It’s something I do several times each week.
I copied it because as much as I love creating newsletters for clients, I hate the very first step in the writing process.
That’s when, after getting off the phone with a client, I am left with a word doc filled (to varying degrees) with a jumble of notes, thoughts, quotes, and miscellany.
Organizing all of this into something terrific always feels like an impossibly high mountain to climb.
And so, I begin by copying the previous month’s final draft for that client – the draft that we both agreed was “perfect” – and dropping it into my document, below all my notes.
Somehow, and even though this copying step does nothing to change the mishmash of notes up top, having a completed newsletter mixed into the same document starts the ball rolling for me.
Many activities, not just writing (exercising, dieting, yelling at children, etc.), are hardest at the beginning.
See if you can find a reliable way to get the ball rolling in your own work day, even if it means playing mind tricks with yourself.
Every advice-giving blogger and/or efficiency expert on Earth says the same thing about how much you should check your email during the day: Do it less often.
Two, three, five times a day. Whatever the specifics, the idea is that you’ll be much more productive if you limit the distraction that is email.
I ignore that advice – I check email all the time.
In between thoughts, in between phone calls, in between writing. Sometimes, I even check email in between responding to email.
Two reasons why:
#1. I’m not in the efficiency business.
I get paid to write quality content, give clients good advice, and develop useful products. None of those things are highly correlated with time or even effort.
#2. Email is fun.
It’s my social time, my office water cooler. After all, I sit alone in an office all day long; distraction is not exactly high on my list of problems that need solving.
So, should you copy what I’m doing? Not necessarily, and that’s the point.
Listen to the “experts,” but make your own rules. Isn’t that a big part of why you decided to work for yourself in the first place?
I canceled my subscription more than two years ago, when I began to realize that I had never even heard of half the people they were writing about, let alone cared.
And so for two years, every couple of months, they send me a “resubscribe offer.”
And it’s always exactly the same thing: 50% off the cover price and a free Rolling Stone tote bag.
Wouldn’t you think that by now, were I in need of a tote bag, I would have made a move?
Why not try something else? A coffee mug, a T-Shirt, a night out with Keith Richards?
If some aspect of your marketing isn’t working, it’s time to try something different.
This morning, at precisely 10:41 am, I looked at my list of client deadlines and realized that there was nothing that needed to be worked on at the moment.
My answer is always the same: Keep moving.
Reach out to people you’ve fallen out of touch with. Update the copy on your web site. Read and post some updates on LinkedIn.
When you have a job, you spend a lot of time responding to what comes at you.
When you work for yourself, it’s up to you to make things happen.
The more you do to stay active, the more good things come your way.
Yesterday, I received an email with a link for joining.
It wasn’t a very intuitive process, but I figured it out and found my way to the “waiting room.”
That’s where, while waiting for my doctor to arrive, I was invited to watch a short video with specific, step-by-step instructions on how to log in.
That’s right. The instructions on how to log in were only available once you were logged in.
As an added bonus, the “reminder email” for this morning’s call arrived three minutes after the meeting began.
Here’s the point: You need to test your own processes from the outside in to make sure they work as expected. Sign up for your own newsletter, send a message through your web site contact form, try to schedule a meeting using your calendar app.
It’s just what the doctor ordered.