Hey there Rainmaker, it’s Monday again! And not impostor Monday, like last Tuesday, but REAL Monday.
And I feel like it’s time to sing the praises of Mondays again. It’s been a few months.
I know Mondays get a bad wrap. Since most of us — before we hit the entrepreneurial world — came from the work-a-day, slave-away-so-somebody-else-can-get-paid world… We learned to loathe Mondays.
We were all “working for the weekends.”
We devoted the vast majority of our waking, productive hours to helping someone else get ahead… Only so we could take a brief bit of R&R on the weekends… To start it all over again on Monday morning.
No wonder most folks don’t like Mondays!
But then again, if you’re an entrepreneur now, your “R&R” on the weekends was more than likely hustle.
Doing things on your own time, to advance your own wishes. And hopefully some family/fun/free time in there, too.
But your reason for not liking Monday mornings was different. Monday was when you had to set aside your own stuff again, to go put your time, effort, energy, and best ideas into growing someone else’s business.
But now, assuming you’re like me, Mondays mean a return to really focusing on how to get yourself ahead — and provide value to the world.
Mondays are a new beginning to push yourself forward, and accomplish your biggest goals. The weekends are an opportunity to recharge your entrepreneurial batteries. But Mondays are your reward, because you get to use all that new juice to make a difference for yourself, and your clients and customers.
I took back Mondays as soon as I started building my business full-time, instead of that of my B-O-S-S.
And I hope you’ve taken back Mondays, too. Because in doing so, you are able to start your week with an incredible energy that will lead to more success and accomplishment all week long.
On that note, today’s Mailbox Monday is all about how to have more success and accomplishment, faster — by being more prolific.
I don’t think I want to be a copy writer, but I write technical content and always looking to improve my skills; and you do write very well. More importantly, I think you have prolific output; I wish I can learn how you do that?
Thanks Mukul! I think this is going to be a good one…
Before I dig in and answer the question, two quick points…
— First, Mukul has recently launched an online marketing testing tool that will help you get more sales and profits from the traffic currently going to your website… He and I have gone back and forth and he seems very sharp in this regard. Testing is the #1 best way you can get better marketing results without improving your skills or hiring expensive consultants like me. There’s a reason it’s at the very core of the most important marketing book of the 20th Century, Scientific Advertising. To check out Mukul’s tool, you can visit his Speedy Split Tester website here.
— Second, Mukul asked about writing. Most of my “prolific” output is in the form of writing. That said, this advice applies equally to almost any other type of content output. Including video training, webinars, podcasts and other audio, and a whole lot more. If your primary output is NOT writing, don’t get hung up on it and instead sub in whatever is most appropriate to what it is you do.
With that said, a little quick brainstorming led me to…
7(+1) Quick Tricks To Accomplish More, Faster!
(Don’t you like that +1 trick? The last time I used it, a marketer who I really respect who reads these daily emails wrote me with a laugh of appreciation. Because of course 7(+1) is way more interesting than 8. And usually, odds are considered to be better list item quantities than even. So, it’s 8, but it’s 7(+1)!)
I’m ADHD as frack. (Any Battlestar Galactica fans in here?)
I really, really find it hard to prioritize things. I have a million things I want to do, and I want to get them all done at once.
This is actually a common trait among entrepreneurs. And I think those of us who figure out how to get even SOME of these things DONE (not half-done!) end up becoming pretty successful as a result. In fact, I think successful entrepreneurs are probably the highest per-capita ADHD-diagnosable segment of the population, based on my personal, anecdotal, and totally non-scientific observation.
One of the things about ADHD is that those of us with ADHD who figure out how to achieve things are most often rushing to the deadline.
I’ve written about it before. In college, I’d get assigned a term paper at the beginning of the semester. I’d have about four months to get it done. I might think about it a little bit for the first couple months. Then in the third month, I’d start to think more seriously about what it is I wanted to write. I might get the books I needed at that point. In the final month, my anxiety would shoot up… Four weeks to go… Three weeks to go… Two weeks to go… One week to go…
I might open a document on my computer (usually on a floppy disk — then I was so excited when I got a 1GB USB thumb drive!).
The days until the due date would fly by. Seven. Six. Five. Four. I’d try not to think about it. Three. Two. I’d get really worried, suddenly. I’d throw all my source materials in a stack, to have at the ready.
One day left.
I’d get done with classes for the day, and maybe go home and play a DJ set in my apartment. I’d eat something for dinner. Then I’d head back to the campus, to the 24-hour computer lab.
I’d pop in that floppy disk, open up my document, and spill out my reference materials around me.
And start typing. The computer lab would gradually empty. From 20 people at 10 PM to me and maybe 2 others by 2 AM. I don’t know what they were doing, but I was typing. Furiously.
Until minutes were left before class…
I’d hit print, and rush off to class…
My term paper complete, and on time.
I don’t do too many all-nighters anymore, but I do work to deadlines. And you should, too.
The more deadlines you give yourself, the better. The more you’ll get done. And if you have a big project, break it into smaller tasks. Give yourself deadlines for the tasks. If necessary. Make sub-deadlines for subtasks.
Make deadlines and stick to them…
#2. Kitchen Timer Trick
I got this from a recording of the late, great copywriter, Eugene Schwartz, and so many copywriters follow this exact same trick, because they heard the same recording, or heard it from someone who heard it.
Buy a kitchen timer.
One that sits on your desk. Not one on your smart phone, or a piece of software. Buy a real one that sits on your desk.
When it’s time to write, don’t give yourself all day.
There was an essay written by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, first published in The Economist in 1955. It was supposed to be humorous. But like most really good humor, it was only funny because it spoke to an aspect of reality we all know too well.
Parkinson had developed what’s called “Parkinson’s Law” as an observation during his work in the British Civil Service.
Parkinson’s Law states, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
In other words, the more time you give yourself to get something done, the more time you’re going to take.
And if you don’t schedule an end time, you’re going to take a very long time.
By setting a goal — a deadline — for your work session, and a time in which to do it, you have a reasonable chance of getting done what you want to get done, in the time you set aside to do it.
Especially as you do it more and more. You’ll be able to accomplish TONS in far less time than you could have ever imagined by getting good at this trick.
So how long do you set it for?
Well, Gene Schwartz used to set his for 33 minutes, 33 seconds.
In the video I shared Friday, Dean Jackson said he sets his for 50 minutes, then for 20 minutes during which he’s not allowed to work, then for another 50 minutes.
Ultimately, do what works for you. I like Dean’s approach because you get two hours of HUGE productivity, with a nice break in the middle that will help you think better and more clearly for longer, and avoid mental fatigue while still getting a ton done.
#3. Know Your Subject
It’s incredibly easy for me to write Breakthrough Marketing Secrets. Because I’m writing about my life, my interests, my thoughts, my experience, my career, my business… It just flows out of me.
It’s very hard to be prolific when you’re always having to stop writing to look things up.
If you don’t know your subject but you have to write about it anyway, don’t start writing right away. Research. Do a TON of research. Clip notes. Take notes. Talk to other people about what you’re researching, because it will make your thinking about it clearer.
Brian Kurtz likes to tell this story. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (he’s all clear for now, this was a while ago)… He called his wife first to let her know. Then, he called his friend and copywriter Parris Lampropoulos. Why? Because Parris had written numerous promotions around prostate cancer, and knew every current mainstream and alternative treatment worth learning about. Parris was so-well researched on prostate cancer, that he made a better source than ANYTHING Brian could think of, including the editorial staff at Boardroom.
That’s how well researched you have to be, if you want to be very prolific. It’s a huge advantage to specializing in a few areas, rather than being a generalist.
The more you can draw from memory and what you know, the faster your output will be.
If you want to write fast, do what I did for this article. Take quick notes about what you want to write about, and turn them into an outline.
I know many writers want to fly by the seat of their pants as they write, but it’s really not the best way to go for maximum output (or quality and clarity of thought).
The best thing you can do is plot out what you want to write, and even give yourself a few starter points for each topic you want to touch on.
In fact, here’s one way that’s recommended for writing nonfiction fast, and I’ve heard this applied to writing books, articles, essays, and even sales copy.
First, come up with a list of each topic you want to write about, or each major point you want to make.
Then, under each topic, come up with a list of three to five questions that your reader might ask, and would need to have answered for your point to be made clearly and in a compelling way.
Then, your task for writing your first draft is to simply go through and answer each question. In fact, the questions can even be your subheads, unless you’re inspired with something better during or after the writing process.
#5. Work From Inspiration
Inspiration is a much better term than swiping. And, more accurate to how I recommend you use swipe files or other examples of great writing from others.
Let’s say you’re writing an ad for a correspondence course on copywriting. And you know that John Caples’ famous “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano…” ad was highly-successful in selling (or, at least, generating leads for) a correspondence course.
So, you’d study the ad, and ask yourself what worked. What about that ad made it great? What made it effective?
And how can you use that story arc in your ad?
Well, there’s a protagonist, who is seen as a goof-ball by all his friends.
There’s a skill that can be demonstrated.
And there are all the friends who don’t believe our protagonist has the skill… Or could even get it…
AND they’re so skeptical that they laugh at the mere suggestion he could ever show it off competently…
So, I channel a story of mine, and try to map it to this “inspiration” of an ad…
“Professor Smith once told me ‘there’s not a reader today who’d want to read more than a sentence of your writing,’ but his jaw hit the floor when I showed him my tax return from last year’s writing income!”
Okay, so I spun a bit of a web there, but you get the point. I’m working from inspiration.
Other inspiration could be copywriting outlines. I recommended above that you should use outlines to write. If you’re writing copy, there are PROVEN templates and outlines you can use and map your writing to. That’s GREAT inspiration. (This copy outline launched my career.)
#6. Write A Shitty First Draft
Plan for nobody to ever read your first draft, or your second. With that plan, get it on paper. Fast.
Use the timer trick above, with an outline, and just write.
If you’re missing something — some element that needs extra research, or similar — write a description of what you need, and keep moving.
Write too much in some places, too little in others.
Just write it.
If you naturally write faster when you’re cussing up a storm (but you could never turn it into clients that way), write your first draft full of profanity and edit it out later.
Do whatever you can to fill the pages, fast.
And make it good in editing.
#7. Hit The “GE” Spot
Speaking of editing, use this trick I picked up from Dan Kennedy at AWAI’s 2009 Bootcamp.
It’s better to have your copy done than perfect.
Now Dan, being who he is, had to choose a bit of a “stimulating” name for it. So it called it The “GE” Spot. With “GE” standing for something far less provocative than you might think, in reality. GE is “Good Enough.”
You write your shitty first draft. You clean it up, and fill in the blanks. You delete some sections, add to others. You work it and work it until it’s looking pretty good…
And then you “ship it.”
Get it out.
I can pretty much guarantee your 99th draft is not going to be 11 times better than your 9th.
And when you get good, your 9th draft isn’t going to be 3 times better than your 3rd.
Editing reaches a point of diminishing returns when it comes to content and sales copy.
Writing what’s going to go on your tombstone, etched in marble, meant to remember you for centuries? Edit away, as long as you’d like.
But if your content is compelling, and your communication clear, a typo here or there won’t kill copy. And you can ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS think of ways to improve copy.
But as long as it’s in editing, it’s not in the market making you money.
Almost 18 months ago, I started writing these emails every day. They were much harder then than they are today. Today, they are so much easier. Why? Because I set aside just under an hour every day to write them. I made it a habit. So that even if I don’t write anything else in my day, I write this.
Most days though, I actually write a lot more, AND I write this. It’s all about the disciplined habit of sitting down to write every day.
The more you can make writing output a habit, the better off you’ll be.
And, importantly, the more regular you make the habit, the better.
Do you want to be more prolific?
This is an especially long issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets, and even so, I was only able to cover a handful of quick tips about how to be more productive and prolific.
I have a lot going on behind the scenes regarding upcoming training for you, and one of the topics I’m considering is how to write more for greater income and success.
I’ll dig into some tools I use, how I use them, go deeper on some of these tips, and more.
If writing more, faster is something that you think could help you achieve more success and make more money — and you’d like some of my secrets to super-productivity — let me know. Shoot me an email at [email protected]. You could also let me know what your single-biggest productivity CHALLENGE is, to make sure I cover that for you, too.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets