The Rough Elements of an Annual Plan

For the last episode of 2014, I wanted to talk about planning for the next year. It’s not nearly as lame or tedious as it sounds — in fact, it’s something my wife and I have done for the past 3 years and we look forward to it.

A good annual plan should help you:

  • identify what you want to do
  • identify what you don’t want to do
  • discover what you need to do

And then, give yourself permission and freedom to do those things you want and need to and stop doing those things which you don’t want/need to do.

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A Holiday Challenge

This is the last episode until after Christmas, and so I wanted to give a challenge for everyone heading in to the holiday time off.

Rest well.

It’s easier said than done, to be sure. But wouldn’t it be awesome to come back from your Christmas vacation with energy and motivation to do your best creative work? Wouldn’t it be awesome to come back feeling fueled up instead of tired and worn out?

Here are a few ideas for how to rest well (and I’m not just talking about taking long naps):

  • It’s okay to be alone for a bit every day. It can be exhausting being around our entire family for days and days on end.
  • Read a real book.
  • Don’t check Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Email — I dare you to go a whole day, let alone the whole week.
  • To keep your mind and creative juices flowing, come up with 5 ideas every day — but don’t worry about actually acting on them. Just exercise your brain.
  • Go on a photo walk.
  • Take lots of family portraits and pictures, but don’t Instagram them right away.
  • Ask your spouse for the thing that is most important for them to do during the vacation, and then make it your first priority to help that happen.
  • Ask one of your family members questions that will lead to more meaningful conversations. Such as asking about what is most challenging or most exciting to them right now.

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Holiday Photography

On this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly I’m joined by my former podcasting partner in crime, Ben Brooks. We talk about (a) what sort of camera you should buy if you want to upgrade from your iPhone, and (b) how to increase your chances of snapping a few awesome photos of friends and family during the holidays (and pretty much any other time).

Notes and links:

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  • Mandrill: Scalable, reliable, and secure email infrastructure service from the folks at MailChimp.

A Couple of iPhone Cases

To be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable using my iPhone 6 without a case — especially now that the colder winter weather has arrived. And so, I’m trying out a few different cases for the first time ever. This is literally the first iPhone I’ve ever owned that I’ve sought out a case for.

In today’s show I talk about the two current contenders:

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Photos

The Spigen 0.4mm case

The Spigen 0.4mm case

The Twelve South SurfacePad

The Twelve South SurfacePad

Knowing Where Our Best Creative Work Comes From

An early episode because it’s Thanksgiving week. On today’s show:

  • The glories and the perils of running your own business.
  • Why showing up every day is important for building an audience.
  • Why trust and transparency are important for keeping an audience.
  • And why doing our best creative work has very little to do with the tools we use, and quite a bit to do with knowing where our best creative work is born.

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Hiring help: Why, When, and How

Hiring help should be seen as an investment in your company, and on today’s show I talk about hiring help (employees or contractors). I share about the people I’ve hired to help me with my websites, how I found them, and why I brought them on. I also discuss knowing when it’s the right time to hire help, and how you can get out of the way so that the people you’ve brought on are empowered to do their best work.

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Can we focus too much on Focus?

Distraction and resistance are universal things we all face when trying to get things done. And while I believe that knowing what to focus on, being good at working through the distractions, and reducing to the essentials when it comes to projects and our environment, is it possible to obsess too much on Focus to the point where we are not even getting things done? In short, yes.

Show Links

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  • Desk: A premium writing and blog publishing app for lovers of words, prose, and narrative. Fall in love with writing, again.

  • The awesome members of shawnblanc.net: Their support makes the work I do a sustainable possibility.

Echo

On today’s show I talk about the just announced Amazon Echo. What can you use this first version for? How cool and practical will it actually be? What are some seemingly-glaring omissions in Echo’s functionality? Are devices that just listen for us to talk to them the future? How does an always-on, always-listening device like the Echo help us to “unplug”?

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Links, etc:

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Building and changing our habits and routines

On today’s episode we’re continuing on in the Power of a Focused Life series with the topic of habits and routines: How we identify the things that trigger our habit and routine actions, and how we can change and improve them.

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Setting yourself up to do quality work

Know what the core experience or the core value is that you’re trying to give to your audience. And do all you can to keep offering that experience, and to underpin it as well as you can.

To do that, sometimes you need a medium that is super simple and hyper focused, and sometimes you need something that is media rich and very versatile. But the point is, whatever your foundation and whatever your frequency, always prioritize quality. Do what you need to do so that when you publish something, it’s of the best quality it can be.

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A podcast by Shawn Blanc