Behind The Scenes: January 2015

Somehow, I had this mistaken idea that “5th Saturdays” came exactly every three months. It seems like I just wrote a “Behind the Scenes.” Has anything new happened?

Well, actually, yes. Quite a bit. It’s amazing how much can change in just a couple of months.

On the January 3 episode of the Lift Up Podcast (Episode 8), I mentioned that I was still trying to finalize my 2015 goals for Edify Hub. Those goals are now written down.

I debated whether to share the details of those goals, because there is evidence to suggest that telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen. I’m not sure how much I agree with that, but it’s something to consider. Some of our goals are rather deep in the weeds – with products to produce, and goals to acquire a certain number of customers for those products. I’ll spare you those details, but there are some worth sharing.

Sharing 2015 Goals

Here are a couple of high-level categories for my goals to give a glimpse into the thought process I’m going through to move forward with our ministry here at Edify Hub.

  1. Generate More Content – Right now, I am publishing content just as quickly as it’s generated. I’ll finish writing an article or editing a video tip or podcast on one weekend, and the very next weekend, it’s published. That’s the production equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck – with no savings or emergency fund. One goal for 2015 is to improve my efficiency so that by October, I’ll be generating content twice as fast as I publish it. That will open the door either to publish more frequently in 2016, or to use my new-found efficiency to invest time in other important endeavors.
  2. Stay On Top Of The Mundane – I don’t enjoy details like bookkeeping. I’ll often find months have gone by without reconciling financial statements or recording receipts. One 2015 goal is to make sure that my mundane tasks never languish for more than one month.

Now, there’s a problem with both of these goals. They expect me to do more in the same amount of time each month. This means I can’t take into 2015 the same strategies and attitudes that I used for 2014.

Some of my activities this January have been focused on developing new approaches to the tasks I have.

Tracking the Mundane

One big problem was simply forgetting the mundane things I needed to do until they became urgent – interrupting other work that was ultimately more important long-term. I’ve started using a free app called Todoist to become a single, central place to track everything I need to do. I’ve set up “recipes” using If-This-Then-That to automatically create Todoist entries whenever certain emails arrive, or when I move an email to my “Followup” folder.

Now, when I have a few minutes here or there, I can check my to-do list (which is always with me, and always up to date) and knock out a few of those mundane tasks before they become urgent.

Video Efficiency

Rather than recording one video tip at a time, then editing, mixing, and producing it, I set up the lights, camera, and computer one time to record five months of content in one setting. If I can get organized, I’ll try to batch the project setup and editing for these as well.

Podcast Efficiency

For each episode, I used to spend a few hours aligning voice and music and adjusting the timing and volume of each. If I’m going to double my content production by the end of the year, I can’t continue to do that.

So when I mixed episode 8 of the Lift Up Podcast, I wrote down – in detail – every mixing, volume, and alignment decision I made. I hired Joshua, my son and multi-talented developer from – to turn those decisions into a script that the computer can run to complete the same task in a matter of minutes.

As I write, we’re still fighting with the last 10% of that project. There’s still some ugly-sounding clipping that happens when someone suddenly laughs or says something loud in the middle of an otherwise quiet conversation. But we have some ideas to address that, too, and I’m confident we’ll get that figured out before it’s time to produce Episode 9.

One other possibility I’m considering is to produce shorter podcasts – a Lift Up “Boost” episode of about five minutes each to fill in between the longer full interview episodes. This approach would allow us to graduate to a normal weekly schedule, but without all of the production overhead of a full interview episode every week. If you have an opinion on that idea, leave a comment to let me know.

Article Efficiency

Doubling the production rate of articles is probably the hardest goal to accomplish. I have some ideas to help with improving efficiency, but not enough to write twice as many articles each month.  Still, here are some things I’m pursuing to help a little bit:

  • I now keep a backlog of article ideas in Evernote. These are just short phrases or title ideas that will help me get past the initial writer’s block.
  • One of my ideas – that I haven’t yet put onto my schedule, but should – is to schedule time to create the basic outline of each article. I think my brain takes time to get into a “mode” – whether that’s researching, outlining, writing, or editing. If I can apply the same “mode” to several articles in one sitting, I hope to be far more efficient.
  • Finally, I must set deadlines around the time I put into each phase of article writing. Today, I find myself wandering for hours on tangential research. I edit while I write – a terrible habit for those who want to be productive. I find writing difficult, so I take way too many breaks. That just drags out the writing process, making it that much more dreadful next time. In short, I have set myself up as a victim to Parkinson’s Law, giving myself all day to write each article, when it really could be done in only a few hours.

Hey, That Really Is A Lot Of Change

As I look back on the last two months, I see that there really was a lot of change since my last Behind The Scenes. And I still haven’t figured out enough to meet my 2015 goals. If I’m going to succeed, there will be a lot more change to write about next time we have a “5th Saturday.”

Take Action

Think of one new thing that you want to accomplish in 2015. Now, write down one change that you will make to make that happen.

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