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Just the thought of launching a new course made us nervous. Our schedule was already full, we were traveling abroad in Spain, and it just seemed like too much to handle.

We’d been selling online courses for almost 3 years. In our experience, the worrying and fretting that goes into each launch consumes FAR more energy than actually creating the course! And it was this stress that made us nervous now.

There’s the fear that the course won’t be well received. Then, you get behind on your timeline (because of the fear, and because you’ve underestimated how much you have to do). Then, perfectionism kicks in and right at the 90 yard line, you stop making any progress and start to wonder if you should just quit the project all together.

But when we decided to launch our new Systems Mastery course, we decided that enough was enough! We put our years of productivity training to good use to figure out how to launch a fabulous new product without delaying our timeline (and without adding new stress wrinkles on our forehead.)

After all, the essential activity of creating an online course is converting the awesome KNOWLEDGE you have in your head into ACTION in order to create content your customers can consume. And at the end of the day, this is simple and straightforward if you have the right productivity principles in place.

We imposed an artificial deadline on ourselves to create the drive to get our new product launched. We had been talking about it for months, after all! We launched the Systems Mastery Beta in 4 weeks, taking it from concept to pre-sell to a beta launch in that timeframe. It had 6 primary modules with over an hour of video content per module. During this time, we were traveling abroad in Spain lecturing at a local university and exploring Basque country.

We proved to ourselves that we could get it done on a tight timeline and in sub-optimal conditions. Our launch was a big success with our customers and it’s now part of our core suite of products.

Here’s the 3 major productivity principles we implemented that we attribute to our results.  

1. Exercise “Extreme Preparedness” Before Starting Your Course

The more time you spend planning out your course, the easier the execution will be. We outlined our course thoroughly, asking ourselves “what will our customers need to know next?” and “what materials will we need to provide to teach this concept?” We planned for the best case, worst case, and expected case for the pre-sell and for each week of the customer experience.

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but PLANNING is indispensable.”

– Dwight D Eisenhower

Every hour we spent planning in advance saved us 2-4 hours later, because we were able to use the following two principles of standardization and elimination. If we were to create the course by the seat of our pants, we would have opened the door to massive inefficiencies that our timeline simply wouldn’t have accommodated.

2. Create A Standardized System For Designing, Filming, And Publishing Content…And Then Actually Run Your System

After planning out our course and sales process to the hilt, we created a streamlined process for execution. There are many steps to transferring knowledge from your brain to beautiful course content, and often we can get bogged down in parts of that process. Without a process that tells you exactly what to do, when to do it, and how long to spend on it, timelines get drawn out further and further.

Your system will allow you to leverage CONSOLIDATION, where you can group similar activities together in order to gain efficiency. For example, our system dictated that all our scripts needed to be done, then all our filming. This allowed us to stay in “script mode” for a whole week, followed up by a few short days of filming and editing (which took almost no time at all thanks to our scripts).

Once you write down your ideal process (this should look like a flowchart), it’s time to start executing. As you start work, remember that PROGRESS creates instant motivation. It doesn’t need to be massive progress – it just needs to be some progress, each and every day.

“A popular idea in Silicon Valley is, “Done is better than perfect.”

– Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism

In order to create this progress, some elements of your beautiful course will need to go.  And yes, it will sting you a bit! For example, we forewent filming front-to-camera segments because we were traveling, and we didn’t have time to create a good lighting setup. (In fact, it was all we could do to create a makeshift sound booth in our closet!)

3. Eliminate The Superfluous, Constantly

Course creation can easily become a “Matryoshka Doll” project where it just when you think you’re close to being done, another problem or element presents itself. This is to be expected, and makes this last principle critical to your success.

Instead of trying to download every stitch of knowledge in our brain, we focused on developing content for what our customers absolutely needed to know. This is for our benefit as much as theirs. They benefit because they aren’t being fed superfluous information. We benefit because we can leave out pieces of our knowledge and therefore save time creating the course.

In order to do this, frequently ask yourself The Leveraging Question from the seminal time management book The ONE Thing.

“What’s the one thing I can do, such that everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?”

– Jay Papasan and Gary Keller, The ONE Thing

Said a simpler way, “Is what I’m doing now really the most valuable, important thing I could be doing?”

When you ask yourself this, suddenly you realize that designing your slides to the hilt is not going to add any value to your customer. Instead, you spend that hour honing your script because that will benefit you when you film, when you edit, and even after you launch when you want to need to make changes to your recordings.

Now that we’ve seen how fun it can be to get a course off the ground, we’ve become prolific course creators. We hope these principles will help you get your course off the ground, too!

How We Launched A Course In 4 Weeks (Using Productivity Principles) @LifehackBTCamp Click To Tweet

Carey Gjokaj is the CEO at Lifehack Bootcamp and is known for her ability to create streamlined team workflows and processes in teams of all sizes. Their mission at Lifehack Bootcamp is to help their students do their most productive work ever, so that they can create space for the life of their dreams.