One of the key results I got out of my field test last year was 65% of you really struggle with writing. It’s not your fault – it’s your entrepreneurial DNA
Using the amazing Kolbe Index A test – 65% of you have a profile where you are more suited to Bing off the cuff in an interview or a video. We were the kids in school who loved the experiments but Hated writing up the experiment reports!!
The trouble is, a lot of our markets like to get information by reading.
I love to read! I read all the time. I love the idea of writing. It’s just if I try to write, like a writer, I make myself miserable and will try to do anything to avoid it.
I have PTSD flashbacks to high school English – which I failed!!!
When you try go against your nature: you just make yourself miserable.
Fortunately for you and me, this problem has been solved.
This problem has been solved by a Phoenix-based grandma, a Japanese car manufacturer, your favourite computer games, and the process used to create those games.
When you apply this process to yourself, as chief cook and bottle washer of your enterprise, It’s like a unicorn farting rainbows and sprinkles of awesome all over you.
Let’s use this post as an example.
It started way back on Monday, I decided to create a post people could read about Kanban for Entrepreneurs.
So I created a ticket for my Kanban board on Monday.
I Know – So Meta!!
So What’s Kanban and how can help us as entrepreneurs and how the heck does it relate to writing which last time I checked we both hate to do the “traditional” way.
Read the next paragraph – does this sound like you?
There is not a productivity system you haven’t tried, in the 80’s and 90’s you rocked a day planner or a Filofax, you didn’t really use them but you loved setting them up and buying all the inserts. You loved the palm pilot and had a ball getting set up just right, you didn’t use it, but you thought it was awesome. You have a dozen productivity apps and books on your shelf, but none of them stuck…
This is me and If you struggle to write – it’s highly likely it’s you.
This is where our Phoenix based Grandma, Kath Kolbe enters the picture, her ground breaking research and Kolbe Index A made the connection. It’s not your fault, you’ve been acting this way all your life (as I have).
The trouble is we are taught at every point, from school to self-help group to improve our weaknesses. Kathy said – why not just focus on your strengths.
So how do we write a blog post when we can’t write – Simple, Use our strengths…
Let me explain,
As I said the first step to writing when you don’t like to write is the way you plan your post. We need to use our strengths to “write”
And as you and I have tried every productivity and planning process, it turns out a Toyota answered our prayers in the years after the war and this magical unicorn of a process was tuned to perfection by software geeks.
No wonder you’ve never heard of it!!
Kanban (and Kanban for Entrepreneurs) will change your life and help you write stuff when you hate to write!!
There are two key rules when it comes to Kanban. The first one, it must be visual. This is crucial.
The key is to create yourself a visual scoreboard and that’s what the kanban board is.
**HUGE TIP** Your board can’t be electronic. It must be visual and somewhere you can’t avoid it. Mine for example, if you’ve watched any of my videos, sits just behind me. It’s the first thing I see when I walk into my office each morning. I can’t avoid it. And that’s what makes it so powerful.
The other rule – and this will blow your mind.
You have to limit (severely!) the work you are doing.
This is called “Limiting the W.I.P.” (W.I.P stands for Work In Progress)
If you’re an entrepreneur nine times out of ten – You are the bottleneck.
You know it’s true.
The trick with bottlenecks is to match the amount of work coming into the bottleneck with the capacity of the bottleneck.
And just in case you forgot, the bottleneck is you.
Think of it like a flowing river. A nice healthy river flows beautifully, it might have rocks and pools and so on but there is always water flowing from the source to the ocean. Your life, should be a healthy, flowing river.
Doesn’t that sound all Zen and stuff!
Trouble is, your life is more like you’ve had a damn burst down stream and there is a flash flood coming down the river at you Moses style…
Some of you feel like your river has dried up, the river is stagnant nothing is flowing. A bit like me getting backed up in when I haven’t eaten anything fibrous for the last month.
Implementing Kanban for Entrepreneurs has been ground breaking for me and my clients
But I still have this blog post to write!
Back to the post…
So the start of the week, I created a ticket to write a blog post. I broke down the post and created a ticket for each part of the process. Why? This will become clear later.
So on Tuesday I pull my first ticket for creating the post. Now it’s time to reveal my series of tricks that allow me to write a blog post like this – without writing it… (And no, I’m not outsourcing!)
My first step is to set a timer for 10 minutes and write (crucially – pen and paper, not typing) without stopping.
I started with this sentence – Start Less, Finish More.
As you’ve probably gathered, this blog post has gone in another direction but that’s cool. The point is to trick myself into starting.
This 10 minutes is **not** for publication, it just allows me to vomit up some thoughts on the page. Thinking on paper is the one of the best piece’s of advice I’ve ever heard. If you try to come up with the concept for a post inside your head. You end up looping and getting nothing done. Or at least, that’s me.
I ask Alexa to set the timer for 10 minutes and play some music. Then I’m off to the races.
Small positive rewards at the end of each working session is a key part of keeping the squirrel-based brain I have at bay.
Remeber, how I said games also helped solve this problem, this is how.
By working to a timer and having breaks I trick myself into thinking I’m an awesome multi-tasker (I’m not and neither are you). I set the timer for ten minutes and I play a game of Hearthstone. I play a control deck specifically designed to drive Millenials and teenage punks crazy!
The timer is very important for your break as well, otherwise you’ll still be playing two hours later.
It’s time to outline the post.
I ask Alexa to set the timer for 25 minutes and then started to write out each section in outline style. The reason for this is simple, by creating the outline, it gives me a structure for when I dictate. It’s the best of both worlds. I can just get verbal points down, and then when it comes time to dictate (just like I’m doing right now) I’m able to fill in the gaps. It’s incredibly productive. This project I did two 25 minute outlining sessions, and lost one game of Hearthstone to some punk!
I keep talking about a timer… Why?
One thing you’ll find counterintuitive about creativity, the more constraints you have, the more creative you get.
The big problem with our world is we have very few constraints.
I acknowledge it might not seem like it for you right now.
Let me explain it another way…
Do you watch cooking shows? Most of them have a thing called the “mystery box challenge”, where the contestants lift up a box and underneath is a chicken foot, a beetroot and a can of Spam and they have to create a meal in 10 minutes for the judges!
I must’ve watched hundreds, if not thousands, of these things over the years and you know what, I could count on one hand with a few fingers chopped off the number of times someone has failed to “plate up”.
The threat of a deadline and shame on national television means people deliver some form of food. It may taste disgusting, but at least they deliver, they ship.
Working to a timer is a vital part of eliminating the boredom you have with doing a task repetitively. It reminds you of playing a game.
Do you need to be forced to play a game on your smartphone?
We need to use every trick in the book to get work out. This bunch of tricks is going to help me get a blog post without me ruining my entire week.
Side note: creating a blog post like this really did used to wipe out my entire week. I bet, many of you have suffered the same fate!
Side Note To Writers reading this: This is not you 🙂 (and it does not mean you are a “bad” entrepreneur quiet the opposite – you just have a different approach)
The power and majesty of dictation.
I conducted a survey a few years ago on the most successful bloggers on the planet, I had a hunch they all shared one thing in common.
I was right, it happens at least once every four years, like the olympics.
They can all touch type at least 60 words per minute. I can’t type anything like that and I have tried and tried to learn (Remeber the whole we are taught to work on our weaknesses thing..).
I bet a lot of you reading this can’t do that either.
The difference in productivity is astonishing.
If I’m lucky I can get 5 to 600 words down in a 30 minute block if I’m typing in front of the keyboard.
When I’m dictating, I have done between 2 1/2 thousand and 3000 words in the same time!
It’s that much of a difference.
This post took 25 minutes to dictate and was 2250 odd words before I started to edit!!
Like everything, there are tricks to dictation. And if you tried it a few years ago, it might be time to have another go because the technology has improved in leaps and bounds.
My first trick (I suppose this is a subset of tricks for dictation) I use a traditional dictaphone.
DragonDictate (the world champion of computer dictation packages) allows you to use a traditional dictaphone and then you can plug the Dictaphone into your computer and Dragon will automatically transcribe what you have said with astounding accuracy!
I know, sounds like magic!.
Spoiler alert: it is.
I walk up and down my office, referring to my outline and dictate to my little Philips recorder.
There is a good reason for this,
One of the most important things to do when you are computer dictating is to never to look at the screen. If you do, it will totally throw you off because it’s not real time.
So to avoid that problem completely, I use the dictaphone, I’m not even anywhere near my computer.
It also stops me from the temptation of editing. Editing what you’re trying to create in the first place is the path to hell.
Most people do it, pro writers never do. They realise editing and creating a draft are completely different activities, and indeed, use completely different parts of the brain. This way I avoid all of that. Now I’ve trained DragonDictate, I trust it to get all of these far more accurately than my typing or spelling. (Actually, for me, another huge advantage! DragonDictate is a way better speller than I am!)
The more you dictate and use DragonDictate the better it gets. There is a learning curve, and you will be frustrated initially. But, if you stick with it all of a sudden you can cheat your way into doing decent blog posts while being a person who is much more comfortable speaking or doing things in front of a camera!
Using this style of dictation is also good for another very important part of this process. Is soon as you finish your first draft, put it away for the following day.
Never edit straight after creation. You are just not in the right place, you will rush the editing and you will miss things. Your piece will not be anywhere near as good as it could be.
This is a trick as old as the hills. When Gary Halbert would finish a draft of his latest killer sales letter. He would jump in the car and he go for a drive a couple of hours around the Florida Keys just to clear his head. Stephen King, the awesome writer, when he has completed his first draft of a manuscript he will put it away in a drawer for a few weeks so he can look at a completely fresh.
For us mere mortals, let’s just put it away overnight and get cracking on it tomorrow.
Actually there is no tricks when it comes to editing.
Except, editing is something a lot of entrepreneurs are very good at. You know when things look good or bad and are very good at pointing this out – a.k.a. editing!
As I mentioned, Outline, dictate, edit, layout and promote are tickets from me on my Kanban board.
It seems like such a little thing, but the to move those tickets into the done column (physically move them – It’s important) – for a hopeless organisational failure like me (and most of you) is exactly the dopamine rush your body and mind needs. When it comes to the end of the week these tickets contribute to our “velocity” (score for the week).
I know it sounds stupid, but trust me, it’s a big deal.
If you would ask me which one of these tricks is key.
Without a doubt, it’s the Kanban board
I know this is going to sound hypey but this has been the single best thing thats happened to my organisation and productivity. Even better the clients I’ve shown have shown the system to.
In the next couple of weeks i’ll be releasing a really cost-effective course teaching Kanban for Entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in the course and want to know when it’s out… Just leave your name and email address in the box below and I’ll let you know as soon as it becomes available.
In this post I’ve tried to show you how a writing tragic like myself can “trick” myself into doing something in a traditional sense I would have never done.
You just need to change the rules and play to your strengths!