30(ish) learnings from the #30DaysofContent challenge

February 10, 2021

Over the last 30 days, I committed to writing for 30mins a day for 30 days with an accountability group.

  • I rarely ‘found time’ to write blog posts
  • I wanted to get into a habit of writing and publishing without a perfectionist mindset
  • I loved doing 30-day yoga challenges and seeing the incremental benefits of doing a bit each day. Could the same principles work with content creation?
  • Members of my ContentUK community mentioned content creation or ‘writing more’ as a personal goal. I wondered whether members would find a communal challenge valuable

What is the #30DaysofContent challenge?

I started the #30DaysofContent challenge for anyone that wants to develop a daily habit of creating content, whether that’s for work or personal content.

In the challenge you commit to working on content every day for 30 days towards an end goal and document your progress every day. You can read more about how the challenge works here

My personal mission:

Goal: write 3 blog posts in 30 days

Daily habit: write or research a blog post for 30mins each day

Stay publicly accountable via a public Twitter thread, in an allocated Slack channel and habit tracker

I managed to write for 25/30 days.

30 learnings from the #30DaysofContent challenge

1. Make your daily goal smaller than what feels instinctive

My goal was to write for 30 mins each day which seemed reasonable initially. In hindsight, a 10-minute daily goal would have been better. 

For the first couple of weeks, when the challenge was new and shiny, 30 minutes felt easy. But on days when I was tired or had other deadlines, the 30minutes felt too long. 

10 mins is a smaller barrier to entry to trick yourself into starting on days that you can’t be bothered.

Chances are you’ll work longer once you get going anyway!

2. I enjoy writing in the morning. I found a huge correlation between the days I did my writing session in the morning VS eve. My morning writing sessions were enjoyable; my mind could think clearly. The later I wrote, the more painful the session felt. It would loom over my to-do list all day.

Others on the challenge felt differently! Some worked best after lunch or late at night. But most had a typical time they had the best writing energy.

3. Public accountability helps. I felt an innate responsibility to keep updating this public Twitter thread about my daily progress even if no one but me gave a s**t about reading it😂

This thread, combined with the fact i’d organised the challenge, forced me to keep going.

  1. Never miss 2 days in a row. An internal mantra. There were 5 days on the challenge where I didn’t write but the mantra of ‘never miss 2 days in a row’ borrowed from James Clear, was enough to nudge me back on course the next day.

  2. Gamification. I made a ‘habit tracker’ in Notion for everyone on the challenge where you add a tick or a cross for each day of the challengeThe simple action of ticking off whether I continued the streak made it feel like a game. A micro dopamine hit.

  3. Write before you open any tabs or emails - I bought the internet blocking app Freedom (aff link) for the this challenge. The sessions where i opened my laptop, switched on Freedom straight away and did 30-mins of writing before anything else, were the most enjoyable and productive.
  1. Time constraints force you to just ship. My goal was to write 3 blog posts in 30 days. I have perfectionist tendencies but knowing i had to ship 3 posts meant getting one completed before i was happy with them to move onto the next. As i type this sentence it’s day 30 of the challenge and i have lots of this left to write but i’ll be 100% publishing today!

  2. An accountability group helps. Having a dedicated Slack channel in the ContentUK community for this challenge meant I could chat with others going through the similar struggles who resonate.

  3. Sticking to the same time every day helps. I didn’t quite nail this all the way through but i often wrote at ~9am for consecutive days. The set time began to feel as instinctive as brushing your teeth. I’d love to keep making writing tasks a fixed morning habit after this challenge.

  4.  Go back to basics if you get stuck. I wasn't really ‘feeling’ Post 2. So I spent a session restarting. I went back to the top of the doc and wrote out who the post was for, what the one thing they could learn would be and an outline of headings.

  5. Reminding yourself of your WHY. Internal dialogue helped. Just telling myself ‘if i stick to the challenge, i will have a creation habit in 30 days. I will have published 3 blog posts in a month.

  6. I always felt better after a writing session - like a workout...even on days when i could not be f****d to write, it always felt great to have done so afterwards.
  1. Seeing and talking to others on the challenge is helpful. Similar to point 12. But having  a mid-point Zoom call with others on the challenge built up momentum when it was lagging
  1. Could have thought a more consciously about what i wanted to write.  The blog posts i wrote were more about community building and juggling a full-time job. I perhaps could have created content for the ContentUK website to connect the challenge with my main business.

  2.  Everything in this thread on building a writing habit

  3. James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits on habit building is a worthy read

  4. A 30-day parameter focuses the indecisive mind. I found the 30-day commitment was short enough to stay on track and see it through to the end even at points when the novelty wore off. Not too long, not too short!

  5.  The power of incremental progress. I’ve shipped 3 blog posts from mainly 30mins (occasionally longer) of writing per day. It doesn’t actually take that long for the output the add up.
  6. Get the crap out to get into flow.  I always found the first 15 minutes of writing to be a braindump of incoherentness before the writing got easier. But gotta get past the crap first but the flow arrives
  7. I got some freelance writing work during this challenge. This was a nice bonus! 95% of my focus is growing ContentUK but the odd writing gig is handy as I grow the community. This challenge has helped work the blogging muscle.
  8. The challenge was harder than i thought.  It was still a bit of a struggle getting started each day like that moment before you workout or jump into a cold shower

  1.  ...Done is better than perfect. You can probably see these bullet points were getting shorter and shorter as i started clutching at straws to think of more learnings! I think that’s my lot in order to get this shipped on Day 30 :D

Good luck to anyone else started the challenge!

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