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Blog Like A Pro In Three Easy Steps: Assess, Decide, Do

Blog Like A Pro In Three Easy Steps: Assess, Decide, Do

    Many readers of Stepcase Lifehack are bloggers themselves and some of them are even making a (nice) living off of it. But, as fancy as it may seem, blogging is not an easy task. At least blogging for money, constantly, for several years in a row. I know it first hand, since I’m doing this for a good 4 years now.

    So, a management system to keep things from falling a part will become compulsory, at some point. For those of you who reached this point, today’s post describes a system that proved its efficiency in the last year for me. Oh, and for those of you too much into GTD, this will sound almost too relaxing to be true. :)

    The Blogging Buckets

    The first thing you should do is to mentally break down the process into 3 realms, or, in much mundane terms, buckets. If you used to do this process in a single chunk, just stop. Instead, imagine 3 big buckets called Assess, Decide, Do. In each of these buckets you will put some of the daily tasks you used to perform in a single shot.

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    In order to make things even easier, you could also make 3 folders on your desktop. Or 3 mailboxes on your mail client. Whatever place you’re using the most, slice it up in 3 parts, where you would drop the processed information, as follows.

    The Assess Bucket

    In this folder (or mailbox, or bucket) you should put every single idea you have about a future blog post. Even more, you should also put ideas about upcoming products, partnerships, blog enhancements and so on. Whatever crosses your mind, and it’s related to blogging, just put it there, as raw as you can.

    The role of this bucket is to capture everything that could enhance your activity. Just put it there and tweak is as much as you can. If it’s a blog post idea, add more stuff to it, spin-off other ideas or just evaluate if it would be a good thing to write or not. In this bucket, you’re not “doing” anything. You’re just capturing stuff and assess it.

    The Decide Bucket

    Once you can’t add something to an idea you assessed, it’s time to make a decision about it. That’s what you do in the Decide bucket. This is where you place the stuff you can’t Assess anymore. But you’re not yet doing it. You’re going to make a decision about it. Like signing a contract to do it.

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    That’s a good place to use a calendar too. Because what you’re doing in the Decide bucket is to plan and schedule what you’re going to do. Still, you’re not “doing” anything, you’re just deciding. There’s a trick, and you’ll see further down the road, that this bucket is going both ways.

    The Do Bucket

    This is where you actually perform stuff. This is where you write, publish, promote. This is where you interact, where you implement everything that was sent from Decide. The most interesting part is that you’re not supposed to “do” anything else, because… well, it was all taken care of.

    Whatever you have to assess about a blog post, you assessed, now all you have to do is to write it. You already scheduled time and place in your calendar (in Decide, where you actually signed the contract to do that thing) so you know nothing will interfere. But if it does, just move that item back to Decide.

    The Process

    Suppose you wake up one morning and have a lot of blog post ideas. Just drop them all in Assess, in raw form. Then, look over the other material you have there. If there are really some ideas that can be done, that cannot be assessed anymore, move them to Decide.

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    Once in Decide, look up your schedule and plan ahead. Some of the stuff you get in Decide will be from Do, namely, stuff that you have to re-decide upon. That’s what I wanted to say with “working both ways”. Decide is a turning platform between your Do and your Assess. You can keep stuff there for as long as you want, provided that: a) you can’t assess it anymore, and b) you don’t have yet the resources for it (time, energy). But once you’ll have the resources, you will look over the Decide bucket and take out whatever you can do in the next period.

    Then, once in Do, all you have to “do” is to focus on writing. Or on tweaking that theme. Or on creating some killer partnerships.

    The neat thing about the whole process is that sometimes you feel more like being in Assess than in Decide or Do. That’s ok. Just perform whatever your bucket tells you to do. In a very subtle way, even procrastination, which is something very common in Assess, could be incorporated as valuable work, using this approach. Or sometimes you just feel like planning ahead and allocating resources. Ok, just use your Decide bucket. And sometimes, all you want to do is write. Just open your Do folder and pick up some of the blog post ideas you already sent there from Decide.

    How Is This working?

    And, most important, why is this working? Well, it’s part of a life management framework I developed a couple of years ago, called, you guessed, “Assess – Decide – Do”. If you’re interested to learn more, there’s a direct link in my bio.

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    As a long time GTD’er, I eventually hit a roadblock, where something just didn’t feel well. Felt “robotish” while doing my weekly review and also felt completely at lost when I didn’t have my “GTD setup” handy. So, after a few ramblings and dead ends, I suddenly realized that we’re not designed only to “Do”. And I think this is the fundamental mistake we make when we embrace a productivity technique.

    We’re also designed to dream, to imagine things, without the pressure of a finished product (that would be the Assess realm) and also we’re designed to plan ahead, to arrange tasks in a future schedule and to decide whether or not are we going to do them or not (that would be the Decide realm). The last realm, Do, is the place for productivity methodologies like GTD, the place where we can draconically optimize the “doing” stuff.

    But we need to express each and every part of our being in order to be balanced. We need to allow ourselves to just dream (or even procrastinate) as long as we root ourselves in the Assess realm. Also, we should free to make decisions about each and every thing, either moving it ahead to Do, or passing it back to Assess, for further processing, as long as we live in the Decide realm. While in Do, well, all we have to do is Do, without the pressure of Assessing whether what we do is good or bad, without the pressure of an agenda (because everything was taken care of in Decide, right?)

    What will happen, if you truly implement this cycle, is that everything you will perform in Do will become smooth and with a touch of flow. You may not be the fanciest guy in the office, but you will do a lot more stuff.

    And, what’s even more important, chances are that you will even enjoy more the entire process.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

    7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

    The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

    Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

    However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

    The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

    Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

    1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

    According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

    From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

    This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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    Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

    2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

    We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

    Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

    When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

    Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

    Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

    You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

    What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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    3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

    This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

    First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

    Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

    Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

    4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

    One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

    “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

    If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

    Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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    Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

    When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

    5. Learn to Say “No”

    I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

    Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

    Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

    Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

    By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

    6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

    This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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    Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

    The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

    Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

    7. Be Intentional

    The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

    There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

    It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

    The Bottom Line

    The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

    Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

    More About Staying Focused

    Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

    Reference

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