How I Learnt to Create FASTER
As I write this, it is the 28th of February. We are two months into 2021, and I have now created far more in 2021 than I have in the last 8 years.
For those of you who have been following me on LinkedIn, you’ll know that I co-created a challenge with Joeri Schilders of The Magic Sauce called 24 Let’s Go. The idea is to focus on one task for 24 hours and see what you get done.
In January, I wrote and published this book in 24 hours. I also launched my first online course, which took me 6 months to create. I then created this second online course in one month, my third in one week, and my fourth in just 24 hours.
I have clearly got a lot faster, and a lot is thanks to the lessons I have learnt from the 24 Let’s Go challenge. So I wanted to share some of my key lessons in this article with you here.
Lesson 1 – ALWAYS Experiment
One of the reasons I have got faster is just simple maths; I spent less time doing new things.
With every new thing we learn, comes a learning curve. Writing a book involved learning how to research, create an outline, write, edit, publish and promote. For my first book, all of these were new to me, which meant it took me 6 years from start to finish.
When it came to my second book, I already knew how to research, create an outline, write, edit, publish and promote. So I had no more to learn, all I had to do was just do it.
Creating online courses involved even more learning curves. How to choose the right camera, microphone and lighting. How to set up the filming environment. How to use different types of software. How to design content for an online format. How to edit video, how to reduce file size, how to upload. How to structure the course. How to set up the payment settings. How to write a course introduction. How to use coupons. How to promote it online.
I say it took me 6 months to make my first online course, but actually that’s not including the time it took me to try and fail, try and fail and try and fail in the 18 months leading up to that.
I could go on and on here, but my point is that a huge part of getting faster means reducing the amount of new things to learn.
I happen to have the kind of personality that likes to try new things. I wrote my first article in 2011. I created my first website in 2012. I recorded my first video in 2017. Each time I did these things, I did so purely for the sake of experimenting and learning.
I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting over the last decade, and the result is now there are a lot of things that I don’t have to learn anymore. This has all saved me an incredible amount of time when it comes to just getting things done.
Lesson 2 – Stop Judging Your Own Work
Perfectionism is one of the biggest barriers I have seen in fellow creators. But perfectionism is also a sign of arrogance.
When we don’t think our work is good enough, we are judging it by our own standards. But our work is not for us, it’s there to serve other people, so to judge by our own standards is arrogant.
Not everyone cares that you didn’t light up your face well enough on that video, or that your LinkedIn post had a spelling error, or that the image you shared was in the wrong resolution.
Stop serving yourself and start serving others.
The key to overcoming this perfectionist mindset, is to produce little and often.
Create a little. Put it out there. Get feedback. Learn. Then create a bit more.
Which leads me to lesson 3.
Lesson 3 – People Like Small Things
My first book, took me 6 years to write, and was over 100,000 words and 400 pages long. The people who have read this book tell me that they have found it a very practical resource. But I noticed an interesting thing with my second book.
Having only been around for over a month now (compared to 2 years with the first book), more people have read my second book than my first book. It’s been downloaded probably 3 times more, and also has about 3 times more reviews.
I believe one of the main reasons is because it is so much shorter. It’s 10,000 words in total, and about an hour’s read.
Creating smaller things is actually a lot harder than bigger things. We tend to have too many ideas. The challenge is in filtering them out.
But here’s a tip; set a small goal.
For example, when writing my second book, I set a goal of 500 words per section. I was very strict on myself, and made sure I didn’t go over 500 words. And I found something interesting when doing this.
I never went over 500 words. So I never had to edit down. Instead, I used a word number tracker on the writing software I was using (Scrivener) to track my progress to each target. This gave me two benefits.
One was that as it wasn’t a lot of words, I made progress quickly, and progress is extremely useful for keeping motivated. The more often you feel progress, the stronger your motivation will be.
Secondly, was that when I hit 500 words, I stopped. Even if I had more I wanted to write, I just stopped. This meant I spent less time waffling, and less time going down rabbit holes.
Probably the biggest challenge to just stopping is that urge to just do more, say more or write more. But remember, people don’t like more, they like less. If you’re afraid you’ll miss out on something, then you can always do it again!
Lesson 4 – Think Then Do
Writing, filming, designing or whatever it is that you’re doing, will generally require two steps; Thinking, and then doing. Do not do both of these at the same time.
Thinking is the step we’re all great at. We spend our entire lives thinking. We were born to think. It’s natural.
But doing is not. Doing requires learning (see lesson 1). Furthermore, doing involves risk. What if I do something, and it doesn’t work, or people don’t like it, or it gets me in trouble?
Doing always involves risk. We can’t avoid that. It might not work, people might not like it and it might get us in trouble. We have to live with those possibilities.
Relatively speaking, I’ve been a bit more daring online. I’ve put a lot of myself out there, I’ve put my ideas out there, I’ve put my work out there for people to see and judge. I don’t think any of it’s perfect. A lot of what I can put out I can find 1001 things to improve.
But I haven’t really got into (much) trouble for the stuff I’ve put out there. Occasionally a post has got misunderstood and I’ve got some criticism. I’m still breathing though.
In fact, I think I’ve benefitted a lot from putting things out there. I’ve connected with some really cool people who I would have never met. I’ve attracted some really cool opportunities. I’ve even made some money just by writing a short post.
The thinking that we do, is generally not that in touch with reality. Our minds tend to blow things out of proportion, or focus too much on something insignificant.
So a tip here, is to give thinking a time limit. Think for a few minutes, hours, or days at most, then just do. The extra thinking you’d go through with no limits will never lead to more doing.
Lesson 5 – Surf the Waves of Motivation
Imagine a car full of fuel speeding down the higway; that’s you on motivation.
Now imagine a car with zero fuel that you are pushing down the highway; that’s you on willpower.
Willpower sucks for getting things done. It runs out quickly, it won’t get you far, and it’ll lead to burnout.
Motivation is what you need to get things done.
The thing with motivation though, is it naturally fluctuates.
We have this strange belief that if we’re procrastinating then it’s because we’re lazy. But that’s not true. There is no such thing as laziness. Procrastination is what happens when we’re more motivated to just sit on the sofa and watch Netflix then we are to sit down and write that book.
We are always motivated. It’s just, in any moment, our motivation will differ.
I’m quite motivated to write this article now. The fact that I’m sitting in a coffee shop, on a Sunday morning with nothing else on my schedule nor little kids running around me helps a lot with that. I know that when I get home, I’ll be more motivated to play with my kids than write this article.
Motivation is a natural force. We don’t own it nor control it. But we can influence it.
Think of motivation like a wave. It comes and goes. Sometimes it’s strong, sometimes it’s weak. It has a peak and it has a trough. Certain conditions make the wave bigger, others make it smaller.
The better you get at surfing your waves of motivation, the better you’ll get at getting stuff done.
If you’d like to get better at surfing your waves of motivation, then click here to download my free Motivation Surfing Worksheet.
I wish I’d learnt the above lessons 8 years ago. I would have got a lot more done by now! But you live and learn. And I hope those lessons have been useful for you.
If you’re interested in getting faster, then check out 24letsgo.com and why not join us for the next round?