Posts tagged time
Welcome to the third and last of the series of free videos on “Finding the Time to Write”.
If you want more information on this topic, check out http://www.learningcreators.com/buyvideoa.htm. There you’ll find a 2 DVD home study course on this topic.
Now so far, we’ve covered the three areas that you need to focus on in order to “Find the Time to Write”. They form what I’ve called the Work Equation. Unless you balance them, you’ll never find the time to write your book. You’ll just go from one problem to another. You fix one problem and you find another reason not to write. Just because it’s a series of excuses doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It just means you haven’t solved the whole problem.
Next, we covered the solutions to the whole issue. This is what we need to do in those three areas in order to ensure that we solve the whole problem.
We need to:
- Motivate ourselves – and keep our motivation up
- Find 4 hours of time per week as a minimum
- Make it as quick and easy as we can to write
Motivate, Find the Time, Use a System. Do one and the problem will reoccur. Do all three and you’ll succeed.
Now today, I’m going to give you three tips — one in each area — to help you create your own system. By the way, these are different tips from those in the DVD workshop.
So let’s get started.
First off, you need to build your desire to write your book. To do that you need to motivate yourself just like you would for any other employee. And then, you need to sustain that motivation.
Picking the best motivation involves a number of models that I frankly don’t have time to show you in 5 minutes. In our two DVD course, we can go through the most important but in 5 minutes, there’s just not enough time. Sorry.
So my tip, instead, is going to focus on how to sustain your motivation. How to actually motivate you after you’ve chosen your motivations.
All of the windows operating systems – XP, Vista, and 7 can replace the picture you use behind your desktop. With Vista and 7, you can use a slide show. With XP, you need a tool you can download from Microsoft. If you use a Mac, you can also do a slide show.
Find yourself pictures that illustrate why you are writing your book. Find pictures that illustrate what is motivating you. Pictures that will inspire you. Then use a picture manipulation tool — Paint will even do the job — and add a phrase or sentence to drive the point home.
Then all you need to do is add the pictures as a rotating slideshow desktop.
Whenever you aren’t taking up the whole desktop with a program, you’ll see the reasons for writing. Even if you only see a part of the picture, it’ll help to focus your mind on your motivations to write a book.
Now the second part of the solution is that you need to find the time to write.
So how much time are you going to need?
At your most efficient, you can expect to write about 5,000 words in one morning. Now for most people, that’s also the most you can reasonably expect to write in a day. That means that for a 100-page book you’re going to need about five writing days or five four-hour blocks of time to write. Plus you’ll need a little bit for research and planning. But that you can squeeze in anywhere. We’re talking an hour here, an hour there.
Once you’ve eliminated all the time you waste, you may find that you still can’t get enough time to write a book. So try hiring a temporary worker to take on one of your tasks. Writing your book is presumably worth more than the ten or twenty bucks you’ll spend on getting your lawn cut. Or on babysitting or on cleaning the living room. Check out your local high school. They sometimes have students who are looking for spending money. Or even work-terms. Having a research assistant for free, may help you finish your book sooner.
The third part of the solution is a little more complex. It’s the system you use to write. It’s more complex because it includes the writing processes but also your environment and your work habits.
Your environment has a major effect on how fast you can write. But sometimes it’s good to slow things down – slightly. This preparation time can help you to focus yourself on your writing. That’s part of the reason you should always edit your previous day’s writing before you begin today’s writing.
Creating a ritual — any ritual — will also help. It doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, simple and fast is better. But it says to your brain — “It’s time to write now.” For example, checking my backpack to be sure my computer, my notebook and my pens are in the backpack is part of my ritual. Even though it’s done about fifteen minutes (or more) before I write. It helps me to prepare.
To create a ritual you need to do something the same way, every time. That causes your brain to link the steps. And that means that one of those steps needs to be writing. So when building the ritual you absolutely MUST produce some writing. The second sub-tip is that it takes roughly 28 repetitions to create a ritual or habit.
Okay that’s the end of the video course. I hope you found it interesting and useful. Thank you for your time and attention.
If you want more information, you can always check out the blog. However, we also have a 2 DVD home workshop that covers the information in these three videos in much greater detail. Now this home video workshop is essentially the same information we had in our full day live workshop. We’ve even included the same exercises that we used. We’ve just called them homework. So this is over two and half hours of pure information. Plus guidance developing your own responses — your own customized solution. We walk you through the entire process. From identifying where you are weak to choosing where you are going to write. And everything in between.
You can find out more information by going to http://www.learningcreators.com/buyvideoa.htm
“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!
Sorry folks, but Thursday and Friday turned out to be busier than I could handle. So this article just ended up being a wee might late. :sad: Sorry about that!
So far we’ve been kind of working up to one third of the decision matrix for identifying which information product you should create … Specifically the cost.
To a large extent I can’t tell you what the cost will be.
You see as I hinted at in the last posts, you need to answer the question for yourself.
Generally speaking the relationship between writing, video, live/slideshow, and audio are:
- Text book (300+ pgs) = 1 week live seminar = 6 hrs finished Video = 12 hrs finished audio
- Executive book (100-200 pgs) = 1 day live seminar = 1.5 hrs finished Video = 3 hrs finished audio
- Article = 1-1/2 hour live seminar/webinar = 1/4 hr finished Video = 1/2 hr finished audio
HOWEVER, your own comparison will vary. First because you may be more or less comfortable speaking or writing. Writing is a very private task and as a result doesn’t take a great deal of practice to become comfortable. (It does take a lot of practice to become capable but that can’t happen until you are comfortable). Speaking – public or otherwise – does require a great deal of practice before you become comfortable.
To make matters worse speaking to a crowd is much easier than speaking to a camera. A crowd gives you feedback and energy. A camera gives you nothing. So practice for one doesn’t help you with practice for the other. In fact, practice for the crowd is more a matter of becoming confident and comfortable. Practice for the camera is a matter of becoming able to generate your own energy.
Then comes the matter of repurposing and other techniques such as interviews. It might seem that there is little extra cost involved in repurposing (e.g. video to audio to transcription), but as we’ll see in the next post, the costs are much higher than one will be told.
So all I can tell you is that you need to determine how much it will cost YOU to create the product in the various forms. Just remember to include all the costs including preparation, production and post production.
How to Select A How to Book Writing System: Understanding What’s Available
Video 3 of 4
Now that we know our needs, what is available. Again we’re going to create a framework but this time we’re going to try to place the available systems on that framework.
First off systems fit somewhere on the line from unstructured to structured. By this I mean that the system imposes a structure on you. Or to put it another way, creates an acceptable structure as part of it’s functioning. Unstructured means that the system won’t create a structure at all. It’s focus is on other things. It presumes that you, as the writer, will impose a focus.
The second dimension of importance is cognitive or non-cognitive. Think of cognitive as ergonomics for the brain. A cognitive system uses the brain’s own way of functioning to accomplish it’s purposes. A non-cognitive tool simply does what it needs to do without regard to how the brain works.
There are four basic tools or systems in use:
- Speed Writing
- Outlining aka the school system
- Structured cognitive
Speed Writing is a system developed by journalists to help them generate small articles very quickly. Pick 3/5/7 words that describe the subject. Then write for 5/10/15 minutes as quickly as you can, without stopping, without editing and without interruptions. Then stop. This system is non-structured and non-cognitive.
Outlining is the system you learned in school. Write down in order what you will write about. It is non-cognitive however it is structured although arguably not completely.
These are the two most common systems on the market.
Mindmapping (and to a lesser extend brainstorming) is the next most common system in use. It is a cognitive tool which involves drawing a circle for the concept and then lines for the ideas which grow from the concept. In more generic terms it is called a (single node) semantic network diagram. It is excellent for getting ideas out of one’s head and documenting the relationships between ideas. However, like the brain, it really doesn’t function well as a sequential organizer of facts.
Both of the non-structural systems have a problem in that neither is capable of organizing the facts appropriately for a complex piece of writing like a book. Therefore many of the systems built on the speed writing or mindmapping patch on outlining/school techniques to the end of the system. However, the core of the system remains the initial technique.
All of the three systems mentioned so far have a serious problem in that they are partial systems only and require extensive input by the writer. Effectively, they depend on the writer’s skill to perform their functions. As a result they are limited when functioning for increasing complexity. However, they are flexible and are capable of providing assistance for whatever type of writing (time or fact) being done.
Cognitive structured systems, on the other hand, are complete systems which help guide the writer to a successful conclusion. Unfortunately, because they are comprehensive they are not flexible. When selecting a system it is imperative for the writer to choose one based on the type of writing (time or fact) which they will be doing. They function well over the whole complexity dimension however, they shine in as the writing becomes more complex.
Cognitive structured systems are based on one of two tools. Time based systems use a time line and tend to be more complex with other tools being incorporated. Fact based systems tend to use a structured mindmapping tool. The LearningCreators’ system is an example of this type.
How to Select A How to Book Writing System: Determining Your Needs
Video 2 of 4
So you realize you need some form of system in order to write how to books efficiently and effectively. Great. You could just try writing until you discover your preferred system. But you’ll have to fail at writing eBooks several times first. Or you could go out and buy a system.
But what type of system do you need?
The first step in choosing a system is to answer that question. In this video we help you understand your needs by creating a framework.
Writing fits somewhere along one of three dimensions:
- Organizational Base (aka Time or Fact Base)
- Organizational Flexibility (aka Structured or Unstructured)
- Complexity ( aka Simple/Complex)
Writing is organized either on a Time basis or on a Fact basis for the reader.
Not all writing, however, is equally bound by the base organization. Time based writing, for example, can run from time-line focused (structured to the base) to a sequential focus (still time but the base is no longer the central focus of the structure).
As the writing moves from structured (by the base) to unstructured (by the base), the writer has both more flexibility and the need to examine and select a structure for presentation. In other words, if your writing is structured time based (e.g. fiction) then you must select a time based structure. Your system will need to reflect that. On the other hand if your writing is unstructured fact based (e.g. a collection of recipes) you will need to determine what structure you will present to the reader. Usually, this will be a fact based structure. The key is that it is imposed and therefore your system will not require an imposed structure.
The final dimension is that of complexity. As your writing becomes simpler – e.g. blogs or short articles – the need for structure reduces. As the writing becomes more complex (i.e. books) the need for structure increases.
Up until lately, I had thought that the sense of entitlement was limited to those who were younger than me. That my generation had created this sense as part of our growing up.
I was wrong.
My wife’s aunt demonstrated that very clearly. Because that was what was at the basis of her actions. She felt that she was entitled to anything Gerry had left behind.
As entrepreneurs we need to guard ourselves against this attitude … in ourselves, in our employees and in our clients. And learn to use it ethically.
So what is the sense of entitlement? It is a belief that for whatever reason, a person is entitled to something. That they have earned it, and they deserve it. That they should have it.
The truth, of course, is different. Yes, we may have worked for something. Yes, we may have, in the eyes of a rational God have earned it. But that is no guarantee that we actually will or should have it.
An entrepreneur sees this in their own actions. After all, we all work hard to build a business. We give up our time, energy and sweat. For those foolish enough we may even give up our family and health. But that is no guarantee of success. If it were far more people would be successful. And far fewer of the people who are, would be.
Life isn’t fair.
As entrepreneurs we need to leave the sense of entitlement behind. We need to try and try and try again. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Sometimes failing through our own faults and sometimes suceeding despite them.
But never letting our sense of entitlement fool us into believing that we should stop or that we’ve earned our position. Because we haven’t. We may have paid for it, but we haven’t earned it.
We see it in our treatment of our suppliers. How many times have you said to a supplier … that’s too expensive, I can’t afford it. You should work for this amount. As if it’s their problem that you haven’t earned enough to pay the price. As Dan Kennedy recently remarked, “It’s not that the price is too high, it’s that your earnings are too low for it.”
We see it in our employees (or ourselves in that role). We see it in how they treat customers. Do the customers owe us their custom just for having the products? Do they have to buy just because we’ve gone out of our way? We’ve all seen this sense of entitlement in the poor treatment we’ve had in major department stores. Clerks who were more interested in discussing their latest date than in serving the customer.
We see it in our customers. We see them believing that we should give them free information just because we did so in the past. We see them wanting to pay rates well below fair market. We see them chasing the cheapest price without regard for the quality of the product.
This sense of entitlement is a failing we all need to fight against. Both in ourselves and in others. The truth is much less pleasant but at least we deserve the result.
Following on the last two lessons … there’s only so much work that one person can get done. After all, you got into this business to give yourself a little extra income or to be able to spend time with your family, not to spend 20 hours a day working.
At some point you need to decide what has to be done by you. And what you can give up and let someone else do.
Then you need to give the latter away. Let someone else do it. Yeah, it might cost you a few bucks but if you’re careful, it will cost you less than trying to do it all yourself.
Outsourcing is the micro-entrepreneur’s friend.
Lesson Learned #8:
You’re only one person! Get Help When You Need it.
Sometimes, there is too much work for one person. Sometimes, it’s work that you’re just not good at.
Learn to recognize when you’re not the best person to do the work. Then outsource it.
You’ll be happier and more efficient. The job will be done better. And your company will be stronger.
Whenever you start a major project there is a tendency to want to concentrate on it. Especially when it’s running behind!
But remember your reasons for getting into the IM eBiz. Words like freedom, spending time with the family, money probably will come up. Words like working all night long probably don’t.
Don’t forget to schedule time for the important things in life. Your family. Relaxation. Giving back.
Don’t lose sight of the important things in life while rushing to resolve the immediate things.
Lesson Learned #7:
You’ve got other things to do too!
Don’t spend all your time on work. Remember when creating (and recreating) the schedule that you need to spend time on other things. Things that are more important.
When you start planning to do something like this there is a tendency to think you can spend all your time on the project.
And a tendency to think that the business is going to stop while your are converting.
But that’s just not true. Unless you can get the the changeover done in one day, you still need to release blog entries. You still need to drive traffic. You still need to deal with work not yet complete.
All the little things that continue to need your time while you’re busy doing something else.
And don’t try to hold up the blog. Remember it is a key source of traffic and without traffic you don’t have a business. So keep the blog going.
Lesson Learned #6:
Don’t Forget That The Business Is Going Ahead Without You
Even though you’re busy trying to change some element of the business you need to allocate time to the business.
You need to keep up blogs and other traffic sources. You need to keep your new courses and continuity programs going.
So don’t forget to allocate time for ongoing operations. And don’t try to shut down anything.
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!