My Creative Process – How I Write Posts

Writing is frustrating – especially when you don’t have ideas. Welcome to my life.

At times, I draft and finish an entire article in under an hour. There’s no brainstorming, or thinking involved – words just flow. Frankly, that’s rarely the case, and almost never when I urgently need to produce content.

Finally, I’ve had enough and created my own creativity and writing process. I didn’t just want to publish anything, it had to be quality content I was happy with.

Brainstorming 101

Before I ever log in to WordPress, I start with a sheet of paper and pen. One idea or thought forms the basis of this brainstorming process, I write it in the middle. Slowly, related ideas or topics come to mind, and occasionally I use these as a starting point of an entirely new article – and repeat the same process there.

Doing this on the computer quickly leads to surfing the web or procrastinating. I’ve learned to rely on good old paper for brainstorming ideas and it works well.

It doesn’t take long until I have a couple of bullet points and ideas – at least enough to start drafting the article in WordPress. The title will be whatever comes to mind and refined at a later stage.

Then, it’s as simple as following the 5 steps below.

1. Structure

Everything from the brainstorming session is now copied into the draft where I create structure by using headlines, subtitles and paragraphs. Nothing fancy, really, just making the article easier to write by having different sections rather than one long piece.

2. Drafting

This is where I start writing without any regard to errors, typos or logic. They key is to keep writing without filtering thoughts and let it all out. There’s a target number of words (500) that I want to reach as a minimum and I’ll keep writing until then. Literally whatever comes to mind, it could the dumbest thing.

3. Rest

I don’t usually write an entire article from draft to finish on the same day. I’ve found it to be inefficient and now do things in bulk. I might draft a couple of articles one day and finalize all of them the next day.

In the meantime, I have some space to think about all the ideas and occasionally re-write or improve parts or the article.

4. Finalize

The is the hardest part of all – making sure everything is grammatically correct and has great structure. Errors aren’t allowed anymore, everything needs to be on point. Whereas the previous steps allow to just go with the flow, this part requires concentration.

Sometimes, I end up changing parts or re-writing the entire article. In most of my drafts, I unconsciously use filler words or add unnecessary information – this is the stage where I remove all of them and make the content smoother.

The end result has to be top-notch, anything less is unacceptable.

5. Proofread

I have a look at the published version of the post and read through it. Particular attention is paid to paragraph-structure, the way headings and titles look.

In most cases, it takes 2 days to finish an article. The important thing has been creating a process on my own and not blindly trying to make somebody else’s work for me.

The best productivity tool for each stage is using a timer. By limiting the time available, I am creating a sense of urgency and automatically work faster. Currently, I am using the online timer E.ggtimer.com

How To Make Decisions – 2 Simple Steps For Speed

There’s few things that I hate more than making tough decisions. It’s usually a complete disaster.

Even comparatively trivial decisions such as spending $700 on a 3 week trip to Thailand took weeks.

I would think through all the alternatives, go round in circles and eventually end up frustrated, confused and depleted of willpower. Let’s better not talk about the time wasted. Complete and full-on disaster.

Ultimately, coming up with a streamlined decision making process became a necessity.

Making decisions is both a skill and an art.

You get better with practice and definitely once you’ve found your own process. In the end, that’s what everyone should aim for: finding what works for you.

The benefits are obvious – making quicker progress, less frustration and life becomes more of a smoother ride, rather than a bumpy road. Mistakes can quickly be turned into lessons learned.

Resolve Decisions In 2 Steps

All decision making is based on values and goals – this is something we do naturally anyway. However, without knowing your values or not having set goals, making a decision becomes significantly more difficult.

After all, what do you base your decisions on?

Decision making is value clarification. You decide which value or goal you pick over another.

I’ve struggled with this for so long because I haven’t set any goals at all. Nowadays, I’m able to do it in as little as 15 minutes.

An important ingredient for making good and quick decisions is the state of mind you’re in. I always put leverage on myself to resolve and decision I am facing. The best way of doing this is to focus on the potential consequences of NOT making timely decision.

  • The time you waste by dabbling.
  • The unresolved issue that you’ll always have in the back of your mind.
  • The missed opportunities by neither deciding for, nor against any option.

Making no decision or putting it off indefinitely is also a decision. It’s the worst of all options and costs more mental energy and time than making a wrong decision, learning from the mistake and moving ahead.

Important decisions are best made on paper, otherwise going round in circles becomes an issue.

1. Brainstorming Options

The more alternatives you come up with, the better you are off. Brainstorming on paper is my favorite way of coming up with a series of options and sometimes even ideas that solve the problem entirely. At least 3 options are needed, otherwise you are facing a dilemma.

Furthermore, each option can be ranked based on certain criteria. This could be something like costs in terms of time, money, or simply the risks or potential rewards involved.

If the top choice doesn’t become stand out at this point, I’ll usually sleep over it and decide the next morning. The subconscious works in fascinating ways and sometimes taking a nap, or waiting until the next day brings more clarity to your thoughts.

2. Commitment & Action

Immediately – and I mean that – after making a decisions, action has to follow. That’s the ONLY way of locking yourself in and staying committed to the new decision. Right after I decided to visit Thailand, I cemented the decision by looking up flights and booking a ticket.

Taking action could be anything from making a phone call, to scheduling an appointment and even purchasing a specific item. This step is absolutely essential because without making a commitment, the decision won’t be and feel real.

A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action.

The action is where you burn the bridges – you leave yourself no way of going back.

Frankly, most decision don’t require this sort of process, but it’ll be even more valuable for the ones that do.

Simplified Goal Setting – How To Set Goals In 15 Minutes

I have read plenty about goal-setting. Books, blog articles and I even watched videos.

None of it helped – I never set goals. Until earlier this year, all I did was read about it. Every goal-setting strategy seemed overly complicated and time-consuming.

I’m a fan of simplicity and that sometimes means taking things apart, making them as basic as possible. This certainly isn’t something knew but has worked well for me.

My yearly goals are cut in stone – reviews follow on a monthly basis.

Most people are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting philosophy. It’s a great starting point, but still leaves room for improvement. My simplified version is S.R.T.P.

Fair enough, there’s another letter. Trust me, it’s still easier.

Setting goals at the beginning of the years is an incredibly exciting process. You are literally designing your own future and get to dream again. However, much of the fun only comes by using the right process.

My goal-setting strategy can be used for yearly, monthly and even weekly goals – in any or all areas of life. Hopefully, this process suits you well, and setting goals becomes more than just a pain in the neck.

1. Specific

The first step can make or break your whole endeavor. If you’re not clear on the destination you want to reach, you’ll never get there. Each goal has to be specific, and thus be able to be tracked and measured on an ongoing basis. Monthly, weekly or even daily.

Take weight loss as an example. “Wanting to lose weight” is a wish. “Weighing 160 pounds” is a specific goal. You step on the scale every morning and know exactly where you are at in terms of your goal. It’s crystal-clear once you’ve reached your goal.

2. Realistic

This is where most people get it wrong. Hypnotized by success gurus, they set goals that are way too far out there. Setting grand goals might feel exciting in the moment, but most people end up procrastinating afterwards.

It’s easy to logically believe that a goal is achievable, but subconsciously think otherwise. I’m guilty of this as well – setting big goals, but never taking the first step, or procrastinating excessively along the way.

The main reason I work hard for and achieve most of my goals is that I have absolute confidence in achieving them. The moment I set goals, they are already a done deal.

This is super important because setting bigger, more ambitious goals only comes when you have proven to yourself that you can do the small stuff, when you have the track record and confidence.

However, setting lame goals isn’t the answer. Goals still have to inspire – they just shouldn’t be over the top.

3. Timeline

Without a deadline, a goal is little more than a wish.

Yearly goals form the basis of all my planning, that means the deadline for any of these goals is December 31 of the current year. Further, I set milestones with specific deadlines that I aim to accomplish along the way.

One year can seem like a long time – by setting smaller, more achievable targets, creating quarterly and monthly goals, it’s easier to eat the elephant one bit at a time and procrastination becomes less of a problem.

4. Plan

Goals have been set, but it isn’t yet time to relax. The final and crucial step is still missing.

Compelling goals are important, however, without a strategy and a bulletproof plan to achieve them, it’ll all be in vain. In some cases, the steps for achievement are obvious or known already, in which case this step becomes redundant.

If that’s not the case, there’s no need to worry. Proven strategies and coaching is what you’ll find online en masse. Whether it be a course on how to make money, or a diet book – what matters is having a step-by-step plan that guarantees the end result as long as you follow it to the letter.

This is where you get your daily and weekly activities from. Depending on the goal, creating sub-goals might be necessary.

For 2015, this is one of my most important financial goals.

I will easily be making 1,000€ profit per month online.

I quickly realized that working directly on this goal is impossible, I am only able to render activities that LEAD to an increase in income – I can’t work on making more money directly. I could, but then it would be ACTIVE, not PASSIVE income.

Instead, I set additional targets regarding the number of articles, books and videos I want to have published at a certain point.

Review & Adjust

Reviewing goals regularly is to see where adjustments are needed. The more often, the better. With certain goals (weight loss), I do it daily, but at the very least when the monthly goals report is due.

Setting and achieving milestones is also more rewarding than having to wait for the big win every quarter or at the end of the year. Monitoring progress is to hold yourself accountable and stay motivated.

For me, posting a monthly review of each goal does the trick. Others might have to use more leverage such as publicly declaring a goal.

My Morning Ritual – 4 Steps For Productivity And Happiness

The ideal day would start with this morning ritual. On some days, that’s actually the case, but sometimes I might skip certain parts. I use this as a tool whenever needed.

There’s days where I have great ideas after waking up, so I start writing them down right away. It would be counter-productive to first do the full morning ritual – and perhaps forget what I wanted to write about.

Most importantly, each step is easy and doesn’t require a lot of time. If that weren’t the case, I’d be the first to cut it out.

1. Emotional Flood

Whenever I am grateful for the way things are, I tend to be happier, work more efficiently and eat healthier. Everything works the way it’s supposed to be. The complete opposite is the case once the law of familiarity sets in.

Any time I start taking things for granted and forget to appreciate the small things in life, I get frustrated for no reason. Even petty things start bothering me.

Life (and life situation) has continually improved over the last couple of years, my standards and expectations have risen as well and it became a bad habit taking things for granted. To the point where I don’t feel happy anymore and just want to move somewhere else and change my life entirely.

Thus it became a necessity to practice gratitude on a daily basis – in order to stay sane! Focusing on the right things, re-focusing on the small gifts first thing in the morning.

How Do I Feel Gratitude?

By focusing on 3 things the I appreciate right now.

Something I would normally take as granted, that other people might not have. The lifestyle, comfort or possibilities in life. It has to be something real, such as being able to work from home, travel the world or write in English.

2. Meditation / Priming

I’ve written about my practice already and find that it’s easier to meditate right after waking up. The mind is still relatively calm and there’s not many distracting thoughts.

Meditation is a great way to prolong this state of mind, or even keep it entirely throughout the day.

After focusing on gratitude, I am still lying in bed and continue with meditation. I start by focusing on some part of my body, such as each individual toe, in order to become more present. Then I close my eyes and count to at least 150 breaths.

3. Proper Hydration

I usually aim for 3 liters or pure, filtered water each day. This is the best thing you can do for your body after a long night of dehydration. Flooding your body with fresh water is and feels great. I’m lucky enough to high-quality water that runs through a reverse osmosis system.

I’ve found that drinking lots of water is easier when using large bottles. This is just a psychological trick that works remarkably well. Filling your glass 132 timer per day simply becomes annoying – it’s also more difficult to track quantities. I’m currently using 2 1 liter Nalgene bottles because they are BPA-free and easy to carry around.

3. Review Beliefs & Goals

What I do here isn’t worth splitting into individual steps. I might look over some the empowering beliefs that I want to internalize, or re-read my yearly goals. I don’t read them out loud, but simply remind myself of the direction I want to go.

In any case, I’ll have a look at my monthly goals and plan actions steps off them for this day. Either I’ll schedule each task for a specific time or start working right away. This brings me to the concluding step of the morning ritual.

4. Take One Action

To get the ball rolling and gain momentum, I start taking action right away. One small task is enough to make progress and feel like I’ve already made a victory. This isn’t necessarily a super important task, it’s simply something small to get in the right state of mind.

Depending on the day, I might start working on the computer or directly head to the gym. 3 times per week, I work out first thing in the morning. On other days, I might go for a run, walk or use the rebounder. Get moving is what this is about.

No Electronics Policy

This is probably the most important step of all. As soon as I turn on the computer, I tend to get distracted. Being creative and brainstorming ideas is many times easier if I do the groundwork on paper.

After that, I am pretty much required to use my computer because that’s where I do all of my work. I know people that are strictly again checking email right after firing up the computer.

I am not one of those people. Often times, I check email and Facebook first thing simply because it’s on my mind. I don’t want to be thinking about it while I am working, so I check it beforehand and can then calmly focus on more important tasks.