Halt & Catch Fire
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase due to the fantastic AMC TV series. Before it was a successful TV show, the phrase was an industry saying. It means what it sounds like, if you stop moving you die. HCF referred to CPUs, and their tendency to crash if one application created problems. If you’ve ever used an old Mac back when they were called Macintosh, you’ll remember this happening.
The sentiment while still true today for tech, also holds true for many other entrepreneurial industries. Writing, especially self-publishing, is no exception. If you fail to move forward you’ll fall behind.
Close the Education Gap
Problem is if you’re getting started today you’re already 2 to 10 years behind her peers. Good news is this gap can be closed quickly. Bad news is there are no easy rides. You have to work your ass off. As long as you’re willing to put in the hard work, it’s never too late to start.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say most of your peers are putting in 20 hours of work per week. That means if you can stay focused and put in 40 hours a week, you will accomplish two years of progress for their one year.
There are studies that show the average person only puts in about 3 hours of work a day (15 hours per week). So when I say your peers are doing 20 hours, I’m being generous.
The key here is to become hyper-efficient with your time, so that in your 20 hours you can do the equivalent of 40+ hours, or better yet you put in a full 40 hours and accomplish 80 hours worth of work. This can keep scaling. I work 10-12 hours per day Monday through Saturday. It hasn’t been easy to get to this level, but again work your ass off.
How I Did It
This has been my strategy for the past two years, I focused on improving my productivity and learning how to master learning. I focused on investing in myself rather than a product or service. I’m 385% as efficient today as I was in August 2015 when I stated tracking. Even when I started tracking, I’d always been more efficient than my peers around me, but I can’t say how much more efficient.
Regardless, 1 hour of work today is equal to 2 hours and 51 minutes of work in 2015. I have every intention to keep tracking and scaling this.
The bad news, podcast don’t count. Because focused learning is about getting the absolute most you can out of the time you put in, podcast don’t work. Their structure doesn’t allow for the most efficient delivery of information. However, there is hope, because lectures still count, and there are plenty on YouTube.
You must know yourself, and identify your own weaknesses, and gaps in information. There’s no point in learning what you already know well, the point is to learn what you don’t know, but need to, as fast as possible. Closing that 2 to 10 year gap. The solution is books and courses. However, it doesn’t stop there. There are still ways to improve your productivity after finding the right books and courses.
For books your best friend is text-to-speech software. You might have a learning curve adjusting to the fact that a computer is reading to you, but computer generated voices are improving yearly. In the long run the increased reading speed will result in better retention and faster learning. I use a basic computer voice I’ve had since 2012.
I read between 25,000 and 30,000 words an hour using text-to-speech software, and I know for a fact I can’t read near that fast doing it myself. Beyond the increased speed, it also keeps my mind from spacing out. I’ve outsourced most of my nonfiction reading to text-to-speech. This is how I’ve been able to get through hundreds of books, and thousands of blog posts.
When it comes to courses, I have none to recommend, but I have found plenty of useful videos on YouTube. I suggest you search there first to find what you need. I’ve yet to find a topic that doesn’t have credible professionals lecturing on YouTube.
Some of you may already know, YouTube allows you to increase the video speed to 1.5X & 2X. Meaning a 30 minute educational video can be consumed in 15 minutes. However, there’s even better news. You can find a plug-in for Chrome Video Speed Controller, and similar plug-ins for Firefox, etc. With this plugin I’m able to watch videos at 3X, I’ve recently been pushing myself to reach 3.5X.
Now you won’t be able to jump into a video at 3X on day one. I’ve taken over two years to work my way up to that speed. Even so, I have to slow down if I’m listening to somebody with a thick accident, or somebody who speaks faster than normal.
3 Must Read Books
These are the 3 books you should read ASAP. I also published a Writing Advice: Book List I recommend to writers.
I know this is a lot to take in, but I assure you the time spent learning how to learn will improve your productivity long-term and allow you to close that gap fast. Focus is about making the most of the time you put toward something, and that holds true for learning as it does to working.