All Hard Work


It can be easy to get caught up in daydreams. To be stuck in ideation.

Proverbs 14:23 describes it well.

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.

An antidote is to put into practice small, daily efforts. Gretchen Rubin describes it well in her chapter of Manage Your Day-to-Day:


  1. Makes starting easier
  2. Keeps ideas fresh
  3. Keeps the pressure off
  4. Sparks creativity
  5. Nurtures frequency
  6. Fosters productivity
  7. Is a realistic approach

So much of the benefit is mental:

Nothing is more satisfying than seeing yourself move steadily toward a big goal. Step by step, you make your way forward. That’s why practices such as daily writing exercises or keeping a daily blog can be so helpful. You see yourself do the work, which shows you that you can do the work. Progress is reassuring and inspiring; panic and then despair set in when you find yourself getting nothing done day after day.

So the question is then, what’s my daily practice going to be? And, how can I structure every project so that I’m at least making small, daily progress?

Do you have a tip, hack or story about daily practices? I’d love to hear! Let me know on twitter or email.


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David Kelley

An interview introduction of David Kelley and what he’s trying to do:

David Kelley believes that everyone is creative, but we have a tendency to hide from that word as we get older. His mission is to help all people recover their problem solving abilities – their creative confidence.

Several years ago he founded a company called IDEO. I’ve known about the existence of IDEO for a while, but didn’t realize that I should be paying closer attention. I only knew that they helped companies make new products.

What I recently found out is that they have a whole framework for how to approach new problems. It’s called design thinking. Or human centered design. And they are very generous in how they share their process.

It has three main parts:

  1. Understand – use intentional empathy to understand the communities and individuals you are designing for. Here’s an example case study about redesigning the lunch experience for San Francisco’s Unified School System “A Cafeteria Designed for Me.”
  2. Ideate – No wrong ideas. Build on them, don’t tear them down. (Hint: They use a lot of post-it notes)
  3. Experiment – Take your best ideas and try to make something. A prototype is way better than just a “Hey, I had this idea….” A prototype allows people explain, discuss, and offer constructive feedback. It can hijack our imagination as we build upon what is already there.

If you really want to dive in to some of the resources, I would study (and maybe even contribute to?) any of the projects on OpenIDEO.

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The Efficacy of Meetings


This is an area where I have to be careful. I love to think about ideas and possibilities. I could dream about things and find a bit of fulfillment in merely imagining what could be accomplished. Yet dreaming about doing is vastly different if action is never taken. So this is me telling myself to not get stuck in the talking loop. Instead, do something.

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Start with a question

start with a question

I came across a post by Kathy Sierra about her approach to presenting. This part stood out to me:

Open with a question they would very much like an answer for.

That’s it. Pose a question. You don’t have to announce you’re going to answer it, just… start. If you’re looking for an opening phrase, try something like, “Imagine you want to…” and then go. Don’t hesitate. And whatever you do, do NOT try to “establish your credibility”. Never try to tell them or sell them on why they should listen to you. If the question is one they want answered, their brain won’t let it go. The rest of the presentation is just a steady reveal of the answer(s).

There’s a lot more great stuff in her post, like focusing on making the audience more awesome, instead of being in a race to be the most awesome presenter. If you want more, check it out here.

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