Pressure Identifies Points of Failure

by Dan Walsh

I gotta break it down to build it back up.

I created a lot of work for myself when I committed to some very large projects this year. Part of my intent was to discover new ways to get more done. A project always expands to fit the time allotted to it, so I wanted shrink up timelines and ship more by forcing myself to do more. I expect to stumble at fail at these goals in the beginning as I learn how to adjust. There’s nothing like putting a system under pressure to find all the leaks. I’ve already found three.

The three leaks are all writing related, but the insights from these should inform my other goals. They are: poor progress on non-daily goals, occasional difficulty discovering writing topics, and a slow writing process for T&D articles.

Poor Progress on Non-Daily Goals

It seems to be less diligent about goals when their execution time is scheduled intermittently. I am way more likely to accomplish daily goals than I am to accomplish weekly goals. A 2-hour Saturday morning product creation session tends to get put off more than daily 1-hour writing sessions. Even though daily writing works out to 5 hours more per week, I actually get it done because I chip away at it on a regular basis. Life gets in the way of projects that are scheduled for occasional execution. Perhaps I should break these project into smaller pieces, even if it means working on them only 10 minutes everyday. It’s something to try.

Difficulty Discovering Writing Topics

On some days, my biggest writing hurdle is simply finding a topic I care enough about to inspire a good post. I don’t want to waste my time writing boring sentences. I usually write first thing in the morning, and then get ready for the day and head to the office. The books I read on my way to work usually send my mind down interesting tangents, which could potentially be fuel for posts. So, I’ve changed up my schedule to accommodate this inspiration. Instead of writing first thing in the morning, I’ve started leaving earlier for work so that I have a block of time to write once I get into the office. I should have plenty ideas by the time I get to my desk and I won’t waste time trying to come up with something good. I was also often showing up late to the office because I’d become engrossed in my writing and leave behind schedule. This new setup will ensure that I’m always early!

Slow Writing Process for T&D Articles

I’m working toward getting one new post up on T&D everyday, but my writing process for that site is much slower than it is for The Kazushi. Here, I can write down whatever’s on my mind. On T&D I typically digest other high-value content, and then share the best parts with my readers. The digesting process can take a long time. I think I can use empathy maps to speed this process up. I’ll try it out. Even if they aren’t the right tool for the job, I think it’s clear I need some kind of tool┬áto speed up the process.

I don’t know if breaking all goals into daily activities, changing my writing schedule, or using empathy maps to quickly assess content are the correct solutions for these problems. They might not patch all the leaks. But knowing where the problems are gives me a great place to start looking for solutions.