Mountain Shores mini podcast: is it a good idea to give your all?

Now and again I record a podcast with my pals Fabian and Michael (with various special guests) called Mountain Shores.

Well, we hadn’t recorded in a while despite the fact we meet most weeks over Skype for a chat. So we decided to try something different and record a “mini” version of about ten minutes length.

Fabian provided us with an interesting bite-sized topic to discuss – whether giving our all is a good idea. After all, if Michael Phelps wasn’t giving his all when he won all those gold metals as he’s recently claimed, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Listen below and read the show notes over at mountainshores.net

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Blog Lovin’, Better Habits & Making Space for Your Creative Work

A casual discussion about the freedom of writing and being a blogging warrior turned into a fully-blown podcast about the advantages of multiple offices, the positive domino effect of introducing more positive habits one at a time, including how cutting down on caffeine can help you get up earlier. (But can admittedly be tough if you rely on it to get your work done!)

Yes, I’m talking about the latest Mountain Shores Podcast (episode 7) with Fabian Kruse and myself. You can listen over at the MoSho website or listen/subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.

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I’ve gone into more detail on the topic of making space for your creative work over at medium.com – this is a sneak peek of the long-delayed but ‘definitely coming eventually’ Produce the Goods Micro-Guide (part 4 of the Career Masterplan for Mad Geniuses).

It was also great to see Arran Arctic’s take on the previous MoSho episode including illustrations of Dave Ursillo’s anecdotes re: leaving his job to become a writer, which follows on nicely from the Graphic Recorder’s sketchnotes of episode 5.

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Arran’s posting some great stuff on his ‘Do Give Up the Day Job’ blog so do check it out. Also, does anyone want to take up the baton and do an illustration for the newest episode? We’d love to see how you interpret our meandering discussion!

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!

Apocalyptic Accountability – A Conversation

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Photo by badjonni


If you’re reading this the likelihood is the world didn’t end on 21st December 2012 as the Mayans predicted. Although it’s still possible at the time of writing, just less than 30 minutes before the bells toll to midnight on the 20th. But assuming that it doesn’t happen, it’s still an inescapable fact that 2012 is almost over.

Time for some Friendly Accountability

My pal Fabian and I have been holding each other accountable in a friendly way most of the year so we thought it was a good time to discuss how things have gone, and look forward a little to how we can wrap things up and make improvements in 2013.

It’s a tester for a possible regular podcast where we would invite others to reveal their tips for people who want to be productive whilst still enjoying life, so it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on whether you would be interested in hearing more.

Hope you enjoy the conversation!

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p.s. I can still learn a thing or two about getting things done from Fabian, that’s for sure. His post went up much earlier today, and so I’ve copied the show notes from him:

Inspiration Supercharged

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This is a guest post by Clear-Minded Creative Type Fabian Kruse of The Friendly Anarchist. All the photos featured are also his handywork.

Travelling through several countries on two different continents, living in eight different cities (and one island), switching apartments every couple of weeks and visiting dozens of parks, sights and landmarks nearby doesn’t sound like the ideal way to get creative work done.

To be honest, it probably isn’t. And still, while doing this over the course of this year, two books got somehow written.

Here’s the thing: Even though learning to be productive anywhere was quite a challenge for me, getting input and inspiration on the way – from the South American Andes to the Austrian Alps, from Caribbean beaches to Berlin’s club culture – was what fuelled my work more than anything else.

If you are a creative type and thinking about travelling the world to find inspiration, here’s my personal plea for you to get your suitcase packed and your ticket booked!

It’s also a plea for a different kind of travel, a plea for diving into local culture and moving off the beaten track. The right mix of connecting and disconnecting, getting lost and finding input, constant creation and conscious moments of leisure is what will provide you with plenty of fertile grounds for your creative endeavours.

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1) Connect, Connect, Connect

When moving to a new city, the easiest way to get a feeling for the place is to connect with as many locals as possible.

Ask for their recommendations, and make sure to state you’re interested in things that go beyond the usual tourist spots: Which are the up and coming districts? Where does the alternative culture thrive? What about local events that are generally ignored by tourists?

If you’re shy or don’t speak the language, simply take some time to observe: Which are the places crowded by natives rather than tourists? Which medium of transport do they prefer, how do they deal with each other, which kind of food do they eat?

I had some of the best and most inspiring travel moments when attending champeta parties in the barrios of Cartagena, drinking draft beer in the shady bars around San Salvador’s central market, or trying to find the best ajiaco soups in the suburbs of Bogotá. I wouldn’t have experienced any of those places if I hadn’t connected with locals who invited me to accompany them.

2) Then: Disconnect

Disconnection is the second major element of being creative on the road for me. While it’s admittedly not good for blog traffic and social media presence, I have noticed that fully immersing myself in a new place will skyrocket my creativity.

This means: Ignore email for a while, close your Twitter client, even leave your laptop and cellphone at home and just start to walk around, being totally in the here and now. It’s hard to get a feeling for the area if you’re looking at a screen all the time!

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3) Getting Lost: The Anti-Guidebook

Sure, you wouldn’t want to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, but if you’re up for taking inspiration to a new level, don’t just stop there. Move beyond the photographic highlights and the recommended restaurants, even if time is short.

The easiest way to do this: Walk around your destination until you don’t have any idea where you are. Then, find your way back. Taxis are not allowed, unless you really are drifting.

Of course, this advice is to be taken with a grain of salt when you’re travelling in dangerous areas, but even cities like Medellín in Colombia provide plenty of opportunities to get lost without risking to get mugged on your way.

4) Rip, Mix, Burn

We’re living in a remix culture in a remix world. I believe that everything you see and experience on your travels will be reflected in your creative work in one form or the other, anyway – so why not embrace it consciously and create the craziest remixes you can make up?

Cross traditional indigenous music with punk rock from back home, mix Indonesian shadow puppet theatre with early Austrian expressionism, combine magic realism and gonzo journalism.

Even if you end up doing this just for your personal amusement, it will be a relieving practice that will impact your approach to creative work. Bonus tip: If you’re interested in “meta remixes”, be sure to check out the immigrant quarters of the city you’re at: The amicable “clash of cultures” (like the meeting of Austrian and Balkan traditions in Vienna’s 16th district) will baffle your expectations and make your creativity thrive and prosper.

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5) Your Travel Journal

Don’t just collect your receipts, photos and memories from the trip, do something with them! The classical format of this is a travel journal. But as this stuff tends to backlog quickly, experiment with keeping the journal regularly and in real-time, even when on the move.

You won’t have more time later, anyway – and if you need to get some photo prints done or copies made, you can do this in most cities in the world nowadays. The results might look a bit less polished than a journal created back at home, but the real-time process can trigger a lot of creative energy for your other projects.

6) The (Playful) Do Habit

There are many challenges when it comes to being creative on the road, but the principal one is the same as always: You have to do stuff in order to get stuff done! Trite but true – you have to get going in order to make some progress with your creative work! For me, the thing that tends to hold me back me the most is an exaggerated perfectionism and an all too serious approach to creativity. Thankfully, there’s an easy remedy: Be playful! The only thing that matters is to keep moving, to keep creating, to keep doing. Circumstances will never be perfect, but despite of that, taking small but real steps towards your magnum opus is the only thing you can do to make headway.

7)In Defense of Idleness

Adopting a do habit has a flipside, of course! While some people seem to thrive on crammed agendas and stressful lifestyles, I believe that most of us actually benefit from regularly enjoying some hours of idleness!

The reason for this is simple: Idleness gives your brain time to process all the input you permanently receive. It will lead to new connections, new insights, and new ideas. This is of course even more important if you are permanently traveling and exploring.

The things you see and experience will have an impact on you, and it could be helpful to give yourself the proverbial headspace to deal with them. And let’s be honest: Not only will your creativity benefit from some leisurely hours here and there. In a world of total work, doing nothing for a little while can simply be a delightful act of rebellion.

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Wow, he has got around a bit hasn’t he? 

Fabian’s new book Productive Anywhere is available now, and features great advice on travelling and getting things done as well as great interviews and other bonus info.

To get a free taster you can listen to or download a transcript of his interview with Chris Guillebeau,  who currently runs a hugely successful online business whilst being well on his way to completing his mission of travelling to every country in the world by the age of 35. So yeah, probably worth a listen.

Disclaimer: I will get a cut of the profits if you follow my link to Fabian’s book and buy it, but the cost to you remains the same. Then once I’m filthy rich from I can travel all around the world like Fabian does, drinking the spoils away in a variety of Caribbean beach hut bars.