As we shift into a digital world where we use the internet as our main channel of communication, it's easy to slip into what I call the “lone blogger” persona. This mysterious personality who sits in random coffee shops sipping an espresso drink and working on their next blog post.
Running a website or blog can really isolate you from other people.
It's one of the big differences between working online and working in an office. Even when you're a sole proprietor of a physical business somewhere, you probably have way more human interactions than the average blogger.
But behind every blog that you love, there's a real person. They have family and friends, and they treat their website as their business.
As you discover your own voice and platform through your online presence, it's so vitally important to keep a connection with real people.
I don't just mean connections via Facebook and Twitter. Too often the conversations we have via these channels have no depth. They lack the dynamic elements of a real interaction like seeing someone's body language, and hearing the tone of their voice.
But how does this affect our work?
Here's what happens: you get lazy.
Your own work ethic becomes the only driver of what your doing. And even if you love what you're doing, it's still easy to quit early for the day when there's no one else watching you walk out the door.
You Don't Have To Work Alone
Last weekend, I made the trip up to Montreal to visit my friend, Emilie Wapnick. We both have similar backgrounds, personalities and interests. Even more important, Emilie was one of the first friends I made who was doing what I was doing: Pouring time and energy into creating a business based on her passion.
We've managed to meet up once or twice, but this time it was different. I spent a full day in Montreal- Enough time that we had to take some time to do some work. It was Sunday after all, and the blogs needed updating!
So, we headed to one of her favorite cafes, plugged in and got to work. I found the experience of working along side someone to be a powerful one. Now, don't get me wrong, I do just that at my day job, but for some reason this felt different.
I found it much easier to concentrate on what I was doing.
With someone sitting across the table, aware of what I was working on, it was like I had a coworker. Someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to hold me accountable, and someone to talk to when I needed a break from the task at hand.
The work that I did do, got done faster, more thoroughly.
Do not underestimate the power of telling someone else what you're working on as a motivating factor to help you finish it. When someone knows what you're supposed to be doing, it's harder to not finish it as you risk being seen as someone who is “all talk”.
How to Connect
If you feel like all of the people who do cool things online live in Portland, OR, you're not alone. Here are two ways that you can get that necessary human interaction without sitting across the table from someone.
Hold a Weekly Meeting
I've been talking weekly with a handful of bloggers, mentors and friends. I've found it best to connect on Skype with video if possible so you can get all the dynamics of a live conversation. My friend Munro Murdock recently introduced the concept of the Peak Performance call. The concept comes from the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and it's simple and effective. Each person shares 3 wins, losses, fixes and “ah-has”.
Ask Someone to Hold You Accountable
If you've been procrastinating on something specific and you've decided that today is the day to get it done, reach out to one of your friends. Ask them to hold you accountable to finishing the project or step by a certain time. Check in with them throughout the day and send them progress updates.
Again, telling someone you know what you're working on along with a deadline will help keep you focused and motivated on getting it done.
Here's a tip: if you're not doing a regular check-in with someone, make sure you schedule your next talk with them while you're on the call.
The best way to get started, is to get started immediately. Make connecting with others a part of your digital routine. Oh, and here's your homework.
Your Homework (in the comments): What are you working on that you need to be held accountable for?
It could be something small that you're trying to get done in the next hour, or something huge that you're working on this year. Extra credit: Respond to someone else and share an insight or offer a suggestion. Make a connection.
photo by Luix90