Running to The Finish Line

Once a year, my sleepy little town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts is transformed into a bustling metropolis, overflowing with news trucks, police officers and spectators. As luck would have it, Hopkinton is located 26.2 miles from the Boston Marathon’s end point, which makes our town a likely spot for the marathon’s beginning.

Although I’ve been living in Hopkinton for nearly four years now, for me, this year’s event was different. What happened was that last November, I moved my office to a building that faces the race starting line. My office window is so close in fact, that with a good windup, you could throw an egg and have a pretty good chance of hitting one of the state troopers standing up front (not that I am suggesting this).

Anyway, thanks to my close proximity, I got a first hand look at the race preparations this year, as the downtown area was being set up for last Monday’s event. Here’s what I noticed: Nothing started happening until the Wednesday before.

Think about that. A world class event with 25,000 participants and 5,000 spectators, and yet with less than a week to go, you’d never even know it was coming. No scaffolding being built on the town common, no starting line being painted on the road, no vendors lining up to sell $25.00 “Boston Marathon 2006” T-Shirts (which, take it from me, will be on sale for three dollars each by May). Nothing.

Poor planning? No, in fact, I’d say just the opposite. These folks have set up the center of town so many times by now that they know exactly what needs to be done and how long it takes. Starting earlier would only prolong the disruption of business as usual, while offering little benefit.

I mention this today as a follow up to my last issue (follow this link to read it), in which I encouraged you to pick a publication date for your own E-Newsletter. Because if I was successful in convincing you of the importance of publishing on a set schedule, than I’m sure I also got you thinking about the next obvious question: When do I write the damn thing?

My recommendation? Take a cue from the fine men and women of the Boston Athletic Association: Wait as long as possible.

I’m not suggesting you rush the process and do a sloppy job, I’m simply saying that by giving yourself the time you need — and no more — each month, you will also limit the disruption of your business as usual.

And as long as I’m telling you what to do, here’s one more suggestion: Get out of the office when it’s time to write. Grab your laptop and go park yourself in the local coffee shop, where you can work uninterrupted until you’re done.

Bottom Line: Among my clients and friends who publish newsletters, I’ve noticed that the ones for whom it seems to come easiest (and with the most regularity) are those who have developed a particular routine for writing each month. They don’t put it off, but they don’t drag it out either — they just do the work necessary month after month after month.

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