October 26, 2013 by Kathryn Kuttis
Deadlines start to pile up for most of us at this point in the term. Busy days are filled with distractions and detours. It feels like I have too much on my plate and not enough hours in the day to see anything to completion.
Just this week, I decided to say “no” if anyone asked me for anything. For example, our nanny needed a recommendation letter, my friend’s daughter asked for help with her college essay, and according to my sister-in-law it’s time to gather family photos for Grandma’s Christmas calendar again. Could you say “no” to any of these? Me neither.
Make Time for Writing
Unfortunately, when it comes to writing, I need lots of time to make it happen. My first draft is never a finished product. The ideas need to roll around in my head for awhile until they start to take shape. My writing muse will not cooperate under rushed conditions. She likes to take her time before she gives up the goods. I need to write, read, revise, consider and then read it to myself in a slow, barley audible whisper. I’m actually whispering right now.
As I go over the same ground again and again, the next sentence or idea forms in my mind and then I write it down. If a sentence leads in the wrong direction or brings me to a dead end, I delete it and start over. For this to work, I need to know what the right direction looks like and have an idea of what I want a piece to say before I begin writing.
Eat Your Frog First
So how do I create space in my day to think about writing and then write something? I start by eating my green frog first. This comes from a Mark Twain quote:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
It means tackle the one thing you are most likely to procrastinate on and get it done first thing in the day. For me that’s after breakfast but before I check Twitter or email. This morning, it was a yoga class that I’d been putting it off all week.
Paralyzed by Perfectionism
Usually my procrastination comes in the form of perfectionism. I think to myself, if I wait a bit I’ll be able to make a better attempt. This is never true and always leads to more resistance and struggle.
The trick I’ve developed is to break tasks into small manageable steps and then try not to think about all the steps at once. Yes, I can find my yoga mat. Yes, I can fill my water bottle. If I start to think about how hard the class will be (it is 104 degrees in there) I freeze up and won’t go. So this morning, I went to yoga and the rest of the day was easier.
Even more important than the task at hand, is the energy I gain from doing something I don’t want to do. This is not a new idea. It is outlined in author Brian Tracy’s book “Eat That Frog” and in many articles, videos and blog posts on time management. I share it here because it works for me and maybe it will work for you too. I get a few less desirable things out of the way first and then they muse and I find time to write.
This week make more time for yourself to write and eat that green frog first thing.
Here are your blog kernels for week five:
Martha Stewart Insults Bloggers (Ragan) How could a social media strategy prevent this kind of mistake? Where can her PR team go from here? What would you advise?
4 Reasons Why Communicators Need to Make the Leap to Visual Storytelling (PRNews) What do you know about the power of visual content. What is your experience with video or infographics? Show some visuals that recently caught your attention.
How Starbucks Won the Shutdown Conversation (Digiday) Best practices. Social media strategies help brand to lead a national conversation.
Baseball Games Beautifully Visualized Like Transit Maps (FastCompany) Data visualization can change the was we understand what we think we already know. What do sports fans want to know? How can we find new ways to bring them information?
Bosses Say ‘Pick Up the Phone’ (WSJ) Do we still need to rely on phone skills to communicate? How is it different from email?
Now This Is Natural Food (NYTimes) Interesting article on the future of food.
25 Ways to Tighten Your Writing (Ragan) Good tips on editing your own work. Which ones are you using? Do you have any to add to the list?
Tori Spelling Broke? Actress Reveals Financial Issues (HuffPost) You have to admire her ability to climb into the spotlight every now and again. How did her publicists connect with the American public in this story?
Instagram Rolls Out In-Stream Ads as Facebook Seeks to Boost Mobile (AdAge) Are ads welcome on social media if they are creative and engaging? Is ad free the only way you’ll stay?
Conde Nast Puts an End to Internships (PRDaily) Aggressive legal battles can dampen the playing field for everyone. In a downturn economy, what does the future hold for internship compensation? What should students take away from their professional experience?
It’s Damage Control Time for the ObamaCare Launch (Mediabistro) How to unravel the backstory and find someone to blame for the failure. Is it possible that the lady about to faint was a PR stunt? Why would that make sense in this situation?
Ad Assails M.L.B. in Rodriguez Case (NYTimes) How does an ad help to further a discussion? Is it a strategic move to reach audiences? What would you write in an ad to support A-Rod?