TPS Report

Accountability went well this week on paper, but was primarily the result of a hard push this weekend. I seem to be falling into the habit of waiting until last minute, treating this weekly blog post like a college term paper deadline.  I may need to address the system and find a solution to that. Or get more aggressive about making sure I schedule my week appropriately.

At any rate, weekly progress report.

  • 6 of 6 “chunks” of money-earning content written
  • 5 of 5 acts of marketing: arranging link exchanges, applying for work, blog comments
  • 2 of 4 units of work on blogs. This has been a problem, but it’s not work load based. I’m stalling myself.
  • 3 of 3 units of work on book and article proposals.
  • 2 of 2 sessions of administrative work.
  • 1 piece of education action: expanded my understanding of SEO
Thanks for listening.

Accountability in the Clinch

I worked a 14 hour day to meet my accountability goals this weekend, and am finishing up with this post right here. This week:

6 units of writing, including 3 today.
5 acts of marketing, mostly emails and blog comments
3 units of work on my blogs (1 less than goal)
2 units of work on work proposals (1 less than goal)
2 sessions of admin work: scheduling and financial forecasting
1 education action — this week, I listened to a podcast on writing that’s not part of my regular routine

Close to done, and I got a lot of housework finished instead — including moving a hot tub three blocks with the help of loyal minions.

Thanks for being my de facto confessional and sounding board, and as always…

… thanks for listening.

Accountability

This week was a big, steaming brown pile from an accountability standpoint.

Instead of working on writing goals, I built some furniture with my son, visited with old friends from out of town and cleaned the living bajeezus out of my back yard and garage.

I did manage to meet my basic moneymaking goals, to post on this blog and work on an ongoing speculative project I plan to launch soon. I also finished off a larger assignment and took two meetings on another project I might become embroiled in.

I should have scheduled this week as a week off — I knew ahead of time how hard it would be to get everything done. That way I’d feel pretty okay about meeting my plan instead of vaguely uptight with myself for slacking off.

Ah well — the best part of screwing up is that you get to try again.

Thanks for listening.

More Accountability

Alert readers know that I’ve made the following weekly commitments to myself for my productivity this summer.

6 “Units” of paid writing, 5 Acts of Marketing, 4 Blog “Packages”, 3 Proposals, 2 Administrative sessions and 1 Education module. The partridge and pear tree were optional, based on time. 

This week was challenging in terms of accountability. School’s out, so my oldest boy and wife are home. It’s hard to resist the temptation to play and enjoy them. I didn’t always succeed, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I did get up early on Saturday and churn out 7 hours of productivity, but it wasn’t quite enough to meet my goals. As it was, this week’s final tally was:  (bold type indicates success)

  • 6 completed units of paid work 
  • 3 acts of marketing
  • 4 blog packages completed
  • 1 proposal
  • 2 administrative sessions
  • 1 education module
I have trouble with proposals more than anything else. They’re the most abstract, and seem the like I get the least concrete reward for the work. or maybe I procrastinate out of fear of failure. I’d love to hear what others do to keep themselves up on that sort of work.
Thanks for being here to keep me keeping myself honest. And, as always…
Thanks for listening.

More Accountability

Hi all,

After a week of research and reporting — and looking at my position in relationship to my goals, I’ve decided to go with a pyramid structure for my writing. I’m organizing it weekly to give myself maximum flexibility. It’s summer, and my wife is a public school teacher. We tend to get out a lot with them all out of school, so a daily routine won’t work. My overall plan for this summer includes the following broad-stroke goals:

  • I need to meet quotas on my bread-and-butter web content assignments. It’s my main source of income, and will fund the wild excesses I plan to spoil my family with.
  • I want to grow this blog, and plan to launch a total of three more by summer’s end, and to begin transitioning myself out of primarily doing content work and into long-form articles and books.
  • I must continue to market my work, and network with colleagues, editors and industry insiders.
  • I need to keep myself sharp by continuing to educate myself and remain informed about what’s going on in the industry and the world.
The trouble with these is that they’re all ongoing projects. None have an end in sight that lends itself to simple timeline. That’s why I’m adopting a pyramid approach to accountability — they’re ideal for assigning yourself sufficient progress on continuing work.  So, in front of y’all I do solemnly swear to do my damnedest to meet the following goals every week. Some weeks I’ll fail. Other’s I’ll exceed them. So long as I stay near those benchmarks, I should do all right. Every week, I will complete:
  1. Education Module — a unit of reading or other research that keeps me up. I might read a magazine or magazine, listen to a relevant podcast or complete some kind of training program.
  2. Admin Sessions — including keeping up with email, tweaking blogs, sending invoices, writing letters and strategic planning.
  3. Blog “Packages” — “package” is loosely defined. For this blog, it’s a week’s worth of posts. The new ones I’ve divided into chunks of similar startup work.
  4. Proposals — of magazine articles, other long-form articles, or significant work on book proposals.
  5. Acts of Marketing — a phrase I learned from Tom Callos. This can be anything I do that builds my readership and brand. This includes applying for new assignments.
  6. Units of Paid Content Writing — I’ve defined a “unit” as a specific amount of money earned. This will be enough to make my nut.
I want to thank you all in advance for being out there and keeping me on track. It’s surprising how much the possibility of public humiliation can motivate.
And, as always, thanks for listening.

Other Tracking Ideas

Setting structured goals with set timelines is my favored method for accomplishing the things I want to, and it’s one of the most commonly accepted approaches in business, government and military planning. It is not, however, the only one out there. Some other ways to reach the same destination include…

Tickler Files

A tickler file is the organizational version of a nagging mom or accountability coach. You set up physical files, or a calendar program, or one of several apps, to “poke” you when it’s time to get something done. This works for set tasks and for ongoing projects. You can get a reminder a month ahead to buy a birthday present, or set up for daily reminders to write your three pages of manuscript.

To-Do List

You know this one. It’s a list of the tasks you want to accomplish. This method is so common you can buy notepads with check boxes specifically to make one. Google calendar and similar programs include this option. What you might not know is that to-do lists scale up. You can make a to-do list for the year, then break it up by month, week and day.

Inspired Seizure

For some folks, all the goal setting they need is passion for the current project. They work on what they want, when they want to, and come out the other end with a finished product. I know very few people for whom this works on a reliable basis, and even they generally have the luxury of somebody else taking responsibility for their daily upkeep and bills. Still, it is a method and it does work for some people.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your methods for goal setting? Do you use a structured approach, or are you more organic? What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to setting and reaching your goals? How do you celebrate when you cross a big item off your list?

Thanks for listening.

Accountability: The Finish Line

Thank you, one and all, for your support with my accountability project for April and May. With your help, I reached my productivity goals. I know you didn’t actively help, but that’s the beauty of stating goals publicly. It was simply knowing I would post — and that somebody might razz me if I didn’t post — that kept me on track even when it was hard.

I’m making a shift in my working goals going forward. I don’t need the kind of immediate money I did for the past cycle. Instead, I’m going to spend the summer focusing on speculative projects. This requires a different kind of accountability and a different approach to goal setting.

  • I can’t put a dollar total on the goals, because speculative projects don’t earn money immediately.
  • I shouldn’t set a hard goal based on things out of my control, like “five hundred daily visitors to my blog.” This leads to frustration and eventually abandoning my goals altogether.
  • I will need to include a minimum earnings per month so I can keep paying rent and spoiling my wife and children.

I have a basic plan, but will announce it next Sunday. In the interim, I’ll be focusing on programs of assessment and accountability for authors. It might give me some good ideas.

As always, I’m eager to hear what you all have to say. Please comment with your own methods for making sure you get done what needs getting done — especially for projects with no hard deadline.

Thanks for listening.