Focus, Focus, Focus — Especially With Mercury In Retrograde

January 23, 2015

Keep Your Focus During Mercury Retrograde

Did you know that Mercury is currently in retrograde? You might not care right now, but you may notice that things go more wrong than usual, especially communications, electronics, and travel. Now, even more than usual, it’s important to maintain your focus.

Even if you don’t believe in astrology, I hope you believe in astronomy.  At this time, Mercury is hanging out closer to the sun. I don’t know if this causes more sunspots than normal (if you know, please leave me a message in the comments), but I have tracked computer and network glitches over my career in high technology. It got to the point where skeptical engineers would ask me if Mercury was in retrograde. (Usually it was when a series of things went wrong.) To find out more about Mercury retrograde click here. 

I wasn’t aware of the timing of the retrograde, and I don’t know if that knowledge would have made any difference to what happened, but I imagine it made the results worse.  Anyway, I did several things that I advise my clients not to do.

I’m hosting USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham’s fantastic Hook Workshop. (If you haven’t checked it out, you owe it to yourself and your writing to do so.) She needed the information ready for her newsletter and for a workshop she is doing this week.

I wanted to add a video to the sales letter. I could have done a simple “talking head” video. I do those all the time, and you’ve probably seen some of them. I could have done a PowerPoint type slide presentation. I do those for most of my training, so I’ve gotten good at putting them together quickly. However, this was where I lost my focus and went off-track.

I had just purchased a new, just released tool (I’m a tool junkie, if you didn’t know). Of course, I get these tools so I can test them and tell you what’s great and what isn’t. This particular tool takes a script and turns it into slides quickly, then lets you add voice-over and makes a movie out of it. The sales material claims it’s much faster than doing the same thing in PowerPoint. What a great opportunity to try this out!

First rule — Don’t try new technology when you are on a deadline

I knew the tool just made plain slides, so I knew that I wanted to make them more visually attractive. That meant finding images to go with the script that I still had to write. I would have had to do both of those things in PowerPoint as well, so no extra work there.

Because I had to cut and paste the link into the tool, I did a quick script in Word (a familiar tool), choose a slide template in the tool, and started the presentation. The tool added the scripts to the slides just as I had it up with breaks between the slide text. So far, so good. I changed the script as I went to make it more powerful. (You can’t talk about Mary’s hooks without thinking about your own work). As I did each slide, I visualized an image and went off to find it on my favorite stock photography sites. I was satisfied with the results. I knew I could keep tweaking it, but I was on a deadline and knew I need to keep my focus.

Next I had to add the voice-over. Not a big deal, I do that often. I had to make a couple of takes, but it went fairly well. Again, I was on a deadline, had to keep my focus, and couldn’t let perfectionism stall me out. I did remember to save the presentation often.

Adding the audio to the slides went well, but setting up the syncing was tricky. I had to first figure out how to do it. Then I had to work to get it the way I wanted. That part of the software could use some changes, and I hope they will put that on the list. Finally, I had it good enough.

Remember FOCUS

I was ready to create the video. I clicked Publish and waited…and waited…and waited. I could tell it was doing something, but knew it wasn’t behaving the way it should.

It was late, so I decided I’d leave it running and check it in the morning. Still on track, still focused, right?

In the morning, I found my machine had rebooted. Okay, no problem.

When I started up the software, it wanted to do an update. Great, maybe this would fix the problem and make it work better. So I allowed the update.

When the software restarted, it came up with Focus, focus, focus during Mercury Retrograde

Every time I restarted, I got the same message.

Second rule — Don’t try new technology when you are on a deadline

I posted a ticket to the help desk and was told they would get back to me USUALLY within 24 hours. (It’s been over that, and I’m still waiting.)

Okay, I’ll move the presentation over to PowerPoint and make a video from there. I have the graphics already, so this should be quick.

However, when I went looking for the script, all I had was a blank document. I had failed to save. When I coaxed Word into showing me the recovered document, only the first little bit was there.

Third rule — Save EVERYTHING

At this point, I decided it was my duty to warn folks about this so they wouldn’t run into the same issue. I went to my social network and posted in groups of folks that were interested in video. Most people replied that they had purchased the product, but hadn’t used it yet.

As I was detailing the issue, I realized that the previous version had worked, it had just failed to render the video. If I deleted the current (buggy) version and reinstalled the original version, I should at least be able to look at the script. Then I could cut and paste into PowerPoint and also see the way I had set up my clever graphics.

The previous version opened, and all my presentations (I had done a couple of tests) were there. I opened my Hook presentation and decided to try to create the video again. This time it gave me a message telling me that it might take awhile. That’s great! Video rendering always takes awhile (except for Google Hangouts).


I added uploaded the video to YouTube and added it to the sales page. If I shut off my internal critic who insists on perfectionism, I’m quite pleased with it.

Check out the video, the sales page, and the Hook Workshop details here.

Bottom Line (finally, I hear you say)

Don’t lose your focus, especially when you have a deadline. Don’t try new things. Don’t follow bright, shiny objects. These rules apply even when Mercury isn’t in retrograde.



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