We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period
We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.
Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”
Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.
Frequency makes starting easier. Getting started is always a challenge. It’s hard to start a project from scratch, and it’s also hard each time you re-enter a project after a break. By working every day, you keep your momentum going.
Frequency keeps ideas fresh. You’re much more likely to spot surprising relationships and to see fresh connections among ideas, if your mind is constantly humming with issues related to your work.
Frequency keeps the pressure off. If you’re producing just one page, one blog post, or one sketch a week, you expect it to be pretty darned good, and you start to fret about quality.
Frequency sparks creativity. You might be thinking, “Having to work frequently, whether or not I feel inspired, will force me to lower my standards.” In my experience, the effect is just the opposite. Often folks achieve their best work by grinding out the product. Creativity arises from a constant churn of ideas, and one of the easiest ways to encourage that fertile froth is to keep your mind engaged with your project.
Frequency nurtures frequency. If you develop the habit of working frequently, it becomes much easier to sit down and get something done even when you don’t have a big block of time; you don’t have to take time to acclimate yourself. I know a writer married to a painter, and she told me, “We talk about the ‘ten-minute rule.’ If our work is going well, we can sit down and get something good done in ten minutes.”
Frequency fosters productivity. It’s no surprise that you’re likely to get more accomplished if you work daily. The very fact of each day’s accomplishment helps the next day’s work come more smoothly and pleasantly.
Frequency is a realistic approach. Frequency is helpful when you’re working on a creative project on the side, with pressing obligations from a job or your family.
“What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”
Day by day, we build our lives, and day by day, we can take steps toward making real the magnificent creations of our imaginations.
Tactics are idiosyncratic but strategies are universal
There are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.
The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)) by Jocelyn K. Glei
We don’t have one brain in our heads; we have three. We started with a “lizard brain” to keep us breathing, then added a brain like a cat’s, and then topped those with the thin layer of Jell-O known as the cortex—the third, and powerful, “human” brain.
The prefrontal cortex is only the newest addition to the brain. Three brains are tucked inside your head, and parts of their structure took millions of years to design. (This “triune theory of the brain” is one of several models scientists use to describe the brain’s overarching structural organization.) Your most ancient neural structure is the brain stem, or “lizard brain.” This rather insulting label reflects the fact that the brain stem functions the same in you as in a gila monster. The brain stem controls most of your body’s housekeeping chores. Its neurons regulate breathing, heart rate, sleeping, and waking.
Sitting atop your brain stem is what looks like a sculpture of a scorpion carrying a slightly puckered egg on its back. The Paleomammalian brain appears in you the same way it does in many mammals, such as house cats, which is how it got its name. It has more to do with your animal survival than with your human potential. Most of its functions involve what some researchers call the “four F’s”: fighting, feeding, fleeing, and … reproductive behavior.
Large neural highways run overhead these two brains, combining with other roads, branching suddenly into thousands of exits, bounding off into the darkness. Neurons spark to life, then suddenly blink off, then fire again. Complex circuits of electrical information crackle in coordinated, repeated patterns, then run off into the darkness, communicating their information to unknown destinations.
Arching above like a cathedral is your “human brain,” the cortex. Latin for “bark, the cortex is the surface of your brain. It is in deep electrical communication with the interior. This “skin” ranges in thickness from that of blotting paper to that of heavy-duty cardboard. It appears to have been crammed into a space too small for its surface area. Indeed, if your cortex were unfolded, it would be about the size of a baby blanket
Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina
You must let go of your need for comfort and security. Creative endeavors are by their nature uncertain.
You must let go of your need for comfort and security. Creative endeavors are by their nature uncertain. You may know your task, but you are never exactly sure where your efforts will lead. If you need everything in your life to be simple and safe, this open-ended nature of the task will fill you with anxiety. If you are worried about what others might think and about how your position in the group might be jeopardized, then you will never really create anything. You will unconsciously tether your mind to certain conventions,
We do not like what is unfamiliar or unknown. To compensate for this, we assert ourselves with opinions and ideas that make us seem strong and certain. Many of these opinions do not come from our own deep reflection, but are instead based on what other people think. Furthermore, once we hold these ideas, to admit they are wrong is to wound our ego and vanity. Truly creative people in all fields can temporarily suspend their ego and simply experience what they are seeing, without the need to assert a judgment, for as long as possible.
This ability to endure and even embrace mysteries and uncertainties is what Keats called negative capability.
All Masters possess this Negative Capability, and it is the source of their creative power. This quality allows them to entertain a broader range of ideas and experiment with them, which in turn makes their work richer and more inventive.
Negative Capability will be the single most important factor in your success as a creative thinker. In the sciences, you will tend to entertain ideas that fit your own preconceptions and that you want to believe in. This unconsciously colors your choices of how to verify these ideas, and is known as confirmation bias. With this type of bias, you will find the experiments and data that confirm what you have already come to believe in. The uncertainty of not knowing the answers beforehand is too much for most scientists. In the arts and letters, your thoughts will congeal around political dogma or predigested ways of looking at the world, and what you will often end up expressing is an opinion rather than a truthful observation about reality.
To put Negative Capability into practice, you must develop the habit of suspending the need to judge everything that crosses your path. You consider and even momentarily entertain viewpoints opposite to your own, seeing how they feel. You observe a person or event for a length of time, deliberately holding yourself back from forming an opinion. You seek out what is unfamiliar—for instance, reading books from unfamiliar writers in unrelated fields or from different schools of thought. You do anything to break up your normal train of thinking and your sense that you already know the truth.
Mastery by Robert Greene
The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second.
“It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen.”
It’s time to stop blaming our surroundings and start taking responsibility. While no workplace is perfect, it turns out that our gravest challenges are a lot more primal and personal. Our individual practices ultimately determine what we do and how well we do it. Specifically, it’s our routine (or lack thereof), our capacity to work proactively rather than reactively, and our ability to systematically optimize our work habits over time that determine our ability to make ideas happen.
Through our constant connectivity to each other, we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us.
Truly great creative achievements require hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work, and we have to make time every single day to put in those hours. Routines help us do this by setting expectations about availability, aligning our workflow with our energy levels, and getting our minds into a regular rhythm of creating. At the end of the day—or, really, from the beginning—building a routine is all about persistence and consistency. Don’t wait for inspiration; create a framework for it.
CREATIVE WORK FIRST, REACTIVE WORK SECOND
The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-mail off.
I used to be a frustrated writer. Making this switch turned me into a productive writer. Now, I start the working day with several hours of writing. I never schedule meetings in the morning, if I can avoid it. So whatever else happens, I always get my most important work done—and looking back, all of my biggest successes have been the result of making this simple change.
But it’s better to disappoint a few people over small things, than to surrender your dreams for an empty inbox. Otherwise you’re sacrificing your potential for the illusion of professionalism.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by Jocelyn K. Glei
To optimize your LinkedIn experience, begin with these fundamental steps:
• Create a consistent profile that actively works for you. Most LinkedIn profiles fail to create business and networking opportunities. You want a strong profile that works to your benefit. A key to making this happen is consistency. Your LinkedIn details should mirror those of your other social media accounts and your marketing materials. For example, if your Facebook page says you’re a real estate investor but your LinkedIn profile says you’re looking for a job as an office manager, prospective employers and networking allies are likely to notice the discrepancy.
• Create a strong headline. People steer away from boastfulness and are attracted to those who can help them. Your headline should therefore emphasize your skills rather than your job title. For example, Dean is CEO of his company Forward Progress, but his headline simply says, “Author and Speaker.” As a result, Dean is frequently contacted about speaking and writing opportunities.
• Complete the entire LinkedIn profile. You don’t need to write a dissertation for each section, but do fill in all the blanks, ranging from work experience to personal details. This includes posting your photo. People want to work with someone they trust. Including a warm, inviting face enables visitors to connect your name to a real person. And while it may be cute to show how you looked when you were 10, it’s not a helpful representation of who you are now. Unlike Facebook and other social media sites, LinkedIn is a business network. Save the shtick for the other platforms.
• Create both a personal and business LinkedIn profile. Your personal profile should tell the story of who you are, what your interests are, and why others should connect with you. Your business profile should focus on your professional skills and/or the capabilities of your company. Keep these profiles distinct, and connect them with links to each other. This allows visitors to read about your business without being distracted by personal information, and vice versa, while giving them the option of learning more about you.
The 20-Minute Rule
Many people avoid LinkedIn because they can’t bear the thought of spending hours upon hours adding connections, sending emails, and updating profiles. Dean recommends investing just 20 minutes each workday to effectively cultivate meaningful relationships on LinkedIn. By limiting your participation to 20 minutes, you can set specific daily and weekly goals while avoiding social media overload.
After Meeting Someone, Connect Via LinkedIn Most people fail to do this. Whether it’s at a networking event, social gathering, or online forum, connections made should become connections kept. Ask for permission to connect via LinkedIn and then send an invitation. Most initial conversations simply scratch the surface as to what someone does or how you may be able to help one another. By connecting, you’ll gain immediate access to the person’s work and personal experience, allowing you to further develop the relationship as you learn more about the person’s capabilities and business. One of the best ads ever, stated, “The difference between a friend and a stranger is a conversation.” Begin enough conversations and you’ll end up with a lot of quality friends and referrals.
Ask For Introductions It’s often been said that you’re just six connections away from anyone in the world. On LinkedIn, this number is substantially reduced. One of the most powerful aspects of LinkedIn is the ability to easily connect with others. People you’d like to speak with are often no more than one or two connections away. Ask your connections for an introduction by choosing the “Get introduced through a connection” option when viewing the desired contact’s profile.
Always Look For Potential Interactions When you log into LinkedIn, scan your homepage, This provides instant updates on your network of connections. Post a substantive status update; or ‘Comment’ or ‘Share’ regarding what your connections are talking about. Your words will become visible to both your network and theirs. Add value to a conversation by posting interesting content from which you feel others would benefit. To be successful on LinkedIn, you must interact. Providing helpful tips or other valuable information can lead to several thousand people seeing your message. Even if just one person contacts you from your post and you’re able to convert that connection into a customer, you’ve come out ahead. What are the odds that one in several thousand people might need your expertise or product?
Join And/Or Form Groups Among LinkedIn’s most powerful networking opportunities are its groups. The service has over one million groups, and the most popular groups have hundreds of thousands of members. Groups can be private or public, and are moderated by the group’s owner. You must be a member of the group to post messages and interact. Groups run the gamut from Sewing to Technology to University Alumni, with the largest groups focusing on employment-related topics. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find a group that caters to your area of interest. Consider joining as many groups as possible (you can join up to 50), as long as they’re related to your business or personal interests.
In summary, these are the ways to achieve success on LinkedIn:
• Build and Consistently Monitor Your Profile: Your profile isn’t a “one-and-done” deal. It needs to be continually updated. When your business evolves, update your profile. Land a new job? Update your profile. Receive an award or close a huge deal? Update your profile. Keep your profile current to reflect your current skills and accomplishments.
• Keep Adding New and Meaningful Connections: Look for people who add value to your network and/or may become customers (e.g., who you may be able to help professionally). Always choose quality over quantity. Even if you just add one or two connections a week, this will keep your profile active and maintain position on the LinkedIn radar.
• Be Interactive: Regularly scan your homepage looking for interesting content. Comment on or Share what others are posting. And post your own content that adds value for others.
• Ask for Introductions: LinkedIn is designed to help you access the people you’d like to meet. Take advantage of its inherent structure to make powerful connections.
• Twenty Minutes a Day: That’s all it takes. Proactively use LinkedIn for just 20 minutes each workday. Your investment of time is likely to pay off.
Internet Prophets: The World's Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Online by Steve Olsher
Category-dominating sites are difficult to create and there’s little doubt why. Creating a formidable entity not only takes time, energy, and resources, but it also takes an in-depth understanding of oneself. There are seven crucial factors for success that must be mastered in order to establish front-runner position. Most would-be industry leaders find it nearly impossible to master one of these areas, let alone all seven. The requisite success factors—in no particular order—are:
• Specific Area of Focus: Identify your core interests and desired target market. In other words, what do you have innate love for and whom do you want to serve? From forensic accountants and third grade teachers to underwater welders and golf coaches, exhaustively providing relevant information and continuously adding beneficial, focused content to one specific subset of the population often equates to long-term success. This is not to say that expansion to other products and services is forever removed from the equation; however, this should only happen after market dominance has been established (think Amazon).
• Professional Website Design: Clearly a no-brainer, but there are so many poorly designed sites it bears repeating. Model competitive and other category-leading sites that receive significant traffic. Customers flock there for a reason.
• Visibility to Target Market: Where do potential customers gather and how can they be reached? One can have the best products and services in the world, but if no one knows about them, their business is irrelevant. Identifying high-return opportunities to spread the word is crucial.
• Expert, Valuable Content: Nothing breeds credibility and stickiness (the amount of time a visitor stays on the site) as will pertinent, well crafted content from both contributors the clientele knows and up-and-coming game changers. To establish authority, combine cutting-edge, exciting ideas and information with proven industry products and services.
Internet Prophets: The World's Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Online by Steve Olsher
• Interactive/Social Visitor Experience: Leading sites encourage visitors to contribute content, comment on articles and products, and share thoughts via social networks with their tribe.
From Facebook and Twitter to StumbleUpon and LinkedIn, today’s customers insist upon leveraging social media to disseminate positive and negative feedback while cutting the learning curve down for fellow surfers.
• Free High-Value Products: Like it or not, free is mandatory. To drive traffic, one must offer something of inherent value that pushes beyond articles, helpful resources, and videos. Doing so not only enables site owners to capture leads as the customer typically opts in to receive the free product, it also fulfills the unwritten obligation they have to connect with their audience in a deeper manner than simply posting relevant content.
• Products/Services for Sale: Without products and services to sell, the rest of the equation is moot. Even not-for-profits ask for donations. Why? Because hosting, updating, and maintaining even the simplest of sites has related expenses. Creating for-sale products and services is a necessary part of doing business. the recommended manner for establishing authority is to first gain credibility within one specific aspect of the industry and then, if desired, seek to expand.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the more narrow your focus, the wider a net you can cast.
Internet Prophets: The World's Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Online by Steve Olsher
This author wrote 425 books in his life but he didn't write every day, in fact he spent more time dating women than writing
Georges Simenon was one of the most prolific novelists of the twentieth century, publishing 425 books in his career, including more than 200 works of pulp fiction under 16 different pseudonyms, as well as 220 novels in his own name and three volumes of autobiography. Remarkably, he didn’t write every day.
The Belgian-French novelist worked in intense bursts of literary activity, each lasting two or three weeks, separated by weeks or months of no writing at all. Even during his productive weeks, Simenon didn’t write for very long each day. His typical schedule was to wake at 6:00 A.M., procure coffee, and write from 6:30 to 9:30. Then he would go for a long walk, eat lunch at 12:30, and take a one-hour nap. In the afternoon he spent time with his children and took another walk before dinner, television, and bed at 10:00 P.M.
Simenon liked to portray himself as a methodical writing machine—he could compose up to eighty typed pages in a session, making virtually no revisions after the fact—but he did have his share of superstitious behaviors. No one ever saw him working; the “Do Not Disturb” sign he hung on his door was to be taken seriously. He insisted on wearing the same clothes throughout the composition of each novel. He kept tranquilizers in his shirt pocket, in case he needed to ease the anxiety that beset him at the beginning of each new book. And he weighed himself before and after every book, estimating that each one cost him nearly a liter and a half of sweat.
Simenon’s astonishing literary productivity was matched, or even surpassed, in one other area of his daily life—his sexual appetite. “Most people work every day and enjoy sex periodically,” Patrick Marnham notes in his biography of the writer. “Simenon had sex every day and every few months indulged in a frenzied orgy of work.” When living in Paris, Simenon frequently slept with four different women in the same day. He estimated that he bedded ten thousand women in his life. (His second wife disagreed, putting the total closer to twelve hundred.) He explained his sexual hunger as the result of “extreme curiosity” about the opposite sex: “Women have always been exceptional people for me whom I have vainly tried to understand. It has been a lifelong, ceaseless quest. And how could I have created dozens, perhaps hundreds, of female characters in my novels if I had not experienced those adventures which lasted for two hours or ten minutes?”
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Some people maintain their childlike spirit and spontaneity, but their creative energy is dissipated in a thousand directions, and they never have the patience and discipline to endure an extended apprenticeship. Others have the discipline to accumulate vast amounts of knowledge and become experts in their field, but they have no flexibility of spirit, so their ideas never stray beyond the conventional and they never become truly creative.
Masters manage to blend the two—discipline and a childlike spirit—together into what we shall call the Dimensional Mind. Such mind is not constricted by limited experience or habits. It can branch out into all directions and make deep contact with reality. It can explore more dimensions of the world. The Conventional Mind is passive—it consumes information and regurgitates it in familiar forms. The Dimensional Mind is active, transforming everything it digests into something new and original, creating instead of consuming,
We all possess an inborn creative force that wants to become active. This is the gift of our Original Mind, which reveals such potential. The human mind is naturally creative, constantly looking to make associations and connections between things and ideas. It wants to explore, to discover new aspects of the world, and to invent. To express this creative force is our greatest desire, and the stifling of it the source of our misery.
What kills the creative force is not age or a lack of talent, but our own spirit, our own attitude. We become too comfortable with the knowledge we have gained in our apprenticeships. We grow afraid of entertaining new ideas and the effort that this requires. To think more flexibly entails a risk—we could fail and be ridiculed. We prefer to live with familiar ideas and habits of thinking, but we pay a steep price for this: our minds go dead from the lack of challenge and novelty; we reach a limit in our field and lose control over our fate because we become replaceable.
The Dimensional Mind has two essential requirements: one, a high level of knowledge about a field or subject; and two, the openness and flexibility to use this knowledge in new and original ways.
To awaken the Dimensional Mind and move through the creative process requires three essential steps: first, choosing the proper Creative Task, the kind of activity that will maximize our skills and knowledge; second, loosening and opening up the mind through certain Creative Strategies; and third, creating the optimal mental conditions for a Breakthrough or Insight. Finally, throughout the process we must also be aware of the Emotional Pitfalls—complacency, boredom, grandiosity, and the like—that continually threaten to derail or block our progress.
You must engrave deeply in your mind and never forget: that your emotional commitment to what you are doing will be translated directly into your work. If you go at your work with half a heart, it will show in the lackluster results and in the laggard way in which you reach the end. If you are doing something primarily for money and without a real emotional commitment, it will translate into something that lacks a soul and that has no connection to you. You may not see this, but you can be sure that the public will feel it and that they will receive your work in the same lackluster spirit it was created in. If you are excited and obsessive in the hunt, it will show in the details. If your work comes from a place deep within, its authenticity will be communicated. This applies equally to science and business as to the arts.
Mastery by Robert Greene
Stephen King writes every day of the year, including his birthday and holidays, and he almost never lets himself quit before he reaches his daily quota of two thousand words. He works in the mornings, starting around 8:00 or 8:30. Some days he finishes up as early as 11:30, but more often it takes him until about 1:30 to meet his goal. Then he has the afternoons and evenings free for naps, letters, reading, family, and Red Sox games on TV. In his memoir On Writing, King compares fiction writing to “creative sleep,” and his writing routine to getting ready for bed each night: Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream.
Your schedule—in at about the same time every day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk—exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream just as you make yourself ready to sleep by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and following the same ritual as you go. In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.
And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night—six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight—so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Forget about blending in.
When you run a blog, you want to stand out from the crowd. To become one-of-a-kind as opposed to one-of-many, get comfortable with taking a stand and having people line up on either side of you. Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) said it best: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Once your blog is operational, meaningful content has been added, and you’ve begun cultivating traffic, Pat (Flynn) offers three powerful rules for creating momentum and generating income:
find partners, sell products and/or services, and spread your wings.
One of the most effective strategies for building major traffic is to contact top bloggers in your niche. First, tell them you’re an up-and-coming blogger who respects their work and enjoys their content. Then, add you’re writing an article and would love to get quotes from industry experts like them. The vast majority will take time out of their schedule to answer your questions. Once the article is published, send each contributor a follow-up thank you note with a link to the article. Most will post the link on their site and/or offer a link to your homepage, thereby introducing their audience to your work.
This provides you with free exposure and credibility as these top bloggers are effectively endorsing your content. Few things establish brand recognition faster than endorsements from renowned peers. With significant effort and patience it is certainly possible that your blog may become so popular that other bloggers will get in touch to obtain quotes from you.
Offer Products And Services For Sale
To profit from your blog traffic, you can create products and/or services that best serve your tribe. Examples of content-based products include books, interviews (in video, audio, and/or transcript form), white papers, and research studies. Alternatively, you can become an affiliate by offering products and services created by others for sale and receive a percentage of each transaction. A growing trend is to create a membership program. Some memberships require a one-time fee and provide access for life. Others, known as continuity programs, provide ongoing content and require subscribers to pay a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee.
The membership model works great for certain industries—e.g., finance, in which many customers will gladly pay for ongoing news and analysis.
One of the great things about a blog is its flexibility. For example, it’s simple to update text and photos so information remains current without the need for relying on an expensive programmer to update the site. It’s also easy to modify on the fly to adapt to the changing needs of your audience. You can even run A/B Split tests, in which you post two versions of the blog to determine which strategies are most effective for achieving higher conversion rates.
Remember, online, no one builds monuments.
Be willing to periodically play around with layout, content, and structure in order to keep attracting the largest number of potential customers for your message.
You should also consider including advertising to generate additional passive income and/or to capture your audience’s contact information.
• Google AdSense (and other ad networks)
• Banner ads • Ads for training or certification programs related to your field
• Paid guest posts • Ads for teleseminars and webinars that compliment your offerings
• Advertorials which feature beneficial products and services
• Ads for personal and group coaching • Ads for on-and off-site consulting
• Ads for newsletters (often free in exchange for a visitor’s contact information)
Internet Prophets: The World's Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Onlinee by Steve Olsher
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”