Last week, I made an announcement: I’ll be posting less on Medium. From four posts to one that week. But also later that week I reduced the amount of emails I’m sending to my list from 7 per week to 1 per week.
On the surface this made a lot of business sense. As I explained last week, it was time for me to take a step back and refocus. Have a look over my work and ask: what can I do better?
In the end, of this week long analysis, I put out a post on Saturday on my blog talking about a specific concept.
Less Is More
Even though I don’t have many numbers to work with at the moment, I do realize now that I was being overly productive.
As much as I write and say being productive is great, too much can cause problems.
It goes back to the concept of taking breaks. Taking breaks boosts productivity, but too much actually stalls it. It’s finding that balance between what’s too much for you and what is too little.
I believe that varies from person to person. Considering posting a 400+ word blog post every day is possible for me and others have told me that’s insane.
In that Saturday post, I explained some of the benefits of slowing down and not being as productive as I used to be. However I want to go into more detail now with how and why I’m doing this. And more importantly how this is making me far more productive.
Let’s start off with the why. For one, it’s not because of some Tim Ferris concept where I’m delegating more to other people. I’m choosing to slow down the amount of content that I am creating.
Up to this point, every article/video that I’ve posted, and the book that was published has been on my own. There’s only a few exceptions. Those being contributors to my blog along with the book cover and my previous logo.
The only kind of automation I have is a scheduler for twitter. For that, I’m really thankful because then I don’t need to be on there like a hawk and have no life.
So automation has very little influence in my life and I prefer to keep it that way. Although automation is certainly a method you can use to do more and spend less time.
I’m doing this for a few reasons:
I can build stronger connections with people.
I can put more energy and time into an individual piece compared to multiple pieces.
I want to avoid burning out.
Let’s look at each reason.
One of the big things with a writer and youtuber is community. As I’ve been learning over and over again, a community needs to work together in order to thrive. Much like a group of employees, one person can rally a group or demoralize them.
When you are part of a group to truly grow and benefit from the group it’s important to be active. To be the kind of guy that chats, contributes in some capacity, and is willing to share other peoples work.
I’m part of a group of writers that does this. Frankly I don’t know where I’d be at this point without them.
I really appreciate their support.
However since my over-productive phase started to sink in, I was less and less engaging.
I wouldn’t say I’m a bad apple, but I missed that contributing part of it. I feel like I haven’t been growing the connections I’ve made to my fellow writers.
My point in all of this is when you are part of a community, invest time into it. Don’t be afraid to slow your roll to do that.
One connection with someone is a lot stronger than putting out one more post or one more ebook. Having someone along with you is far more significant.
The other reason why is focus. Focusing on one particular task as opposed to others. Again it’s that quality over quantity type of thing. But the thing is, it works.
Like I talked about in my Saturday post, I feel that I can put more care into my work. Even though I’m typing at the same speed I’m normally typing, the pauses I’m taking are different.
As a writer, we pause in order to think of what to be saying next. Thinking about the proper words to use to convey our message. When I paused before, I focused more on what sort of message that I wanted to convey.
In other words I was more fixated on getting my word count up and hoped that what I presented was good enough. That isn’t what writing is about.
I’m pausing now to think about exactly how do I want to word my message. I already know the purpose of this post before I began writing. That sort of aspect was lacking before. In the past (last week), I dwelled more on what should I write as opposed to how do I write it.
That level of care and focus comes when you slow down. When you stop obsessing over the numbers and start to focus on the individual piece. To dwell on your message as opposed to the word count or how long the post is.
You’re done writing when you FEEL you’ve conveyed your message across.
Even though writing 11 posts every week (7 on my blog, 4 on here) wasn’t strenuous on me, there still is a risk of being burnt out. I already started to notice that when thinking of what to write for my blog.
But obviously burning out isn’t going to help you much. It reminds me of people who spend their entire day at the office. They’re working over-time for months just to get ahead when they’re really not. They get overworked and they’re more at risk of burning out.
Again, I didn’t feel like I was becoming that guy, but there was definitely some hints of it. I learned what my limit is for writing.
That says something because I love writing.
Either way why I’m being less productive now was to learn that in a sense. I know now how much I can push myself with writing. But what’s more important is how much energy I have towards writing. That way I can pour more into one piece and know I still have more left.
So That’s Why
So that’s why. As a result I’m putting more care and consideration into my work. Not only that, but I also have a wealth of ideas that are growing each day along with the desire and intention to form stronger connections with people.
Next up is how I’m doing all of this and the answer is simple: I’ve worked on my mindset.
Like I wrote above I don’t have any special tools or resources. It was simply a disciplined mind. Along with a few people giving me some pointers (props to Meg Konovska).
Here are some of the big things that propelled me to do this:
Looking at my track record.
Deep breathing and teaching myself to wait.
Doing fun stuff with others.
Again, let’s look at each one.
My track record
One of the key things to lowering my productivity was looking at the results. I like my numbers and numbers never lie. But what’s even more important is looking past the numbers and paying attention to the mental side of things.
What was I putting myself through?
What was I getting by hustling more than I typically would?
Is it actually worth doing something like this?
Asking yourself questions, you learn about yourself and through that I learned the best way to be productive. Working less than I have been putting out.
This is at least on a temporary level. I believe why I’m getting lacklustre results because I’m still getting my name out there. I’ve built a solid audience, but it’s small.
That realization coincides with my numbers as Monday posts are typically larger than the others. That’s due to the fact I’m posting that article in the writing group I’m in.
Not only that, but there is also a sense of relief from myself when I made those two statements. Even though as I said before I didn’t feel overworked, my body certainly felt it.
My point in all of this is when you are striving to be productive, look at how much work you need to put in. Get a rough idea of how many hours you need to put into it and get an idea of the expected results.
But even despite those numbers, see to it that you can hit those demands. In the end, there is no way of truly knowing how far you can push yourself until you actually go and do it.
Deep Breathing and Patience
Deep breathing in of itself is a calming action for yourself. When you are deep breathing, you are allowing yourself to relax.
Combined with having some patience, you are allowing yourself to relax and not worry so much.
I understand how much that impulse to work harder is. You never know when the next piece that you write, or the video you post next, will go viral. But from my understanding, you can’t really rush that process.
I believe having some form of patience and waiting is invaluable in a time where we want things yesterday. I believe all of our times will come as long as we continue to work at our paces.
It’s all a matter of waiting.
Until then take the time to relax but to also refocus on your goals and your direction. I spent a lot of time dwelling on my work. From generating ideas to pouring more energy into these posts.
There was less action, however I believe my work will make an impact and overall will get better results.
Try it out.
Fun Stuff With Others
The last thing I’ve been finding myself doing is spending more time with other people. The past Friday and Saturday I went into town, I moved away from my desk in the basement.
Even though I didn’t really think about work, I know for a lot of people they bring work with them wherever. People take vacations but they spend it all the time doing business.
I know in my case my business relies on me. If I am not there, nothing is happening. Of course you can automate some things, but the method that I have right now works best for me.
It’s getting into the headspace of knowing that, but not worrying so much about it. Yes my survival depends on my work, but I’m in a position where things are comfortable. Even though I still have to act quickly, there is no sense rushing.
Again my time to growing and living on my own will come in due time.
Instead, take the time to enjoy yourself a little bit. Take a morning or an afternoon off and disconnect. Even disconnecting for a half hour to an hour every day can make a difference. Try it out.
I encourage you all to try these methods out:
Firstly carve out a little time for yourself. Completely disconnect and go for a walk or read a book. Do something for yourself.
Secondly take a look at your work and ask yourself what can you do right now to make it better. Is that extra work you are doing actually worth it?
And lastly, look at the relationships that you forged both online and in person. Spend some time with the people that you’ve neglected. Whether that’s hanging out with them or sending them an email.
Thank you so much for reading!
Eric S Burdon