2×4 With Gini Dietrich

2×4: One series that examines two topics, creativity and productivity, by asking those who make things on the web the same four questions on both subjects.

I am an unabashed Gini Dietrich fan. I would go as far as to call myself a fanatic (I may even have a little crush on her). She’s brilliant, generous, hard-working and even though she doesn’t realize it, she is one of the most creative thinkers I’ve come across on the web. I feel fortunate to call her a friend and even more fortunate that I was able to twist her arm into being the first victim for this brand-new series. She’s been extremely helpful as I’ve started with my own writing, even going as far as letting me soil her always-excellent Spin Sucks blog1. Without further ado, I give you an inside look into one of my favorite people:

Creativity

​1) Have you always considered yourself to be a creative person?

Um, no. My mom is super creative and I’ve always been really envious I didn’t get that part of her. I’m creative in a logical and linear way. But if you want an over-the-top idea, I’m not your gal.

​2) What mediums and inspirations do you gravitate towards to realize your creative goals?

One of the most creative people I know is Danny Brown. I love to see what he comes up with and then emulate (OK, steal from) him. I also really love fashion magazines and get a ton of inspiration from them. In fact, I’m changing up my #FollowFriday Spin Sucks blog post because of something that caught my eye in InStyle last month.

​3) If you had to point to one thing, what specific posts or creations are you most proud of and why?

Spin Sucks, for sure. When I started blogging consistently nearly three years ago, I had NO idea it would become what it has. I remember a friend said to me, “You can get this to 100,000 readers if you work at it” and I thought, “You are off your rocker.” Turns out, he was right. It’s not overly creative, but it’s definitely a creation I’m very proud to run.

​4) Any suggestions for those who feel they may not be creative enough to unlock their inner artist?

Yes! Look to other industries for inspiration. The music industry is full of creative ideas. I spend some time reading the Lefsetz Letters. I love how he compares the decades of music because it so closely relates to what’s happening in the world of technology. If you open your mind, you can find things outside of your normal walls that inspire you.

Productivity

​1) Can you describe your current personal and professional responsibilities?

I can, but it sounds like a lot of work! Professionally I run two businesses and also keep a blog (which is a part-time job). Personally, I just have a husband and dog to worry about so my responsibilities aren’t as overwhelming as they are at the office.

​2) How do you go about balancing the personal, professional and digital?

Not very well! It really depends. If I’m not traveling, I do a really good job of it because I can stay on top of things. But when I have weeks where I’m traveling or spending a lot of face time with clients, things get behind and the balance goes out the window.

​3) What tools and techniques do you find yourself counting on to get through your workload?

I’ve tried everything: Evernote, tasks in Outlook, post-in notes, to-do lists in a notebook. The thing that works best for me is a piece of paper that has the numbers 1-10 written on it. Every morning I put a task beside each number and I get to work. I always get through everything on my daily list if I do it that way. Where I get into trouble is when I don’t take the time to create a list.

​4) What is the best starting point for the unproductive amongst us, who are looking to get more organized?

Write down everything you need to accomplish in a day. Include reading and responding to email, reading and commenting on blogs, entering your time, returning phone calls, everything. It’s important to list the stuff that you do every day without a to-do list. That way you can see what you really need to accomplish and prioritize.

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  1. With the marked exception of when she foolishly lets me guest post.  

31 Responses to 2×4 With Gini Dietrich

  1. This looks like a pretty great idea for a series. First time for me to stop by. I recognize Gini’s point about getting “into trouble when I don’t take the time to create a list,” same for me.

  2. Great list! What’s critical for me, and it’s implicit in Gini’s post, is to take time every morning to review thr day and identify what has to be done. The key here (as Gini states) is EVERYTHING that has to be done. I also spend this time free writing and reading to get my mind (and spirit) set for the day ahead. This “morning practice” is absolutely indispensible in my life, seven days a week.

    • That was hands down one of the biggest takeaways from Gini’s answers. The need to document everything. I was laying out the big tasks, but ignoring the every day stuff. As for my morning routine, it used to only be consumption, but like you I’m finding myself writing more and more in the early hours. Great way to start your day!

      • Gini, it varies from day to day depending on what I’m working on. In general, though, things seem to tip more towards reading over writing; that said, if I’m intently working on a longer article I can spend many hours per day on it. I tend to read quickly, then work feverishly to get out a first draft, then reread, edit, reread, edit. I want to write more and seemingly am best able to do so early in the morning although writing regular blog posts is something I haven’t quite figured out how to do :)

        • While I’m sure Gini’s answer will be far more useful, here is what’s been working for me (and dear god was I the most inconsistent blog writer for the LONGEST time). I created a lose structure for my posts. I knew I wanted to hit five days a week and decided to break it out as follows:

          1 How-to post (Mondays) 2 Contextual posts that steer you to interesting content (Tuesdays and Thursdays) 1 Why-to post (Wednesdays) 1 Quotes wrap up from my SmaterThanIAm.com project (Fridays) 2 Consumption and Creation days (Saturdays and Sundays)

          I found it to be a perfect balance of my 4 c’s of blogging Consumption, Curation, Contextualization and Creation. And while it was a challenge it was still doable. That’s been key for me, making it just a little more than I wanted it to be. If it was all fun, I’d eventually start slacking. It had to be hard from the get go.

          Putting up that scaffolding has made it a lot easier to know what I want to accomplish. Leaving things vague and saying I want to write more (my default for about a year) just never seems to pan out even if you really want to write more…

          I also had to really figure out the tools and the workflows (but I think that is just my geek speaking).

  3. I really like this and the concept and starting with Gini is a given, huh? She gives the appearance of Superwoman and she does achieve more in a day than we do in a week, just hope she’s keeping that tank full which I’m sure she is.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Michael, this is really a great idea for a series. Of course, you did set the bar extremely high with Mrs. Gini. The amount she accomplishes in the social sphere (added on to real businesses) is beyond impressive.

    Congrats on a great start!

  5. Imagine working with her every. day! It is a lot to live up to. It’s funny, whenever I read something from Gini, I learn something new about her, and here I thought we’d win the Newlywed Game hands down.  I LOVE the fashion magazine, and getting ideas from other industries. Does it work for US and People also? Great questions. :)

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