Category Archives: Self Development

What Happens When You Get Up At 4.30am for 4 Years?

What happens when you get up at 4.30am for 4 years

I have created many habits. We all do.

It keeps life simple and allows us to get things done without having to make constant decisions.

But some are stranger than others.

What shoe I put on first in the morning and what side of the bed I sleep on every night are in the ordinary category.

Have you ever tried to change even those simple habits?

Felt the resistance?

Some habits work for you and others stop you changing and evolving.

A strange habit

What happens when you decide to get up at 4.30am and continue that habit for the next 4 years. And create before starting your day job?

A few years ago I started writing. Not a book but just publishing online.

A passion project.

At first I wrote late in the evening. But it soon changed to an early morning habit.

Five days a week I rose before garbage trucks and street cleaners. Turned off email, social networks and other distractions.

The ritual

The ritual included a coffee, a mug of lemon tea and sitting down and strapping myself in.

I researched, wrote and published. The last step was pushing that content to the waiting world. When you do that one day at a time for years then things start to happen.

Done before most people were awake.

It’s about your creative space. Blocking out time for your “deep work”.

Complexity to simplicity

It’s about designing your life.

Crafting. Sharing your expertise, experience and passion.

We all have the opportunity to be craftsmen. To be creators and producers owning the work. Not beholden to the corporation.

This habit of deep work is not just about productivity. It is much deeper than that.

It is a place where your learning and knowledge goes to a new level. Where you craft complexity into simplicity. Develop insights, influence and thought leadership.

Where magic happens

This personal creation is an investment in you.

But……don’t keep your creation hidden from the world.

Share it.

That is where the magic happens.

The reality is there are different approaches that you can apply to this life transforming habit.

Its not size fits all.

Check out “The One Habit that Transformed my Life“to find out more.

The post What Happens When You Get Up At 4.30am for 4 Years? appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

MozCon: Why You Should Attend And How to Get the Most Out of It

Posted by ronell-smith

MozCon 2013 (left to right): Greg Gifford, Nathan Bylof, Nathan Hammer, Susan Wenograd, and myself

I remember my first MozCon like it was yesterday.

It’s the place where I would hear the quote that would forever change the arc of my career.

“The world is freaking complicated, so let me start with everything I don’t know,” said Google’s Avinash Kaushik, during the Q&A, after speaking at MozCon 2013. “Nine hundred years from now, I will fix what’s broken today. …Get good at what you do.”

Though I didn’t know it at the the time, those were words I needed to hear, and that would lead me to make some career decisions I desperately needed to make. Decisions I never would have made if I hadn’t chosen to attend MozCon, the Super Bowl of marketing events (in my opinion).

Walking into the large (gigantic) room for the first time felt like being on the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland. I hurriedly raced to the front to find a seat so I could take in all of the action.

Once settled in, I sat back and enjoyed the music as lights danced along the walls.

Who wouldn’t want to be here? I thought.

Once the show started and Rand walked out, I was immediately sold: The decision to attend MozCon was the right one. By the end of the show, I would be saying it was one of the best career decisions I could have made.

But I almost missed it.

How and why MozCon?

I discovered MozCon like most of you: while reading the Moz blog, which I had been perusing since 2010, when I started building a website for an online, members-only newsletter.

One of my friends, an executive at a large company, had recently shared with me that online marketing was blistering hot.

“If you’re focusing your energy anywhere else, Ronell, you’re making a mistake,” he said. “We just hired a digital marketing manager, and we’re paying her more than $90,000.”

Those words served as an imprimatur for me to eagerly study and read SEO blogs and set up Twitter lists to follow prominent SEO authors.

Learning SEO was far less fun than applying it to the website I was in the process of helping to build.

In the years that followed, I continued reading the blog while making steps to meet members of the community, both locally and online.

One of the first people I met in the Moz SEO community was Greg Gifford, who agreed to meet me for lunch after I reached out to him via DM on Twitter.

He mentioned MozCon, which at the time wasn’t on my radar. (As a bonus, he said if I attended, he’d introduce me to Ruth Burr, who I’d been following on Twitter, and was a hyooge fan of.)

I started doing some investigating, wondering if it was an event I should invest in.

Also, during this same period, I was getting my content strategy sea legs and had reached out to Jon Colman, who was nice enough to mentor me. He also recommended that I attend MozCon, not the least because content strategy and UX superstar Karen McGrane was speaking.

I was officially sold.

That night, I put a plan into action:

Signed up for Moz Pro to get the MozCon discount
Bought a ticket to the show
Purchased airline and hotel tickets through Priceline

Then I used to following weeks to devise a plan to help me get everything I could out of the show.

The conference of all conferences

Honestly, I didn’t expect to be blow away by MozCon.

For seven of the 10 previous years, I edited a magazine that helped finance a trade show that hosted tens of thousands of people, from all over the world.

Nothing could top that, I thought. I was wrong.

The show, the lights, the people — and the single-track focus — blew me away. Right away.

I remember Richard Baxter was the first speaker up that first morning.

By the time he was done sharing strategies for effective outreach, I was thinking, “I’ve already recouped my expense. I don’t plan to ever miss this show again.”

And I haven’t.

So important did MozCon become to me after that first show, that I began to plan summer travel around it.

How could one event become that important?

Five key reasons:

People & relationships
Personal & career development

I’ll explore each in detail since I think they each help make my point about the value of MozCon. (Also, if you haven’t read it already, check out Rand’s post, The Case For & Against Attending Marketing Conferences, which also touches on the value of these events.)

#1 – Content

You expect me to say the content you’ll be privy to at MozCon is the best you’ll hear anywhere.

Yeah, but…

The show hand-picks only the best speakers. But these same speakers present elsewhere, too, right?

What I mean by “content” is that the information you glean holistically from the show can help marketers from all areas of the business better do their work.

For example, when I came to my first MozCon, I had a handful of clients who’d reached out to me for PR, media relations, branding, and content work.

But I was starting to get calls and emails for this thing called “content marketing,” of which I was only vaguely familiar.

The information I learned from the speakers (and the informal conversations between speakers and after the show), made it possible for me to take on content marketing clients and, six months later, head content marketing for one of the most successful digital strategy agencies in Dallas/Fort Worth.

There really is something for everyone at MozCon.

#2 – People & relationships

Most of the folks I talk to on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis are folks I met at one of the last four MozCons.

For example, I met Susan E. Wenograd at MozCon 2013, where we shared a seat next to one another for the entire event. She’s been one of my closest friends ever since.

MozCon 2015: I’m chastising Damon Gochneaur for trying to sell me some links — I’m kidding, Google.

The folks seated beside you or roaming the halls during the event are some of the sharpest and most accomplished you’ll meet anywhere.

They are also some of the most helpful and genuine.

I felt this during my first event; I learned the truth of this sentiment in the weeks, months, and years that have followed.

Whether you’re as green as I was, or an advanced T-shaped marketer with a decade of experience behind you, the event will be fun, exciting, and full of new tips, tactics, and strategies you can immediately put to use.

#3 – Personal & career development

I know most people make decisions about attending events based on the cost and the known value — that is, based on previous similar events, how much they are likely to earn, either in a new job, new work, or additional responsibilities.

That’s the wrong way to look at MozCon, or any event.

Let’s keep it real for a moment: No matter who you are, where you work, what you do, or how much you enjoy your work, you’re are ALWAYS in the process of getting fired or (hopefully) changing jobs.

You should (must) be attending events to keep yourself relevant, visible, and on top of your game, whether that’s in paid media, content, social media, SEO, email marketing, etc.

That’s why the “Is it worth it?” argument is not beneficial at all.

I cannot tell you how many times, over the last four years, when I’ve been stuck on a content strategy, SEO or web design issue and been able to reach out to someone I would never have met were it not for MozCon.

For example, every time I share the benefits of Paid Social with a local business owner, I feel I should cut Kane Jamison (met at MozCon 2014) a check.

So, go to MozCon, not because you can see the tangible benefits (you cannot know those); go to MozCon because your career and your personal development will be nourished by it far beyond any financial reward.

Now you know how I feel and what I’ve gleaned from MozCon, you’re probably saying, “Yeah, but how can I be certain to get the most out of the event?”

I’m glad you asked.

How you can get the most out of MozCon

First, start following and interacting with Twitter and Facebook groups to find folks attending MozCon.

Dive in and ask questions, answer questions, or set up a get-together during the event.

Next, during the event, follow the #mozcon Twitter hashtag, making note of folks who are tweeting info from the event. Pay close attention to not simply the info, but also what they are gleaning and how they plan to use the event for their work.

If you find a few folks sharing info germane to your work or experiences, it wouldn’t hurt to retweet them and, maybe later during the show, send a group text asking to get together during the pub crawl or maybe join up for breakfast.

Then, once the show is over, continue to follow folks on social media, in addition to reading (and leaving comments on) their blogs, sending them “Great meeting you. Let’s stay in touch” emails, and looking for other opportunities to stay in their orbit, including meeting up at future events.

Many of the folks I initially met at MozCon have become friends I see throughout the year at other events.

But, wait!

I mentioned nothing about how to get the most out of the event itself.

Well, I have a different philosophy than most folks: Instead of writing copious notes and trying to capture every word from each speaker, I think of and jot down a theme for each talk while the speaker is still presenting. Along with that theme, I’ll include some notes that encapsulate the main nuggets of the talk and that will help me remember it later.

For example, Dr. Pete’s 2016 talk, You Can’t Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter, spurred me to redouble my focus (and my learning with regard to content and SEO) on search intent, on-page SEO, and knowing the audience’s needs as well as possible.

Then, once the show is over, I create a theme to encapsulate the entire event by asking myself three questions:

What did I learn that I can apply right away?
What can I create and share that’ll make me more valuable to teammates, clients or prospective clients?
How does this information make me better at [X]?

For the 2013 show, my answers were…

I don’t need to know everything about SEO to begin to take on SEO-related work, which I was initially reluctant to do.
Content that highlights my in-depth knowledge of the types of content that resonates with audiences I’d researched/was familiar with.
It makes me more aware of how how search, social, and content fit together.

After hearing Avinash’s quote, I had the theme in my head, for me and for the handful of brands I was consulting at the time: “You won’t win by running the competition’s race; make them chase you.”

MozCon 2013: Avinash Kaushik of Google

This meant I helped them think beyond content, social media, and SEO, and instead had them focus on creating the best content experience possible, which would help them more easily accomplish their goals.

I’ve repeated the process each year since, including in 2016, when I doubled-down on Featured Snippets after seeing Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets, by Rob Bucci.

You can do the same.

It all begins with attending the show and being willing to step outside your comfort zone.

What say you?

Are you MozCon bound?

Count me in!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

5 Lesser-Known Productivity Tips That Can Change Your Life Forever

5 Lesser-Known Productivity Tips That Can Change Your Life Forever

Okay, okay. I get it – you want to get more done in less time.

So do I.

I’ve been blogging full-time for the last five years and I spend 10 hrs/day on average at my workspace. Let me be honest: working online is NOT always fun. 

The internet is full of distractions.

As someone who is no less susceptible to distractions than you, I’ve struggled a lot to find effective productivity tips over the last couple of years.

The good news is I’ve learnt five killer ones along the way, and I’m ready to share.

If you’re someone who’s looking to get more things done in less time, this post is for you. You’ll discover five of the best time-saving hacks that you can use to boost your productivity almost instantly.

Curious? Let’s jump right in.

#1. Adopt the 2-minute rule

How much can you accomplish in two minutes, you might wonder? Well, the surprising answer is quite a LOT!

Did you know that 9 out of 10 people never finish their daily to-do lists because they include a lot of mundane tasks?

That’s why you need a failsafe system to tackle your to-do list the right way, and that’s where the 2-minute rule comes into play.

The 2-minute rule helps you get rid of a ton of unimportant things from your to-do list so you can focus your time on finishing the most important ones.

There are two parts to the 2-minute rule:

If something can be done in two minutes, just do it.
If something takes more than two minutes, then start it.

Let’s talk about the two parts in detail so you can understand just how effective it is.

Part 1: If something can be done in two minutes, just do it.

Basically, if a task takes less than two minutes of your time, do it right away. Don’t add it to your to-do list. Don’t put it aside for later. Don’t delegate it to someone else.

Just do it.

Then forget it.

Tasks that spring to mind that fit this profile: answer an email, retweet winning content, come up with a few blog ideas, and send an update to a colleague.

There are a ton of tiny, seemingly trivial tasks that take less than two minutes yet need to be done EVERY DAY.

Ticking them off will help you build and maintain momentum in your workday. Never underestimate the sense of accomplishment that comes with just getting things done.

Adopting the 2-minute principle will help you manage your daily to-do lists more effectively by micro-managing unimportant tasks.

Part 2: If something takes more than two minutes, then start it.

You may ask, “But how can I get BIGGER tasks done in under two minutes? We’re talking tasks that usually take hours to days to weeks to complete!”

I hear you. But have you heard of Newton’s first law of motion: an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion?

Once you take an action on any 2-minute task, you will feel better equipped to work on even bigger tasks because of the sense of momentum you’ve built.

That’s the reason why the 2-minute rule is so effective.

So, let’s break it down:

Want to write a 1000 words every day? Write 50 words in the next two minutes.
Want to meditate for 20 minutes a day? Go to and meditate for two minutes.
Want to exercise for one hour a day? Do jumping jacks for just two minutes.

You get the idea. Once you start taking immediate action on your goals by using the 2-minute rule, you are bound to move onto bigger tasks. The precedent is set. Once you start acting on small tasks, you can keep the ball rolling.

Read this article by James Clear in which he succinctly explains how you can use the 2-minute rule to beat procrastination if you’re still not convinced.

#2. Get a standing desk to increase your productivity by almost 50%!

I know, I know, it sounds crazy.

But if you get a standing desk, your day will go quicker and you may be better able to concentrate on your work.

A recent study by Texas A&M University found that employees who used standing desks were a whopping 46% more productive than those with traditional seated desk configurations.

Image Source: CustomMade

Without a doubt, standing desks have become the mark of a hip office, but FF Venture Capital has found that standing actually leads to more actively sharing ideas. Some prominent individuals like Thomas Jefferson worked at standing desks every day of their lives.

Here are some of the other benefits to using a standing desk at your home or workplace:

You will become more productive, i.e., you’ll stop checking your inbox every few minutes.
You’ll burn more calories – a standing desk activates the major muscle groups in your legs.
You’ll enhance your sense of focus because when standing, it’s normal to feel a sense of urgency which in turn makes you more focused on the timely completion of tasks.
You’ll improve your digestive health and actually experience decreased fatigue because you won’t slouch over at your desk.

Standing desks effectively eliminate the urge to multitask and flip between websites, email and other distractions so they’re definitely worth a try if you’re keen to boost your productivity.

Here are a few additional tips for standing desk newbies.

Start small. Instead of working for two hrs straight from a standing desk straight away, start in small cycles. Use it for 15 minutes a day, then slowly increase your time until you feel so good at it that you can spend all day there.
Use sites like Pinterest to come up with a ton of creative ideas about how best to set it up or even make one yourself.
Take breaks. Go for a short walk, practice squat or grab a cup of coffee to avoid fatigue or stiffness.

If you’re really curious about how to set up a standing desk properly, this article by Yaro Starak goes into great detail.

#3. Start to turn off your monitor while writing

Are you struggling to write blog posts quickly? Do you often edit your own work while writing?

Editing while writing is one of the biggest time suckers out there.

Being a perfectionist is a surefire way to get burned out when writing.

The simplest way to avoid the habit of editing while you write is as follows: turn off your monitor.

You don’t need any special tools to turn off your laptop or PC monitor. Just decrease your screen brightness (to zero). Works like a charm on a Mac.

Alternatively, hang a paper or dish towel over your screen.

Why? Because you don’t need to see the screen to write provided you have access to the keyboard.

But what about all the typos and grammatical errors, you may ask?

Well, you can always edit your content later! Most great writers draft their content first, edit later.

You’ll find that writing without looking at the words as they flash up on your monitor is liberating and means you get a ton more ideas down without second-guessing them.

Plus, here are some other benefits:

No online notifications or email alerts.
Faster typing speed.
Less temptation to use online tools like thesauruses or dictionaries!

So what are you waiting for? Give it a try, at least once. It’s hard in the beginning not being able to see the words appear on your screen. But once you get the hang of it, it enables you to write more freely and intuitively.

I use this technique whenever I want to finish an article quickly.

#4. Never break the chain (Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret)

You’ve heard that it takes 21 days to build any habit, right?

Well, that’s WRONG.

It actually takes 18 to 254 days to build a habit.

Consistency is the key to forming any habit.

The majority of people fail at building life-changing habits because of one reason: they start strong, but give up early.

Here’s where a proven productivity hack by Jerry Seinfeld comes in handy.

Wait, Jerry Seinfeld?

Yep, it’s commonly known as the ‘Don’t Break The Chain’ hack, and the concept couldn’t be simpler.

In an article on Lifehacker, Brad Isaac reveals how Jerry explained it to him.

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself – even when you don’t feel like it.

“He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.

After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

The ‘Don’t Break The Chain’ hack works because it helps you become more consistent with your most important skill or talent. If you’ve been running a business for a while, you already know how important it is to be consistent.

So here’s how to get started with it.

Step 1: Find your ONE thing. Do you want to master SEO? Do want to become a superb programmer? Or do you want to be a stand-up comedian, like Jerry himself? Figure it out. Don’t skip this step.

Step 2: Hang a huge annual calendar at your workspace, office or home.

Image Source: Calendarpedia

Step 3: Put a big X across each day when you devote time to working on your one thing. This creates a chain of X’s showing your progress. Focus on growing your chain longer and longer.

Your only job is NOT to break the chain.

#5. Focus on small and fast wins

The number one dumb mistake that most people make while working on their goals or projects is this: they try to do too many things at once, rather than taking a small first step.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase to make a little headway towards it.

Take baby steps if you want to get things done.

Divide your BIGGEST goal into:

Yearly goals
Quarterly goals
Monthly goals
Weekly goals
Daily goals

And ask yourself, “What’s the one step that I can take today that takes me closer to my end goal?”

Avoid dreaming about the big goal. Focus on small and fast wins.

That’s how you achieve your goals over time.

For example, let’s say you want to become a self-published author.

A typical book consists of 300 pages. That means you need to write 75,000+ words (taking 250 words per page as average).

Instead of thinking about the end goal, focus on writing your first 100 words TODAY. Write another 1000 words by next week. Make it a habit of writing 500 words every day using the Seinfeld productivity hack listed above and within five months, you’ll hit your goal of writing a 300+ page book.

That’s the magic of focusing on small and fast wins.

Over to you…

I’ll end up this post by leaving you with a beautiful quote by Marc Levy, the founding director of Right Lane Consulting and a man whom I greatly admire.

Remember to treat time like money if you want to lead a productive life. Focus on your next step and keep moving forward.

So what are your thoughts on productivity tips? Do you have any more hacks to boost productivity? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Guest Author: Rahul Kuntala is a computer science graduate turned full-time blogger since 2012. He’s a retired Ironman and keeps a blog where he shares simplified SEO strategies. Follow him on Twitter.

The post 5 Lesser-Known Productivity Tips That Can Change Your Life Forever appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

The Secret To Success:Pain Is Just Todays Investment in Future Success

This One Trait Is the Secret To Success

I walked into the shop and there they were. Lining up. Handing over the coupon.

Their expectant faces were hopeful. Maybe this was the moment. Dream realized. Most were sure this was “the” day.

But they all left disappointed. Back to reality.

The chances for success were low. A professional betting man wouldn’t bother paying the price. Despite that they keep hoping for that pay day when their numbers came up.

Winning the lottery is “that” big dream for many.

That quick fix. A solution to their financial desperation. But it rarely is.

The long game

According to Bill Gates “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

Playing the long game is a trait that many can’t sustain. But it is the secret to success.

Having the patience to hang in there and keep strapping yourself in and doing the work. Winning at business and life requires patience. That overnight success is rare. Normally it is decades in the making.

Building life transforming habits grow from patient perseverance.

Patience is boring

Success is a game of patience and whether you are a digital marketer, professional or entrepreneur there are some key activities that are worth investing in.

But they take time.

Social media offered a seeming magical solution to our marketing problems and it sometimes can. But the free lunch is turning into a mandatory paid strategy.

The quick fix of instant traffic can be intoxicating but you need money for that. And many small businesses don’t have that spare cash floating around.

But earning traffic, leads and sales can be done. Winning at business is not a lottery. Designing and building a life worth living and celebrating is not found in a coupon.

The secret to success isn’t a quick fix.

It requires patience. There is no other way. It is essential and often boring.

Here are some skills that you need to earn and persevere with to succeed in a digital world.

Earning authority on search engines

Google doesn’t give your organic search traffic for free.

It comes after months and years of creating great content and making sure it gets discovered. Playing the long game in SEO is essential.

Build a following on social networks

Growing you networks and tribes on social media takes time.

It means you have to engage in continuous marketing. The social networks don’t tolerate silence. Grinding out a big loyal tribe is years in the making.

Growing your email list

An email list isn’t as sexy as SnapChat but it is still one of the best ways to turn your passion into profit.

It means taking the time and the perseverance to learn how to convert traffic and attention into an email list. It means working out how optimise landing pages, create premium content like ebooks, videos and podcasts.

And……. keep going.

Developing your writing expertise

Learning the art of writing is something that many of us can do but not many of us are prepared to pay the price. Steven King still invests in writing 1,000 words a day, 7 days a week.

The investment means reading books on writing, just reading (a lot) and exercising at the keyboard.

Nurturing your communication competence

Some people make standing on stage look easy.

But I can guarantee you that almost all of them have hired multiple coaches, practised often and long and spoken for free until they could command a fee. It is not just bullet points on a PowerPoint.

It is many moving parts and skills.

The skills required include movement, breathing, cadence and storytelling.

Earning entrepreneurial skills

Building a business is for most a journey of ecstasy, graft and pain.

Often is means making mistakes that don’t kill you and just plain hanging in there. Of going to the office or sitting down and doing the many ordinary things that lead to extraordinary.

It means paying the patience price.

Pain is underestimated

Not many of us learn or grow from comfort.

I don’t. My major transformations, growth and successes have come from being in a sea of pain. Many of us need to be taken out of their comfort zones to make the necessary changes in our lives.

Growth can come from within or the opportunity is sometimes is forced on us. Sure…..wallow in the torment for a while. We are human. But apply the agony to drive you forward to life changing action.

It’s our attitude to pain that is key to success.

Success often comes from understanding that “pain is just todays investment in future success”.

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