3 Effective Types of Blog Posts

3 Effective Types of Blog Posts

For a while now, I have been thinking about structuring my blog posts from a new set of predefined rules. The following three types of blog posts will in my opinion work great with my blog,  and – hopefully – with yours too.

  • The Seth Godin Post. Seth is the master of short form blogging, or micro-blogging. Many of his posts are only a couple of paragraphs long, and that can be a great thing when utilized correctly. He cuts out all of the bullshit and delivers only what he deems absolutely necessary. This is a great way of being more effective – in blogging, and in life in general. Find Seth Godin’s blog Seth’s Blog here.
  • The Leo Babauta Post. Leo Babauta is the master of bullet points, of lists, and of breaking up longer posts into more digestible bits. Many blog followers will only read text that is in bold or text that is broken up into small peaces. Leo knows this, and he has successfully built one of the largest worldwide followings based on this knowledge. Find Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits here.
  • The Minimalists Post. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus mainly write what they consider to be somewhat long form essays. This approach works well for them because they are really good writers, and because they have a lot of personal things (to their own lives) to say. Out of the three types of blog posts, I think this type is the one that is the most useful to the reader because it’s not as much about the information as about the people, but I also think that it is very difficult to master. Find Joshua and Ryan’s blog The Minimalists here.

All three of these highly successful bloggers get along just fine by structuring their posts the same way over and over again. They understand that simplicity is key – even if their approaches are quite different from one another. I don’t think any of these styles are superior to the others. Just as there are many ways to reach spiritual enlightenment, there are many way to become a great blogger.

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Join me for Dan Ariely’s Online Course ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior’

Join me for Dan Ariely’s Online Course ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior’

Dan Ariely, author of three bestselling books I’ve all enjoyed reading (Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty) is teaching an online class (for free) over at Coursera.org. I am going to take this class myself, and I therefore want to recommend it here on the blog.

The Coursera Team are also great fans of Dan’s work, as you can see in this blog post of theirs – it’s an introduction to Dan and to behavioral economics for anyone not yet familiar with him and this field of study.

I am specifically taking Dan’s class because it is particularly useful for marketers, but I can promise you that taking it will be interesting and a great experience for anyone already interested in knowing more about everyday human behavior.

There is an expected workload of about 10-12 hours a week, though, so it isn’t exactly just a picnic. The class opened for signup this Monday and week 1 will begin on the 11th of March 2014. (Sorry for putting out the wrong info before).

Sign up for the class here, or read more about Dan and his research by following the links below. I hope you’ll find Dan’s work as eye-opening as I do.

Learn more about Dan:

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How I Find Free Photos for My Blog Posts

How I Find Free Photos for My Blog Posts

In blogging, every little detail matters. From site design to quality content. I am not an expert in either of these areas, and while I am not always good at practicing what I preach, I do know that it is VERY important to make sure that you don’t infringe on anyone’s copyright. It is all about credibility, and credibility comes from paying attention to details like these.

At the moment I don’t copyright anything on The Measured Life. I might switch to a creative commons license one day, but, at least for now, I believe that it is in my best interest to allow everyone to do what they want with the content I produce. (Let’s be real here: no one is going to “steal” my stuff anyways.) I won’t worry about copyrighting my own material as long my audience is as small as it is.

As my blog presumably grows, however, I will have to be more aware of copyright, both in relation to my own material, and to the material I “borrow” from elsewhere. And since this is a challenge all of us face, I thought it might be useful if I shared what little I know about finding uncopyrighted photos for your blog posts.

Now, writing “how to” posts is a new thing for me, as it has always been a huge challenge for me to structure more or less anything I write. So it will probably serve you better to look up the info elsewhere. Still, here is my personal take on finding royalty free quality photos for your blog posts:

Do an advanced Google search

There are many places on the web where you can find uncopyrighted photos. The more professional your blog is, the more should you probably consider using a payed service. Where I am at in my “career” as a blogger that is not at all necessary, though. Doing an advanced Google search does the trick most of the time. The process is quite simple:

  • I do a regular Google image search on whatever kind of photo I need.
  • I then click advanced search on the settings menu.
  • Next, I scroll down to usage rights at the bottom of the page and click free to use or share.
  • I then click the advanced search button below, and bingo, I’ve got a bunch of photos that I know I am allowed to use.

It couldn’t be simpler than that (It probably could, but I just do this every time I do an image search for the blog anyways). Of course, this approach is quite limited, and you are not going to find truly original content by doing an advanced Google search alone. But it is an easy step to take to at least make sure that you are not breaking anyone’s copyright.

Or search through Flickr commons

I haven’t used Flickr Commons much, but this is one of the options I am considering trying out, as I am taking blogging more and more seriously. At Flickr Commons you will find a lot of those great, original photos that you might not find through a regular Google search.

Also, this approach is a match made in heaven, if you ask me. As a newbie blogger I am interested in giving my blog a great visual appearance while the photographers over at Flickr Commons are interested in gaining public exposure. So by using Flickr Commons photos I am hitting two birds with one stone, helping out both myself and up-and-coming photographers in the process.

You can find Flick Commons here.

Other resources

I am still a novice at finding good, free photos, and will have to admit that I mostly still just do advanced Google searches. So while I haven’t tried out any of his photo suggestions yet, I can recommend Hongkiat as a great resource for design and technology tips in general:

30+ Websites For Stock Photos and Royalty Free Images

If you know of other places to find good, uncopyrighted photos, please post below in the comments section. I would love to check out your suggestions and learn more on this subject. Thanks!

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What You Give is What You Get

What You Give is What You Get

I have been struggling with this blog for a while now. I had a vision for what I wanted it to be – a science blog – that I could never live up to. I wanted to be taken seriously, so I decided that I was writing articles, not posts,  and I came up with a bunch of fancy categories that I would never use. All I did was writing badly structured, overly self-indulgent posts about how amazing a person I thought I was. Lame, I know.

Of course, once in a blue moon I would come up with what I think of as an original and interesting post, like the one about Benjamin Franklin, or the one about eating honey before bedtime. Those posts were somewhat useful to anyone reading, and I am convinced that I gained new readers, excited to see what else I would come up with, when I published those kinds of posts. But the good posts would be few and far between, and every mediocre post I did lost me another hard-gained reader.

I am lucky to have lots of people who check in every now and then, none of whom owe me anything. To have anyone following at all in a sea of amazing blogs is a wonder in itself, and to sit down and think about that is a wonderfully humbling experience. I don’t know about you, but I really need to sit down and think about that more often, as a motivation to keep on blogging, on top of everything else I do.

I try to focus a lot of my time and effort on living mindfully because my default starting point is the exact opposite of that. I keep reverting back to thinking that the world owes me success whenever I stray too far away from a mindset of humility. I also have this built-in mentality of thinking that I am better than other people. So I try to put a lot of effort into being a humble person – because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to stand my own company for longer periods of time.

I could launch into a discussion here on whether some people really are morally above others, but I won’t, because I am not at all far enough in my spiritual journey to have gained any substantial insight into such matters. In the past I would. But now I know better. I hope.

I will say, though, without much doubt, that some people seem to be a lot more self-aware than others. I don’t know if I would count myself among the particularly self-aware people just yet, but I know that nothing good comes from focusing on what other people think or do.

Only you can shape your future, and that future is shaped by every single thing you do today, whether you are on autopilot or actively making tough decisions about how to spend your time.

Inaction, however, is a lot more harmful than any action. Whenever I let weeks pass by without publishing anything here, I am removing myself a little bit from my dream of being able to live off of my own writing. Whenever I publish a badly written post, one that I didn’t put enough effort and time into, I am doing the same. This might be one of those badly written posts, I have to accept that. But worrying about quality is a luxury that you can only afford once you have proven that you respect yourself enough, that you trust yourself enough to be willing to do whatever it takes. I haven’t, still.

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs.

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Dan Schawbel on the Trade-Offs you Have to Make in Life

Dan Schawbel on the Trade-Offs you Have to Make in Life

After having discovered his book Me 2.0, I recently began following Dan Schawbel on Facebook. I haven’t read the book yet, and I don’t know much about Dan, but the below quote, a status update of his, I really liked. More than enough to share it here:

“For every choice you make in life, there’s always a trade off. If you work on one project, you don’t have as much time for another project. If you spend time working on your company, you have less time for your friends. There is no real balance in life, which means you are forced to make decisions where you have trade offs. Since this happens to everyone, it shouldn’t stress you out. It’s managing these decisions that make us who we are and who we will eventually become.” – Dan Schawbel

Everything that Schawbel says here goes without saying, yet I never used to look at life this way. It can seem like a bit of a mechanical way to approach living, yet if you choose to “go with the flow”, and not consider the future ramifications of your present choices, then the shape of that future will be safely out of your hands.

These days I am thinking of just about everything I do in terms of trade offs. I want to sleep in late, but when I do so the trade offs are too big in that I am wasting valuable time for nothing but a moment of comfort. If I don’t put a lot of effort and time into various work projects the trade offs are too big in that I am not moving towards  having more power over my career in the future. If I don’t go out and learn how to become a better conversationalist the trade offs are too big in that I won’t be able to go out and enjoy meeting new people as much in the future. And the list goes on.

Maybe you agree? Maybe Dan and I are being too mechanical about life here? Let me know what you think.

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You Can’t be Everyone’s Friend

You Can’t be Everyone’s Friend

I didn’t use to have a very busy social schedule. Now I do. The transition is causing me plenty of problems, especially in relation to how to figure out which plans to stick with and which to abandon.

Yesterday I had a meeting over coffee at 3 PM and dinner plans with someone else at around 5-6 PM. Over coffee I was enjoying myself so much that I told him that we could maybe meet up again later that evening, at around midnight.

But the thing is this: I found myself looking at my watch all the time, thinking about how I had to leave for my dinner plans soon. I wasn’t being fully present in what I was actually doing at the time. Then at dinner I was thinking about whether or not I would have time to meet up with the other guy again later, again not being fully present in what I was actually doing. Maybe you can relate to this….

Going in for coffee I should have told him that I would have to get going again by 5 PM. Not really for his sake alone, but because it would have saved me from having to worry whether my plans would conflict or not. I would then be able to be more present at my coffee meeting, benefiting both of us.

I should also not have brought up the possibility of meeting up again later, because that made it difficult for me to be fully present for the rest of the evening, effectively making it a somewhat worse experience for both me and the people I was with.

So even after having spent plenty of time meditating and reading Eckhart Tolle, it’s very difficult for me to make a decision or a game plan and then stick with it to the end. This post is specifically about when it comes to meeting up with people, but the point goes for everything: make deliberate choices and stick with them.

Often we fail in our endeavors in life because we want to do everything – at the same time. You can’t. Its an impossibility.

In this post I am not offering any solution to that. I haven’t got one, as you can see. But I know one thing, and that is that you have to make tough choices in order to get anywhere worth going.

You have to choose between people; who to be friends with, who to date, etc. There aren’t room for everyone in your life. Choose a few and give them all that you got. Of course, I am not advocating not to go out and meet new people as often as you want. I still do. And I want to continue to do so.

But as I am out there, socializing, networking, etc., I now also know that I can’t be best friends with everyone. Most people I meet I will only meet that one time. A lot of people will only be acquaintances, and that is okay. And a select few…those are the people you’ve really got to stick up for and be there for.

I truly believe that life is about, among other things, making deep and spiritual connections with other people. Networking is fine, even necessary, but make sure that you don’t loose the real, true and one hundred percent honest and straightforward connections you have over superficial social status hunting. Because doing so will bite your ass in the end. I promise.

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Benjamin Franklin’s Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection – Part I

Benjamin Franklin’s Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection – Part I

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was only 20 years old when he in 1726 wrote down a list of 13 virtues in order to help him achieve moral perfection throughout his lifetime. Franklin never accomplished his goal of moral perfection, but then again, I don’t think there is ever an end-point in self-development. You never stop learning and one should therefore always focus on making the best out of the journey itself.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin can be found for free at Project Gutenberg, and the 13 virtues can be found specifically in chapter 9 of that book. I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing them below:

1. Temperance – Eat not dulness; drink not elevation.

2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order – Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing

6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity -Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Benjamin Franklin was very wise for his age, and only set out to master one of his 13 virtues at a time. They are arranged in an order so that “the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others”. (For his rather lengthy discussion of the order of the virtues see chapter 9 of his autobiography).

A course (one week per virtue) would therefore take him about 13 weeks, meaning, as he writes himself, that he would be able to go through the course four times in a year.

franklin-chart.pngTo keep track of his progress he kept a little book (see above pictures) in which he “allotted a page for each of the virtues”. Each page had a column for each day of the week as well as a row for each of the 13 virtues.

At the top of the page he wrote which virtue he was specifically focusing on that particular week. As the days went by he would mark little black spots for “every fault [he] found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day”. In other words, Franklin’s goal was to have as few black spots as possible in his chart.

Of course, this way of keeping track of your development requires that you diligently mark those black spots when you do something that goes against your set of virtues. That’s easier said than done, and you’d have to be one remarkable individual to keep going at this for a longer period of time. Well, we know that Benjamin Franklin was. Just look at his accomplishments and at his importance for the American country and for its people. One of the most inspiring individuals I have ever come upon in my studies of virtuous men and women.

I have deliberately chosen not to do a commentary on Benjamin Franklin’s virtues, letting his words speak for themselves. If you want to try Benjamin Franklin’s course out for yourself you can download a chart over at diyplanner.com. Let me know if you found it useful!

Sources:

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This is part I of a two part article. Part II will focus on Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule as well as the daily schedule I am trying to follow myself.

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My 2014 Reading Diet – First Draft

My 2014 Reading Diet – First Draft

Note: So it only took me a couple of hours after writing that other post on how I’m NOT AT ALL inspired to write, before I just had to get this one down and out there. I already needed to share this list with a friend of mine, and so thought that I might as well also publish it here.

For the rest of 2014 I want to read at least one book a week. I also want to do reviews of each and every one of them, but I don’t know if that latter will happen. It is mostly a time issue for me. So likely not. But I will try to experiment with ultra short reviews, amounting to nothing much more than my recommendation of the book. I don’t know if anyone will be interested in that, but it is the best I can do, and it will be a fresh breath of air from everything else I do here in my neck of the woods.

My current reading list, in no particular order:

  • Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • De Bello Gallico and other Commentaries by Julius Caesar
  • The Letters of Cicero by Marcus Tulius Cicero
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  • Mastery by Robert Greene
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
  • Choose Yourself by James Altucher
  • Contagious: Why Things catch On by Jonah Berger
  • Trust me, I’m lying by Ryan Holiday
  • Drive by Daniel H. Pink
  • All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • Georgias by Plato
  • Euthyphro by Plato
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Art of Being Unmistakable by Srinivas Rao
  • Spark: How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of Your Brain by John Ratey
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Platform: Get noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt
  • Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel
  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana
  • You are not Your Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  • Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
  • Autobiography of a YOGI by Paramhansa Yogananda

At a glance, most of these books are quite focused on marketing, social media, self promotion and, to some extend, on self development. The reason being that I am trying to make a career for myself in marketing, out there in the real world.

The list lacks a good amount of fiction writing. For some reason I find it difficult to get through those kinds of book – which is truly a sad thing. If you got any book recommendations of your own (especially if they are fiction) please let me know below. Thanks!

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Time Management Part I: On Tracking Yourself

Time Management Part I: On Tracking Yourself

Lately, I have found myself in a productivity rut. I am being very social since that is a big goal of mine, currently, and when I am not with other people I am working out of places like libraries, cafes, and bars. But I am not getting at all as much done as I would like to.

New years completely destroyed my regular schedule because all the traveling, food, and partying made it almost impossible for me to do some of the things that I cherish doing on a daily basis, like getting up early, running, eating well, and meditating. I find that if those base habits aren’t a part of my day, I won’t accomplish nearly as much work-wise as I’d like to. It is a continuous downwards spiral, and I am digging the hole deeper and deeper as we speak.

Then this morning, I looked at my watch and saw the date: the 21st of January! We are almost one 12th through 2014 already…Yikes! Time to step up my game a bit…

I love talking about my values, and at the core of those values is accomplishing something big with my life. I want to improve and get better at all of my sticking points, such as my fear of initiating conversation with strangers, and my laziness which is holding me back from working out and working as much as I’d like.

I’ve found that the best way of working towards goals like these is to keep track of your progress and to implement stakes to reinforce healthy habits and keep the bad ones at bay.

So yesterday I installed the Rescue Time client on my laptop. This app is old news, but somehow I got away from using it a long time ago. Basically, it lets you track every minute of time you spend on the internet. My goal with this: to make myself REALLY embarrassed at how unproductive I am!

Once the app has tracked your activities for a while, you can begin to slot sites into five different categories, ranging from very productive to very unproductive. I, for example, rate Facebook as being very unproductive, email as being productive, and working on my blog as being very productive.

Rating sites like this, however, has a downside to it. At the moment I consider going through my mail a productive activity, but that is in comparison to the score of unproductive things I waste my time on. Once I have gotten my overall productivity up, I would rate spending time on mail differently, because, like many other things, checking your mail can be a compulsive way of getting away from spending your time on something more productive.

Furthermore, there are sites which I am not sure how to rate. YouTube is an example of this, because on YouTube I both spend time looking at cat videos and self-development seminars. Of course, there is a time for everything, and digesting the latest self-development or psychology video is not at all as productive as writing a blog post or working on a consultancy task. However, if I’ve already done the latter for a number of hours on a particular day, I would deem it fine that I spend some time on ‘entertainment’ like self-development videos.

All in all, a huge downside to Rescue Time is this: how should you at all manage to rate different activities as productive and unproductive in a coherent way? If you can help me with this issue, please feel free to share below.

Staying with the theme of tracking your activities, I wore a Fitbit One for the most of 2013. Then I suddenly stopped using it. Again, I love the Fitbit products so much because they help me acknowledging exactly how lazy I am being. At the moment I am not tracking my fitness activities, and sure thing, I am slacking off A LOT more than I used to.

Like most people, I’d like to look at myself as a resourceful, intelligent, and – above all – productive person. In fact, being so has become very important to me. Life is short and we therefore better not waste it away. The best way to progress in your journey to mastery is to be honest about where you are today. And the best way to be honest about where you are today is to have it written down in black and white…to keep yourself from making up excuses. So besides scheduling, tracking your daily activities is the best way to do that…In my humble opinion.

Anyway, just a couple of thoughts on how to manage your time better. I have titled this post Time Management Part I because I intend to make it into a series on how I am getting back to the productivity level I used to be at and beyond. If you’ve got good results using other products I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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