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Avoid the Trap of Consuming Everything Before You Start Creating


How much research do you do for your coursework?

Do you power through and consume as much stuff as possible before getting on with the creation bit?

The more you can create out of what you consume, the more validation you give to consuming content. You won’t use all of it, but there comes a time when you stop looking.

But what if the search doesn’t seem to end?

The more you consume without creating anything from it, the more worrying the situation gets. Snacking on information without an end in sight.

Munch, munch, munch. One book here, another paper there, and a final web search just for luck. Maybe I’ll check the library one more time.

And maybe another time after that…

And it goes on.

When you consume far more than you create, you face a bottleneck at best. The reality is likely worse.

Words like “perfectionism” and “procrastination” start to rear their ugly heads.

Consuming without getting anything valuable out of the process is wasteful. It happens to all of us on occasion, but it shouldn’t be a standard part of your research process.

And you can easily fall into that consumption trap. So watch out.

It feels productive to find lots to read in the library and online, but it merely gets in the way when you’re not using that content for your work.

Keep an eye on why you’re still researching. There are times when you need to look at far more than you’ll refer to, because you’re looking for inspiration or perspective. Or perhaps you’re considering several arguments before you put your own stamp on proceedings.

But make sure you’re not still consuming ALL THE THINGS simply because:

  • You’re scared to start creating;
  • You think you need to cover every possible angle that exists (hint: you don’t);
  • You’re putting off the next stage of your work;
  • You need to find a better research process to work with.

Reasons like those above aren’t good enough to keep you looking for more. Work with what you’ve got, or improve your process so it’s not so time-consuming.

You may have to be brutally honest with yourself. It’s not easy to admit, especially when you are afraid to start.

But when the pressure gets too much, remember that you can always start off without doing any in-depth research at all.

Work with what you’ve got. So long as you’ve had some input from lectures, seminars, set texts, and so on, you should have enough to get started.

And writing your own thoughts and ideas on the page is much better than staring at a blank screen. Or, worse, not even reaching the blank screen stage because you’re busy feeling overwhelmed by how much information is already out there.

When you do your research, go in with the aim of creating something soon. No need to get hold of all the research materials and quotations before you start your own creation.

Banish those bottlenecks. Find a flow that doesn’t involve all the writing at the very end of the process.

A drip-feed of research helps a lot of the information stay at the top of your mind. That, in turn, will get you engaging (and referring) to more of that research.

The more you practice this flow, the more you will create out of what you have consumed.

How to Change Your Perspective and Why That Change is Good – TUB-Thump 023



A friend of mine was invited as a guest on a podcast and was so worried about sounding nervous, rambling and unintelligent.

The interview was fine. But regardless of that, many listeners wouldn’t have noticed anyway.

Why not? Because a growing number of us speed up podcast audio as we listen. Some apps also take out some of the gaps in between speech. Even a nervous or slow performance can sound confident and well-paced.

This is an example of how everything we experience requires our perspective.

We don’t simply consume external voices. We use our current internal state of mood and perspective to translate those external events into our own internal experiences.

That means we can shape our mood and perspective to engage with the same content in different ways.

You may already know this, but it’s easy to take for granted. Unless you constantly meditate on the moment and have a deep awareness of your surroundings, life probably happens without you checking in every few minutes. Your perspective feels fixed, even though it’s constantly changing throughout the day.

But it’s good to change your perspective. Familiar things can feel fresh and new. Give it a try.

On episode 023 of TUB-Thump, I talk about this in terms of audio. Try listening to podcasts faster or slower than usual. How does it make you feel? How do you engage with the information, with the personalities, with the setup?

Where will your new perspective take you today?

Here are the show notes for the 7-min episode:

  • 00:40 – What speed do you listen to your audio?
  • 01:40 – People sound far more confident and competent when you hear them at a faster speed.
  • 03:00 – What is your perspective when experiencing at a normal speed versus a faster speed?
  • 04:30 – Can you find new perspectives and viewpoints when you immerse yourself in other things that you are otherwise used to?
  • 05:50 – Find new ways to engage so you can find something new. The content hasn’t changed, but your analysis might.
  • 06:30 – You don’t always need to up your game. Sometimes you just need to change it.

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

10 Tips For Transitioning to Graduation


Graduation is a big bundle of emotions. Good and bad. Bittersweet.

And no matter how much you’ve prepared for what comes next, you’ll have surprises ahead of you.

The aim is for as many of those surprises to be positive ones. Find a framework of future fulfilment. [Try that as a tongue-twister…]

You don’t need to focus on lamenting the past, feeling insecure and fearing a fruitless job search. [I’m using a lot of F-words today. Yeah, not *that* one though!]

Avoid the negatives as much as you can with preparation and anticipation.

That’s why I’m posting this today. Graduation may be months away for you. But now is a great time to start in your transition to becoming a graduate.

The tips below will help you tackle the issues before they cause a drama. Let’s handle that graduation aftermath with ease:

1. Don’t wait until you graduate

This is a big one.

A growing number of students are checking out career options before they leave, but how many are taking an active role prior to graduation? If you do nothing else, at least start connecting with relevant people over social networks and offer something of value. Start showing up and engaging.

And what about living arrangements, staying in touch with friends, and all the creature comforts you’ll no longer have around you?

You may not be able to make a cast-iron plan, but it helps to have an idea in advance. The fewer surprises and annoyances, the better.

2. Plan for the coming months

When you’re looking for a job, you look forward to clinching that role.

But what do you do while you’re looking?

If it takes months to be offered an opening, you risk wasting a lot of time when you don’t plan for all the other things you could be doing. Get organised and don’t let the time creep away with pointless activities that don’t help you in one way or another.

Start by maintaining your weekly schedules. One academic win, one social woo, one personal upgrade, one career boost, and one wonderful wildcard. I explained all in an episode of TUB-Thump last week. Even if you do nothing else in the week other than apply for jobs and potter around watching Netflix all day, you’ll still have a list of achievements each week.

3. Find out what others are doing

You’re going to miss your friends. That’s a given.

But like I said above, it can be tough staying in regular contact with them. Even with all the social apps at your disposal, it’s not so easy. And it’s definitely not the same.

I used a lot of time in my first year as a graduate visiting friends who were still at university or in accessible places.

If you’ve got a railcard, you can still make good use of that. If you’ve got a car, you may find it even easier to visit people far and wide.

So get out and about while you still can. And do it while it’s relatively cheap.

Trust me, those visits get tougher to sort out as time goes by!

4. Underwhelm happens

It’s not just you. Meh happens.

5. Expect a sense of loss

Think about the difficulties you had way back when you started uni. Freshers often feel a bit lost, especially in the early days.

But when you graduate, you’re probably going back to your home town or revisiting somewhere you’re familiar with. You may even stay close to the university.

Instead of feeling physically lost, you feel a mental sense of loss.

You’ve finished studying, your friends have left, and all the things you took for granted are at an end.

As with the underwhelm, a sense of loss is felt by many graduates. It’s to be expected, so focus on these things instead of dwelling:

  • Find ways to revisit your student years positively. Capture the joy for having experienced it, rather than getting wistful now you miss it;
  • Seek out alternatives to the biggest gaps in your new graduate situation;
  • Don’t keep looking at Facebook to see what everyone else is up to now. It’ll likely just frustrate you further. And we’re our own worst enemy at wallowing more when we’re already wallowing!

6. Work beyond what you currently expect of yourself

You’re setting yourself up to be accomplished, just as everyone else is setting themselves up to be accomplished.

That means you need to go further than the basics that have been set out to you.

The older we get, the more experience we gain. Every time you realise something new, you think you’ve finally got it.

Until you realise another new thing, and you think you’ve finally got it.

Until you realise another new thing…

And it carries on. You never stop having those moments of seeing beyond what you once thought was the big point.

Don’t just work with what’s expected of you as a graduate. In fact, don’t limit yourself to your own current expectations. Continue to challenge yourself as you go.

Peter Thiel says that if you have a 10-year plan, you should ask why you can’t do it in 6 months instead.

In the book, Tools of Titans, Tim Ferris rewords Thiel’s question to: “What might you do to accomplish your 10-year goals in the next 6 months, if you had a gun against your head?”

Ferris expands upon this theme nicely:

“Do I expect you to take 10 seconds to ponder this and then magically accomplish 10 years’ worth of dreams in the next few months? No, I don’t. But I do expect that the question will productively break your mind, like a butterfly shattering a chrysalis to emerge with new capabilities. The “normal” systems you have in place, the social rules you’ve forced upon yourself, the standard frameworks—they don’t work when answering a question like this. You are forced to shed artificial constraints, like shedding a skin, to realize that you had the ability to renegotiate your reality all along.”

You’ll keep having moments where you finally think you’ve got it, only to be surprised again later. But with this method, you may find more pleasant surprises, sooner.

7. Focus beyond the grades

I understand how hard it is to move away from the push to get a First. As wonderful as that would feel, it’s not the big deal it’s all cracked up to be.

Standing out isn’t about getting the top grade. Standing out is about, well…standing out!

All a First really does is put you in a group of people who graduated with a First Class pass. How do you further separate yourself from everyone in that group?

Does that First genuinely help you stand out compared to the graduate with a 2:1 and a raft of extra-curricular experiences, work placements, and volunteering spots to boast about on their CV?

8. Learn a second language

Learning a language isn’t a walk in the park. But some employers are crying out for bilingual applicants. You don’t always have to be masterfully fluent either. Something beyond the basics may be enough to sway the decision.

Remember above. Your task is to stand out.

Only 9% of English 15 year olds are competent in their first foreign language beyond a basic level.

If you can grasp an intermediate level of another language, you’re already standing out further than the majority.

Here are a few links to get you started:

9. Be professionally visible

I don’t know what social networks you use, but how much of those networks are about chatting with friends, having a laugh, and being entertained?

Time to build your networks up on a professional level too:

  • Follow people in the line of work you’re interested in.
  • Visit forums and groups in the field and get involved.
  • Start a blog to share your personal experiences and advice about your chosen subject.

That’s just three ideas to get you thinking.

So what if you’re only just starting out? Give the world your train of thought and an insight into why you’re serious about the topic. The more you show up, the more you listen, the more you learn, the more you’ll be treated as a serious player.

10. Do your homework

Whether it’s career-planning, moving home, or staying in contact with your friends, you’re better off doing the initial legwork.

Remember point 1…Don’t wait until you graduate.

You may be surprised how little preparation is undertaken around the things you’ll be getting up to as a graduate.

When you’re ready for what’s to come, you’ll have fewer surprises.

For example, doing career research doesn’t come naturally. Up front checks can be woefully lacking when researching a company, a person, or a particular subject.

Yet graduates are expected to know how to research well. A degree requires it a fair amount, after all.

That doesn’t mean all graduates make the effort, even when it makes all the difference. So get to work and research where it counts.

In other words, do your homework!


The move from being a student to being a graduate can’t be perfect. But with a bit of preparation, you can make the transition much easier. Wherever you are in your journey, here’s to your future plans!

Can You Develop Your Academic Writing With a Copywriting Formula? – TUB-Thump 021


I enjoyed writing academic essays most when I was being creative in the process.

My aim was to guide the reader on a journey of discovery. A couple of times, I was a bit cheeky and argued against an idea that didn’t have much to argue against.

The best way to do that was to build up a compelling story and back it up with as many relevant points as possible.

Since I was writing about fiction on these occasions, I was demonstrating how perspectives aren’t all the same. But in order to do this, I needed to take the reader with me. After all, what’s the point in them getting lost after turning the first corner?

I was being cheeky, yes. But I wasn’t being kamikaze. The aim was to have fun, not lose marks!

It helps to look at different styles of writing, no matter what you’re working on.

For instance, academic coursework uses a particular language and flow. Yet that writing can still be improved by borrowing from fiction, copywriting, and other aspects of the written word.

That’s why today’s TUB-Thump takes a look at Pamela Wilson’s 7-part formula for content marketing.

Marketing may not be your first port of call, but it could help you see your writing from a different perspective, or let you tweak your style in creative ways.

What creative flourishes can you borrow today?

Here are the show notes for the 9-min episode:

  • 00:30 – Copyblogger FM show on making content marketing easier.
  • 01:00 – I introduce Pamela Wilson’s 7-part formula for writing content. See the infographic below for more detail. And if you’re really interested in content marketing, check out her new book, Master Content Marketing.
  • 02:20 – Narrative and flow are important, no matter what you’re writing.
  • 03:05 – Leading the reader in and getting them involved. “Why am I here? What’s this all about? Why should I care? What’s interesting about this?”
  • 04:50 – Pack a punch in your summary/conclusion by reinforcing your ideas and findings.
  • 05:15 – Call to action. Not quite the same with academic essays, but there’s still some scope.
  • 06:40 – Steven Pressfield: Writing the hero into the story, whatever the writing. The hero’s journey gets the reader hooked. “I’ve had my own hero’s journey, and you have too. We’re both still on those journeys.”

Pamela Wilson has helpfully published an infographic with her 7-part formula. Like I say, it’s not an alternative to academic writing, but it may give you an extra creative jolt:


Like this infographic? Get more content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger.

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!