to do it. Stop being a planner, and DO!


50 thoughts on “How Planning Can Make You Broke”

  1. PS3 Trophies says:

    Here’s a link to the eBook blog entry:
    http://www.alexshalman.com/2008/11/07/free-ebook-how-to-get-a-girlfriend/

    Took me a little bit to find it.

    1. Alex Shalman says:

      Thanks for linking it up. It’s also in the very first sentence of this blog post 😉

      Thanks for putting up the guest post John, as always.

      1. Sohail says:

        Yeah noted that, have seen quite a few guest posts from Alex and they are very good. well done and thanks john

        1. Study Babes says:

          Yeah I wasn’t a big fan of the “how to get a girlfriend” series lol but I ended up subscribing to his blog too, he has some pretty good stuff. Personally I don’t think I’d ever pull two all nighters back to back though, I love sleeping too much 🙂

          1. Yeah, while only planning on doing something doesn’t get you anywhere, most people should probably spend a little more time than 3 days cramming as much stuff into an ebook as possible.

          2. Kok Choon says:

            Agreed, take action is the most important part after planning!

            The fastest it takes for me is 5 days to prepare a 50 pages free ebook! You can find it on my blog.

      2. Awesome post, couldn’t agree more. We can’t plan forever!

  2. MoneyBlog says:

    Great post Alex Shalman

  3. Yup you are right when the pressure is on, the work gets done

  4. Alex Fraiser says:

    That’s a very good story, and a great motivator for all those all plan no action type people. Thanks for writing this, it got me thinking.

    1. Alex Shalman says:

      Great. Mission accomplished 😉

  5. andy says:

    Alex – great story. I plan to do a ebook soon (I have more time) and I found out that planning was very important to the whole process. Thanks again!

  6. Great story and a nice recipe for getting things done, thanks for sharing Alex.

  7. Congrats on finally getting your book finished, I’m definitely looking forward to reading it. I also agree with your piece on using too much of your time in the planning process. With the way things are these days in regard to changing environments and steady progression, it is foolish for anyone to spend too much time planning for something that may be outdated or not useful the next time you turn around.

    1. Become planner and see the difference

    2. Li Weng says:

      I think planning + action = maximum efficiency and effectiveness

  8. good story alex – i too am planning to do an ebook – but i must admit i procrastinate too much – between job and trading and sleep.

  9. Very nice post, i needed some time to read it. And i agree with you stop being planner and do, but i’m very lame. I’m waiting for some kind of motivation, then i will make my planned ebook :D.

    Cheers!!!

  10. Time management is one of those things we all think we don’t need, until we actually have a good hard look at how our days are spend. I like using the RescueTime website service to track my daily tasks. It gives me a great breakdown of how I am spending my time.

    When I have something that needs to get done by a certain deadline, it’s even harder to focus, because I just don’t want to do it…especially now that the pressure’s on. I’d rather google photos of vacations that I’d love to take…or anything but work. – I love your “get it done” outlook. Great post!

    1. Kok Choon says:

      Thanks for the introducing – Recuetime, I will try this soon, seems very promising!

      You must have passion for what you are doing, enjoy your work as well as your vacation will make life easier…

    2. Li Weng says:

      Rescuetime, sounds interesting. I will check it out. Thanks for this info.

  11. Freebies says:

    Being on pressure sure make you to work hard, but you might omit a step or a little detail. I think the best way to plan is to document everything you want done on a paper and cross check with it when you are done with the project.

  12. VeRonda says:

    Alex, you’re so right! I’m learning, in real life real time, that help and success comes when you actually DO something. Wow, good stuff.

  13. Mike Huang says:

    Wow, tethering to get online during your bus ride really shows you’re motivated to finish things. I would not be able to see myself doing this because I would get bus-sick….and plus, it’s in NYC, where there are TONS of people on a bus.

    -Mike

    1. Alex Shalman says:

      The bus ride is from New Jersey to NYC. I don’t take out the laptop on the cross town busses within NYC =)

  14. “You miss 100% of the shots you never take!” I know the process that you have recently been through with your ebook planning and creation. I recently completely updated my ebook with great up-to-date information that took me about 36 hours to complete. I have been telling myself for 2 months that I needed to get this done. I finally quit planning and started acting.
    P.S.: You should see the walls in my office. I have about 50 sticky notes with the simple phrase, “Take Action!” in my face. It works.

    1. Kok Choon says:

      Me too!

      Just need to kick my own butt to “Take Action” every time I sat down and planned too much…!

  15. BusinessX says:

    Necessity is the mother of invention.. and getting things done.

  16. Jonathan R says:

    Totally agree with this post. As a college student, this happens all the time. I will plan my weekend by saying “I am going to read 2 chapters on Saturday, 1 chapter Sunday, and do my essay Sunday night.” This never happens. I usually end up one day just saying “I have to do this!”, and doing all of the work (this would be the take action stage).

    It is great to think you have a plan, but most of the time they don’t work out, especially with things you don’t really want to do. I find that when I finally do take action I don’t stop until I’m finished. You know what they say, actions speak louder than words; so your plan should always be to take action!

    1. Kok Choon says:

      Yeh, no action no gain, no matter how good is your plan!

  17. You either need to be a task junkie or have a deadline assigned to your tasks. That’s what works for me. The deadline transforms the task to a call to action.

  18. BloggerTests says:

    Same here, deadlines can do wonders

  19. Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Alan Lakein

  20. It was a pleasure having you on the show man!

    -Jordan

  21. Alex Weber says:

    Really cool to hear what you had to say on the air! Hopefully your ebook will do very well–it seems great from what I have read.

  22. Joshua says:

    *rides in on his faithful stallion named Adobe*

  23. THANK YOU for the inspiration. i also get stuck in planning/envisioning and changing plans/re-envisioning….on and on ad nauseum.

    clearly, i need to get my brain to shut up and just DO it.

    great line about the “starving homeless designer who will work for food” — nice that he gets a plug in this post, hopefully he can starve a little less!

    1. Joshua says:

      I just ate Subway, I’m doing alright 😉

  24. Diana Rupert says:

    Yeah right. What is the good of a plan without a action. Having a long and so detailed plans sometimes failed. I suggest that be sure that you can work it out when having a nice plan. Great article. Thank you

  25. LayupDrill says:

    Truly inspiring. That go-getter type of attitude is what seperates the good from the great!

  26. Quality post, Alex. You hit the nail right on the head.

  27. Bryan Knight says:

    Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  28. Wesley Green says:

    While the example used in this post is a bit extreme, I do agree with the overall message.

    I believe in planning but there has to be a limit on how much time you put into it or you’ll run the danger of over analyzing something which is simple, or potentially wasting time and /or money.

    I find it best to just set aside so much time to brainstorm on an idea, laying out what the end result is with the steps needed to get there- then take step 1. You can always make changes along the way but taking Step 1 is what your focus should be on.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  29. If you dont plan, you plan to fail. We all can get anytime more money, but we never get the time back once it is gone. I pay people to do things for me that takes time, so I can concentrate my efforts on higher paying activities.

  30. Li Weng says:

    The thing with most people is that they like watching other people do stuff or daydream about themselves doing some stuff but never actually do it themselves.

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