When is the Right Time?

In Massachusetts, we get our cars inspected every year, on the anniversary of the month of the car’s first inspection. I’m lucky enough to have to inspect my car in January. In the cold, muck, wet, snow. You can tell how much I enjoy this.

For inspection, timing is everything. Go too early in the month, and all the people who didn’t make the last month are lining up, in a panic. Go too late in the month, and you have to wait behind 20 other people who left it too late.

Finding the right time might be a little tricky. It’s a balancing act.

It’s the same kind of balancing act in much of our lives. If we are entrepreneurial, we might act too early. If we’re risk-averse, we might act too late.

I often try to get my car inspected during the second or third weeks of the month. I miss the long lines at the start and at the end of the month. Very few things in my life lend themselves to that precise a measurement.

For those of you who wonder about “between the second and third week” as being precise, here’s the question: Does it matter when, as long as it’s sometime in that time period? My estimate is accurate, and more precision is unnecessary. I write a lot about project, program, and roadmap planning on my other blog. I won’t repeat that here.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about trying to time things to a specific minute, day, week, month, whenever. We often have more flexibility than we think.

I don’t bother trying to time “right” these kinds of projects or work:

  • When to write and release a book. I write the books I want to write and worry about the “rightness” of the market later. Sometimes, I’m smart. Sometimes, I’m not. I don’t worry about it.
  • When to clean my office. I just don’t. Okay, I do when I can’t stand it. (You longtime readers know this is a constant refrain.)
  • When I announce a new workshop. I work on it until it’s ready and then I release.

Notice these deliverables are for me. I often have deliverables for other people, and I offer a range of the “right” time.

The way I can manage my deliverables for everyone is to maintain a cadence of work. I maintain a cadence of my various writing. These question of the week posts are supposed to arrive on a Wednesday. Some weeks, like this week, it’s a Thursday. Some weeks like last week, it was Friday. That’s because I was writing other pieces. I needed time to clear my brain.

I maintain a cadence of finishing small pieces on workshops, on coaching, on everything until I complete my work. For me, small pieces, consistently add up to a deliverable at the “right” time. I don’t need a balancing act for my work. I need a balancing act for what I’ll call an “atomic” piece of work—I can’t divide it up to smaller deliverables.

The only formula I use to keep going, to persevere, finishing a little something every day. Then, it’s the “right” time to release.

That’s the question this week: When is the right time?

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