I’ve been thinking quite a bit over the last few weeks about social media – all that it means and can offer. As I work to grow my freelance business, social media presence continues to become more and more important as a networking tool, but also as a medium to spread new stories and share articles.
Lately, I’ve been backing off of a few different channels that I was pursuing in the past. For instance, whereas I was posting to Facebook a few times a day (particularly when a blog post was dropping), I’m now posting once a week if that. I’ve completely ditched Google +. Mostly, I’ve been focusing my time and resources on Twitter, which seems to be the most applicable place to share my thoughts, links, and opinions.
Next time you’re at a traffic light, stop and take a look around you. Check out the drivers and passengers in the car to your left and right. Notice something in common?
If they’re like 90% of the people I see, they will have a phone in their hands plugging away at the little keyboard either to check Facebook, text a friend, or examine their music selection.
Why do we reach for our phones the minute we stop at a red light?
Why do we turn our phones on the exact second the flight attendant says it’s okay?
When you’re waiting in line at a place of business or for a table at a restaurant, what’s the first thing you grab? Chances are it’s your phone.
A few months back, I landed a pretty big freelance assignment. Considering my previous submissions to this particular publication had been rejected, I was ecstatic that this one was accepted and given the green light. To make matters even better, it was going to pay more than usual and give me experience creating more long-form (2,000-3,000 words) content.
That was back in April. I just now finished the assignment (it’s July by the way).
What took so long? Was it procrastination? Did I not have the time available? Did emails take longer than need be for interviews?
A mish-mash of all of the above.
Most of all, it was a case of importance and allowing other tasks to stack up on my plate. Looking back, I’m not even sure how it happened. I remember outlining the miscellaneous steps to put the article into words. I lined up interviews, had audio recordings, wrote meticulous outlines – the whole nine yards.
But, I never truly got started – at least not for the first month or so. Even when I did get started, I wasn’t happy with the work I was producing. I’d spend time rewriting each paragraph until I just gave up with frustration. Worse than that, I wouldn’t even work on the project, electing to spend time focusing on other things that didn’t really matter in the long-run. I’d waste time to avoid being productive.
How many books have you read in the last year?
I’d say I’ve probably only read about 10-12, and that’s being generous. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making a commitment to reading more. In fact, I’m posting the books I’m reading to this page if you’re interested in checking them out. More than just reading the books, I’m making a point to really understand them. In my opinion, rather than the number, the more important question is:
How many books have you understood and applied in the past year?
I once listened to a podcast (unfortunately I can’t remember the exact program or author) where a high-profile author and entrepreneur was being asked about how many books he read in a year. He responded by saying that the number wasn’t actually what mattered. In fact, he actually indicated that he was only going to read three books that year (I think he had a fancy name for it called the Rule of Three or something along those lines). However, when he described his reading process, it became evident why.
Not only was this guy reading the books, but he was also writing notes in the margins and bookmarking sections to reread. He made a point to go over each chapter until he fully understood the author’s purpose for those particular words. He would read a book two or three times in that year before stashing it away on his shelf. Compare that to the average reader that speed reads through a book simply to say that they finished it.
On my desk sits a Rubik’s cube.
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a clean desk. A cup of coffee, my laptop, and a notebook full of ideas are all I need. But, as much as I love the minimalist feel, I won’t remove this colored cube from my workplace.
Every time I’m stumped, I twist and turn the block until it resembles a mishmash of colors presented in irregular patterns across all sides. Then, I’ll take a few minutes to put them all back in their place. I won’t continue to work until I’ve solved the cube entirely.
When I first picked up a Rubik’s cube, I was perplexed. The cube came with each side all one color. Then, I mixed it up and stared. Each side was now a rainbow of colors. Still, I knew it had to be able to return to original form – it came that way after all. I watched YouTube videos of experts solving the cube in a matter of seconds. I read tutorials on how to work the cube back to its original form. Eventually, I got the hang of it.
It now takes me a few minutes to solve a Rubik’s cube, but I can do it no matter how messed up it seems to be.
The cube comes in particularly handy when I’m trying to be creative. When I first watched cubists (as I call them) complete the challenge in a matter of seconds, I was in awe. It was like something out of A Beautiful Mind. They were always thinking 10 steps ahead of their current move. Being able to process all of that information was a gift of sorts.
Here’s the thing: although twisting the blocks into their respective places may seem like an act of genius, it’s really just a matter of memorization.
There are patterns, tricks, and memorized sequences that help to get the job done. It’s not so much a gift of sheer intelligence but rather a game of memorization and application.