Posts tagged solution
“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work“
Emile Zola (1840-1902) French artist and philosopher
Welcome to the second in our series on “Finding the Time to Write”.
Now in the last session we discussed the real problem that we have. We cover it up by calling it “Not enough time to write” or some such excuse. Let me be clear here. I’m using the word excuse here because it focuses on a symptom or a solution. Unless we focus on the real problem, we won’t be able to solve it. What’s the real problem? The real problem is simply “Not being able to get our book written”.
Examining that problem led us to the Work Equation. When that equation gets out of balance then we can’t get any writing done.
Cool so far?
Okay, in the next six minutes or so of this session we’re going to talk about identifying a solution to our problem.
So how do you get the Work Equation back into balance? How do you make sure that you are really going to write?
The answer is that you need to deal with all three elements of the work equation. Doing just one won’t cut it. That’s why you get the usual advice that just doesn’t seem to work. It’s not that it’s wrong per se. It just doesn’t work because it focuses on only part of the problem.
Yes, the solution is personal. My solution won’t work for you and your solutions won’t work for me. That’s fine. And yes, you can make poor decisions and poor choices. It’s unlikely given the problem but you can do it. Nevertheless, it’s not you.
The advice you usually get won’t work for anyone … except in a few unusual cases. It’s the advice itself that’s wrong.
In the last session, I gave the three most common versions of advice that are used to fix the problem of not being able to write a book. You’ll notice that “Figure out why you’re writing” and “Visualize the result” are focused on building the desire to write. “Just get it done” is focused on the system. Okay, I’m being generous here. Some people just like being cantankerous. But I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to focus on the positive here and presume they are talking about following a particular system.
The fourth most common piece of advice I didn’t really mention last time. It is usually referred to as building time management skills. This is focused on the ‘available time’ part of the equation.
And that’s why they don’t work. They’re all attempting to fix all of the problem by only fixing part of the problem. And since they don’t fix the whole — something else just goes wrong. You get past that bump and run into a wall.
So how do we deal with the whole? How do we fix the whole problem?
That’s where the three elements come in.
Now the first element is Desire. To build that up we need to focus on motivating ourselves. No different than any other employee. Just part of being a manager. We have to work too. We’re employees too. So you need to manage yourself. And part of that management is to keep yourself focused and interested in producing. In other words — motivated.
Now there’s two parts to motivation. The first is to figure out what will motivate you. “Figure out why you’re writing” as the guru said. Not entirely bad advice, just incomplete. The second part is that you need to continually reinforce the motivation. Motivation fades with time. It’s not a one-time effort. You need to continually motivate yourself.
The second element is Time. Let’s get practical here for a second. If you don’t have at least four hours to write per week, you’re never going to finish. Sorry. Even at four hours a week, you’re going to have a problem maintaining your motivation over the two months it will take to write a short 100-page book. So you need to find the time. And that means you may have to adjust your current schedule.
Look, we’re all busy today. I don’t know anyone who can just sit around for four hours a week. Or anyone who has a spare 24 hours to spend in a week. If you want to write, you’re going to have to become more efficient and more effective with your time. You’re going to have to steal minutes from other tasks.
Finally, the third element is actually three separate elements we can combine into one. Overall, I call it “The Effort Involved”. The solution to that piece of the pie lies in what we term your writing system. Now, I’m changing hats here for a second and talking from a Process Analyst point of view here. That’s why the “We”. It’s plural not royal. Okay? A system — any system — consists of process, environment and agents. How you write is the process. You’re the agent in this case, so we’re really talking about your work habits. And by environment, we’re talking about where you write. Mix them together and you have a writing system.
And your writing system determines how long it will take you to write and how easy it will be.
So the solution to finding the time to write is really a combination of Motivation + System + Stealing Time from your busy day.
Now here’s the kicker. You’re going to have to determine the details of the solution yourself. Why? Because it needs to be customized for you. What works for me won’t work for you. What works for you won’t work for me.
However, there are commonalities … ideas that I can share from which you can pick and choose exactly what you will use. And that’s what the next session will be about.
I hope you enjoyed this session and that you found it useful. In our next and last session, I’m going to give you three practical tips to help you develop your solution to the problem of finding the time to write. And I’ll also have a very special offer for you.
Next & Last Session – Due Friday!
Welcome to a five minute presentation by LearningCreators. This is the first of three presentations on this topic. So what’s the topic?
It’s probably the most common problem my customers complain of … Finding the time to write.
Everyone has a slightly different cut on the problem … “I don’t have the time to write because I work all day” or “I have to get my kids to school and soccer and football and … ” or maybe it’s a matter of “I don’t want to start because I’m not sure people will want to read it”.
But there’s one common theme throughout this …
And that tells me there’s a problem.
You see there’s a problem with problem solving. And providing excuses is a symptom of that problem.
In order to solve any problem, you need to be solving the real problem. You need to solve the problem that’s underlying the stated problem. You need to drive down to the core of the issue.
In North America especially, we have a tendency to state problems in terms of one particular solution. And we have a tendency to focus on symptoms and panaceas rather than looking at actual causes and actual solutions. But that doesn’t help to cure problems. In fact, it leaves us chasing solutions to one symptom after another.
And that means if you look around you’ll find all kinds of “solutions” to the time problem. Everyone has a solution to finding the time to write.
For some gurus it’s “Figure out why you want to do this and that’ll carry you through”. All you need is to do is build up your desire.
And then there’s the new agey gurus “Visualize the result if you do it and magic will happen.” They believe that if you dream it hard enough the universe will just magically make it happen.
And then there’s always the disciplinarian in the bunch who says, “Shut up, sit down, write. And stop cryin’ about it.” They don’t exactly give you a lot of latitude in fixing the problem. But that’s okay ’cause they don’t exactly give you a solution either.
The problem with all those solutions is they don’t seem to work.
You try one solution after another and they just don’t sustain you. You still haven’t got the time to write.
So you go on and you try someone else who says basically the same thing in different words, and guess what. It still doesn’t work.
So you start thinking it’s your fault… or you give up entirely. Well, guess what?
It isn’t your fault.
You have a problem and no one has bothered to help you solve it. You need to know the real problem if you’re going to solve the problem. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
So what’s the real problem?
You want to write a book or create a course or whatever … but … it never seems to happen.
Well duh … I know it sounds really silly and simplistic. That’s because it is.
No one said the problem had to be hard. It just has to be the real problem and not a symptom or a solution.
The problem isn’t that you don’t have the time. The problem is that you want to write a book or create a course and it isn’t happening. You can’t seem to build the energy to start and finish it.
One potential solution is that you need to find the time. But it’s only one solution. And that means that even if you find the time you’ll may never actually finish your book. Why? Because you’ve fixed the symptom not the problem.
We need to get further in behind the problem . We need to explore the situation a little deeper.
It turns out that how much writing you do is a combination of five elements.
- Your desire to write
- The amount of time you spend
- How hard it is to write
- How quickly you can start
- How effective you are at writing
You can combine the last three together to make things a little bit easier to understand and work with.
We call the result the Work Equation.
The amount of work you get done is proportional to
- The effort involved in writing
- Your desire to write
- How much time you have to write
If you aren’t writing, you’ve allowed one of the elements to overload the function. Something — we don’t know what — is out of step with the rest of the function. The result is that you aren’t getting anything done. And you aren’t going to get anything done until you get all the elements into alignment.
So what’s the solution?
Well that’s the topic of our next 5 minute presentation. I hope you’ll join us again in for the next presentation. I hope you’ve found this presentation has helped you get a better handle on your own problems finding the time to write. And that you’ll join us for the rest of the presentations.
Next Session – Due Thursday!
I’m writing this around midnight. In fact, I even had to reschedule some posts to squeeze this post in. But it was such a day that I just had to write about it.
Up here in the frozen north we’re supposed be cold and living in igloos year round.
Well, it just ain’t so folks!
It’s midnight and the temperature is still at 28°C (that’s 83°F for you southern folks)! 66% Humidity makes the temp feel 10° higher (meaning it feels like it’s 38°C/100°F). That’s at midnight! This afternoon it hit 38°C/100°F officially (hottest spot in the area was 40°C/104°F and it felt like 50°C/122°F). It’s been like this all week and in fact it’s supposed to get worse!
So much for it being cold up here!
My poor son has been in summer school this month … and the school administration in its wisdom has decided to turn off the air conditioning. As a result he ended up home today with heat stroke (amongst other issues).
Now theoretically, I’ve got the perfect solution to the heat. I’ve got air conditioning in the house. I’ve got air conditioning in the car. And I’ve got a pool! You’d think I’d be all set.
But noooooo …
Fortunately, A/C in the house is still working — touch wood and whistle. But the A/C in the car has died … (actually I think it’s overloaded and can’t handle the heat. It was working last week).
And the dang-blasted, pain in the butt, pool has turned green from the heat! The scary thing is that I’ve been feeding it double the usual amount of chlorine. And it’s been shocked to the point where it’s shooting off electricity!
So since I really would like to get some use out of this money sink, I decided to shock it once again.
I’m now down one more pair of pants and a nice shirt. Damn chlorine! And it wasn’t even done when I was adding it … I got chlorine on them when I was carrying the empty containers!
Okay, so what’s the point to all this ? I mean other than the fact I wanted to bitch about the fact that I’m running out of clothes! And yes, I did want to blow off steam! (I’m so ticked I can’t even type!)
There is this tendency for the “gurus” in internet marketing to blow smoke. You know what I’m talking about. The promises of easy wealth and fast returns. All promised of course, in front of their multi-million dollar homes and $500,000 dollar cars! Just send them $5.097 and they’ll show you how in three easy lessons!
Okay, folks let’s get a couple of things straight here. I’m going to throw my credit counselor’s hat on here (I have an insolvency councilor’s diploma on my wall — along with a bunch of other sheepskins) and try to give you some straight talk.
First, creating an internet business is no different than creating any business. It’s a lot of hard work and it takes time. It also takes knowledge! It doesn’t happen with the snap of your fingers. And it involves a heck of a lot more than 1 hour a day. As for the knowledge, I’ve made arrangements with my own coach to make available a number of courses that will give you all the knowledge you need to sell over the internet. And over the next few months, we’ll be releasing a number of our own courses that will teach you everything you need to know about producing your own products (audio, video, live and book). And along the way we’ll even talk about administration and running your business.
Second. spending your income on big houses and big cars is just plain dumb. Okay, yes, I know many of you have convinced yourself that’s what you want. You’ve used that dream to motivate yourself. But the reality is a little different.
The truth is the big advantage of a successful, advice/learning business is freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from threat. Freedom from the worry about your next paycheck or where the money is going to be to pay the next bill.
Warren Buffett is one of the five richest people in the world (actually he and Bill Gates trade the top 2 spots). Yet he lives in a modest two story home and drives a Cadillac DTS. Why? ‘Cause that’s all he needs.
And that should be your own philosophy. Cars and homes are money sinks — they cost, they don’t earn. So don’t spend any more on them than you have to. Certainly, you should buy what you need. But conspicuous consumption for the sake of consumption is not a path you really want to go down. Trust me … ask the people I refer and the trustrees that I refer them to! Not a good habit to get into. You don’t have to be poor to be bankrupt. And you don’t have to have money to put on a show.
The point I’m making here is that when an internet guru goes “Look, here’s my multi-million dollar mansion. Look, here’s my $400,000 Ferrari.” then you should be putting on your hip waders.
After all, just because there’s a luxury car rental down the street from him, doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to buy that Koenigsegg Trevita you’ve had your eye on.
Me, I’ve got five kids, my wife and I to squeeze into my Caravan tomorrow! And the blasted air conditioner is still going to be broken, ’cause I ain’t got the time to get it fixed. Try that with a Bugatti Veyron.
One of the problems with being a Project Manager is that I’m supposed to know how to organize tasks so that they get done. That includes a healthy dose of “”what happens if”. Known formally as Risk Management. Known informally as, “How am I going to get myself out of it when the effluvium hits the rotary air handling device?”
Of course, for a client I would never dream of doing even the smallest project without at least a minimal bit of project management.
For myself it’s another story entirely.
Which is what went wrong with this project.
Now, I admit that this project was struck by a somewhat excessive number of shizzle floods (movements ???? Or is that too obvious?). My partner became unavailable just when I needed him. I got sick. My entire family got sick. We ended up taking care of a friend who was recovering (poorly) from an operation. A large number of the templates ended up not working (including this one btw). Conversion was a problem. Things happened without warning and out of order.
As a result this took much longer than I would have expected. Even given that it was a learning experience and with all the problems encountered.
Mind you I might be just expecting too much…..
(BTW … risk is often misunderstood to be a negative. It isn’t. That’s a threat or a potential loss. A risk is the potential for an unexpected situation to occur. The situation could be negative BUT it could also be positive. So finding the perfect solution right off the bat was also a risk. In fact, I discovered the perfect themes right away … except that it wouldn’t work for what we were trying to do. If I could have used them I wouldn’t be writing this series at all! Now I need to figure out how to use them later…)
Lesson Learned #5:
Be Prepared … aka Shizzle happens!
No matter how small the project, it is important to spend some time doing risk management. What could go wrong? How will it impact the project? What can be done to overcome or avoid it? How likely is it to occur?
There are four risk events that appeared in this project:
- What if key people aren’t available, have their time severly restricted or aren’t functioning at peak?
- What happens if secondary people aren’t available, have their time severly restricted or aren’t functioning at peak?
- What happens if software doesn’t work as expected?
- What happens if things occur out of order or sooner than expected?
Learn & Earn!
Due to reasons beyond our control, much of this conversion ended up on my shoulders.
Ignore the amount of work involved. Yes, it would have been nice and we would have been up sooner with less pain. But that’s not the big advantage of working with a partner.
The big advantage is having a second pair of eyes.
You’ll notice that I’ve said several times that there are a lot of very talented web designers out there. Yeah, well they’re all producing multiple great designs.
Quite frankly, there is an embarassment of riches out there for free or almost free! The problem is choosing which design(s) to use as the base – and how to tweak the design. That’s where a partner is most useful.
Start by creating a list of designs that you like. Let your partner go through the list and select out the designs that they like. Then repeat until you are down to one design. One trick is to drop 1/3 of the designs each time. So let’s say you start with 12 designs. Your partner would pick the 8 designs they like the best. Then you would pick the 6 designs you like best. And so on.
There are also a number of other decisions that are helped by a second point of view — from structure to widgets to other software. Having a partner to discuss problems, and arbitrary decisions is invaluable.
A business partner is best, but even if you don’t have a business partner, a spouse or trusted friend is better than trying to go it alone.
Lesson Learned #4:
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Don’t overestimate the value of a second point of view.
There will be many times that you will become overwhelmed with the number of choices available to you.
Some of those choices are mostly arbitrary or esthetic in nature.
And yet, you still need to make the best choice you can.
That’s when a partner is invaluable. Someone to argue with you over a solution. To make choices based on their esthetics. To just be someone other than yourself.
The obvious solution if you want to tweak WordPress themes (looking like everyone else is kind of cheesy) is to buy a software package that generates themes.
Sounds great. And there are some out there that do it.
But again there’s a big variation in the quality of both the artistic and programming sides.
So that means you are going to have to spend some time evaluating the packages. Do they meet your needs? Can you select all the different formats you need? Can you add new formats? Do the menus work? Does the display work for all browsers?
And once again you’ll need to evaluate. Am I better spending programmer and artist time cross checking the package. Or would I be better developing a package myself?
Lesson Learned #3:
Custom – Package; Custom – Package; Only your developer will know for sure
There are a lot of tool packages out there to design WordPress (and other) themes. And a lot of tool packages to design.
Unfortunately, a lot of them are pretty pathetic. Both in flexibility and quality – technical and artistic.
But for $100 or so it may just make sense.
Unfortunately, you will still need to evaluate the quality of the theme. So be prepared to spend money to have a developer evaluate the package output for you.
Also don’t forget to review your requirements. Specifically can the package be customized (either through plug-ins or widgets) to implement your requirements. If you need 3 sidebars and the package only allows two you are going to have a problem!
And be sure to check the price of doing it according to Lesson Learned #2. You may find that getting it done once professionally may be cheaper than modifying the package output.