I’ve been trying something new out for the last few weeks and so far it’s going really well. It all started when a friend invited me to take part in a challenge she was running in her Facebook group to use dictation for creating large written pieces instead of typing. Changing how we do things is part of getting better outcomes and we should be regularly evaluating how we complete our tasks to become more effective, productive, and efficient.
The Challenge to Change Writing Methods
So this challenge had me writing an article by dictation and using a few new tactics to speed up the process. This included speaking through the words that I wanted to write without overly focusing on editing or re-correcting while I was going through the first draft. What I found was that by making these changes I could “write” much faster than if I was just typing.
I tried this about a year ago on my own and didn’t really give it a chance. I immediately didn’t like it because it felt funny, it wasn’t very easy to do, and there were many errors that I had to go back and manually correct. After an hour or two of trying I completely dismissed the idea and went back to typing.
This is very common when we try to make changes to get to better outcomes with our people, processes, and systems. The change can feel very unnatural and we often don’t give it time to work or don’t put in the right effort to get to a better place. It’s easy to talk yourself out of the change when you have to do it because it’s easier to go back to what feels good what feels natural and what you’re used to doing.
What I’m Doing Differently This Time
This time around it hasn’t felt any better to start this process. It still feels fairly unnatural to me, and I still feel a bit goofy going through the process. It would be easy for me to go back and just type. I type quickly and don’t actually mind typing so my brain keeps telling me to just go back and do what I’m comfortable with.
What I’m doing differently though has me continuing down a path to learn to make this the new normal. It will take some time and practice, but I know over time I will feel comfortable with this process just like I feel comfortable with typing out a 2000 word article.
So what am I doing differently to make this change stick as opposed to the previous attempt where I quickly reverted back to my old habits? First, I didn’t do this alone. I had the help of a friend and their group that was going through the same process as me. This gave me other people I could talk to about the change and I could also see that I was not alone in what I was going through.
Another thing I’m doing is focusing on the benefits. As part of the exercise I went through, I was able to see how fast I tight and how fast I could speak and how that made me more efficient in writing. The exercises I did as part of the challenge, I was typing at about 60 words per minute. Also, I’ve done a lot of writing in my career and as part of my education and I knew that typing a finished page generally takes me about one hour. With those as baseline metrics to understand where I was in my existing process, I ran some tests to see how my speed improved when I’ve used dictation over typing.
To my astonishment, I was able to complete 2300 words fully edited in just over an hour. That equals more than four pages! I then was able to calculate the benefit of using dictation versus typing the articles that I share. Assuming that I write one article a week that’s four pages long my old method would have taken me about four hours to complete that process. By using dictation instead of typing I’m able to complete those four pages in about an hour, saving me three hours every week. What that means is that over a year I will save 156 working hours just from the one article per week I write. That’s almost a full working month every year that I get back by talking instead of typing.
I’ve also gotten an unplanned benefit out of this new approach to how I’m “writing.” This website is called BrilliantlyBoring.com for a reason. Many of the topics I cover are not the most exciting and with my writing style being heavily influenced by both corporate and educational sources, you can see that my previous posts are more textbook in nature. What I found is that as I’ve talked about these things instead of typing about these things what I’m now producing is much more personal and has a much softer tone than what I’ve written previously.
By reminding myself of these benefits, I’m able to push through the uncomfortableness knowing that there is a big payout at the end of being able to master this new process.
I still have a ways to go, to feel comfortable and to get the best outcomes out of this new process but I’m well on the way reaching that goal and should do so with a little bit more practice. I’m also continuing to refine my process as I go, finding better ways to incorporate dictation and get through the process of writing an article. For example, I’m still working on how to best put together an outline that will allow me to quickly speak through all of my talking points and get to the end in a clear connected comprehensive manner.
How does this apply to you and your business?
There are two ways to look at that and these are both things you should consider.
First, here is a link to my friend’s workshop which will allow you to go through the same process I went through if you or someone who puts out a lot of written content. This could be used for blogging, article writing, or even books. Personally, I’m also exploring using dictation to respond to emails, take notes, and do any other task that I would normally type on a keyboard. If you are someone that puts out a lot of written content, this could save you many hours a week which adds up to a significant amount over months and years.
The bigger concept that I want you all to take away from this is change is difficult but it’s often necessary to reach the new outcomes that we hope to achieve in our businesses. As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is to do the same things over and over and expect different results. If your business is not getting the outcomes that she wanted to where you need it to, you’ve got to do things differently to get different outcomes.
By being aware of the difficulty and using a couple of simple tools, you can help ensure that changes you take on to get better outcomes will stick.
Key Points to Effective Change
First, ask yourself who you can include in this change to help champion it and share accountability for making the change happen. In my case, it was a friend and her Facebook group that helped hold me accountable for pushing through the discomfort of a new process long enough for me to see the results on my own and understand that there was something very positive at the end of this change. For you, it could be someone similar such as a friend or maybe a business partner. It could also be people that are affected by the change such as employees or vendors that you use in your business.
Second, make sure you understand the benefits of getting to the change. Ask yourself, how is this change going to affect the outcomes that I’m getting out of my processes? Write those benefits down and put them somewhere where they can remind you of why you are going through the trouble of changing your process.
Third, be flexible with your new process as you work to make it a habit. This doesn’t mean go back to the old ways of doing things, but be prepared to adapt and improve your new process so that you get the most out of the change. For example, with my new process of writing by dictation, I have changed the way I outline what I want to say every time I have done a new piece. Eventually, I will settle on what works best, but having the flexibility and taking the time to try different ways of doing the outline, I will be able to identify what works for me and what gives me the best results. I have not locked myself into one way and only one way to do the outline and I just have to figure it out and too bad if it sucks.
Fourth, make sure to take your changes in small amounts. You can’t change everything at once, and trying to do so will often set you up for failure. It’s better to identify the end goal that you want to get to and then figure out how you can get to that goal in a few steps instead of trying to do everything all at once. As an example, using dictation, all I’m doing right now is “writing” with the software that I’m using. The software can do much more including control my entire computer, open applications for me, and all sorts of other things that I quickly glanced over on the features list. Right now, I’m not trying to do all of those things because it would be too much for me to try and consume in a short timeframe. I’m focused on getting faster with my process of writing, and right now that just means speaking into a microphone and worrying about all the extra features later. Once I am more comfortable with my process for getting an outline done efficiently, converting that outline into the piece that I’m writing, and making final edits, only then will I start to explore the additional things I can do with the software.
By tackling change head-on and following these few simple guidelines you better set yourself up for success and getting to those business outcomes that you really need and want for long term success!
And as another data point, I “wrote” this article including the outline and editing, around 1800 words, in under an hour.