At the end of 2020, I've decided to make 2021 a challenging year. I have committed to doing 12 monthly challenges, one for each month. You can see the list of all the challenges here. Below is a summary of February's challenge.
What was the challenge?
- Challenge: Publish something every day
- Why: I do interesting things, I work with interesting companies, I read interesting books, I learn a lot of useful and interesting things. Hardly anyone knows about it. Sharing more of what I learn should benefit not just me but at least a few other people. I also want to learn to write better. What better practice than a daily writing habit?
How well did it go?
Challenge completion rate: 100% (28 out of 28)
- Articles on VelvetShark: 3 items
- TIL (Today I Learned) articles on VelvetShark: 3
- Book reviews on VelvetShark: 4
- Articles on GrowRevenue: 4
- Tweets: 6
- Tweet threads: 2
- Facebook posts: 4
- LinkedIn posts: 2
How hard was it?
At the end of each day, I recorded if I have completed the challenge for the day. I also rated how much effort it took on a scale of 1 to 10. While it's subjective, it gives an idea of how hard it was to complete the challenge.
Average effort score: 3.96
Lowest effort score for the month: 1 (3 times)
Highest effort score for the month: 8 (1 time)
What did I learn from it?
- Increased visibility. This one is pretty straightforward: more people will see what you have to say when you publish more often. Also, when you publish on different platforms, you put your work in front of a diverse group of people. I felt like way more people are familiar with what I write. Often, even when there was not much feedback online, I heard comments about different pieces I wrote from multiple people when we met live.
- More interactions. Both online and offline. It suddenly felt like what previously was known only to me had a much larger audience. It was interesting to have all the discussions that started with daily publishing.
- Feedback. Because of the above, I've got much more and much better feedback. Sometimes just an acknowledgment of reading a particular piece, sometimes a question I haven't thought about, sometimes an answer to a question I had, or a piece of valuable advice. This was perhaps the most beneficial effect of the daily publishing experiment.
- Harder to publish longer pieces. What seems simple and straightforward when you read it is neither simple nor straightforward when you create it. In fact, the simpler it looks, the more effort it took to make it. The best writing is when a reader can say, "It's simple and obvious; I could have written it myself." Because of this effect, daily publishing habit takes a lot of effort. When focusing on pushing something out every day, longer and more significant articles suffer—articles that need a lot of research, that take time to think through, write, and edit. This is probably the only drawback of daily publishing.
Will I keep doing it?
I will not stick to a daily publishing regime, but I also won't go back to publishing a few times a month. I'll try to post a few times a week to capture all the benefits while still being able to write longer and more thought-out pieces.
Publishing this article is a good start.
What's the next month's challenge?
March is for avoiding toxic things. It will be a 2-in-1 type of challenge. I want to see the effects of getting rid of two of the most toxic things for a month: sugar and news.
- Challenge Part 1: No sugar. At all. If something has sugar as one of the ingredients, I'm not touching it in March (fruits are acceptable).
- Challenge Part 2: No news. It means no news websites, no tv (Netflix is fine), no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Hacker News, no Reddit, etc. I planned to do this challenge in December but decided to combine both challenges.
- Why no sugar: Sugar is toxic. Its effects also add up with years. I want to reverse this trend.
- Why no news: News consumption is toxic. The value of news is vastly overrated and expires in a matter of days. The time commitment to news is much greater on a daily basis than we realize. While never consuming news is tempting but not feasible, it's completely doable for 30 days. Observing the effects of this challenge should be very interesting. I also look forward to learnings and potential changes in behavior in the future.
I'll be publishing March summary at the beginning of April. Drop your email below to have it delivered to your inbox when it goes live. Don't miss any of my struggles or learnings.
PS. I did a bunch of blood tests (11 different ones) on March 1st, and I'll do the same tests at the end of the month. It will be an excellent addition to my subjective effort grading. It will also show what changed and by how much, if anything at all.