I recently wrote about a handful of faulty beliefs that hold us back from sticking our necks out and writing content for our audience. Well, in addition to those psychological barriers to writing there are also productivity barriers to writing, many of which we may not even realize are hobbling our content creation efforts.
The big, and overarching hidden barrier is what I call our Outlaw Brain, which is responsible in large part for the other three hidden forces hobbling our writing productivity: pseudo-productivity, a destructive mindset of impatience, and finally, a lack of boundaries – not just personal boundaries, but boundaries around our technology and within our own Outlaw Brains.
So, let's first get into…
Whether you’re an ADHDer like me or a buttoned-up, Type A mental machine – our brain is not happy doing the kind of work required to create consistent quality content. Otherwise, we’d all have written three books by now!
And there’s a perfectly legitimate explanation for our Outlaw Brain: It’s in our DNA!
Indeed, we are programmed to avoid discomfort and to be at rest except when we absolutely need to be doing something on behalf of survival. There’s a whole bunch of science I can invoke here, but just know that, left to its own devices, our Outlaw Brain would have us watching TV and eating Bon-Bons all day, every day.
Of course, we do have responsibilities to our family, friends, and business that require us to NOT be doing that. our Outlaw Brain will always be negotiating to avoid discomfort and seek rest, or at least seek easier work.
As such, our Outlaw Brain often drags us into what's called…
Activities that feel like they're productive because they're disguised as productivity, but really aren’t. They’re what Dr. Stephen Covey would call “sifting gravel” (rather than moving the Quadrant II big boulders we know we need to buckle down on).
Examples are: constantly checking emails; ‘cleaning up’ our inbox by deleting emails; checking the news headlines because we think we're gaining something useful from it; doing ‘research’ online cuz, "Well, I need to find this out, it’s important."
Our Outlaw Brain will whisper things like, “Hey man, this writing stuff is hard, right? Am I right? Ya. So, um, why don’t we do that later? Here – let’s check our emails again real quick, and we’ll come back and do that hard thing later. Promise!”
But none of this is really moving anything forward. Our Outlaw Brain is just picking easy things to do in lieu of, or in avoidance of, the tougher tasks (like writing content!).
Such that at the end of the day, we're saying, "Damn, I was working all day. But I didn't get anything done!";
Our Outlaw Brain is also responsible for a harmful mindset I call…
Our brain is not satisfied with small gains. We feel we have to have the big accomplishment or the big breakthrough, or else, “Eh…Why bother?!” We get frustrated when we don’t sense or foresee significant progress in a given work session.
Our Outlaw Brain likes to tell us that things are gonna be easy, or not take much time.
So when we sit down to write, let's say, a blog, our Outlaw Brain is saying, "Hey, man. Yeah, we should be able to get in there and just bang this thing out!"
And then comes our frustration with not being able to bang this thing out quickly, prompting our outlaw brain to whisper, "You know what? We can’t finish that right now. Let’s work on that later, when we’re ready to bang it all out."
And, so, we keep putting it off and putting it off, waiting for that ideal time when we will be “ready to bang it all out,” which doesn't come.
I don't know about you, but most people I know, and certainly myself, don't sit down and bang out a blog easily. Writing is something where you have to take a swipe at it, and then you take another swipe. And maybe you take a step back, and then come back and take another swipe. And maybe tomorrow you come back to it and take more swipes.
This is how I've written my two courses, my book, over 100 episodes of Crusher™TV, and every blog and presentation I’ve ever written (easily numbering in the hundreds).
It's just getting in there, putting in the energy and time until our timer goes off, and then being happy with the 1% gain if that’s all we ended up with. In other words, adopting a 1% Is Awesome Mindset!
And then the last hidden productivity barrier is…
Two kinds, actually -- what I call Technology Boundaries and Personal Boundaries.
Let’s take technology first. Our Outlaw Brain not only wants only to do things that are easy, it’s also…an addict.
Our phone, the TV, all our other screens. Our social media feeds, games, news scrolls. These are things that our Outlaw Brain wants us to reach for because they're quick and easy sources of our Outlaw Brain’s drug of preference, dopamine.
So we must construct boundaries around our technology or we can’t have focused, single-tasking work sessions, where we do our most difficult work.
The other kind of boundary we too often lack: personal boundaries. We let people interrupt us, whether our kids, our spouse or other family members, friends or colleagues, vendors or even clients, against all of whom we must put up some kind of functional boundaries. (With love and respect, of course.)
In a future blog, I’ll share the simple yet powerful ways to build boundaries around our tech and peeps, so we can focus more, outwit our Outlaw Brain, and boost our content creation output.
So, when you add up our Outlaw Brain's desire for avoiding discomfort and being, frankly, open to any titillating stimuli that beg for our attention; our Outlaw Brain's desire to throw us into pseudo-productive activities that feel productive but don't move us forward; our mindset that insists that we be able to do big things in one fell swoop; and then our Outlaw Brain's interest in responding immediately to our technology and to other people, et cetera…
…writing and other mentally demanding tasks don’t get done enough. Which impacts the consistency and quality of the content we’re putting out into the world, which is a key way we build awareness and reputation, ultimately growing our business.
Yes indeedy…Writing blogs, social media posts, and other content that builds your awareness and like/trust factor is hard. That’s why I created my 3 Ways to Generate Content Ideas from Your Brain worksheet.
Tons of great content ideas are hiding out in the nooks and crannies of your brain and this worksheet will help you shake ‘em out of your head.
Click HERE to grab this indispensable worksheet.