GTD Like A Craftsman

On this page we’re going to work out a solution for one of the creative’s greatest problems:

Getting things done.

Most creatives end up in a freelancer scenario, where they own their own business, or do their work on the side of a full-time job.

Wherever you’re at in your life, I can all but guarantee you’ve struggled at some point to get things done.

While there are more complete and thorough solutions that I can get into later, here’s the single most important principle:

Make Progress Every Day

I was sitting across from my friend Kevin in one of his shops. He opened Sodalicious with his wife and friends almost four years prior, in the back half of a small building with a barbershop in the front.

They quickly became profitable, selling soda with flavor shots and pebble ice to soccer moms and college students.

Two years later they cleared $1 million in sales. In 2017 they were on track to clear $10 million – 10x growth in 3 years.

20 locations later and they have an incredible business, employ hundreds of people, and have created a dream life for themselves.

I sat down (with cameras rolling) to ask him the principles that took him from point A to sitting here at point B.

His answer was as simple as they come:

“Make progress every day.”

That principle has become a foundational one for me and my projects.

Every year since I can remember I have written down the goal in the early days of January: “Make $100,000 this year.”

Every year I’ve been disappointed by not reaching the goal.

Goal setting doesn’t work, at least not for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever hit a New Year’s goal.

A year is just too long of a timeline.

What works is making changes that can be realized on a daily basis.

Like how writing an email a day for nearly a year led me to the largest email list I’d ever built with the most engaged audience I’d ever known, and being able to write and publish a book and clearing $1,000 in sales in the first month.

None of that happened because I set a goal.

It happened because I made progress every day.

Lets look at a few other examples.

The Artist

A talented friend wants to be a digital artist, creating logos, brand assets, and fun designs.

The hustler in him wants to buy a domain, take weeks to build a website, learn how to drive traffic to it, and hope for a 1% conversion rate in the end. He sets the goal of “$10,000 in revenue in the next 3 months!” because why not?

He gets discouraged when the site doesn’t look the way he wants, or the perfect domain name is a .net instead of a .com because someone beat him to it.

He gets frustrated when he posts on Facebook about his new site but it only gets 5 likes and no comments.

He gets depressed when the three month deadline passes and he has nothing to show for it.

That plan fails.

How would the craftsman approach the same situation?

The craftsman would find what he loves, and find a few friends who he knows enjoy that style of design as well.

He’d ask them for feedback on a few designs.

He’d ask if they’d want them on a button, or a shirt, or a poster.

He’d take orders.

Then he’d make the designs, documenting the process and sharing it with his followers online.

He’d build a simple email list that people could sign up to get daily sketches of his designs, the ones that never hit Instagram.

He’d put something out into the world every day, whether an idea or a thought or a fully formed and polished design.

He’d make the pieces available for sale to his specific audience that he knows loves what he does, and sells to 60% of the people on his email list.

They share his work with their friends, and it steadily grows and grows until it becomes a meaningful side income for him.

How long has it been since he started?


This guy LOVES everything about the process. He loves sharing his art every day.

He loves meeting new people who jive with the work he’s putting out into the world.

He loves the audience he’s built around his projects and his brand.

All of the things he did to get here are small, daily steps, making seemingly insignificant progress in the grand scheme of things, but when they’re compounded, he’s able to build a substantial side business for himself.

The Photographer

A photographer decides she wants to take her business to the next level, going from a shoot a month to a shoot a week.

Seeing the landscape of new, inexperienced photographers popping up every day and undercutting her pricing, she decides to double down on what’s worked in the past – bridal fairs.

She signs up for one a few months out and sets the goal to book five weddings at the event.

In the meantime, she’s seen all of these other photographers using Instagram to grow their business, so she signs up for a free webinar.

The only result is that she’s now on someone else’s email list, which she’s reminded of multiple times a day.


Maybe Twitter is the answer? She stays up all night figuring out how to “get” followers on Twitter.

A month later and nothing to show for it.

No new clients.

Just sadness.

And frustration.

And doubt.

And fear.

That mindset is how she enters the bridal fair, where she manages to book a single wedding at the lowest tier package.

How would the craftsman photographer handle the situation?

Quite the opposite.

She would start with an analysis of where her business is and where she wants it to be.

She finds out that the goal isn’t more work at any cost, but enough of the right kind of work that makes her fulfilled and excited.

She then spends time focusing in on her perfect clients.

Who they are. What they like. What they do. Where they live.

She tweaks the content on her website to attract more of these perfect clients.

She puts out content and asks past “perfect clients” to share them with their audience to reach people for free.

She personally asks for referrals and reviews from her best clients.

She builds a solution that solves the problem this perfect client has, and focuses on reaching only potential perfect clients.

What this looks like on a daily basis is a few texts and emails to past clients, a post or two on social media, and following up with new leads from her website.

It takes an extra hour a day, but within a few months she now has too much work, and raises her prices to stay within her desired workload each month.

Her business isn’t the biggest.

Her audience isn’t the largest.

She didn’t get there the fastest.

Yet she has the business and the life she wanted.

The whole point of choosing a craftsman mindset over a hustler mindset comes down to a decision to choose quality over quantity.

Depth over breadth.

Tangible value over artificial numbers.

No more worrying about followers, growth, likes, or retweets.

Less time spent on reaching everyone, and trading it for time spent on catering to the one.

The perfect client.

The perfect business.

The perfect life.

The one you dream of at night, and at work, and on your run, and in the shower.

The one you stay up talking to your partner about.

The craftsman mindset can apply to anything from a single project to your entire business.

It’s more than a methodology, it’s a solution.

It’s a way to look at what you want and figure out what to do next, from the micro all the way to the macro and everything in between.

I want to tell you all about it on the next (and last) page.