I’ve had this app on my phone forever. It has got progressively better with each iteration so that now, it can pretty much replace my typing.
I’ve never used it in this way before, but it just dawned on me that it was possible and it relieves so much resistance to sitting down and typing!
When the need arises, the tool appears*.
I’ve recently started a YouTube channel and I need to write scripts and ideas for the channel. Not being much of a touch typist, this was a real barrier. So much so, that I am learning to touch type, and will continue to learn, even with this app.
I was going to type this article about a tool that saves you from typing. 🙄
The app is Apple Notes! Its dictation skills have improved out of sight that it can now record me for as long as I am talking, which for me, is a lot!
The Blank Page
When I stare at a blank page, I can get myself to just start typing but it is often a bunch of words that can’t seem to get coherently from my mind to the page. So it starts as a draft and ends as a (very short) draft.
So many drafts! 😞
This then, is the game changer for me. I can see my words on the page, and I can talk for as long as I like. I can go off on tangents as ideas hit me from all sides. I can explore analogies and arguments that I find worth considering. It can all come pouring out and I find I self-edit far less, if at all.
The blank page dilamma becomes a thing of the past.
That doesn’t mean everything I transcribe is worth publishing. But keeping the information and occasionally going back to review my ramblings can trigger an idea worth pursuing.
As my wife came home last night, I was finishing off some dictation. She asked me, “Who was that?”, thinking I was on a call. I find that as I dictate, I relax and it becomes conversational. I can let the thoughts roam free. Again, little to no self-editing. I capture everything and can then edit from a vast resource later.
The other benefit, especially for me, is that dictating assumes elocution. The text on the page/app clearly shows how well I am pronouncing my words lets me know if my elocution is poor. It helps me think more about the words and how to enunciate them which will help, I hope, in my presentations on YouTube.
Starting from Square Two
This lowers my barrier to entry. It gives me a head start.
Where typing was the barrier as I know I would have to type and correct, type and correct, this makes the process quicker, allowing me to be more creative and expansive in my thoughts.
If typing is your kryptonite and you haven’t tried dictation, I’d seriously consider giving it a go. Apple Notes has come along in leaps and bounds and comes with every iPhone (who knew? 🤷♂️). 😂
If you are after something different, there is also Just Press Record. I have this as well but with the new Apple Notes functions, I’m not sure I will use it as much. I’ll have to run a comparison.
What about you?
Do you use Apple Notes or Just Press Record to dictate your articles?
What problems does it solve for you?
Is there another, better app, I need to know about?
This is a real rule breaker for some. You can’t just give yourself an A. You have earn your ‘A’. But bear with me as I walk you through quite a powerful formula for achieving a goal or a series of achievements.
How Does This Work?
We’ve all heard of goal setting. This is goal setting in reverse.
‘Giving an A’ is projecting into the future about a significant goal or achievement that is important to you as though you have already achieved it.
It could be any number of things. You then work backwards to determine all the things you ‘did’ to ensure you achieved the goal.
Once you’ve done that, take one step at a time, on those things that you expect to help you achieve your goal.
As you progress, things may change but if the goal is significant enough, you’ll take the time to adjust your direction, activities and attitudes to keep you heading towards your goal.
Here’s the kicker: The time frame you have set for achieving your goal will pass. The date will arrive. Nothing surer! Will you be tracking along with that timeline?
What’s your goal?
Let’s assume it is six months in the future and you have, indeed, received your “A”.
Imagine for a moment how that feels.
You’ve got your driver’s licence for the first time
You’ve lost that nagging couple of kilos
You’ve presented the pitch and won
Don’t skip this part. Imagine, in the future, receiving your reward: physical, mental and/or emotional.
(By the way, it’s good to define the reward too. It may be the thing itself (losing weight, getting the license) or it may be something you reward yourself with for achieving the goal (a holiday, a new thing you’ve always wanted).
Now start writing down all the things you ‘did’ to increase the chances of the ‘A’ being achieved. This can range from simple tasks (losing weight = walk/run 4km per day for 30 days (my current goal)) to taking a course and applying the key methods learnt in the course and getting feedback from a respected peer, manager, significant other.
You can do this in one of two way (maybe there’s more, let me know in the comments). You start at the end, just before the goal is achieved and work backwards.
Or, you can work forwards, taking small steps at the start to help build momentum. As James Clear said in his post today, “plan what you can do on your worst day, make it that simple!”
Take the time to plan it out. It doesn’t have to be hundreds of steps.
Another goal of mine is to learn to touch type. My goal each day is to type for “15+1”. That is, on day one I touch typed for 15 minutes. On day two it was 16 minutes (15+1) and so on. By the time 30 days is up, I am typing 45 mins per day which, I hope, will actually see me touch type more than “hunt and peck!” I am so looking forward to that level of productivity.
A note on planning: While above I have said to plan it out and I believe that is important, you may not know all the steps at first. That is okay. Lou Tice (and many others), founder of The Pacific Institute used a phrase: “Set the goal, invent the “how””. You may not know all the steps at the start. Start with a clear goal and figure to the “first of first” steps.
I work within a project framework at work and while we plan out the project step by step as much as we can, the number of changes made along the way are innumerable. No-one is upset by that, we all expect it to be the case.
If your goal is to begin a meditation practice, it might start with getting up at 5am every day (pick a time best for you) and meditate for one minute, then two, then three.
Think of your goal and work backwards, Remember you are going to be an ‘A’ student at the end of this.
The Added Benefit
The added benefit of working in this manner is we begin to act and think like ‘A’ students. Even if we have never been one.
It is quite amazing the things you will allow and not allow once you fix your mind on the goal.
I recently decided to not buy coffee at work. I was spending something like $200 per month on purchased coffees. Many for me, and many I bought for others, so may it was about $300 per month. Add that up and you’re looking around $4,000 per year on coffee!
So, in acting like an ‘A’ student in this area, I had to change my thoughts, language and behaviour. From being known at work as someone who will regularly buy coffee, I had to lower that profile. I also had to find ways of not buying the others were. I could head out with them for the social aspect but not buy a coffee and not allow them to buy me one either – as that set the expectation I would reciprocate. Which I would because it would be awkward not to.
The benefit isn’t in becoming a cheapskate who never buys coffee, it’s more than that. It’s learning how I want to behave, how I turn up at work and manage my relationships with great colleagues through a period of transition.
How do I feel each time I’m asked if I want a coffee? What will I say? Will I offend some? Do I just tell them straight out, “I’m not buying coffee for a month”?
What if I screw up?
A goal isn’t lost completely based on a couple of backwards steps. In his book Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz said a habit begins to form around the 21 day mark. That is beginning to form as in, not set in stone. This takes time. It’s like year 12 students being told their final exam is the most important thing they’ll do in their lives. (at least here in Australia)
And so… Giving yourself an A is a liberating exercise. Because you get to choose what you want the A to be about. You have total control over that.
Set the goal and invent the “How”!
Write down the goal, read about it every day. I find when I do that it is easier to maintain the momentum towards the goal. When I don’t do that, I lose momentum and, if I miss long enough, I forget about the goal itself.
Here’s a tool I use when I interview candidates for a role (or am interviewed for a role):
STAR: Situation, Task, Actions, Result or, if you’re working backwards from the goal: RATS!
Situation – where you find yourself and not having the “Thing” – the goal.
Task – the overall activities you need to do to achieve the Thing!
Actions – mini tasks. What do you need to do to complete each Task, if there are multiple.
Result– the Goal or the Thing.
Lastly … If I was figuring out the goal prior to starting the STAR approach, I’d describe the goal in as much detail as I could.
For example: GOAL: I want to lose weight (actually x kg, be specific). I want to lose weight because … and away you go describing in as much detail for you how good this is going to be, why you want to do it and the benefits you’re going to enjoy. And then…
You know the story about the mechanic, it can apply to gardeners as well.
Everyone else’s car (or garden) is immaculate while the mechanic’s car is a bit dodgy, and the gardener’s garden could do with some TLC.
That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. Not great!
I could go on a “poor, poor pitiful me” but who really cares? I mean that genuinely. We’re all going through something. I’m just publishing it.
There are two reasons I’m writing this:
I’m learning to touch type and one of my goals is to practice for 15 minutes every day. And increase that by one minute every day for 30 days. Meaning by day 30, I will be touch typing for at least 45 mins every day. It may mean, by that time, I will be touch typing full time.
The second reason is I want to write a post per day for the next 30 days as part of a plan to reignite some energy and momentum in my day. This will also help with the practice of touch typing.
The Next 30 Days
I’ve decided to add some other items to the list for the next 30 days. The category in brackets is the primary area I hope to benefit.
Drop 10kg – this is more an outcome of some other actions below (Health)
Touch typing as mentioned above (Productivity)
Consume no sugar and no grains (Health)
Run 4km per day – this may be a brisk walk as I acquired a couple of blisters yesterday when trying some new shoes (Health)
Blog post every day as mentioned above (Hobby)
Purchase no new things – there is one purchase I need to make, I’ll share what and why once it is complete (Finances)
Do not purchase shop coffee – this will be a significant challenge (Finances)
No alcohol – also a bit of a challenge as I so like a nice red (Health)
Finish reading a textbook – Transcend by Scott Barry Kaufman (Education)
Finish reading a novel – The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Recreation)
Journal every day – this post is a result of this morning’s journal (Health)
Practice Active Constructive Responding (Relationships)
This may seem like a lot to take on. Perhaps it is, but many of these things are common, every day things that simply need focus and attention.
I have typed this as best I can by touch typing so I can tick that off for today. And as this is a blog post, that has been accomplished as well.
Tomorrow will be an update on my progress, how I’m feeling and what changes I’m sensing.
There are a number of ways to be happy. But all the ways I can think of have one thing in common: the present.
You can’t be happy in the past: it’s over. (Yes, you can be happy with the past!)
You can’t be happy in the future: it’s not here yet! (Yes, you can look forward to your future!)
But you can only be happy … now! Even when the future finally arrives, it transmogrifies into … now!
And, with that massive scientifically proven statement, let’s look at a facet that can affect our happiness.
What we consume.
I’m not talking about food but information.
A topic like this can go off on all sorts of tangents and we are all individuals so not every tangent will apply to everyone.
Let’s bring it back to ourselves. The rest of this article is for you to think about you! It has really made me think about the information I consume.
Is what we are consuming adding to our happiness, our contentment, our goals? Or is it debilitating?
I have a really good Twitter feed. The people I follow are inspirational and positive for the most part, many are quite witty and I enjoy their content. Some go off on rants then apologise then rant again. (I mute them for a while. Like sending them to the naughty corner! 😉)
But I’ve begun to notice my mood as I scroll through the feed, the same on Instagram. Am I being fed? Am I leaving the feed better than when I started? That is what I’d like to happen. Selfish? Possibly! But it’s my life and I want to be happy, content and satisfied for as much time as I can. Don’t you?
As Marcus Aurelius is often quoted, which also applies to our media based interactions:
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
So the tough times, awkward situations and difficult people are going to occur. Why would I not seek to control what I consume if I can?
(To be fair, the people I work with are some of the best people I have ever worked with, so, there is that! 😀)
Even reading inspirational posts can leave you dissatisfied (I could never do that! It must be wonderful for them. If only I had the willpower!) We start off full of enthusiasm and then realise maybe we haven’t got what they clearly have!
This is not to say we shouldn’t read great works, and work on improving ourselves. Not at all. But we need to start where we are and not assume or think we get a head start based on someone else’s experience or story. And, sorry to say, are all stories true?
My point about consumption is to be cautious with what we consume. Can we use the information immediately? Can we apply the same rules as the author? I’d dare say, in most cases, no!
What to do
Many people I know, and I have done this, do a regular review of what they are consuming. Turning off the mainstream news is a start. Most of it is negative and many times, sensationalism. (They have their job to do, after all, which is sell information and product.)
And then we can look at our social media feed. Is it feeding you positively? Or is it leaving you a little despondent? Take the time to identify what is causing the downward trend and ask yourself if you need this. Maybe not. Unfollow.
Before I am accused of being a killjoy, I’m not suggesting you cut everything off! Not at all. But I am suggesting we look for those avenues that take us toward what we want a little more carefully.
One the areas I have taken to edit is the TV. I don’t think I’m an orphan here. I hear of a lot of shows that dramatise discord and conflict and many enjoy these. My wife included. She loves her crime shows. I admit we did watch Breaking Bad and The Good Wife in their entirety, among others.
Lately, I have decided to not get “caught up” in these types of shows simply because they depict conflict as part of their premise and I don’t need any more of that. I prefer a calming evening. We do watch re-runs of Friends, Big Bang and Brooklyn 99, Spy and I am enjoying the Welcome to Wrexham series.
As I am trying to convey, it’s not about total elimination of TV or other media but the discriminate review of what we consume to improve our mood, outlook and overall well being. As a very specific example, while we enjoy the Friends series, neither my wife and I can watch the episodes with “on again off again Ross and Rachel”. Others love that!
If you are engaged by certain elements of the media and they help you grow and be a better person, go nuts. The opinions above are mine, in an attempt to demonstrate the choices we have to enjoy some peace and solitude when we want it. And to gain control of what we consume to help us access that peace and solitude any time we like.
Just like too much coffee can give you the jitters, perhaps too much consumption of certain media can too. And also like coffee, some can consume coffee late at night and still get a good night’s sleep. Others … can’t! 😵💫
As always, you be you!
Not everyone is triggered by the same inputs. And, as I said in my opening, this can go off on many tangents that affect everyone differently. I’ve used examples to help you review your situation to help bring a little more joy and happiness to your “now”.
I hope, in some way, I’ve triggered some positive action for you.
We become what we consume.
As a man (person) thinketh, so is he!
Now you’ve read the paper, it’s time for the test, if you wish to play! 😉
For the next three days, check what you consume and mentally give it a tick or a cross. If you’re really keen, write them down in columns of “good vs evil” – just for fun. After three days, decide what you want to do with your lists!