Ever started a web design project, looked at a blank screen and thought…I’ve got nothing.
Or have you ever been at a low point in your business where you feel like you could call it quits entirely?
I’ve been there. And I’m sure I can say that all entrepreneurs and business owners have been there at some point too, so you’re not alone if that’s you.
Luckily, there are some tips you can implement when you’re in those low points to help pull you through and in this podcast episode, author and business coach Robbie Swale shares tips on how to keep momentum going when you’re at low points. Whether you’re stuck on a project or feel like giving up on your business entirely.
This was probably one of the most introspective and psychological conversations we’ve had on the podcast to date, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂
In this episode:
00:00 – Introduction
03:30 – Greeting to Robbie
10:19 – What prompted the book
11:32 – Next level of success
12:33 – Accidentally on purpose
15:00 – Helps grow & learn
16:48 – Using what you have
20:18 – Practice
23:19 – Creative procrastination
25:47 – Planned expectation
28:54 – Batching judgment
34:57 – Muscle memory
37:10 – Blank page syndrome
40:27 – Limit distractions
42:20 – Dedicated time
46:20 – Never doing nothing
48:20 – Ideas and production
52:17 – Work within constraints
56:20 – Have a goal
59:07 – Mindset shift of goal
1:01:22 – Urgency
1:04:00 – Final thoughts
Connect with Robbie:
- Robbie Swale.com
- How to Start (a book, business or creative project) When You’re Stuck: Practical inspiration to get your idea off the ground (The 12-Minute Method: Do That Thing You’ve Been Meaning to Do)
- Robbie’s Facebook
- Robbie Swale | LinkedIn
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #197 Full Transcription
Hello, friends, welcome into Episode 197. I’m really excited about this episode in particular, because I think it is perhaps the most like introspective, and I was gonna say psychological, we definitely hit a lot of psychology things in here when it comes to mindset, and kind of getting past barriers. And more specifically how to keep going on either a project or your business when you just feel like giving up.
My guest in this episode Robbie Swale is an author, he’s also kind of a life and business coach. And he has a great book called The 12 Minute Method that we kind of hash out in this episode, but more importantly, his newest book called How to Keep Going When you Want to Give Up. That is really what we dive into in this episode.
Initially, we were going to talk more about how to start when you’re feeling stuck. And I’m sure, as a web designer, you can relate to the experience that I had a lot, which was where you’re all fired up to start to design, and you’re looking at a white screen, or maybe even a basic wireframe, and you’ve got nothing. And you’re like, Well, how do I have nothing, I’ve got no creativity, I just feel zapped I can’t even get started on this. We talk a little bit about that. But more importantly, we talk about how to keep going in that mental state, when you are on a project and you’re just stuck. Or maybe you’re just stuck in your business as a whole. Like maybe you’re at a low point where you are seriously considering just giving this up.
Robbie has a lot of tips, and really incredible mindset strategies to help you get through those seasons in life. Again, whether it’s a small thing on a project or whether you’re at a low point in your business, and you’re really considering just calling it quits. And if that’s you right now, I hope that this episode comes at perfect time because Robbie was really an awesome, awesome mind, to get to know and to hear his thoughts on this. And I share of course, what I’ve learned about, you know, pushing and getting through some of these types of seasons, I really hope it helps you as well, particularly those of you who are in a low point.
So hit me with your feedback, hit me with your thoughts on this one, you can go to the show notes at Josh howell.co/ 197. And before we dive in, and before we start talking with Robbie, one thing I have found that really helps particularly with the analogy I mentioned earlier, when you just started design, and you’re looking at a white screen, and you got nothing. My design course, I have a website design course that shares the basic fundamentals all the all the way through some more advanced strategies for designing websites. In particular, we talked color management strategy, we talked layout design, I go through so many different examples of websites and strategies for designing sites that will help you additionally through this type of low point that you might go through.
So my website design course is open for you right now. If you’d like to go check that out, just go to Josh hall.co/design. And we’ll have some fun on that one. I love love, love, love talking design. So go in there after this episode. And I think this one and that course will help you really push through some some blocks. So here we go. Here’s Robbie, let’s talk how to keep going when you might want to give up.
Robbie, welcome onto the podcast man. What a pleasure to have you on dude.
Oh Josh, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
We had a couple of reschedules. But by golly, we’re here pumped. You you have a book and the title, how to start when you’re stuck. just stuck out to me like a giant like red flag that was just like a beaming light. Like, yes, this is exactly what I’ve felt and struggled with as a creative and as a web designer for years, even as in my level now decade plus of designing websites and being entrepreneur, it still happens. So I’m excited to dive into this topic. And I know a lot of my audience are facing this where I know for me, it was like you start a website, and then boom, there’s a blank screen. You’re like, I don’t know what to do. I’m stuck. So needless to say, I’m really excited to dive into this. Before we dive in. Do you want to let everybody know first off where you’re based out of and then I’m curious when someone asks you what you do? What do you tell them?
Yeah, yeah, well, first, before I do that, remind me to do that. I’ll forget that. I forget the question if I’m not careful, but it’s just it is worth saying, you know, like we I don’t know who first said this, but I’ve heard a few people say, you know, we write the book we need ourselves. So like me too, with that book that I’ve written and even in the process of putting the book out like it was really useful that it was a book about getting stuck. And you know, not you know, battling procrastination because there were times in the process of even getting the book itself out that I found myself falling into all the traps So I have fallen into with when confronted with blank pages and startup things that haven’t started and all that kind of thing.
I can see the I could see the total irony when you start to write the book, How to start when you’re stuck. And then you’re just stuck. When you get started, I could see it just play out perfectly.
Yeah, well, let’s talk a bit about that. Because in some ways, the story of how I wrote the book is like the lesson I’ve learned are a big part of the lesson I’ve learned about about what I need to do when I’m getting stuck. Let’s come to that. But But yeah, I’m in London, in the UK, in southwest London, in a in an area called Battersea, which in some ways is famous for a power station, which is on the front of a Pink Floyd album. So if people especially in the US have come across the car, which is off the top of my head now, completely forgotten that, but sometimes that’s the thing that people have have have no capacity from. Yeah, but so I’m in over in the UK. And when people ask me what I do, you know, I mostly talk about, you know, since the book came out in in in December, so I’m still adapting to calling myself an author sometimes. Because it’s like, I think sometimes our identity, our personal sense of identity lags behind the things we’ve done.
It’s one reason I like asking that, because I do so many things, you do so many things, you’re a coach or an author, creative. A lot of we all do different things. So it’s really hard to sometimes say exactly what we do.
Yeah, mostly, what I say is that I am a coach, because underneath that’s where this this business that I the way that I worked for myself, and that portfolio of things that started with coaching, which which started from really me asking the question, how do I find some work that is, you know, more than what I was doing before which, which had been actually in working in the arts in the UK, managing managing arts venues. So I love that you used to be in a band, because I used to love putting the venue where bands played and all that kind of thing. In some ways, I used to love it. And in some ways, the actual work I was doing wasn’t the right thing for me. And I came to coaching.
And now the way I talk about that is, you know, is that there are kind of three main things that I’m interested in, in that coaching. So I’m interested in leadership. And this I mean, leadership in a really broad sense. Often, it is people in organizations, but it’s also often entrepreneurs or people starting their own businesses in the client work that I do.
The challenge is, how do we get to that new level of success without having to compromise who we are. – Robbie
And the theme that’s emerged there for me over the last six, seven years that I’ve been doing this is around, you know, often the clients that I’m working with a coming with a question about how to succeed or go to a new level of success and a challenge that they feel like to get there, they have to, on some level compromise who they are more do do it in a way that they don’t want to do it. And so the challenge is, how do we get to that new level of success without having to compromise who we are, and that’s in the kind of leadership piece.
I love the craft of coaching. And so I do some work supporting other coaches, I just think that, you know, that way of supporting people has so much to offer the world right now. And I love I love thinking about that. And so I agree, I do some work supporting coaches, that’s where my podcast is, it’s a podcast for coaches. And I run a community there as well. And then the last part is creativity. And I really I mean that in the space of, you know, how do people who start something from nothing. And so it is, you know, a book, it could be a book, it could be a business, could be a creative project could be just creating change or a new habit.
But that like why what the question that I’m interested in is like, why do we sometimes really know what we want to do? At least on some level? We think we do. And yet we’re not doing it, and sometimes months or years go past? And that’s been me. And that’s where the book comes in really the answer no answer that question. And just interestingly, on that thing of like, when you’re, when you have a big portfolio like this, like, how do you talk about your work? How did you thought the other day about it actually, that in my work, the types of work that I do, those are the things that I’m interested in, right leadership, coaching and creativity.
And actually, in my week, and in my work, I realized that I need to have space to do all three of those things myself, and need to have some space to lead, and to coach and to create. And that’s quite a new thought for me. And I’ve been splitting my time between the kind of coaching and the creating. So make sure both of those happen, but it’s quite a new thought for me to think
It’s challenging. Yeah, it’s really challenging. And for, for this audience, mainly of web designers and web designers, it’s the same thing you’re like, you’re balancing a few different main things. In the case of like getting clients communication with clients, working on your projects, and working on your business. It’s like those three big things that are really tricky. But if it makes anyone feel better, you’re not alone. All entrepreneurs are generally managing at least three big chunks of work in a week. And for me, it’s same thing it’s like it’s coaching, it’s content creation, and then it’s creativity and learning as well all in there and I have to be careful about how I balance that as well.
And it all kind of leads into getting stuck I think because I feel like getting stuck for me was often because I had too many things going on and I just was like paralized, is that kind of what you felt? And by the way, before you answer that, that Pink Floyd album was animals? With the I looked, I looked it up real quick as I was trying to remember to Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s I had the power station on there. But yeah, what, what was some of the hurdles for you personally, Robbie, where you felt stuck? And are those the things that prompted this book?
Yeah, well, look, I think that there’s a way in which, to too many possibilities, is one of the like signs that you’re in the 21st century, and you’re a human, right? It’s like, it’s almost like if you’re those things, like probably, whichever one listening probably is, depending on how long this podcast stays online, I guess we might have some 22nd century people listening at some point. But it’s like that there’s so many distractions and possibilities. And it’s like, that’s a wonderful thing. But it is one of the things you’re likely to be facing, if you are, you know, alive and operating in the world, because there’s just so many ways you could go.
And also there’s a, I think there’s a thing in most people’s journeys. And this is actually this isn’t quite where I was, let me come to where I was when the book immersion is set. But I think there’s a I see this in a lot of the work I do with leaders, there’s like a way that people get to the one level of success by saying yes, so you say yes to a lot of stuff, you do a lot of things you kind of, you know, take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way.
And then then there comes a point where it gets to the next level of success, you can only get there by learning to say no and saying the right things.
That’s a great point.
I’ve definitely, I’ve had that problem. But that wasn’t the one that prompted the book, really. I think the book was prompted by possibly like a, I don’t know, like a more even more fundamental, creative challenge. And again, I want to make it really clear, especially for the audience that starting a business, or having a side hustle or having the thing that you want to do that isn’t what you’re doing most of the time. That’s all creative, right? Because creativity is about change and agency and something happening that isn’t happening, currently. Like that’s basically the definition.
When you said to you, this was kind of an outlet for you, because it was something we were going through as well. Like you wrote the book, you need it. So I wonder if maybe there was an aspect of like, was this kind of a research experiment for you? Was it kind of like a case study and helping yourself out? Because if there wasn’t the book on it, you just write the book? And then you figure it out?
Yeah, like, accidentally. It was, it absolutely was all that. So what actually happened was, I was just really kind of scared and stressed about creativity. So I was starting the coaching business. And alongside that, I kind of knew I needed to be more or to say more public facing in some way. Like I knew that. It was it was gonna hold me back. If I found it, which was what was happening. It’s I find it stressful to kind of post anything online. Like, even Yeah, I mean, yes, things that I’ve made myself. But even like a joke on Facebook, I got to this point where in this is like 2016, where, even like I would, if I had, you know, it used to be when I was worrying. I guess last year I was a bit younger, I would just, I had a funny thought or something I wanted to share, I would just share it.
By 2016 you know, maybe the atmosphere on on Facebook could change because the crazy stuff happened in 2016. Over in the US and in the UK, and in the kind of political sense and things had gotten a bit nastier. And I think the Facebook example, the Facebook platform had changed a bit. I had that I wouldn’t even make the jokes, because it felt like too scary on some level certainly made me anxious.
That’s an interesting point. Yeah, I dealt with that, too. I never thought about that. I’ve never talked about that. But I felt like that too. I was previously just whatever my thoughts were, I would share it without any thought of repercussions or whatever. And then once I got to a point where particularly when I started having a family and then I became more, I guess mature in some ways. And once I had a professional brand that was growing online, then suddenly I was much more careful and much more aware, which I think is natural, but now I’m almost reverting back now I’m like, I’m back to like, I don’t give a frickin flying crap what anyone thinks I’m just gonna share what I think and then they can take it and run with it or whatever.
Yeah, my jokes about coffee need to make a comeback to my social media. They’ve been absent for many years to come back, and the football ones as well. So, but what so basically, I, I knew that something was up there and a new has to do with my business. But also I’d read a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. And one of the things he says in that book is a great book about about creative battles. And one of the things he says is the he talks about procrastination and fear and all that sort of stuff under this umbrella concept of resistance. And he says something like the places where we feel the most resistance are the most important for our souls evolution.
So basically the things that we procrastinate and fear the most actually, if we can do them will help us grow and learn and all that kind of thing more than anything else. So those two things at once kind of having a feeling that having a feeling that might be true. And also, knowing that in my business, I can, would need to be, I wanted to be able to be present in the public online world. And also, there’s kind of three strands to it, I wanted to be doing some writing. And this is kind of hard for me to admit, at the time, like I definitely wasn’t explicitly what I was saying that I was working on that I was kind of envious of the people who could just write something, and post it online, or how to blog going back a long time, you know, all those kinds of things.
So I took all this to my coach. So starting a coaching business, one of the best things for anyone starting a coaching business to do is hire a coach. Because if you’re starting, in fact, you know, there’s a way in which any business or business is likely to throw up, throw you up against the kind of limits of your mindset. And it’s going to show you the ways that that you need to grow and having someone it doesn’t need to be a professional coach, but could be a colleague or a community, as someone you can work through that stuff with, it’s really vital.
And I basically took this challenge to my coach Joel. And over a few months, we created a way for me to battle through this thing. And the initial thing was Joel used to be a painter in a previous life, like, I think he was a painter, a decorator, but also like an artist, a visual artist. And he said when he was a visual artist, he’d like to create a series of paintings. And we talked about how I liked my commute, I had a, I was working part time in an office part time coaching at the time, and I would do this like short train journey into the center of London. And I liked that it was like free time, where I didn’t feel any my time reading time.
But over time, all that stuff. And what if the suggestion was for a couple of weeks, it could be writing time. And so that and that could create a series of articles on the tray, there’s gonna be a training series. And the task was right while the train is moving. So I was doing this on my phone with my thumb’s stop when the train stops and proofread it once, just once and post it on LinkedIn. I chose LinkedIn because I thought no one read LinkedIn. And I think that was a bit more true in 2016. It’s more of a blogging platform now.
But so what is that like? Right? And then eventually make it a book? This was like, right, publish, right? Yeah.
So it was it. Now if we think about it, it was practicing those two things. It was practicing writing, which I kind of knew I wanted to do. And it was practicing sharing things online. That was where this started. And what happened in those five sessions. It was five times in the next few weeks, was like, it didn’t feel nice. It felt kind of work scary, and uncomfortable. But it felt kind of good or right. Like, you know, some people did like it. I don’t think anyone commented on the first couple of maybe they did by the third or fourth or fifth.
But there was this sense of people are listening. And my fears hadn’t come true. Like my world, the world hadn’t ended. You know, no one had laughed at me online. And I have personally privately laughed, but I don’t care about that I cared about publicly, you know, all those fears that we sometimes have about putting things out there. And so I decided that I would keep that practice going. But I would make it weekly because that was more manageable. And I first I think I set out to do it till Christmas. And then I guess that was August till Christmas. So a few more few months of weekly, now decided to keep it going.
And I’ve now been writing an article every week, using that practice for the last five and a half years, well 230 of them or something now, and at some point, I stopped getting the train, and I had to work out. So I thought, You know what happens when I do get the train, I don’t want to stop this practice. So I timed roughly the train journey, it was about 12 minutes. And so when I don’t when I stopped getting the train as much as what I do now, I set a timer for 12 minutes. Right while the timer is going stop when it stops proofread it once and post it and essentially the the 12 Minute method, which is how I wrote the book came from that.
And I liked that. And I know that has a lot of ingredients of like the Pomodoro technique where you basically like, what 30 minutes you do this and as much as you get done. You double check it the you ship you do you ship and I really think that’s probably one of the most important practices to have when you’re stuck is to like give yourself a deadline. Give yourself a time limit and just do what you can’t do what you can do even if you think it’s trash, get it out there.
Now, it’s also different designing a website versus like publishing a blog post online because if you’re promising a website, you can you can get all the trash out and then the next day all your good ideas finally come in, which is what I found as a creative usually day one was when all the bad stuff gets out. And then day two is when the good stuff gets out. Have you found that to like when you’re stuck, you feel like you just gotta get through the bad ideas. Then you’ll find the good ideas
Yeah, so I think there’s like, so much in what you’ve just said, there’s kind of two parts of that like. One is don’t forget to like, each time so we think about the writing example. But I could give other examples from other parts of my business and maybe ones that other people have used to. But if we stay with the writing for start, like, one is you get better.
So there’s a reason that like, so my second thought was, certainly my 20th article is better than my first that I’ve written in 12 minutes, I’ve been practicing, and practices, just for me, it’s really important to think in terms of practice, so that that’s a part of it. There’s another part of it, which is, if you keep going like every say, you practice, you know, with with building your website, if if you’re doing it in your if it’s a side hustle, for example, like you’ve got, you’re working somewhere else, you know, most of the week, if you’ve only got an hour to spend on it, well, like each each time you spend an hour on it for a week, you increase the chances of the gold coming out of the Golden work happening.
And what I definitely have found is, it’s important to remember that, yeah, like, I think one of the things I wrote in the in the book is, it’s, like inspur, it, we think that we need to wait for inspiration and the good ideas to start, mostly my experience has been, if we start, then inspiration shows up. And it turns out, it’s been there the whole time. But it’s just like, once you get going, suddenly, the good idea will come or three quarters of the way through writing an article, the actually interesting thing will come out, or you’ll finally solve the problem that you’ve been thinking about in your web design for three days, like but you’ll solve it partway through trying to solve it, or for another piece will come midway through trying to solve something else.
Yes, I’ve found the best ideas and inspiration for me in all of my endeavors have come in two ways to area’s, either just pushing through all the bad ideas until you find something like you just said, or it’ll be like Friday night randomly when I’m in the shower, and it’ll hit me like, oh, my gosh, that’s it. That’s the one. And then I have to rush out write it down before I forget it. That’s always how it’s gone. Even to this day. It’ll be like if I’m stuck on an idea or a topic or whatever it is, it seems to come to me in the most random places. It’s never like when it’s planned, because creativity is hard to plan. I think that’s another. I mean, we could probably cover 1000 reasons why we get stuck. But creativity is so hard to plan, is it not?
It absolutely is. I was just laughing. When you’re saying that about the shower, I once went to a workshop and gave one of the workshops asked everyone like when do you do your best thinking? And they said, like the shower when I’m out for a run, talking to a friend, no one said when I sit down and think really, really hard. Right? It doesn’t. It doesn’t happen like that. It’s also I think, really important what you just said. So there’s two things that that feel important about it to me.
So Adam Grant in his book originals, which is a really great read, it’s the only one of his books that I’ve read. But he’s a really interesting guy really good at taking the kind of cutting edge of psychology and making it really interesting to read and applicable to people. He talks about in originals, which essentially is a book about how do you be creative or innovative? Or what are the people who do the unusual things? What do they do differently, he talks about what he calls creative procrastination.
If you set your subconscious on a problem, then you leave it for a while. – Robbie
So essentially, the psychology research behind what you’ve just said, and I can’t remember the research, but his conclusion is exactly the same as what you’ve said that if you set your subconscious on a problem, then you leave it for a while. It doesn’t necessarily if just because you’re actively not thinking about the problem, that doesn’t mean the creative back rooms of your mind, working away at it. And often it does emerge. It’s like and then you’ve got to then capture it. So a really good creative practice for your business for your, your writing, whatever it is, is to have the notepad or a really fun one is like voice recorder ready on your phone.
You told me you mentioned me being in the band like I remember the most awkward when I used to be cabinet maker for a tour bus customizing shop. And I would get these like riffs in my head or these like these metal riffs or guitar even though I was a drummer, I still had like a lot of musical input on our stuff. And I would get like an idea. And I would go into the bathroom. And I would pop up my voice recorder and I’m like Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad. And then every once in a while worker would walk in on me and be like, Josh, what the hell are you doing in here? I’m like, This is awkward, but I’m in a band and I had to get it out of my head. That’s exactly what I experienced.
And I’ll bet you had this amazing thing though, after that, right, which is you get to then you’ve probably like, the great thing about doing it on voice rather than writing is then you go back to the recording, like sometimes weeks later you find it and you’ve completely forgotten it. And you hear this amazing idea or your case, this amazing riff coming out of the phone in your own voice and you’re like, Oh, that is good. And I remember coming up with it,
Right? Yeah, and I think you could potentially use the voice recorder for stuff if you just jot down like an idea or framework or Yeah, you get a chance to write it down, or like literally, this happened over the weekend, I had an idea. And I just grabbed my laptop and just wrote it as a note real quick and saved it and was like, I’ll worry about this Monday, but at least this Saturday night, I got out of my head, I can spend time with my family and be present, instead of letting it lingering. Because if you when it lingers, that’s when it seems like it just takes over.
Yes, of RIA is what yeah, you’re right. It’s also a really good and what like presence practice. So if you want to be able to get something out of your head, an idea is a good one to do is another good one. But sometimes just like, general worry, writing it down, getting out of the head often does that. And that’s a really good practice it just to catch one more thought that I’ve got hanging, and I don’t want to let go for this exact reason.
It’s like, the great thing about one of the things I found out from the writing practice, was the great thing about having a regular practice, when you’re going to create something is that it makes you save up ideas. So because you don’t want to show up. So I knew that by by Friday, every week, I would be setting a timer, I still know that I’d be setting a timer for 12 minutes. And that meant that I was on the lookout then for the the thing I would do a write about in that time.
And it’s like, you know, if you know, you’ve essentially, it’s an interesting experiment to know that you’ll be writing at that time and pretty much know that you’ll only be writing at that time. Or it could be know that you’ll be working on your business at that time. And only at that time, then in the back of your mind. And the build up to that what happens is you’re thinking, like, what’s an interesting thing that I could be working on in that time? And what’s the most important thing that I could be working on in that time.
And then you get to a kind of high leverage place as well as a creative place, because it’s like, I’m only going to write 112 minute article this week, like, what’s the best one for me to write this week? And at first, that wasn’t what I was worried about. I was just like, what could I write about this week? Have I got an idea? And now it’s like, well, what am I really present to this week? I can write about better this week than anything else.
So where did I go from? Do I have an idea to what is my best idea? Is that kind of how that worked?
Well, also, if you’re catching your ideas, and pretty can’t see it, I’ve got some very mad I want to pull them off, because they’ll they’ll probably pull off part of my wall. I haven’t haven’t gotten note pad. What do you call it? Just got a wall with some blue tape. But I’ve got some very messy sheets, which when I have the idea, I’ll be like, maybe this I’ll be writing it down.
So yeah, at first it was, what am I even going to write about. And it would be like on the train sometimes, or sometimes even an interesting practice was, if I know I’m going to do it. The very least like really taking that inspiration piece. Taha I’m going to sit down with the blank page, the train was really good for that. Because it meant there was no procrastination about starting, we’ve got a Friday and the train journey. It was my last train journey of the week. Had to do it then.
And so I you know, I just had to get my phone up and see what emerged. And the first pieces they were about what was going on, they were about the train and lessons that emerged and thoughts that emerged from that. And, and then sometimes they were about like, I would be on the way and I’d be thinking, Oh, no, I’ve got to think of something good to write about now, because I gotta write on this train journey. And then the idea would come and then as time went on, I realized what a powerful thing it is to be capturing those ideas in the way that we’ve been talking about.
Gotcha. Now I’m curious, this might be a different practice than other types of content creation to where like, for me, I tend to try to batch a lot of my podcasts like, I got a few podcast interviews this week, next week, and then maybe one the week after, but I’ll probably pick back up the following weeks to kind of batch record and have them saved up this writing practice. I feel like it’s a little bit different, right, like, my, my question would be, what are your thoughts on like, writing four blog posts one week, and then having three weeks off versus having a weekly practice? What’s the difference? They’re good or bad?
Yeah, well, look, I think that like, I don’t, I don’t have a judgment on either, right. As long as with the batching. One, it definitely happens. So like, so what happened with the post was about three years in, I got to thinking I got Seth Godin published a giant compilation of a load of his blog. And that just gave me the thought, oh, no, I could put a compilation of my blog together, because about three years, and I had about 150 of them, then writing pretty much one every week, and they’re on LinkedIn, which is actually as a blogging platform is fine as a posting and quite nice for having little, little bits of organic sharing.
But it’s not very good for finding 150 articles that someone’s read and reading them. And so even people who wanted to do that wouldn’t have been able to do it. And I thought, well, what if I make this into a book and I thought be funny because I could call it I wrote this book in 12 minutes, as a way to provoke people into getting off their asses and making the thing that they wanted to make.
And then I talked to my friend Steve, who was going to help me do a bit of editing on on what was just going to be the The blog posts in order in a book form, and he said, it’s such a good title. Can we make the book about that as well? Like, is there a way to package these blog posts that you’ve written over the first three years into a story about how to, like, Get off your ass and make something. And what was really amazing was that there was that was that basically, because I’ve been writing in that kind of weird way that we’ve just been talking about. Whereas I had to like write about what I was interested in, or what was on my mind over three years.
And what I’d been doing over those three years was Mike fighting my own creative battle by getting over this procrastination about sharing things online and getting out there with my business much, much more. And the business I’d been doing was coaching, which is essentially helping someone do something they want to do, but but can’t quite do. What I’ve been writing about almost all the time, was, how do I go from this kind of creative hell of stuckness into action.
And so I then I sat down, and I dealt out the pieces, essentially, those I print them all off 140 of them, I didn’t 50 of them, and dealt them out into the stages of the creative process. And it was amazing, because what I’d done accidentally was create not just a body of work, not just 140 blog posts, but but something quite coherent once I’d pulled out a few pieces that didn’t quite make sense and a few duplicates. And that’s essentially not just this book, but in the end, I decided it worked better as a series of four books.
So they’re going to come out this year, written in this way. And I guess the reason I tell the rest of that story now is like, I’ve been working on the second book, which is about keeping going, it’s going to be called How to keep going when you want to give up, right? Because it’s it’s like starting is the number one condition to doing great work, not giving up after one week or 10 weeks is the number two condition. And, and what the insight that I really had working on that book, probably out in May 22, something like that.
Is like that this practice for me was the tortoise and the hare. Right? It was that fable, you know, and the story of that, of course, is that, yeah, it’s all very well being really fast. But if you stop for a massive rest, then some tortoise walking along at one, one article every, for 12 minutes every week for a few years will overtake you in the end. And so like I have, I’m all in favor of fast and intense, like doing loads every week will get you more than doing a little bit every week. But mostly over a period of years. Like the tortoise does beat the hare and some of those people that I was envious on at the start of my journey when I was thinking about writing who’d written 50 100 150 blog posts when I hadn’t even started.
I’ve now written more articles now because they have stopped and slowed down. So it’s certainly not I don’t have a I think like doing loads and batching. Like whatever. Essentially, the game is, given all the distractions in the world, given all the things you could be doing, given those challenges of choice, given how we’re often juggling, especially when we’re starting something we’re juggling, like the necessity of making money and having a living alongside making something new, that the game is do whatever you need to do to make sure that you can do something consistently over a period of time.
So I’m really glad, for example, that I my practice was 12 minutes a week. But I had people inspired by the 12 Minute Writing Practice, go to 12 minutes a day, and get their books done before mine, right. And that’s great. But 12 minutes a day would have been too much for me, I would have given up I would have slept and stung. And so if if the game is to create something magical, then the most important thing is that you start it and you keep going.
And the just the last thing to say one of the really amazing things that I have discovered through this practice, is I have never had anything in my life that I committed to doing every week. And I have kept going for as long as this kind of amazing thing to realize, like so one of the big insight for me, and my journey has been that confidence is a result of action.
So I was used to like you used to want to wait for confidence to start and that’s a terrible bind to put yourself in. Because confidence only comes after you’ve started it only comes after you’ve done things. And a weird piece of confidence that I have now is that if I set my mind to it and build the habit right and choose to commit to it, then actually i i will i am someone I can be confident I am someone who can keep to a habit over a period of years. And what’s interesting about that is it basically makes this is gonna sound grandiose, but basically makes anything possible. Because if you
Muscle memory, it’s like muscle memory. You just get used to doing it. Yeah, yeah.
And you have the sense that I have a sense that I won’t give up Unless. And so it’s interesting now when I noticed that I’m not keeping a commitment on a weekly or monthly or whatever basis, it’s like, I have to really think, Oh, what am I doing? What am I doing here? What am I not doing here? That in my 12 minute writing practice or my Duolingo streak, or my, you know, my podcasting or my business? What am I not doing with this new thing that I was doing in those places? And how do I build that in so that this is a thing that I don’t flake out?
Yeah, well, I like to, I think you summed it up there, which is in a given amount of time, as long as it gets done. And there are different practices to depending on the project, like if you write a book, and this is a great, very timely conversation for me, because I’m actually starting my first book next month at the time of recording this, which I’m super excited about. So I will very intentionally have like a dedicated weekly routine, for sure, I’ll probably time it out by day, get out of the house, go to a coffee shop, where I tend to thrive when it comes like writing and creativity. That’s my plan for that.
Now, project kind of things are very different. Because they may come in waves, they may come and go, it’s very different to balance that type of creativity when you’re up against a deadline. And again, there’s the money thing, there’s everything else. But I think either way, that idea of just having that momentum and just getting the getting the bad stuff out of your head and just doing something is key. And I often think about this back in my journey when I first started out, because I definitely struggled with the white screen syndrome, which is where like, all right, I’m ready to start this web design project. We’ve got a strategy in place, we got the ideas, ha, I got nothing like that. That’s just the worst feeling ever. And it could come with books come with design, because the websites.
But what I’ve learned over the years is that and I now expect that it used to catch me by surprise. Now I just know, if it doesn’t happen right away, it’s going to happen. At some point, I might get the homepage design. But then like the other pages I’m stuck on, what are your thoughts about that about like, I don’t want to be a pessimist. But you do you have you learned that the resistance as The War of Art puts puts it? Are you just aware that it is going to come at some point in the process no matter how pro you are? It’s going to happen?
Yeah, that’s one of them. One of the I mean, one of the many, many insights I took from the War of Art that are powerful for me, and anyone who reads my book will, will see that will kind of feel Steven Pressfield presence in it. You know, but one of the biggest things from that book is yeah, that everybody has this, like, you know, I used to use the story of my fear and my procrastination stories tell Was there a reason for me to not do these things because they’re a sign that I’m not a creative person or that I’m not cut out to do these things. And he tells great stories in that book about people like that I’ve you start collecting them after that, seeing how untrue they are.
There’s a really nice one with I’m gonna get it slightly wrong. But that Paulo Coelho, who wrote the alchemist tells on the Tim Ferriss show. And it’s something like he just builds into it. He knows in his writing day, he’s basically going to spend, it’s got to sit down for six hours, for every two hours of writing because he knows the first four hours are going to be all his crazy procrastination happening. But he knows by now that he’s got to just kind of like, wait that out surfeit out until he gets to the moment where the magic starts to happen. And I think that that’s, that’s real.
So I think there’s, there’s probably two things I’d say about that. One is just know it’s going to happen know that the fear, the resistance, that procrastination, or the voices in your head, they’re not a reason that you can’t do this. They’re like what everyone has. And the more when you start when like, like I like happened to me, like, if you choose to assume that you start to notice all these very successful people telling their stories about how that happens. The other thing that I like to think about though, is like, there’s a blank page, right? And it’s, you know, coding, web design, they are absolutely creative acts in the same way that writing a book is. And the pages are an example of that.
Like, it’s just like, there’s a place that I’m going to get to, there’s a story that I’m going to tell there’s a thing that we’re going to have at the end and I have to make it from nothing. And the the other thing that I always try to remember with that that kind of thing is humility, essentially. And I can remember who I heard, say this in my oven, Seth Godin, by having Pressfield. It’s like, just think about truck drivers. Like they never have truck drivers block. Right? They never get up one day and say, you know, I just I just didn’t have it in the to drive the truck today, to feel it. Like I just didn’t feel like it. I used to feel like a truck driver today. And so I didn’t go out, right? They just got behind the wheel, and they drive.
And so it does feel like that’s the answer to me. It’s like, it goes back a bit towards your projects. It’s just like put the time in, turn off the distractions and do something and if it’s, if it’s kind of crap the first time that’s okay. For all the reasons we’ve been talking about,
It usually is too particularly with a web design over it like I know vividly even when I do designs today it’s like The first version is always not great. And even if I think the last gonna be great for whatever reason, it just it’s like, Ah, this is kind of crap, I might completely scratch this, I sleep on it, come back tomorrow, do a few tweaks and then suddenly there’s life there. And I found that to be true with every project. I do even like, I’m editing a video right now for one of my videos on my YouTube channel. And the first version, I was like this just I just feel like it’s not great. But with a little bit of editing and a little bit of work on it. Suddenly, it’s a whole new it’s a whole new thing. That is really cool.
That point though, with distractions, I want to really hit on this for a sec, because that is like the culprit of any true creativity. Now, if it’s going to be done, if it’s creativity done, is limiting distractions and prioritizing the right things. I think it was, I think it was Neil Gaiman who said it may have been on the Tim Ferriss show one of his podcasts where he said with his writing practice, because he faces of resistance just like everybody else. But he said he would take if I remember right, he would take a pen and go into a room. And he gave himself two options, no phone, no computer, no nothing just pen and paper and nothing else.
He said he didn’t have to write. But the only other option was to just sit and think it was so heated. So it alleviated the like, Okay, I’ve got to write this now it’s the only thing I can do, he gave himself another option. But the option was just to do nothing and sit there and then a forced him to write. So I thought that was kind of interesting. And I think that practice may be worthwhile as a web designer of doing like, maybe, where whatever your office setup looks like whatever it is, you have two options, designed this homepage, or don’t and just kind of think and just sit but it’s those two options, no Facebook, no other social media, no phone, no email, no nothing else, just those two options, I just wonder if that might be a good practice to help as well, like something practical, that can be done to, you know, help this stuck. Resistance period,
Definitely go back to what you were saying before about what you’re going to do with your book that just sounds really wise really, you know, one of the things I love about having made something like like my book and kind of coined called the series, the 12 Minute method is, you see people doing what they should do with that idea, which is making it their own. And people are doing all kinds of things within sometimes it’s 12 minutes, something and sometimes it’s 20 and 30. And more than that, and like you said, there’s times for project work and all that kind of thing.
But I think what what is important is what you said about the coffee shop, right? It’s some dedicated time. And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to write a book or, or make a build a website. You know, writing a book could definitely be done well in taking yourself away to the mountains for two weeks in a place by yourself with no one else there. And ideally no phone reception and banging out. And that would be a great way to make something as well. The key is dedicated time I think that’s really helpful. And I you know, there’s a couple of reasons that that story is so good, isn’t it? One is that it is taking distractions, literally out of the of Neil Gaiman’s way.
And one of the things that I Someone once asked me, you know, what are you what did like the three? Kind of what the question was three things you think you’ve learned most about productivity? And one of the ones that came at me then which I just think, you know, it’s one of the it’s been such a useful thought for me to have and I sometimes share with people is actually being humble about what we need to do to resist distractions. And the truth is, like, we kind of I certainly I and I’ve heard other people do this as well. It’s easy to think like we should, like we should be kind of smart enough to not check Facebook, when we when we are doing some work.
We’re just not like let’s not forget all that stuff out of the was it the social dilemma on Netflix, it’s like the smartest people in the world, competing with each other to build the most distracting AI that’s ever existed millions of times more powerful than chess computers that beat Garry Kasparov. It’s like, you know, it’s like it’s all there. And they’re all doing that. We’re not smart enough to beat that. So you got to be humble, you got to do some things. You got to lock yourself in a room.
Instinct, always trump’s knowledge.
I unplugged the router. I can’t do it as much since COVID. Because my wife’s working at home as well. But I like I would unplug the internet in our in our apartment in our flat so I couldn’t go on it. If I didn’t. There’s more tricky when you when you’re doing some work that you need to be connected to the internet for but there are apps to stop you going on Instagram. You know, I did a thing once where I like I’d already taken the apps off my phone for all these distracting things. But I still would still go on the like browser, mobile web version sometimes. But it made a real difference to on to lock myself out of Twitter.
So I got an extra chance it’s in the science and psychology they call it the activation energy of a task. So if you raise the activation energy of a task, I make it harder to just like accidentally find yourself on Twitter. Then if you raise the activation energy, it gives you your conscious mind more chance to get involved. So logging out of Twitter and that I would Go on my browser on my phone. I’m just find myself there. My intuitive self just like trying to procrastinate is there, but I would I would have to type in the password or even just press login. That was enough usually for me to go. I logged out of this because I don’t want to be on Twitter right now. Yeah, okay, I’m gonna put my phone over there.
Now, my phone right now, right? I mean, we’re on a podcast. So that’s another reason to do it. But it’s over there on the other side of the room so that I can’t accidentally get distracted by it. So I think that it is almost, there is almost no lengths that you can go to to avoid distractions that aren’t worth it, I think I got the double negative right there, I might not have but basically, to kind of, to help yourself, not get distracted when you want to really focus.
And I think we’re kind of agreeing in this in this call and I definitely believe this, that like one of the key ways to get the stuff that you want to do done is to basically create the conditions to do it and just sit there and either do it or don’t do it. Right, that is a really nice thing to say, but give yourself a choice, like you’re gonna sit at your desk, or you’re going to sit in your writing space, or you’re going to take your laptop to the right cupboard in your house, and you’re just gonna sit in it. And you’ve got the choice, you can code or you can do nothing, but you can’t do it.
The other cool thing about that though, as well, Josh is the work or do nothing is that like in the modern world doing nothing is actually like, you know, think about how popular mindfulness is and how valuable people know it is. Mindfulness is a cent is essentially doing nothing in a certain way. And never do nothing. In a way it’s also what you’re doing in the in the shower, when you have the good ideas. So spend an hour doing nothing.
This is the time where like the mind gets to relax. And it’s like, Ah, you give us some room to breathe. And then suddenly the ideas come on. I remember vividly one website design. We did the initial design, the client wasn’t real keen on it. So we were just I just remembered being stuck. And I just could not figure out what I wanted to do for this homepage. I said my office I drew I, I kind of just tried to force myself through it. And I was like, I just, it sucks when I getting it. I’m gonna take my dog for a walk.
And that’s when it happened. That’s I was on a walk. And I remember like halfway through the vision of my head of what I wanted to do, and I’d like hustle back to get it out of my head. But that’s that’s how it happens with mindfulness. And yeah, you give it some room to breathe. And it is again, I want to get back to the trickiness of it, because I know personally, whenever I have times where I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna be creative. And this is my two hour block. I get there. And I’m like, dang it, I got nothing. Why do I not have this Monday at 10am. But a Friday night when we’re getting ready for bed is when it strikes. For whatever reason, I’ve just come to assume that’s how it’s gonna be. But I tried to, you know, get my version of out of it all out as best as I can.
Yeah, maybe for you. It’s more like, like, like, You’ve been saying you collect the ideas, you can’t you can’t go to the it sounds like it doesn’t work for you to go to the Monday Morning slot, with no idea ready to work on. But I imagine if you’ve got the idea from Friday, and rather than, like, be creative, that Monday morning slot is work on the latest idea that I’ve had, that’s a different kettle of fish, right?
I realize my ideas come from the most random times the most random places. – Josh
That’s a good, that’s a great point, there’s a big difference between like actually producing the content for an idea and then coming up with the idea. So I’m really glad you flush this out. This is can become quite a therapy session for me, because now I’m like, psychologically, I realize my ideas come from the most random times the most random places, which is cool. I’m used to that. The production and the content creation typically comes out of the slots as long as I have the idea, but you’re totally right.
If I sit down on Monday, and I have all the time in the world that takes I don’t take calls on Monday to like, come up with the ideas, I’m stuck, I got nothing. That’s just the way it is. But I can produce the content. So for like my book, for example, I’ll probably come up with the outline randomly. I mean, I’ll have some intentional times, but I guarantee it’ll be on a walk or something when I like, oh, I should add this chapter, this story. And then those dedicated slots at a coffee shop or my book writing time, that’s when I will actually produce and get the creativity out. For me personally, I’m not down with doing nothing, generally. So all probably just either right? Well or not. Right? So well. And then, you know, tweak that as need be. That’s my game plan, at least.
And I think you know, what you’ve said about how you work, but I’ve heard lots of other people say it but Brene Brown said lots of people, you know, yeah, like, like with the way that you you create websites. It’s like, if it’s if it’s a kind of rubbish first draft, that’s like a great place to start from. And there’s a lot you know, again, it’s a different skill and some people love and hate these different skills. It’s a different skill to like, come back and flush out and also remember once you’ve got the rubbish first go like that creative procrastination will start happening again.
So I think the more you’ve done that, like the more likely it is in fact that the cool ideas for ah, you know that a bit about that, that should not have that story. And there’s this other much better way of telling that or, or you know, you’re doing a podcast interview and the guest tells a story and you’re like, oh, that that’s the bit for the, for the intro. This is exactly, you know, so it’s like, once the, I guess the sometimes people I’ve also heard interestingly, I’ve heard writers talking about how some, and this is like fiction writers, which I’ve never done, and I doubt I ever will. But like some saying some of them work from a plan.
So they write, they plan it all out. And they then then they write their first draft, but some don’t work from a plan. And essentially, what they do is their first draft, which they just write as it comes becomes the plan around and sometimes you have to check that you have to track the content of that pretty much all away. But because you’ve done the first go at it, you’ve got an idea for like, oh, yeah, it’s nothing like that. Except that this is the story arc, except that now I’ve written the ending like this, it has to be actually completely different. But you’ve got that plan is basically the first the first go.
Well, I think that’s why getting stuck in the beginning is so common I don’t, most people, especially in web design, don’t get stuck at the end, you get stuck at the beginning, because that’s when there’s everything going on. And there’s everything that needs to be planned, like designing a website, I would never get stuck after the homepage is designed and the main pages are designed and I just need to fill in content. I wasn’t like, Oh, I’m stuck on this, this particular button design that typically wasn’t an issue. It’s the beginning, it’s when there’s nothing.
That is at least for me, that’s when I tend to see the most stuckness, whatever, whatever you want to call it. It’s the biggest hurdle to get over. But I think everything we’ve talked about so far, our I mean, we’ve really covered a lot of the challenge the challenges and solutions to those because it’s a lot of its psychological. I mean, there’s all sorts of different things that are in between there, sometimes it is office, and how you your workspace, how you work when you like to work when you’re productive, when the ideas come when you feel productive as far as production and creativity, which is really fascinating. But yeah, that first hurdle seems to be always the biggest one that blank page.
I think it like, I wish I could remember what the actual research that says I need to look it up to keep thinking about it. But I think there’s research which shows and this feels exactly true to my experience. And I think what you’re saying that, like humans are really creative, but only when when working within a set of constraints of some kind. Like if you just if you just say like be creative, then no human is creative. But if you say like, make something that looks a bit like a monkey from the stuff in your room, then the right people will like we’ll find something that looks vaguely like a monkey based on the t shirt and the lamp and that kind of thing. And I think that’s important.
And then the other thing that I just thought about when you were saying that about the web design is I think you’re right about that. So that’s why I think that might be one of the things that’s going on. It’s like, once you’ve created the essentially you might have to create your own set of constraints, which is done. Basically, once the homepage is done once the overall site architecture is in place, like the button just follows from that and flows. But but coming from blank page or even like brief to something that is visible.
That’s the kind of biggest part of the creative act. And look, there’s a reason that the start book is the book I put out first, it’s because it’s like that’s the bit where you’re going from this massive unmoving object to you start moving the Boulder, and then the boulder rolls in the end, the car, that boulder is just, it’s just rolling away that the only thing I would catch about about that, the end is that I think that when, when it’s something that’s personal to someone to maybe more like when it’s when it’s someone launching their, their new business, then the end can be a killer part. They’re like, my website is live. And I’m going to post about it on social media and tell my friends like that can be a really thorny moment, too. But other than that, I think you’re really right, this is something massive isn’t there in that once we’re rolling once we’ve got the first draft or the plan or the the site architecture done.
Well and I’ve learned that with everything I’ve done to even like in the physical realm like I remember when I did a half marathon years ago, the worst part was just getting started those first few runs those were the biggest hurdles but you build literally you build the muscle memory with that you build the time you built you it’s a routine that you fall into it’s a habit, that’s when it happens I think it’s definitely the same with design and creativity even now as a course creator like I have done 10 courses so I know pretty much when the resistance is going to come and it’s always at the beginning it’s at the very beginning when I try to map out the course is generally when I that’s that’s a big hurdle time that’s when the ideas come randomly.
And then the first set of like video recording and without fail without fail me Every time I sit down to do like five or six videos, the first one is the roughest one. And I always have to get through the fumbling. And I always do multiple takes, or I’ll just let it go. And then once I get going, I’m in flow state, and then I could cook through five or six videos, batch them out, and then I just, you know, did a ton. I’ve found that to be true in every endeavor in the physical realm and the digital realm. That’s always how it’s gotten.
You’re right. Like, there’s definitely different kind of stuck moments. I think my that might depend on marketing strategy, comfort as far as being extroverted or introverted on certain things. But yeah, it definitely seems like for me personally, it’s always the beginning, always the start of, of the hurt. That’s the biggest hurdle. As far as feeling stuck, but everything we’ve talked about are really practical things that we can do that whether it is limit yourself with just do this or do nothing. Give yourself time constraints and deadlines that I’m a big believer in that because I’ve often with courses set like a launch date to where I’m getting this course done, whether it’s amazing, or whether it’s pretty dang good. It’s going to be done.
So I think those things help. I think, actually, constraints and limitations for creativity are key. And I don’t know whether your books like do you have deadlines with your books? Do you give yourself deadlines? Because otherwise, I mean, I could write this book for three and a half years. But I know I don’t want to write it more than maybe a couple months at the most.
Yeah, well, this goes back to what we were talking about, right at the start of the conversation, like, I’d had a load of success with a particular goal setting exercise that I do use, pretty much every year, I’ve had loads of success with it, until it came to these books. And then I kept like, I kept falling down on it, they kept being on the list, and then not getting done. And there were loads of good reasons for it. Right. They were like, like, you know, with the books, I was like, learning about the publishing industry, for example. And I like I at one point, I was like, No, my whole thing is just like get a thing out doesn’t matter what it’s like, self publishing is the way to go.
And then I had this door, which was about another book that I loved. And I thought except if I could get that publisher to publish my book, that would be better, because that publisher and this book like that, and then amazingly, that guy did offer to publish this book. And actually, you know, another another project that I’m working on. So I had this weird thing where in the end, that became resistance, because it was it was clearly apparent when I started talking to the guy that he would have been the wrong person to do this, but this whole thing, this whole two year period from, from the book, first, the first idea of the book, but it was two and a, like two years, three or four months between first committing to doing the book, essentially getting the first draft of what’s actually four books ready. And this first one coming out.
And I had to keep reminding myself, it was like it really got. I was like really questioning all of the things we’ve been talking about. And it’s a big deal, actually, especially if your book is about getting things done and procrastinating. If you can’t stop procrastinating, like, the whole thing is gone. It’s not just Yeah, it’s like the whole none of it works. None of its true anymore. So I had to do all kinds of things to to get me over it. And of course, I found exactly what you just said what we’ve been talking about to be true, which is once the first one is done to the second, which will come out soon feels easy in comparison.
And some of that is practical, because I now have a team that I’m working on this on, I know how it works, and all that kind of thing. And some of it is just the creation is is going now in my identity. Like on a psychological level. One of the things that’s that’s happened is the identity shift, I think that I have to go through to have a second book out is nothing like going for the identity shift going from no books to one book. Yeah. Which is like, who am I to publish a book? Well, now I don’t have to worry about that. Cuz I’m already that guy.
I felt like that as a course creator to this. First course. I’m like, Who am I to do a course. And then once I got going, I’m like, Oh my gosh, I am like, I’m known as a course guy now and I feel comfortable with that. That’s my favorite thing to do. So it casts Yeah.
So I did have a deadline just reminded me of your question. The deadline. The deadline for this book for the book that came out was 2021, the end of 2021. And it came out on the seventh of December 2021. So pretty close to the end of the year. Like I couldn’t really have got it out later than that. And I’ve set myself the end of 2022 to get the next three books out. And I’m having to but I’m working hard to make sure they don’t all come out in December because that’s not very smart from from a marketing point of view.
So I’ve set internal deadlines in this year. And I think it is really important now i because of who I am, I tend not to let the deadlines rule me. You know, I had a kind of plan. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I’m just thinking of this allowed. Maybe I am letting the deadlines. Maybe this is maybe this is one of my one of my challenges. So like, it’s important with kind of everything in life as a philosophical point, I think it’s a bit like the constraint creativity thing. It’s like, yeah, you have to have a bit of both. You have to, for me, I need the deadlines,
You need boundaries, what’s a true tivity? Otherwise creativity, just it’s like paint with no, as we’re, you know, we’re in the art, we’re in the artistic mindset here. So if you just put paint on a flat surface, it’s just gonna go everywhere. But if you put it in a bowl, you know, something that is going to contain it, that’s otherwise Yeah, just gonna go everywhere, it’s gonna take forever, I found like, with web design, you have clients who need their website up. So generally, you’re gonna have a deadline to me, you will have some flexibility in there. But that is actually really good. I struggled with that when I became a course creator, and what I do now, because it’s like, I don’t have to have any deadlines, but I’ve learned that I thrive with deadlines. I’ve got to give myself a deadline, if it’s gonna get done.
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it’s also how we make choices about what we do. Right is one of the things is the deadline is like, urgency and importance of both are both there. And we can give ourselves sometimes, mostly, I think in, I don’t know what I’d say like modern societies, we’re pretty good at working to what’s urgent, but we’re not so good at working to what’s important. And one of the ways you can fix that I’m just getting this thought now, right, is you can create urgency for what’s important by setting yourself a deadline.
So essentially, that’s what I did with the writing practice, right? It’s like, it’s important for me to practice sharing things. It’s not really urgent of Anthony to practice writing, it’s not really urgent, but it is urgent, if I say, and then you then you’re asking yourself this as a candidate. If I say it’s, I’m going to do it once a week, then I’ve created a deadline, right? If you say your if you say your book is going to come out, or it’s gonna be finished by June, then you’ve created a deadline, then the only interesting thing is, have you like there’s a meta competency that I realized I have this, this practice has really helped me develop, which is, are you able to keep the promises you make to yourself?
If you are able to do that, then life is a really different place, if you are not able to do that. And that’s something that’s worth practicing. That’s a thing that having a weekly habit, like a writing practice, like, you know, it doesn’t really matter what it is like that you can build that ability in yourself, because it’s no good having an I struggled with this with the book, I’m saying it’s no good having a deadline. If you don’t do the thing says you’ll do by the deadline, right? It hasn’t been it hasn’t been
That I mean, we’ll have to have a follow up conversation on that idea of following through because that’s a biggie. Yeah. I mean, you’d, there’s so many valuable principles of like just starting and finishing something just psychologically, it’s so important to do that on a micro level with little projects, and on a macro level with something big. So let’s definitely plan around to because the second book, What’s that one called?
Again? It’s gonna be how to keep going when you want to give up. So it’s like,
That’s it. Well, yeah, what a perfect follow up to how to start with you’re stuck. I love that. I’m super excited about that, for sure. Well, awesome, Robbie, this has been great man, I really think we weaved in and out of a lot of the challenges that are probably super common for all creatives, web designers, authors, content creators, all the things that require creativity, we talked about constraints, we talked about a bunch of practical tactical type of practices we can put into place which have been really, really good. This definitely, this made me feel better, and made me feel inspired to conquer those when they come because it just came this week earlier this week, I had a little segment of content time, and I just felt a little stuck.
But I got over it pretty quickly. Because I’m, I’m used to it, which will come I think everyone early in the journey, this is a good thing to listen to early on, especially because it’ll prepare you for when it does come and you’re not a freak. You’re not alone. It happens to everybody. But a lot of good stuff we covered in this man, I have one final question for you. Before we get started, though, where would you like people to go to find out more about who you want to send to the book, your podcast? Where do you want to go?
Yeah, I mean, all the stuff to do with me really is at Robbie swail.com suelos SW al E, the book is on Amazon and also in all kinds of other places. I think in the States, you can get it in on Barnes and Noble website, that kind of thing to see if if people would rather. And there’s actually a thing that I haven’t, I didn’t mention this to you. So you can cut this out if you don’t want to. But there’s, you know, I’ve got available to people if they want it a draft version of the fourth, the fourth book in the series, which can which people can just have for free.
And the reason for that is, you know, is is for me a lot of this was about the for me, it’s like that there are two key moments. There’s the moment of starting, which we’ve talked a lot about and then there’s that piece that I hinted at which is like for some of us sometimes it’s the like pressing go but especially if that’s your own business if it’s if it’s something you’ve created, it happens a bit less I think when you’re doing work for other people when you’re doing client work because I think for that read that keeping your promises to yourself or the the ways we relate to others, that stuff is a bit easier.
But when we’re making something of our own, that moment of sharing the work of like pressing go, that’s quite important. And it’s something that for me, in some ways, we’re all this is about all this work is about how we make change the world, right. And I believe that the way we change the world is is people start always starts with some fairly ordinary person, starting something, and having an idea and seeing it through. And sometimes those become Google, or the light bulb. And sometimes they don’t, and they become a little thing and a little corner of the world. None of that no one’s ever heard of except the 30 people in that corner who who really value the coffee shop and go there every, every, every week, or whatever it is. So that is another place. And I’ll give you a link for that.
Yeah, where’s it? Where’s that? Because we can if you want to, we could do like Robbie swale.com/josh. Hall. If if you want to forward that over there to get that draft or wherever we have that.
Let’s do that. I don’t I don’t have it handy. There’s a link on my website by just don’t have it in front of me to give it to you right
Okay, yeah. Is that cool? Because we can put that in the show notes. If you want to do just Robbie swale.com/josh. Hall? We’re using WordPress, right. Hi.
You know, I’m on Squarespace, which
I can easily do that. That’s sorry, I didn’t know there was a redirect link or something. You could just link that.
We’ll do it. We’ll do Robbie swell.com/josh. Hall. So people can go there straight for that as well. That’s great. Yeah. And, but yeah, hit the book. And also, I’m on all the social media. So find me on there if people want to. And I love starting conversations about people who are ready to make something and are having these battles like I always love having this conversation. So feel free to reach out. There’s also actually a Facebook group of people, a 12 minute method, Facebook group, if people want to dive in there to ask
Awesome. Well my final question was, if you think maybe the best place to start would be some sort of like 12 minute weekly practice or daily practice, or something like that, just to help people who are loaded up with ideas, but they want to focus on one thing. I guess my final question was, what do you think that one thing would be to help?
Yeah, so I love the weekly practice, I just think it gives, like, all the stuff that I gave me the stuff that I wanted, which was to be someone who wrote regularly and also to be someone who could share things comfortably online, but it also gave me so much more. So the the frame, I would I would give people if they’re going to think about doing that, I would absolutely recommend that kind of thing is like something like what would you have five years time, be really grateful to you have now that you started practicing so that in five years time, you’ve been practicing something 12 minutes a week for five years. And that’s my Duolingo story, right?
I used to I wanted to learn Spanish wanted to do some length languages for years. I loved it at school, but just stopped and never did any more. And, you know, I know that the most productive way for me to learn Spanish is definitely not Duolingo. Right? It would be to have a tutor who did that. But I’ve known that for many years, and I’ve done nothing about it. And at some point, I started Duolingo. And I kept going and I’m now on a streak of like, I don’t know, 1300 days or something and my Spanish is like, mucho mas mejor que if I’d never done it, right, that’s probably the end, that’s probably about is how good my Spanish isn’t.
But it’s like me of five years, three years time or two years time will be really grateful to me a five years of three years ago, five years ago then that I’ve been doing something on that and not nothing. And that’s how, like, Who do you want to become? And what would that person be doing? What would you have five years time be really grateful to you have now that you started practicing?
That’s great. I know, when I got started doing tutorials, I gave myself a 12 week window like I just light at the end of the tunnel. I said for 12 weeks. I’m gonna do one tutorial on YouTube a week. And it was the best practice I could do as a weekly practice. And I had light at the end of the tunnel that really set the tone for doing content consistently for me.
So I think that could probably go right in conjunction with what you said something weekly. Sunday, you can look back on and think gosh, thank God I did that. That’s awesome. So yeah, yeah, right. Well, this has been awesome, man a lot, a lot of good. This is one of the most like psychological and depth talks I’ve had on the podcast, which I really enjoyed because it’s huge with creativity and getting stuff done. So definitely everyone check out how to start with you’re stuck or when you’re stuck. And then we’ll have the link at Robbie swell.com/josh Hall for everybody. And then I’m excited for round two when the book comes out, man, so hit me up when that’s ready.
Absolutely love to thanks so much, Josh. It’s been super fun.
Awesome. Thanks, Robbie.
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