Like most of you, I take time at the end of every year to review and take stock of the last twelve months—and that includes the stats on my blog and podcast.
Every now and then people ask me about my motivation for what I do. The short answer is that I love to help people create transformation in their lives. That’s what I mean when I say I help people win at work and succeed at life.
It’s only one measurement, but traffic is a good indicator of how well I’m succeeding in my goal. Here are my top-10 blog post and top-10 podcast episodes from 2016, along with my takeaways on what’s working and why.
Top-10 Blog Posts
1. 7 Apps to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Build New Habits. Achieving your goals takes more than good intentions. You have to take action and then systematically measure your progress. This is one of the major reasons New Year’s resolutions fail. There are tons of apps designed to track goal progress, but which one is right for you? In my most-downloaded post from 2016 I review the pluses and minuses of seven popular solutions. Chances are good at least one might work well for you.
2. 20 Questions to Ask Other Leaders. As a leader, how do you improve in your leadership? If you’re like me, you probably read a lot of books, listen to podcasts, and attend a few conferences. But one of the best ways to grow is to ask other leaders questions. Here are twenty questions I was once asked—and which I often ask other leaders.
3. 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day. I am a habitual nap-taker. I take one almost every day and have for years. I used to feel a little guilty about it—like I was slacking off or something. Then I discovered several of the most successful people in their fields take naps. It turns out there are several major physical and emotional benefits to a midday snooze.
4. How to Launch a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less. The easiest way to build a platform in today’s world is to start a blog. You’ll get the greatest flexibility and freedom by using self-hosted WordPress. It’s what I use here on my blog, and this post shows you exactly how to set up your own. As the title says, it only takes 20 minutes.
5. How I Organize Evernote. I often refer to Evernote as my digital brain. It has replaced my physical filing cabinet; it’s where I store anything I need to reference later. But it can quickly become unwieldy if you don’t have a system for using it. It doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to be intentional. This post provides a peek inside my own system.
6. 7 Steps to Take Before You Quit Your Job. You will eventually quit your job. It may be this year. It may be next. It may be ten years from now. It’s only a matter of time. But you don’t need to burn bridges and create unnecessary enemies. With a little planning, anyone can make a graceful exit.
7. The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter. I originally wrote this post in May 2008. I updated it a few years later. It still gets a ton of attention. Over the last few years, I have helped several friends and a few family members get started on Twitter. I found myself explaining the basics over and over again, so I decided to write a simple, step-by-step guide. If you’re new to Twitter, this will get you up and running fast.
8. The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting. When I speak publicly, I often ask how many people believe in the power of written goals. Every hand shoots up. Yet when I ask how many of them have written goals for this year, very few hands go up. This post is a basic goal-setting primer I published back in 2013. I’ve since expanded and refined the system in my 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever course.
9. Your Most Important Leadership Tool. The most important leadership tool you have is not your experience. It’s not your knowledge. Not your skills. It is your heart that matters most of all. If you and I are going to succeed as leaders—and survive as individuals—we must guard our hearts. Here are three reasons why.
10. My Favorite iOS Apps for Taking Notes With iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I’ve had a long and tempestuous history with the iPad. I’ve purchased each generation as it released, hoping it would become my go-to device for note taking, task management, and research. But no. I mostly ended up frustrated and my grandkids got a new toy to play with. But the iPad Pro changed that. Here’s my take on seven apps for note taking with the Apple Pencil.
Top-10 Podcast Downloads
1. My Top 10 Productivity Hacks. Many people feel overwhelmed because they can’t get everything done. But productivity isn’t about getting everything done. It’s about getting the right things done. Anyone can get better at productivity. It’s like a muscle. The more you work on it, the more productive you’ll become. In this episode, I gave some of my best tips for making the most of ￼your working hours—without working more hours.
2. The Mindset That Will Limit Your Future. When it comes to our outlook on relationships, business, family and life, we have a choice. We can either see the cup half empty or half full. Scarcity thinking creates limitations. Abundance thinking inspires possibilities. As a leader, you can avoid the scarcity mindset by intentionally developing the characteristics we discuss in this episode.
3. 6 Strategies to Become a Better Conversationalist. Like riding a bike or driving a car, conversation is a skill that requires practice to improve. In this episode I give some of my most helpful strategies, including the one-conversation rule.
4. If You Want to Be Successful, Be Less Accessible. If you’re going to live according to a realistic schedule and maintain margin for your most important priorities, you must make some tough decisions about accessibility. The more successful we are, the less accessible we must become. Otherwise we’ll end up cheating those relationships and projects that matter most.
5. How Vision Affects Productivity. We all want to be more productive, right? But for what purpose? In this episode I discuss seven steps to help you cast a compelling vision for your life and tap the motivation you need to accomplish what really matters.
6. Do You Really Want Work-Life Balance?. There are more demands on our time and attention than ever before. Is it even possible to be successful in both your professional and personal life? I think so. In today’s podcast, I offer five suggestions for aligning your home and work life with your highest values.
7. 5 Strategies for Building New Habits. Good habits usually lead to good outcomes. And bad habits lead to bad ones. We know this. But it’s hard to break bad habits, right? In this episode, I discuss five strategies to replace the bad with the good.
8. How to Discern Your Calling. Life is full of ups and downs—that’s especially true for business. So what keeps you steady in the storm? The answer is your calling. The problem is that sometimes people don’t know what theirs is. To remedy that problem this episode reveals three vital components of meaningful work.
9. Happy People Are More Magnetic. I want to be a happy person that other people want to be around. But that doesn’t happen by accident—it’s intentional. In this episode, I share seven steps to develop the kind of magnetic presence driven by true happiness.
10. 8 Secrets to Escape the Overwhelm. We all get overcommitted from time to time. It happens. Whether you find yourself in that place today or not, I discuss eight secrets to help you better understand the dynamics that make us overwhelmed and what to do when it happens.
5 Key Takeaways
Based on these two lists, here are five takeaways about what’s working and why. Feel free to weigh in on these in the comments below.
- Never underestimate the geek factor. Technology-related posts have been big for me since I started blogging. I experiment with a lot of systems and apps and love sharing my discoveries with you. While the podcast list leans more toward personal development and the soft skills necessary for effective leaders, nuts-and-bolts technology posts make up about half of the blog list.
Productivity is very productive. No surprise here, but productivity and goal-setting are important to my audience. That’s especially true for my blog readers, but productivity was also No. 1 on the podcast list. And truthfully, most of my technology posts are really about productivity as well. There’s so much to discover about accomplishing more of the things that matter most in life.
Go one step at a time. Another thing I noticed about these posts is that several are step-by-step instructional guides. How-to posts are a great way to shortcut lengthy learning processes and get to a quick win. The blog excels here because it’s easier to follow detailed processes (especially techy stuff) visually rather than audibly.
Lists fill the list. List posts comprise almost half of both the blog and podcast lists. It’s actually more because several of the posts that don’t emphasize lists in the titles do feature lists in the body of the post or podcast. This makes sense because lists are an effective way to summarize information and provide memorable takeaways.
Archives are a traffic goldmine. While all of the podcast episodes aired originally in 2016, the majority of the top-performing blog posts were from the archives. Only three of my top 10 for the year were actually published in 2016. 2009, ’13, ’14, and ’15 had one each. And three of the top 10 came from 2011! Some content is timeless. A deep archive is a great asset for me, and a huge benefit to my readers.
2016 was a fun year. And based on what I hear from my audience, it was full of personal and professional transformation! I can’t wait to discover what we can accomplish in 2017.