Typing with notepad

Someone told me that you should use a real simple tool like notepad for draft writing as it stops you getting distracted by the constant reminders that you made a typo or word error while typing.

It apparently helps you just work on what you are trying to say. You then get a forced switch from typing into editing mode when you copy that draft text into a ‘real tool’ to review and correct mistakes.

I think this would be really good for me as I know I spend what feels like a lot of time rewording sentences as I write them. When coupling that with my two core base weaknesses (inability to touch type and terrible spelling), it means I am really

slow, and often lose my train of thought while writing. I spend too much time focused on the mechanics of getting the words on the page and not enough focused on the content.

Splitting the writing phase from the editing phase certainly has the possibility of

enabling real speed increases.

So this is the first time I am trying this and I am still struggling to stop constantly correcting my typing. Not sure if that just as I am having a bad day typing, or is it the change in approach.

It feels right enough to persevere with. Maybe it will save time. Maybe it will help me better mentally separate the write/edit tasks. We will see.

Better Writing

So where to start.

If you want to make a change set a goal, define and work towards it. The story being that you improve what you focus on.

I’ve been digging into what I need to get better at and the nub or core seems to all point towards better writing.

So why have I decided to focus on writing?

It’s a critical skill for remote teams. It’s enables you to reach a wider audience, its got leverage capability, it’s something concrete you can point to as output. It provides proof of effort. So being able to write more, faster, better can be almost directly attributed to improved performance as a knowledge worker. It’s the primary measure of a person’s output.

I get that our current environment isn’t looking to measure output. But it will get there eventually.

So how do I rate myself now?

I write slow. I worry about my capability. I don’t enjoy it. I am frustrated by my output and I tend to look for excuses/alternative communication methods. I have good vocab, but my spelling is weak, my touch typing is slow/incomplete, I edit and reedit as I work and I procrastinate, and don’t publish fast enough (in agile terms think big batches vs continuous delivery).

So what does good look like?

I’m thinking of basing this around what you would need to deliver in http://nanowrimo.org/  National Novel Writing Month.

They set the goal at 50,000 words for a novel in November. That’s 1,667 words per day, or around 3.5 hours per day at 50 words per minute. That’s a lofty goal in both speed, and focus.

Right now I am aiming for 2  posts per week and 30 minutes per blog. Once I’ve got that working I will circle back to see where to next.

This was a brain-dump. Eventually I will try and bring structure into play.


Remote Working

I have been thinking about how to get better at remote working. It’s becoming increasing important to my role to be effective without being there in person.

I am reading The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work from Zapier.com who have built their business with a totally remote workforce, which has grown to 36 people in the past 4 years. Only just into it, there’s nothing ground-breaking yet but it has some good insights and things to follow up.

The early insight that came out of this is that one of the key attributes of good remote work is the ability to write. I suck at writing! That’s something I need to really drill into and to do that I need to write more. Hence me finally picking up this blog (after leaving it dormant for 10 months). I’m going to start treating it as a journal. Write more and I will get better at it. Put the hours in and you will improve as time/effort makes it better.

Written communication is critical. A subtask it to get better at typing. That’s something for a later post.

It’s all part of my mission this year to focus on being more effective i.e. doing what is most impactful.

Anyway, I’ve made a start. Tomorrow I will try and think about what I need to put in place to ensure I keep it moving.