This is my 200th post in this blog. It has been a long journey, so I wanted to take a moment to reflect about some of the most important lessons I learned.
I started blogging with the overall goal of improving the quality of my written English. I am grateful that I have managed to make considerable improvements since I started to write.
As the time of this writing, I am grateful that I have been able to publish 2 articles in SimpleProgrammer: Learn Programming Like Einstein Learned Physics and 10 Simple Social Skills Many Programmers Forget About. I am grateful that I have already published 2 articles in FreeCodeCamp, which is one of the most popular technical Medium publication: For Developers, Ego Is The Enemy and Why Developers avoid writing tests… until it’s too late. I am grateful that I have also been accepted as a writer in Baeldung.com which gets about 1 million page views per month and Scotch.io, which gets about 500 thousand page views per month.
Now, I generally intend to maintain my habit of regular writing, and bring value to other people’s lives.
There are many lessons that I could write about here, but I wanted to only write about the productivity lessons that I want to share with others. I hope that you will get value from them.
Start before you are ready
I remember discussing with a friend of mine in the year 2013 about blogging, and how he wanted to start a blog. I had only a few articles published at the time. He used to say that he wants to improve his English, learn more and then eventually start to write. Almost four years have passed and he still fantasizes about starting to write articles. He has not started blogging yet.
I also used to delay starting this blog, as I had similar excuses. I am grateful that I started to write and still keep writing.
I could argue that I do not have good writing skills, or that I do not have an article idea that is worth writing about. I had many things in my plate. I used to be busy, had exams and lectures, and also had a full time job. Still, I committed to write on a weekly basis. Although I could come up with as many excuses as I want, I do not want to let them to prevent me from blogging.
We tend to delay the uncomfortable things, hoping that we may get ready later. The question is: How do you know that you will be ready later on?
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
If you want to start a blog, or there is a project that you are still afraid to begin working on, do not wait for the perfect moment to come, because it never comes. There will always be an excuse that you can use. Start now, no matter how small.
Motivation is overrated
If you were to ask me whether I am motivated to write this post, I can honestly confess you that I am not. There is usually some resistance from me to write, but I do not allow it to prevent me from writing. There are different types of fears that come to me. I sometimes fear that I may not look good in front of other people, as I may write something stupid. I sometimes fear that I do not have a topic worth writing about. I sometimes fear that I will probably mess up something so much that it may make me feel embarrassed.
Still, I do not want to let those fears as excuses. I want to write on a consistent basis, and I write whether I feel like I want to write or not.
I see motivation as a wave that fluctuates regularly and I do not want to rely on it.
Quantity produces remarkable quality
The ceramics teacher announced that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.
Well, grading time came and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!
It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat around theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay. (Taken from JamesClear.com)
I am still a bit ashamed of some of my early posts that I have made, but I have also been carefully avoiding the trap of waiting for the perfect time, for the perfect moment for me to come.
I believe that the bad articles that I wrote years ago are very important and pose a very factual truth: I have not been born with the ability to write, but I did not want to have that as an excuse to not write. I improved my writing through hard work and commitment.
Start small habits and practice them consistently
During the year 2015, I wrote 2 articles per week, and also one article per week in the year 2016. Now I am writing one article per week.
You may say that it is easy to write one article per week, and that anybody could do it. I agree with you. A few friends said that to me more than a year ago. I wrote an article as a response to them. I want to tell you that I am not a full time author. I simply set a schedule that I believed I could stick to and kept writing regularly since then.
If we look at top performers that amaze us with the work that they do, they are usually very disciplined and committed.
They also don’t make exceptions.
Zig Ziglar used to tell a story of traveling one day and not getting in bed until 4 a.m. An hour and a half later (5:30), his alarm went off. He said, “Every fiber of my being was telling me to stay in bed.” But he had made a commitment, so he got up anyway. Admittedly, he had a horrible day and wasn’t productive at all.
Yet, he says that decision changed his life. As he explains:
“Had I bowed to my human, physical, emotional and mental desire to sleep in, I would have made that exception. A week later, I might have made an exception if I only got four hours of sleep. A week later, maybe I only got seven hours of sleep. The exception so many times becomes the rule. Had I slept in, I would’ve faced that danger. Watch those exceptions!”
Hence, Zig was unstoppable. (Taken from BenjaminHardy.com)
I believe that we should better off start small habits that we are able to do regularly than try to start major habits that are very ambitious that we never actually stick to.
Try to start a habit that you are able to keep. Start such a small habit that you are able to do it consistently. You may sometimes be inspired to do more of it and love to do it. Sometimes you may have a lack of enthusiasm, but your habit is just too small to not do it.
Use writing as a way of thinking
Although I was writing on a consistent basis, I had an invisible script that I was not aware of, that prevented me to share these articles on social media. I started to write down my fears and insecurities about it and found out that they were all irrational that could easily get ignored. I broke my insecurities through writing, and also a few other times.
I like to use writing as a way of dealing with a decision, or solving a problem in general. Writing makes you see things more objectively with less emotional baggage that may prevent you from clear thinking. It can also help you see the big picture, figure out what’s missing and lay out the milestones needed to reach the outcome that you are after.
It is not necessary what type of app you choose you write. The most important thing is to keep writing.
If you like this idea, give it a try. Start to visually sketch out a problem that is currently bothering you and think about things that could help you solve it.
I like teaching seemingly difficult things in plain English and also making you understand that you are capable for far more than you think you are; you may simply miss a few practices and disciplines to follow through the obstacles that are preventing you to reach the best version of yourself.
I am planning to continue writing on a regular basic – once per week. The content of the articles that I write about are mostly about things I wish I knew earlier, and also to become of service to you.
I do not pretend to have all the answers, nor the best ones. I simply try to share what I learn, and want to make a difference in your life with simple yet overlooked tips.
Thank you for taking the time to read my articles.