Reflection, Planning & Tiny Steps – a Podcast

DrawingYourLife_300-200x300In our 2nd (as yet unnamed) podcast, Fabian Kruse and I chat to our guest Michael Nobbs about his new book Drawing Your Life.

We take some time to reflect on how 2013 is shaping up for each of us so far, following what Michael suggested could be a Month of Reflection and Planning in January and a Month of Tiny Steps in February.

We also delve deeper into the process of choosing a small manageable activity that allows you to get at least 20 minutes of creative work done each day – which isn’t quite as simple as it sounds!

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‘Let’s Get Physical’ – with Personal Trainer and Author Tracy Griffen

tracy2012Healthy living is often on our minds at the beginning of the year, but by now many people’s resolutions have faded away into the ether.

Thankfully, any day is a good day to start living a little healthier, and Edinburgh-based personal trainer Tracy Griffen‘s new book is a really good way to begin. It contains simple and not-at-all-intimidating advice for every season of the year as well as recipes and other interesting info.

The book has a local focus, with tips on surviving the dark Scottish winter nights as well as making the most of our all too brief spring and summer!

I asked Tracy some questions about her background as well as how healthy living can help our mental health and creativity.

claiming new ground

Claiming New Ground

claiming new groundAlmost half way into February, my goals are beginning to take shape for the rest of the year. Or at least the next few months.

More importantly, I’m beginning to make progress on those goals. Tiny steps, maybe – but at least it’s some progress.

Pounding the Pavement

Mel and I have signed up for our first half-marathon – the Edinburgh Rock n Roll Half Marathon in April.

We’ve already started training using Hal Higdon‘s Novice 1 programme. The result is that I’m running more each week in 2013 so far than I did in an entire month in 2012.

The programme is working really well so far, with small increases in distance each week. It’s a good feeling to be able to manage the slightly longer runs.

We ran farther along a particular road last week than we ever had before, and I really felt like I was ‘claiming new ground’ by running there for the first time. I’m not sure I would have felt the same way if I’d walked there, and we have in fact driven past there a few times. Running though, it felt more primal. Territory claimed.

As we were passing, Mel and I even got invited inside the local boxing club to have a look around!

Branching Out

Claiming new ground creatively is a great feeling too. One of my other goals for the first half of the year is to finish the 3 ‘missing’ micro-guides from the Career Masterplan for Mad Geniuses.

I’ve started writing and researching for those for 20 minutes a day as part of Michael Nobbs’ Month of Tiny Steps. It’s not a lot of work each day, but it’s better than nothing (which is what I’ve been doing on that particular project for the last month or so).

I also want to start spreading the word about this blog and publishing more content. It would be great if I could start making some money from my efforts here in the future.

Clear-Minded Classics Volume 1: Ten Essential Books for Dissatisfied Creative Types

Clear-Minded Classics Cover Test 2So as a test in that direction I’ve compiled my reviews of the first ten Clear-Minded Classics I’ve covered on this blog and made them available on Kindle.

The formatting isn’t perfect, the cover is ultra-basic, but, hey – I’ve got something published on Amazon! (New ground claimed!)

As a thank you for supporting Clear-Minded Creative you can get the book for free today and tomorrow only (13th and 14th February).

If you find this blog at all helpful, you’ll really be supporting my efforts here by buying it, sharing it and reviewing it on Amazon. More importantly though, I hope you read it and find it useful.

As I say in the introduction:

I spent a lot of time ‘lost at sea’ over the last 15 years, and these books have gradually helped me steer a course to the shore – but it took a lot of time just to discover they were out there. It took a lot of trial and error to put these ideas into place. Therefore I hope this guide can save you a lot of time spent searching for answers and enable you to get to work on your creative projects even sooner!

Get the book on Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon.de Amazon.fr (it’s available on other Amazon stores also)

Click to share the book on Twitter (thanks!)

(Please note that at present I have no plans to publish this book on other platforms such as the iBookstore and Nook but I may look into this in the future.)

Do you plan to claim new ground during the rest of 2013? Let me know in the comments!

It’s a Vine Time to Make a Clone

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Feeling overwhelmed? Far too much to do? Feel like it will take you four lifetimes to get everything ticked off your to-do list?

You might enjoy taking advantage of our new self-replication service:

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Immediately make more of your life, double your productivity, and free yourself up for more fun activities.

We currently have a special deal – 3 new yous for the price of 2, if you sign your life away on the dot today!**


*Either that or spend the best part of day dicking about with Twitter’s latest iPhone app 

**We cannot take responsibility for flawed copies, duplicated lazy-assedness, or any other unexpected consequences of having multiple versions of yourself roaming the earth.

(see also – the appeal of apps that turn us into artists).

The Metrics of Helpfulness – The One Person Test

IMG_6127In a recent episode of The Good Life Project, Leo Babauta (of Zen Habits) tells Jonathan Fields that the most important thing a blogger or business can have is trust – and the only way to earn it is to actually be trustworthy, honest, sincere and be there to genuinely help others.

It sounds blindingly obvious, right?  But I’ve definitely seen a few people online who don’t seem to follow that advice!

The One Person Test

He goes on to say that rather than worrying about web stats and the usual social media metrics, he focuses on whether what he publishes online has helped someone – even if it’s only one person.

“I don’t know how to measure trust, but my metric is a binary metric – instead of trying to get 100,000 hits or whatever – my metric is ‘have I helped somebody’. And it’s either yes or no.

And if the answer is yes, then I’ve done something good. If I write a post and it helps one person – if it helps more than one, great –  but if it helps one, then to me I’ve succeeded. And if all I’m doing is trying to help myself, then the answer is no.”

You can watch the episode below – it’s worth it just to see the crazy green tea these guys are drinking.

Now that type of metric is perhaps a luxury that Leo (yes I like to pretend we’re on first name terms) can afford as author of one of the world’s most popular blogs. But it’s something I kept in mind as I headed out to a number of events over the last couple of weeks and it has held me in good stead. It can feel pretty vulnerable putting yourself out there and sharing your ideas, after all, especially if feedback isn’t immediately forthcoming.

social media surgery jan 2013

Photo by Ally Tibbitt from Greener Leith

Putting It To The Test Part One – Social Media Surgeries

Firstly I attended the Edinburgh Social Media Surgery as a volunteer, also known as a ‘surgeon’. The event was organised by web manager and blogger James Coltham (aka @prettysimple) and sponsored by Greener Leith. With more than 40 people turning up, and those split about half and half between volunteers and locals wanting advice, it was a really busy evening.

I was able to help a local jazz musician with her WordPress blog, and teamed up with fellow ‘surgeon’ Lilly Hunter to give her advice on using Twitter. Therefore, I met the ‘help one person’ test (phew). Of course, helping someone also made me feel good, so everyone’s a winner!

The next Edinburgh Social Media Surgery takes place on Monday 18th February. Maybe I’ll see you there?

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Putting It To The Test Part Two – The Pimp Your Online Presence Workshops

As I mentioned in a recent newsletter, I was also hired to present/facilitate two workshops, the first, at the Digitally Agile Community Learning and Development conference (DACLD)*, was loosely based on my Pimp Your Online Presence ebook, and the second, at the No Knives, Better Lives National Youth Summit, was also on a similar theme though the title was slightly different.

Below are the slides from the first event:

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I haven’t spoken in front of a group for a while (there were about 20 people at each workshop) and I was pretty nervous, perhaps more so because I was sharing my own ideas that originated on this blog!

The workshops were enjoyable, but I’d be lying if I said everything went smoothly – at the first one I had to improvise after technical problems meant I couldn’t show the presentation.  Thankfully there was a lot of discussion and input from the people who were there.

I’m relieved to say that on both occasions I also passed the ‘help one person test’. I received the below tweet after the first workshop, and one of the participants at the second one came up to me afterwards with lots of questions and said they really enjoyed it.

Now I’ve just got to work out how to win over a few more people at future events!

How do you measure the success of your creative, or social media efforts? Could Leo’s ‘One Person Test’ be a more useful goal than the usual popularity contest of Facebook likes and Twitter retweets etc? Let me know in the comments!

*You can download the programme for the DACLD event here. There were some excellent talks by the keynote speakers:

Lauren Currie from We are Snook spoke about their amazing work in teaching design thinking, Ross McCulloch from Third Sector Lab shared great examples of how organisations are using social media and Jenni Robertson from Edinburgh City Council Digital Learning Team spoke about how access to iPads and other technologies in and out of school had a positive impact on children’s learning and development. 

Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning also spoke, saying that the future lies in the digital sphere (and using an iPad to prove it!).