My Writing Journey. May 25th, 2010

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In case you haven’t notice, I was missing in action yesterday. In case of doubt I was writing, yesterday and the whole Blog post pass by me. For that reason (and since I also miss my post this morning) I  decide to make tuesday’s my Writing Journey Report Day.
So I am writing the third draft of my novel. This is the first time I am writing this draft in Spanish, I don’t know why, but I can say that I have been enjoying this draft a lot. I think I enjoy the other 104,000 words (51,000 and 53,000) but there is something about this draft in spanish that I am enjoying.
I made peace with Mr. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Yes, laugh now, I fight with Garcia Marquez in 1998, and since then I had not read a book or want to have anything to do with his work. Don’t ask me why, and don’t ask me how we make peace but we did. Actually, not only I made peace, the character now, is leaving the last train from Macondo, and that’s what I am going to share with you today, on this Writing Report Day.
…”That was the morning I leave Macondo, I knew that I was never going back. You know, my mother never told me who was my father, but I always knew was one of the Buendia, my mother, who was a really good woman, but not so bright, give me Jose Aureliano as my name. I don’t know if you know this, but the kings of Macondo, were the Buendia, Don Aureliano Buendia. As I was telling you I got the last train that was leaving Macondo, my mother got me a ticket that was going to take me with a distant cousin, far, far away, and ask me that I should never come back, she told me that we will never see each other again, but she want me to be sure that she love me very much”…
…”I got distracted, and forgot what I was telling you, oh, I remember now, I was telling you that my mom cousin teach me to read and she send me to a school, I remember that as is was yesterday, I read my first book, when I was sixteen, and was that the day that I told myself that I was going to spend my life writing, I wasn’t going to do anything else. Of course, in case you don’t know, write is one of those things that are hard to do, not because write is so complex, but because every time you write, you feel that fear, or should say, I feel that fear”…
This is part of the first chapter, and I am happy to report that I have been constantly writing the last week and a half on the book, not so much on the blog, but planning to begin posting again tomorrow.
If you are a writer, I will love to connect and read what you write, so let me know.

How expensive is to loose a Linchpin?

If you are not familiar with Seth Godin book, Linchpin, please do yourself a favor, go to this link in Amazon and buy it.
A lot of organizations had linchpins, but a lot of them don’t do the diligent work to ensure that those linchpins stay happy, and for the longest time possible.
According to the New Oxford Dictionary, linchpins, are those people or things that are vital to an enterprise or organization.

Many times this linchpins play a role that is not easily noted, they are so vital that people tend to take them for granted. Years ago, I heard the story of a lady in the Social Security Administration that when she retire (after keeping the department by herself for more than 40 years) was replaced by 5 computers and 5 people to handle them.They were also all the time late, and somehow this person was always on time. I also learn of a person that was promoted to a different department on her organization and her position was replaced by three people, and these three people could not keep up with the work load, she is another linchpin. Years ago, I also learn of a person that use to handle the Sales for the Latin American division. This division had never made profit. For the two years this person handle the division, not only the division saw profit, the second year that division close in Latin America the biggest deal they had ever had on one of their products, later this person leave the company, no replacement had been able to repeat those results, this person was also a linchpin.

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What is the cost of a linchpin when they leave? Probably is impossible to calculate, but I can assure you is really high. The problem is organizations are afraid to loose linchpins, so instead of keep them, motivate them and allow them grown and engage with more, they hope they stay there forever, and hope is alway bad news in business.
Organizations are in most cases aware of this linchpins, so this is the people with the biggest load of work, but at the same time is the people that get pass in promotions, and get motivated the least, and pushed the most. It’s true, linchpins, will move forward, despite of all that, but also eventually will move away, linchpins believe in the organizations, and are somehow conscious that their job is vital for the organization, and they are proud of it. That’s at least until the moment the straw breakthe camel back, or should I say the linchpin back. When that happen, you just lost that linchpin, and your expenses will go up exponentially.
Are you ignoring your linchpins, hoping that they stay, or are you trying to get this linchpins to attract more linchpins for your organization? Are you aware of the cost of this linchpin if he or she leaves? Are you making sure your linchpin is happy and motivated, or again you are just hoping?

Keep the necessary and remove the fat

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I remember when I read the story that Jason Friend told about their book Rework when (I am paraphrasing) remove all the fat from the the draft to the final version of the book. Their editor not necessarily agreed, but that decision, make their book simply remarkable and incredible.
Last weekend I read a book that I was actually looking forward for a really long time, and two third of the book were incredible, then the author continue writing to the number of words the editor need to sell this book, and that last one third, was poor, I should say bad, pure fat.
As a writer, I have been in the game of words, you need to write a number of words in order to be able to call your book something, and after read this other book, I decide that my books and stories will had the long of the story. After I finish I will remove the fat, and make it with only the necessary stuff, to make it more close to remarkable.
For now own, in my own writing I will Keep the necessary and remove the fat…

My Issue with Fiction and non-Fiction reading and writing.

I have been struggling with the third first draft of my novel. The first two didn’t work, and I toss them in the trash. I have been struggling, when I sit to write the novel I get absorbed and stop focusing on the rest of my life, and when I know I only have a little bit of time, I simply don’t want to write it. But this only happened to me when it is fiction that I am writing, I had noticed that when I am writing non-fiction, like this post, I can do the time need it, or less, come back, or anything, doesn’t matter. Curiously, the same thing happen when I am reading, for that reason I read more non-fiction books than fiction ones, because if the fiction book is good, I have a really hard time disconnecting from the book.
I had been journaling about this, even before discovering the connection between my reading and my writing, I had just never associate both until recently.
I remember when I read “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruis Zafon, a great fiction book, and a recommendation to any one that loves books, I begin reading and could not stop until it was done, actually I am lying, I stop, because I could not continue reading at four am, but a soon as I open my eyes the next morning, I went directly for coffee and more reading. A special thanks to my wife, are in order, that instead of kill me that morning, took care of our baby with a smile.
In contrast, on a non-fiction, I can read half a page, continue later for two and later for another half to be able to read for an hour at night. No strings attached. The same thing happen when if I am writing, I get into the fiction world I am writing, and get mad if I get interrupted, that make it extra difficult for me to write fiction.
Based on that, looks like I prefer to read and write non-fiction, when in reality is exactly the opposite, but I had not learn yet, to read and write fiction in dashes, I only know to do it until the body drops. That in theory is ok, except I have a family, a day job, and other projects that don’t allow me to just get into a room and write.
I will love for some coaching on how to improve this, I will love to read more fiction, but honestly I am afraid, because I am aware that if it’s good fiction, I will read until I drop. Sadly the same applies to my fiction writing, and for that reason tend to happen only on fridays and saturdays and I get to have a miserable weekend, because of exhaustion.
Do you have the same issue, or have you even noticed?

The Weekly Review Booklet

Long time ago, GTDConnect (You can get a 14 day trial) had a Magazine that they produce called the GTD Journal. Sadly they stop it, but in the 3rd issue, there was this article for me and my weekly review booklet. I ask the DavidCo people and kindly they allow me to republish here.
I choose to copy the text as well as the 2 images on the original formatting (that was really cool) , and also add the PDF version at the end for you to downloaded.

The Weekly Review Booklet

For many people, one of the most difficult things to understand the value of – and therefore to develop as a habit – is the Weekly Review. When I started working with GTD, I didn’t fully comprehend the importance of it. But once I discovered how essential the Weekly Review is, I decided to find ways to improve my system.
After many trials (it seems I found 1,000 ways how not to do the Weekly Review), I created what I call “The Weekly Review Booklet.” This booklet allows me to go through the review process page by page, keeping my focus and concentration at the same time. The booklet also helps to remove the overwhelm factor that a lot of us feel during this time. This is how it works:
Here is a copy of the Weekly Review Template Handout that’s available inside GTD Connect. I have numbered it to correspond to the steps I’ve outlined.
Each item on this list will have its own category and at least one page, for capturing content specific to it.
Now let’s begin the Weekly Review.
Step 1: Collect Loose Papers & Materials.
I have a page with all my collection systems. It is a checklist to make sure I am not missing any collection point. (Power Tip: Process the inbox the day before your Weekly Review to jump into the fun faster!)
Step 2: Get IN to zero.
David says, “Process completely all outstanding paper materials, journals and meeting notes, voicemails, dictation and emails.” You already collected materials from all your sources in Step 1.
Step 3. Empty your Head.
David states, “Put in writing and process any uncaptured new projects, action items, waiting fors, someday maybe’s, etc.” For this step, you will want to make sure that you’ve placed the Incompletion Trigger List (which includes personal and professional triggers) inside your booklet. The trigger list is available inside GTD Connect.
Step 4 thru Step 8.
These steps involve interaction with your GTD System – your Action Lists, Calendar, Waiting-for List and Project List. Make sure you have a page for each step; that way you know you cannot go faster than the step you are on.
Step 9: Review Relevant Lists
In my case, there are currently 17 lists. This number varies over time.
My current lists are as follows (again, one page per list):

  • Weekly Checklist
  • Weekly Call List
  • Work Checklist
  • Cleaning Routines @ Home (5 Lists depending on the week of the month)
  • Monthly Routines
  • Quarterly Routines
  • 20k Areas of Responsibility
  • Family Roles – Friends
  • 30k 1-2 year goals
  • 40k 3-5 year goals
  • 50k Mission
  • End of the Year Checklist

Step 10: Review Someday/Maybe
This is when the fun begins. After my entire system is in check, I now go to the last pages, the Someday/Maybe lists. At this time, there are around 20 pages for this section of the booklet. As I said before, this number will vary.

  • Presents for my Wife
  • Things to buy for me
  • Things to buy for our home
  • Games to buy
  • Book lists
  • Music & movies to buy
  • Ideas
  • Fun Stuff to Learn / Activities to Engage
  • Things to fix in our cars
  • Trips we want to do
  • Things to research
  • S/M Personal Projects
  • S/M Home
  • S/M Work Short Term (less than a month)
  • S/M Work Long Term – Clothes
  • Fun places to go
  • S/M Daughter
  • Things to buy for Daughter

Going through this booklet page by page while I am doing my Weekly Review has allowed me to make sure the habit stays and I am on the top of my game.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me in the GTD Connect Forums: apinaud.

The Original Article:

The full PDF: Augusto’s Article GTDJournal03

An iPad review update.

I got my iPad on launch day, and so far I love it. It’s not perfect, but it has allow me to do a lot of stuff, I had got rid of my paper pad for example, and bring my iPad to meetings, I had been able to travel without the need to use the laptop, and I can write on the on screen keyboard fine until I start getting emotional and I then try to type faster that the screen can recognize the input, and then the mess begin. I hope that father’s day bring me an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard.
The iPad is not in any way a substitute to my MacBook, but it is without a doubt a tool that I didn’t expect was going to allow me to do that much. Pages, Numbers and Keynote, cover my basic needs for word, excel and keynote. The calendar and email is great, and my writing tool, Evernote, is incredible.
I can now take notes in the iPad while in the phone, and in meetings, provide answers, and even set basic spreadsheets of information, I can also spend many hours writing and reading.
The battery is incredible, last week, after the whole day working was returning to Los Angeles, and honestly was exhausted, I was able to push for a little less than an hour, and after that I watch a movie and sleep, the movie in the iPad was so cool, it is incredible friendly.
I am traveling again at the end of this month, and the plan is to bring only the iPad, my MacBook will stay behind.
I am sure, that occasion will come in with I will regret only have the iPad and the future Apple Bluetooth Keyboard, but I think between LogmeIn Ignition and SugarSync I will be covered, or I will learn the lesson, in them mean time, that will be the only I will carry.
What I had discover with my iPad is that I need much less computer power than I originally tough, honestly if the experience continue begin this, probably I will get the next iPad (probably third generation) with 3G unless that ATT decide to allow us teetering, or Apple allow us to divorce ATT.
That has been for me an interesting discovery, I knew that I need less power than I had long time ago, but the iPad show me that everyday, I discover that the Laptop stays behind and I basically cover 80% of my needs on the iPad.
To this moment, I need to find a way to access the secure server at work (I am only able to do this on the MacBook connected to the cable) and a better option for WordPress and Typepad for blogging exclusively on the iPad, honestly both applications are not great, I can manipulate (basic mind you) images, or add URLs, but I am sure all that is coming.

Slow Down to Speed Up

When was the last time you just stop your busy life and admire how much you have accomplish in the last six months, when was the last time that you stop for a moment and step down for the rat wheel, disengage from the rat race to comtemplate the road, to double check tha the path you are taking you in the direction you want to go, and more importantly that you are moving forward.
Even if you don’t speak Chinese, you know the meaning of that sign on the right of this page, is an stop sign, as a reminder for you.  I wish to say that I stop more often, give myself credit more often, and see how much I had accomplished in the last months and weeks, I wish that I can say that often I stop and admire around.
Yesterday, I set everything to stop my world for thirty minutes, I was able to see were I was, where I need to go, and give me credit for the things that I had accomplish in 2010 already.
Sadly we tend to go fast, faster, and even faster, do you believe is already May 14. I had been moving so fast, that I don’t understand how this year is going so fast, and therefore the importance to stop, the importance to slow down, the importance to slow down and reflect.
I am proud of the things I had accomplish this year, I am glad to see that I’m walking into the path I want to spend more time, I am happy I stop and spend a little time writing this and reflecting about the good, the things that are done, and the things that are left to accomplish, including that big, big goal coming soon.

I never said I will give up again

Daniel Koontz yesterday post a great post on writing and giving up. If you had nit read it you should, go here.
The interesting thing with giving up, is that you never give up, you just feel bad about it. I had wrote yesterday post for this blog somedays ago, and I got a lot of encourage messages, but contrary of the article I was not unhappy in any way, actually, I was finishing another post for the Blog of Mind Like Monkey, called: Happiness is a Choice.
I gave up writing, I gave up calling myself a writer, I gave up on my dream of be a published author, at least long time ago, but there was no sense, I love being a writer, I love to say things that inspire the heart to pump, I love to be able to see people get a tear of emotion, I love to move emotions out of the heart of people, I love have a trail of emotions that follow the stuff I write.
Regardless if I give up, the reality is that I can’t, I can’t stop writing and feeling good about it, I am sure I will be able to convince myself of all the reasons why I shouldn’t write, but as prove by my own experience, the writer heart will come back, and I will feel bad of all the opportunities that I had waste and I could have spent writing.
I love the fact that Daniel call it a decease based on Max Hastings books ‘The Korean War‘ and need to agree, is a terrible decease that fill you with fear, doubt, and make you feel really bad, but more importantly, kill your soul, take away your ability to appreciate life, to contemplate the little things, to enjoy a good sad afternoon, to express a happy night, or an incredible morning. If you stop writing, you stop noticing the stuff that your writer heart look around, and you will be loosing those precious moments, those moments, where your words can inspire a tear from someone else, the moments that your writer heart simply blow you and others away.

Searching for inspiration

Image Courtesy of: slides/Dark%20Tunnel.html

There are times that we feel as is inspiration simply has left us behind, when we feel that there is no hope at the end of the tunnel and even if we try to move forward there is no sense to move ourselves forward, is like we had lost the oxygen in our brains, the blood in our bodies, the inspiration in our heart.
I know no one that reads this post, has ever suffer from that, people that come and visit us here are people that are highly productive, had fun, and always inspired, but you know that people and I know them too.
We can get into the realms of depression, and in many cases is simply depression, but in many others more than depression is a sense of overwhelm that didn’t allow you to see clear what comes next, how to move forward, but more importantly how to get out. The problem with time management is that will help you make a hole faster and more efficient, but how do you know you are making that hole in the right place, as Stephen Covey will put it, how do you know that your ladder is the correct wall?
We all make choices that we are aware that we need to live with them for a while, some are better than others, some force our heart into feel that lacks of inspiration. How can you continue moving forward when you feel that there is no inspiration? How you wake up and push for something new when you feel there is no hope? You create the hope, you look forward and look for a new start to look, a new goal, a new road.
It gets hard to push when you feel no more energy is left, it feel hard to push when you have lost any hope, but that is the moment.
There is no darker moment that the moment before dawn, and there is no time that looks like it is going to be impossible to reach a goal and make a dream true, than when you are really close. That is the moment the Tunnel will get darker, you will not see the light, but is there… That is also the moment, you will find all that people that quit before seeing the light, look for your inspiration, push hard, the sunrise is close.

The Do not Do List (repost)

** Originally published on **
I originally read about this concept from Michael Hyatt ( According to Hyatt: “the idea is to list all the activities you are intentionally going to stop doing for the sake of greater productivity”
The reality is that as life evolves, and more projects come to life, priorities change and evolve and interest drifts and grows. The numbers of things we do get to a point in which it is impossible to keep up. At that time you have 2 options: lower your standards or get rid of the things that are not worth it for you to do.
One example of this is  yard work. I hate that job, I am not interested in doing it well, and it is in my Do not Do list, I paid a service, my yard looks great and I can enjoy it and use my time for other things.
Not only can this list be used to make you more productive, this list in general contains  a series of lessons. How do you think many of the things on my list got there? I learned from past experiences .I  began my list sometime in 2007, my list is not big but it is full of learning experiences.
Here is my list at the time of this post, and I will go into detail on some of them.
The car and the yard are simply two things I hate, and I if I can pay to someone to do it for me, I will.
The next item, I will not finish a bad book or a book that I did not enjoy. This  was something that I read in Steve Leveen book: The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life ( I tend to finish most of the books I start, but I must admit that after I read this I got permission to dump the ones I didn’t  like and even during 2007 and 2008 I just dumped one book  a year, I am happy I did.
I learned about back ups the hard way, I lost everything, and yes, more than once. One time on my PC, trying some software and once on my phone the same way. I learned the hard way, that rebuilding information is not a fun thing to do, it is painful and can drive you mad. Now its on my list, so I remind myself not to do it.
Finally, on December 2007, I decided that I was going to change my life. At the time I was overweight (more than 70lbs) and I was a heavy smoker. I set a three year plan in motion, from January 2008 to December 2010.
In 2008 the main goal was to stop smoking. Happy to report, that I quit smoking as of January 30th 2008, and I have not touch a cigarette since then. In 2009, the main goal was to get to the doctor and get my health checked (my last visit was a long, long time ago) and I began the process of changing my eating habits, losing  weight and get ready for my 2010 goal. 2010’s  main goal is to exercise, to create the exercise habit.
During 2008 I really did not have to write my goal of not smoking on my Do not Do list, I just did it.  In 2009 (more than 50lbs lighter) I continue to, once in a while, eat my frustrations. During a chat on Do not Do list with the wonderful group of GTDers of the GTD Virtual Study Group ( something hit me in the face (isn’t that how this things usually happen?) I should just write on my Do not Do list not to eat my frustrations. I did, that was the item number 6 of my list; and the process of writing it on the list has created a powerful bond to the compromise. I can’t guarantee that I will not eat my frustrations again, but I have done it less, and that it is a good start, something that I am proud of.
Do you have a Do not Do list? if so, will you share it with us? If not, why not? Have you considered creating this list as a way to stop certain things and put on paper other lessons that you have learned.
My Do not Do list has been a great tool, and even though it looks short, it has been a great complement to help increase my productivity, and help me stay focused on the important stuff.