Welcome to my November 2017 Project Report. My goal with this report is to help other authors, entrepreneurs, leaders, or anyone else who wants to make an impact on others. Each month I will share how I spent my time as an author and creative entrepreneur and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
How I Spent My Time in November 2017
I track every minute of time I spend working in an app called Toggl (here is why). Here is a list of the projects I spent the most time on last month:
- 23:00 – Untitled LECTIO Book
- 13:46 – Daily Blog Post (archive)
- 12:34 – Keynote Talk (Fort Frances / Dryden, Ontario, Canada)
- 8:57 – The Religion Teacher Email
- 6:03 – Shipping Books for Members of The Religion Teacher
- 4:33 – Daily Review
- 4:02 – The Religion Teacher’s Lord’s Prayer Worksheets (found here)
- 3:43 – Morning Preview
- 3:02 – Weekly Review
- 2:44 – The Religion Teacher Blog (new article)
Total Time Spent: 93:00
Here is what I produced last month:
- Worksheets: 11
- Articles: 31
- Newsletter Emails: 7
- Videos: 5
- Books: 17,039 words
- Workshops & Webinars: 1
November 2017 Highlights
Speaking in Canada
As my wife said to me, “Now you can call yourself and international speaker!”
It was a great trip and I really appreciate the Northwest Catholic District School Board for inviting me up to give keynote addresses at the two locations of their Annual Faith Day.
I haven’t been to Canada since the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto and it was the first trip I’ve taken for professional reasons.
Here are just a few random things I learned while I was staying there:
- Converting to the metric system is difficult. I could not get the thermostat in my hotel room at the right temperature.
- Pandora isn’t available in Canada. I listened to songs on YouTube in the background while I worked.
- Netflix in Canada is amazing. They must have contracts to show movies that the U.S. version cannot show. I finished reading the third book in The Maze Runner trilogy on the plane ride up from the States and then I was able to watch the first movie of in the trilogy that night.
- NFL Sunday is just as popular up there as it is here.
- They eat gravy with their french fries (and it is delicious).
The Lord’s Prayer Worksheets
I released a new product at The Religion Teacher. Earlier in the year I planned a lesson on the Lord’s Prayer and I wasn’t satisfied with the resources I created and found. So, I decided to create some worksheets to help students reflect on each part of the prayer. I used the same Lectio Divina method I used to create hundreds of other worksheets for The Religion Teacher. The resource turned out really well and I am excited for teachers to start using it in class.
I created a lesson plan and video and sent them out to the email list for anyone who wanted to teach about the prayer.
Daily Blog / NaNoBlogMo
Instead of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, I decided to write a daily blog post (NaNoBlogMo) here at my personal author website. I really admire the consistency of Seth Godin’s approach to blogging and I’ve often thought about his advice to entrepreneurs and authors to keep a daily blog (even if no one reads it). Austin Kleon started daily blogging this month, too, and I decided to make it a little experiment.
As you can see above, it took up a lot of time. Some posts took longer than others. It essentially replaced a morning journal practice for me, but it often took a lot longer than it should have. I didn’t do a lot of promotion for the posts and I wasn’t trying to get traffic or grow an email list or anything like that.
A couple of fun things did happen:
Toggl sent me a t-shirt because of this post.
Gary Vaynerchuk retweeted a post I wrote about his $1.80 Instagram Strategy (and it crashed my website).
According to Twitter analytics, this Tweet had almost 120,000 impressions, 4,141 clicks, 755 likes, and 154 retweets.
It was the morning after I got back from Canada. I listened to the brief podcast episode in the airport the night before and summarized it in my morning post the next day. An few hours later, as my daughter went down for a nap, I opened up Twitter and was shocked to see more notifications than I have ever had before.
I wasn’t seeking traffic or social media shares or Toggl swag, but it happened.
There is lesson here for people who are seeking those outcomes: show up consistently day after day and things start to happen.
Will the daily blog continue?
I’m continuing the daily blog because it is worth the time to keep me thinking, learning, and sharing. The best way to learn is to teach and I feel more on top of my game right now than I ever have before. The daily blog is pushing me to learn and improve. By sharing what I am learning each day, I have to seek out things to learn! There is an accountability there that is really important.
Plus, I would love to look back on these posts years later to see what I was learning and doing at this point in my career. As I wrote in this post about blogging like it’s 2007, I loved coming across James Dashner’s blog from a decade ago. We have an honest account of an author right before he hit it big. It gave me a lot of hope reading about how he worked toward success in those early years.
So, I am going to keep blogging whether anyone reads it or not.
What I Learned in November 2017
The Daily 20
You can accomplish a lot in twenty minutes.
As I explained in this video, I wrote an 300+ page book in twenty minute increments during lunch breaks:
I just found an interview with Cory Doctorow in which he shared this same observation:
“Writing a page every day gets me more than a novel per year — do the math — and there’s always 20 minutes to be found in a day, no matter what else is going on. Twenty minutes is a short enough interval that it can be claimed from a sleep or meal-break (though this shouldn’t become a habit). The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day’s page between sessions. Try to find one or two vivid sensory details to work into the next page, or a bon mot, so that you’ve already got some material when you sit down at the keyboard.”
It worked for me for writing books.
It worked for this daily blog.
So, what else can I achieve in only twenty minutes a day?
The 20 minutes I spent each morning on this daily blog combined for more than 13 hours of time. Some posts took less than 20 minutes and others took longer. The point is, this brief daily practice really adds up.
This is the same observation I made in last month’s report when I realized I spend too much time on my Daily and Weekly Reviews.
So, here is what I am going to try next month.
- List all of the most valuable activities to reach my goals and accomplish my mission.
- Pick the single most important activity.
- Schedule a block of 20 minutes to work on this task.
How to Get the Attention of Influencers
The focus of this website last month has been about sharing what I am learning about writing, entrepreneurship, parenting, faith, and more. I’m learning lessons from others, mostly influencers who are experts in these fields.
So, what did I learn from that Gary Vaynerchuk retweet?
“Influencer marketing” is a hot topic right now. Everyone wants to know how to get the attention of influencers so they can share their stuff.
I wasn’t trying to earn Gary’s attention. I wasn’t trying to get traffic or SEO ranking. I just wanted to share what I learned and give credit where credit was due.
The biggest thing this daily blogging practice has taught me to do is shift my mindset. This website may have my name on it, but it isn’t about me and what I can teach. It is about what I am learning and who I am learning from.
This, I think, is an often overlooked key to success: think of others first.