This past weekend, June 1 and 2, I attended WordCamp Orange County (my first WordCamp ever!). There were many sessions, ranging from Lucy Beers’ WordPress 101 to Devin Walker’s Website Optimization for Speed. Here are a few things that I learned.
Surround Yourself with Smart People
If you’re at Wordcamp, you’re already surrounded by smart people. WordCamp felt like being back at Berkeley, where people were interrupting each other’s interruptions because everyone shared the same curiosity and joy of learning. If you’re an entrepreneur spending hours and days working alone, getting out and soaking up some new ideas and fresh ways of looking at the world can reinvigorate you.
When you say hello to people, they say hello back! You might laugh at the obviousness of that, but really: People are so friendly, open, and generous with their ideas. Often all you need to do is say hello.
Work on Five Blogposts at the Same Time
During @syedbalkhi‘s talk on Time Management, he discussed focus and how no one can really multitask. What Syed does is start five posts at once, then if he gets a little writer’s block, he switches from one to another. Now that’s something to implement immediately. This is such an elegant and simple idea! By the way, Syed’s Beginner’s Guide to WordPress is jam-packed with ideas! As well as being technically awesome.
Have Deeper Conversations
Many times, between or after sessions is when the real learning occurs. That person you just met will give you a fabulous tip if you do a little homework (for example: read their blog before asking them a question about a particular blogpost they just wrote!). If you buy someone a drink or, better still, lunch, be prepared to hear more of the truth than you would during a session. This, paraphrased from Chris Lema.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Hire someone to do your accounting, or the chores that you might not enjoy doing. That includes everything from designing a logo to building a website to creating content.
Learn to Say No!
Do not meet that vampire at the coffee shop! (A vampire is someone who pretends to want to hire you, but then says they’re broke, and just wants free advice.) Do not pick up the phone while you’re blogging. And learn to say no to yourself, most of all. Do not let yourself get distracted and don’t head down the rabbithole with a “great idea” and end up buying 10 new domain names which three days later you’ll regret. Not that I’ve ever done that (today). Sayed Balkhi drew laughter and a lot of head nodding when he discussed the idea of buying domain names and meeting the broke customer at the coffee shop.
Focus on Your Strengths
My friend Peter Woolvett of CustomerSpecs always says “mind your strengths,” and we heard it over and over at WordCamp. Don’t try to develop your weaknesses. Rather, do whatever it is that you’re good at.
Spend Time on That Great Idea
If you know something is important, spend the damn time on it. Use the time management matrix to determine whether it’s important and not urgent, and then eliminate distractions and do it.
Don’t Rely on Your Memory
How many times have you had a great idea and then promptly forgotten it? Use Evernote or a white board or a notebook, but get it down in writing!
Wake Up Early
Come on! You’re not really a night owl. Get up early when you’re your most productive and do your work. Then go out and “canoe with alligators”–Sayed’s phrase. Or whatever you like to do for fun–like meet that broke customer for lunch. Just kidding.
We all perform better when we’re being watched. If you can’t afford a coach, try Timedoctor, which monitors your activities. You can’t improve if you don’t know where you’re starting from.
Your Favorite Part of WordCamp Orange County?
Was it the maple-bacon donuts? Learning about WordPress Mobile? The after party at Durty Nelly’s? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks!