Reaching Done - Presentation Notes


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As bloggers, it's often not our ideas that let us down. It's turning those ideas into actual posts that can be difficult. That happens because of lack of time, of lack of confidence in our ideas or in our abilities, or a perfectionist mindset. But until you write those posts, until you press the Publish button those ideas (no matter how golden) are worthless.

In this talk, I will share some techniques and tips that can help you break though the barriers and reach done. The techniques and tips are quick and easy to implement, but can help improve your productivity.

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Reaching Done - Presentation Notes

  1. 1. Reaching Done Productivity Techniques for Bloggers By: Scott Nesbitt As bloggers, it's often not our ideas that let us down. It's turning those ideas into actual posts that can be difficult. This happens to all bloggers, no matter what their level of experience. There are times when we can't get started writing. Or, we can't finish. There are a number of reasons for that, including: • • • • • Lack of confidence in our ideas. Lack of confidence in ourselves and our abilities. Lack of time. Too many distractions. A perfectionist mindset. You could have the best ideas in the world. But until you turn those ideas into posts, until you hit to button to start the presses, all of those ideas (no matter how golden) aren't worth anything. You need to write. You need to reach done. You need to press the Publish button. In this talk, I'll be sharing some techniques and tips that can help you break though the barriers and reach done. The © 2014 Scott Nesbitt Reaching Done: Productivity Techniques for Bloggers - 1
  2. 2. techniques and tips I'm going to discuss are quick and easy to implement, but they can help improve your productivity. Turn Off the Internet and Your Phone The first technique I'd like to share with you is a very simple one: turn off your internet connection and your smartphone. That sound almost blasphemous, I know. But think about it for a moment. With your internet connection and phone turned off, information and notifications aren't continually bombarding you. You don't have the urge to constantly check your email or pick up your phone. Instead, you can focus on writing. You'd be surprised at how much writing you can get done when you don't have the digital world tempting you. If you find you can't wean yourself off the internet your phone, then there are other solutions you can turn to. I'll be talking about those soon. The Pomodoro Technique If you're looking for a simple but fiendishly powerful way of getting things done, and in this case I mean writing, then you'll want to turn to the Pomodoro Technique. © 2014 Scott Nesbitt The Pomodoro Technique is a time management scheme developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Back then, Cirillo was a university student who was having trouble keeping up with his heavy workload. In order to actually finish his work, Cirillo experimented with a number of techniques. He found that breaking his work into discreet blocks of time helped him reach done. So, Cirillo bought a cheap kitchen timer, shaped like a tomato, and the Pomodoro Technique was born. In case you're wondering, pomodoro is Italian for tomato, and the technique is named after the timer. You can distill the basic idea behind the Pomodoro Technique into three key concepts: • • • Break your work into 25-minute blocks (called pomodoros). During each pomodoro, you focus on a specific task and nothing else. If you finish before the 25 minutes is up, you don’t jump to another task. Instead, you stay with the current one and perform some related work. Don't get too caught up in the 25 minute interval. One of the weaknesses of the Pomodoro Technique, in my mind, is that it can promote what I call assembly line productivity – where you tackle task after task in a seemingly endless slog. If, say, you finish at the 20 minute mark, take a break. It beats just trying to make work, even for a few minutes, when that work doesn't really exist. Reaching Done: Productivity Techniques for Bloggers - 2
  3. 3. Using the technique is simple. Start off by isolating the task that you want to complete – let's say finishing that blog post. Then, break the task down into manageable chunks. For example, you might want to break the task into three parts: write a first draft of 500 words (a reasonable goal for 25 minutes) in the first stint, add detail in the second stint, and do proofreading and editing in the third stint. Then, set your timer for 25 minutes and start typing. Don't stop until the timer tells you that you can. Once the timer chimes, take a short break. That break should be no more than 5 to 10 minutes, and shouldn’t be related to the task you just completed. You can, for example, check your email, get a drink or a quick snack, make a quick phone call, or post a tweet. Then, move on to the next task. If you're wondering about the timer, you can use anything. An actual kitchen timer (it doesn't need to be shaped like a tomato), a utility on your computer, a timer app for your phone or tablet, or an app for Google Chrome. Work Without Distractions Horses that pull carriages wear blinkers for a reason. It's to keep them focused on what's ahead, and so their attention isn't pulled away by what they see on the left or the right. Bloggers, like most people these days, have a number of distractions. Email, social media, videos, games, and more. And let's be honest: it can be a lot more fun to check email, © 2014 Scott Nesbitt to tweet, or to play a game rather than get on with the hard work of writing. You can get a lot of writing done without those distractions. The problem is, obviously, how to eliminate those distractions. There are a number of tools that can act as your blinkers. They can help to minimize or eliminate the digital distractions that tempt you. Let's look at a few. Remember what I said earlier about turning off the internet? If you think you can't wean yourself off of being online for even a short time, then try to block out as many distractions on your computer or tablet as you can. The great way to do that is with a distraction-free editor. What's that? Also called a full-screen editor, it's software that takes up your entire screen. Visually, it's a black window with white text (though with many you can change the colours). There are no toolbars, menus, or anything like that. It's just a blank canvas. You and your words. There are a large number of distraction-free editors for your desktop, for mobile devices, and on the web. WordPress, for example, has a full-screen writing mode. Some of the others include: • • • • • WriteRoom for the Mac. Dark Room and Q10 for Windows. TextRoom for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. iA Writer (for the iPad) Writebox on the web (versions for Android and iOS exist, too). Reaching Done: Productivity Techniques for Bloggers - 3
  4. 4. Even if you use a distraction-free editor, you might find yourself slipping. If that's the case, you can turn to blocking software to help you. Blocking software does what it says on the label: based on a list of websites that you create, the blocks you from visiting those sites. If you try to visit a site on your block list, good luck! The effect is similar to turning off your internet connection, but the main difference is that you can set the amount of time that the software does its job – anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Much of the software out there doesn't let you turn it off. If you want to visit a blocked site, you'll need to use another computer or device or restart your system. The threat of that extra work should keep you honest. If you're interested in blocking software, here are a few popular options to check out: • • • • Freedom for Mac OS, Windows, and Android. Cold Turkey for Windows. Focus Me for Windows. Productivity Owl for the Chrome web browser. Writing in Point Form Sometimes, the words are in your head but they come out … well, not in the way that you want them to. Or they have a hard time coming out in coherent sentences. And that's just the kind of obstacle that can frustrate you, slow you down, or stop you from writing. © 2014 Scott Nesbitt A great way around that is to write in point form. What do I mean by writing in point form? Writing in short fragments, but ones that capture the main ideas of a sentence or paragraph. You can write points for each paragraph, or even just each sentence in a paragraph. I tend to do a mix of both. Some portions of what I write need more detail, so I opt to write points for each sentence. Sometimes, a point sums up a paragraph. The sentence fragments that you write are your starting point. They’re meant to be fleshed out. But their immediate purpose is to get something on the page. Once you have all the points on the page, you’ll start to see how everything is supposed to read and how everything is supposed to fit together. I’ve found that the jumble of words that comes out quickly starts to take a tangible form. My mind fills in the gaps, and what I’m seeing is close to what I originally intended. From there, you can begin filling in those gaps. If you work with focus, the fragments become sentences which become paragraphs, which soon morph into a coherent whole. And you've reached done. Reaching Done: Productivity Techniques for Bloggers - 4
  5. 5. Anything Else? Taking a Hybrid Approach Here is some other advice that you can use to break through the barriers to reaching done. Sometimes, though, a single technique doesn't quite do the job. That's when you need to mix and match your productivity techniques to get the most benefit from them. Try taking your blogging analog. Yes, I mean using pen and paper to draft posts. Grab a notebook and a pen, find a quiet corner, and then start scribbling. Again, you'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish by doing something like this. When writing the first draft of your blog posts, aim for quantity not quality. Let the words flow from your brain to your fingers to the keyboard. Don't worry about getting your posts perfect, or as perfect as possible, on the first draft. Don't obsess or agonize about sentence structure, grammar, syntax, and the like. Just write. Then, when you're done, edit and trim. If you didn't know this already: the secret to good writing is editing. Finally, don't be a slave to the squiggly line. You know the one I mean. That little red or orange squiggle that suddenly appears when the spelling or grammar checker in your word processor or editor doesn’t like a word or a phrase. The squiggly line slows you down. It makes you feel guilty about having a misspelled word on the page. It coerces you into stopping and fixing the error (or the perceived error). Don’t let it do that. Ignore the squiggly line. Just write. When you’re done, edit your work to get it as good as you can get it. © 2014 Scott Nesbitt You can, for example, combine the Pomodoro Technique with distraction-free writing. Or, take some index cards and use those to write in point form. What you do and how you do it is up to you. You'll need to experiment to discover the best combination of techniques and tools that's right for you. Final Thoughts Reaching done can be be tough. Sometimes, it's tougher than it should be. But no matter how difficult it may seem, you can power past procrastination, indecision, blocks, and doubts. You can finish those blog posts that are taunting you. Remember, though, that all the techniques and tools in the world are useless on their own. They need a one key element: you. Your discipline. Your drive. Your determination to reach done. Reaching Done: Productivity Techniques for Bloggers - 5
  6. 6. Want to connect? You can reach me here: Web site: Blog: Twitter / @ScottWNesbitt / @scottnesbitt Google+: +ScottNesbitt © 2014 Scott Nesbitt Reaching Done: Productivity Techniques for Bloggers - 6