I have been off from the day job for a couple of weeks. A well earned rest. Both weeks were supposed to be all about travelling, with a couple of exciting trips to get out and about around China.
Week one, I planned to go south from Beijing to Wuhan, onto Chengdu, and back home to Beijing. Week two was a trip over to Dalian and then up north to Dandong, the Chinese town that adjoins the North Korean border and then I was to return to Beijing.
I was to take my video camera and shoot a shed load of video footage to then spend my time creating YouTube videos over the next month or so.
But things didn’t go quite as planned.
I got as far as Wuhan, and a fresh Covid outbreak hit China. I had to high tail it back to Beijing so I didn’t get trapped away from home because the powers-that-be were bringing in tighter travel restrictions.
Things change, and I am good with that. It meant that the second week I was able to spend the entire week focusing on creating content.
You see, my future aspiration is to be financially retired (as in the FIRE movement). As a purpose to my retirement, I wanted to travel and create content. This is why I spend my days off and my evenings learning how to create content and working to create some content.
I have learned that it is not easy to create stuff, that’s for sure, and I know that the people who create at that top-level put a lot of work into what they produce.
Like the 100 meter sprinter who wins the gold medal, he didn’t win it on the nine seconds he took to run the race. He won it in all the ten and twelve seconds races he completed on the training ground.
So when you watch that top-level, twenty minute YouTube video that blows you away because of how informative and perfect it is in its creation. You know there was a pile of sprints that went on in the background that got that finished piece out into the world.
With one eye on my future aspirations and one eye staring back into the week I have just had, I have decided to capture my learnings from my week.
The following is my personal reflections and are specific to my experience. I am capturing them to set me right for that day that I am finally set free from the day job, and my time is mine, and so I could throw them out to the world for some feedback and additions.
I will never stop learning, and I am getting toughened for that future world of mine by accepting and adapting to the feedback.
My list of 50 things I have learned as a full-time content creator for a week.
- Write out a big vision for the week.
- Stick your vision where you will constantly see it.
- Organise the week ahead meticulously.
- Set your own deadlines in stone.
- Be realistic, as there is nothing more than falling behind and getting demotivated.
- Use a content creation Calendar (iCal works excellent for this)
- Write lists for each day and check them off as you go through the week and when you finish each day.
- Carry the things that are undone to the next day and then reorganise that days list – kick things into the later part of the week if you must.
- Don’t be scared to kick things off the list. That is the brave thing to do.
- Work in short and long blasts, and you will know when it calls for each way of working.
- Morning is my best time to create and afternoon is my time to refine, and evening is my best time to research stuff.
- Be conscious of how your body feels as poor posture will set you back and ruin your productivity.
- Get up from your desk often but walk around the house and back to your desk – don’t get distracted with stuff.
- Stick with no more than two to three projects at any given time.
- Project hop between your projects using your gut feeling and trust your gut.
- Prioritise the big project, the one that will complete your week if you get it done. That is the ultimate prize.
- When you hit a brick wall, don’t panic. Change your location and scribble or doodle on a pad. It will free your mind.
- Get things done each day, as it will set you up for the next day.
- Call it when you are over-engineering it. Getting it perfect is for procrastinators.
- Publish the day after you complete the project, sleep on it first.
- Review the project again before you publish it.
- Publish with a celebration ritual and speak or sing that out loud, baby, dance and celebrate in the only way you know.
- When you publish, after you celebrate, immediately start the next project.
- Listen to only one album over and over for the day. Change the album the following day. This is a treat for yourself.
- Exercise in the middle of the day.
- Turn off your phone and the TV and stay away from the news. That will kill your Mojo.
- Keep a paper pad and a pen beside you as you will get instant ideas, and your technical kit is too slow to react with you.
- Research is precisely that. If you find yourself wandering away from the subject, get back on track.
- Research with a purpose and cut and paste your findings into electronic notes for future reference. Easy to search.
- Research is about asking questions, so write out your questions as you go through the day.
- Ask good questions where the answer will make a difference.
- Get a good evening light to work under.
- Use sunglasses when you find your eyes getting tired, and rest your eyes when you need to.
- Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon. It is a fool’s game. Oh, that includes alcohol in the evening. That’s a mug’s game.
- Do not take a nap. It is never suitable for energy levels.
- Get fresh air when you are feeling tired.
- Journal in the morning and evening about what you are pleased with and what you could do better or do differently.
- It is exhausting to be constantly creating, so eat good food that will provide you energy.
- Avoid eating snacks and if you must go for some cut vegetables, fruit or nuts.
- Quit an hour before you go to sleep and decompress in that given time. Your brain will love you for that.
- Set out the plan for the next day the night before, before you go for the decompression hour.
- Tidy your desk before packing it in for the night.
- If you are restless during the night, get up and dump the thoughts into your paper pad.
- Be honest with yourself about how much you are achieving and renegotiate rather than stress yourself out.
- I learned that it takes discipline to finish the work, so be disciplined about everything you set yourself.
- Get up the next day and follow your set routine and stick to a start time/a clock in time.
- Start your day precisely on time.
- Don’t worry about slow starts. Just start, keep going and don’t stop.
- Accept that it is not a 9-5 job and get over it.
- Asses the week, rate yourself like an annual review, and ask yourself, would you pay for your service?
The final thing I have reflections on is that I had no financial pressures to work under. That, I am sure, will add a whole new dimension to the content creation game.
But then, that is the day job, so maybe, just maybe, I already know what that is like.