One of the things that’s always been a source of my procrastination, is the idea that my writing isn’t great; therefore, I’m overly-critical of any one to three sentences I start writing. I get so caught up in crafting a masterpiece that I forget the fact that I’m writing and have the ability to revise. I think that a major turning point for a lot of people when it comes to writing or really any endeavor in life is when you realize that you have a license and a right to get it completely wrong the first time. When you think about it, how many people who try something for the first time, succeed at it for the first time? Probably not a lot. The secret to great writing is to just push through and allow yourself to write possibly complete garbage the first time. Procrastination is brought about by a series of factors, but I definitely feel like fear is at the top of that list. You realize that once you pass that mental block, procrastination isn’t as much of an issue anymore. Once you start writing, you keep writing and whether it’s good or bad, you’re acting rather than over-thinking.
For those who don’t know, one of my other blogs, Irrational Health, is actually a complement/promotional tool for a book that I’m writing by the same name. It’s a book that’s about modern psychological fallacies that stem from irrationalities and irrational thinking. That aside (shameless plug), there are days when I’m writing either a blog post or the actual book and I think to myself, this is terrible and why would anyone actually read this. It really takes passion combined with courage in order to push through and give myself the ability to fumble this for a few days to hopefully get it right later. That’s the thing. Why be so afraid to get something wrong when no one’s even aware that you’ve gotten it wrong? The several drafts that I go through are only visible to me so when all is said and done, I’ll be the one to look back at all of this work and realize that it took that courage in order to take some mediocre or good stuff and make it great. The secret to great writing is to just write. The secret to success is to just push. It’s one and the same. It’s simple and yet, you’d be surprised how often simplicity gets obfuscated.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked a lot about different productivity topics and things that Merlin Mann has created, from Inbox Zero to the Hipster PDA. One of the major themes has been simplicity and how simplicity leads to positive habits. For me, paper is often the simple solution and while I have a lot of different devices in my repetoire that all do a lot of different things, they often breed complexity. One of my most useful gadgets is my notepad which has four five features: an inbox, a next actions list, a projects list, a section for references, a section for possibilities, and a general notes section (the makings of a hipster PDA). It never runs out of battery life and is easily adaptable. The point is that even in an increasingly digital world, sometimes paper is still the best option and I wouldn’t tackle anything without a notepad.
Personal productivity is contingent on a system. The truth is that without process and heuristics for what you do with a particular anything, you set yourself up for a lot of ambiguity and unhealthy productivity habits. A system that I’m going to try for the first time is the actual 43Folders system as seen on 43Folders.com by Merlin Mann. It comes down to a file box ($9.47), a set of 31 folders ($3.42 with extra folders), and a set of hanging folders with labels ($4.32). You label your hanging folders with the 12 months of the year and the folders 1-31. You end up with a total of 43 folders. What you have is a perpetual system of task groupings by days and months that switch that move with everyday, in such a way that you know what tasks are critical for each day. It’s a transparent, simple system and I’m finally going to give it a shot so please, for those who are interested give it a try too. I’ll get back to a review in a few weeks.
Click Here to Go to 43 Folders.
Today I’ve hit a milestone in my number of unique visitors. Since I started this blog, I’ve had 3,000 unique visitors which is really great. Entering the world of blogging for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to see a daily stream of readers is really encouraging and I really enjoy writing about topics that I historically haven’t had a reason to write about. It’s really interesting to take a look at the impact of requirement in the academic space in comparison to openness of writing on a WordPress blog. The notion of procrastination or a lack of interest is almost non-existent because you wouldn’t write about something you weren’t interested in personally. So I just want to say thank you to my followers and visitors. Please check out some of my other material elsewhere in the links to the right for some different blogs and projects.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you know that Merlin Mann is speaker/writer who I really admire, particularly for his work on 43folders.com in the realm of productivity. This is another great talk by Mr. Mann given at Rutgers University regarding the value of our time. It’s a must watch for anyone whose willing and understands that he has the ability and the right to take control of his time. Our time and attention are limited. We can’t let it go to waste.
The bottom line is that HubPages has a great community, with great incentives, and an interesting publishing model, but is hindered by stringent guidelines, restrictions, and overall gives you a sense that you’re more of an employee then a user.
HubPages is a publishing platform that I’ve recently joined in order to get a better sense of what it’s about. On the surface, HubPages looks like a very interesting service that even seeks to rewards its members with financial compensation for their writing or posts, which on HubPages is referred to as “hubs.” For what it is worth, just from a few days of looking through user submitted content and comments, I can truly say that their is great conversation happening on HubPages. The bulk of activity on HubPages is happening with a smaller group of people then the users who view the site on a daily basis. The company claims to have slightly over a million users with over 42 million viewers a month. For what it is worth, HubPages like any other service is a great way to get your work and writing out there to a larger crowd. The accolades you can receive through the service along with the promotional prospects was enough for me to join and to start one experimental “hub.” My profile is linked on the right and can also be found on my site. I wrote a piece entitled “The Value of Linux and Open Source Software.” If interested, please go ahead and read it. There are drawbacks to HubPages. It is clearly a company that is looking to monetize the content produced by users. I think that anyone who truly intends to monetize his/her content should go about doing it independently. Aside from this, HubPages has some very strict guidelines for how hubs should be written and a fairly stringent screening process. HubPages also does not allow any links in your hubs to your personal blog or anything like that. Content also can’t be duplicated. For example, I wouldn’t be able to post this blog post on HubPages, without being subjected to a violation. The bottom line is that HubPages has a great community, with great incentives, and an interesting publishing model, but is hindered by stringent guidelines, restrictions, and overall gives you a sense that you’re more of an employee then a user. I would recommend checking it out, if you’re interested, but otherwise, it is a service that is passable. I will experiment with it a bit more, so please follow that if interested.
As I usually do, I like to chime in whenever possible on trends on Linkedin. This week one of the major topics that Linkedin Influencers are talking about is what advice should be given to new graduates (the class of 2013). My favorite post by an influencer is titled, “Class of 2013: Write Your Eulogy, Then Live the Life You Want,” by Geoff Yang. In it, Yang talks about a number of things you should keep in mind in order to live a worthwhile life, but the major takeaway is to, of course, think about the story you want to tell when you’re of age, so to speak. I think that’s a really excellent way to go about making decisions. For me though, the advice that I believe is most important is to solidify who are you and to in that way build your personal brand.
For many, college is a time of exploration and many come out of it knowing themselves better and knowing their interests. Nonetheless, it’s a difficult to task to define oneself. You can imagine that whenever you’re asked who you are, you tend to take a pause and end up providing a lot of factual, descriptive information that doesn’t really define who you are. You have to stray away from defining yourself by your degree and your major. You have to realize that you are not simply the summation of all of your past work experiences. You’re not your resume. I believe it’s become a necessity to build your own personal brand because that is really what let’s you be able to stand up to the task of defining yourself. What do you value? What are your boundaries? What are your interests? What are you passionate about? What do you have to say that people should listen too? These are the questions that you have to answer when thinking about your own personal brand, how to build it, and then how to use it to your advantage. I believe that if you know who you are and keep an eye on your brand then your on the course to making the right decisions for yourself. Congratulations.