Welcome to my May 2018 Project Report. My goal with these monthly reports is to help other authors, entrepreneurs, leaders, or anyone else who wants to make an impact through their work. Each month I will share how I spent my time as an author and creative entrepreneur and the successes, failures, and lessons I learned along the way.
How I Spent My Time in May 2018
I track every minute of time I spend working on projects using an app called Toggl (here is why). Here is a list of the projects I spent the most time on last month:
- 13:21 – The Religion Teacher Email & Customer Service
- 7:57 – The Daily Learning Log (archive)
- 7:21 – Launch of The Evangelization Stack Online Worksop
- 4:03 – The Religion Teacher’s Gifts of the Holy Spirit Worksheets
- 4:18 – Daily Review
- 3:50 – Morning Preview
- 3:27 – The Religion Teacher Articles
- 3:20 – Fiction Writing
- 2:08 – Research for an untitled book about making it as an artist.
- 2:07 – Launch of The Religion Teacher’s Catholic Mass Worksheets
Total Time Spent: 70:23
Here is what I produced last month:
- Worksheets: 9
- Articles/Blog Posts: 33
- Newsletter Emails: 22
- Videos: 0
- Books: 5,464 words
- Workshops & Webinars: 0
2018 Goal Update
In the past I tried to focus only on mission and vision and not specific performance goals. I’m trying something different this year and setting some big goals for myself as a entrepreneurial author. You can find my goals here. This is the progress I have made so far:
40% / double the number of members TRTm members (audacious goal)
0/5,000 copies sold of Christ in the Classroom (good/great)
0/1 published work of fiction (good)
3/7 paid speaking gigs (expected)
28/50 Read 50 books (good goal)
51% Paid Off / Pay off mortgage in 2020 (good goal)
24:57 / Run a 5K under 23:00 (good goal)
Incomplete / Start a support ministry for startup founders. (expected goal)
You can read about the process I used to set these goals along a scale of success here: A Simple Process for Setting Bigger Goals.
May 2018 Highlights and Lessons Learned
Gifts of the Holy Spirit Worksheets
Deadlines are essential.
When you don’t have one–even one you impose on yourself–projects get delayed.
I haven’t been as strict with myself about deadlines as I needed to be this year. A collection of worksheets for the Sacrament of Confirmation should have been finished months ago.
So, I picked Pentecost Sunday (May 20) as the natural deadline to have something completed. I realized that I could have part of the project completed early and useful as a self-contained resource and thus The Religion Teacher’s Gifts of the Holy Spirit Worksheets were completed and distributed to premium members of my website.
The lesson here is really important: pick a deadline and stick to it. Natural deadlines can be the motivation you need to focus.
Re-launching an Online Course
I have launched The Evangelization Stack Online Workshop internally to a group of people who joined my membership site earlier this year. I hosted two sessions so far and got good feedback on the course. The month of May was the first time I launched it as a separate product. I’m still learning to use the Teachable platform. I don’t like the idea of adding another service on top of what I use to process payments for the membership site, but I picked simple rather than trying to save money.
The best way to learn is to launch.
I’m sure I could have come up with a better system, but I learned much faster by adapting after things when live than trying to predict what might happen.
Now I can improve and tweak the system that is in place for future participants to enroll in the course.
Planning is important but there is nothing more effective than launching to learn and improve.
Fiction Writing: Fables
In April I finished writing fables for each one of the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments. I didn’t have anything else planned for writing fiction so I started from the beginning again and finished another set of short stories for the Beatitudes. I will cycle through them again in June.
The thing I love the most about writing fables is the opportunity to practice creating stories and characters quickly. I have a short template that looks like this:
- Setup: There once was a… who…
- Inciting Incident: One day…
- Progressive Complication: And then…
- Climax: Until…
- Resolution: So…
I create a new file in Evernote, copy the template, fill in the blanks and then I have an outline to follow for the story. I write as quickly as I can and usually finish in 10-20 minutes.
Sometimes the fables are bad and sometimes I am impressed with the uniqueness of the stories. I try to trust the first idea that comes into my head and put it into the outline without overthinking it. Then I just start writing.
I shared one of these stories with my daughters during May and I was surprised by how nervous and embarrassed I was to read it to them.
I felt so strangely exposed!
What if they hate it? What if I scar them with the unhappy ending? What if they don’t get it?
I read it anyway.
They had great questions and I got great feedback based on questions they had afterwards. Plus, reading it out loud revealed a number of clunky sentences and grammatical errors.
This experience continues . . .
I didn’t read them another one of my fables until June.
I read them a few more the other night and then one of my girls re-told the first fable I read to them from memory. My oldest daughter corrected her about a part of the story she missed.
I re-read it to them and they realized that I was the one that wrote the story in the first place. They forgot where they heard it!
I learned two things from this experience that I had been hoping about the fables, but didn’t know for sure until now:
Kids remember stories incredibly well!
I told them the fable once and without mentioning it again they could basically retell the entire story from beginning to end.
Stories teach better than lectures.
When one of my daughters said, “And the lesson was . . .” I almost did somersaults.
They paraphrased the lesson. They explained to me the moral of the story. They couldn’t remember which one of the Ten Commandments it was about (they couldn’t recite any of the commandments that night to be honest), but they could tell me the lesson.
They had internalized the message and could explain it to me. Compare that to reciting the definition of “Honor your mother and father,” which was the literal lesson from the story. They now have a story that gives that commandment meaning.
I’m very excited to continue with this project and can’t wait to start to share these stories beyond our house.