One of the reasons I love being a writer is I get to explore a variety of ideas. I create projects from those ideas and decide whether the project will hold my attention long enough for me to do it. But sometimes, my productivity system doesn’t help (sometimes it does though so…)
I adopted Derek Sivers (short book but fun/easy to read with a ton of great ideas) – of either saying “Hell YES! or No.” which is to say, I’m either really excited about the project of I say, “Sorry, no.” As an addendum to this, the older I get, the more selective I get about saying, “yes”.
My latest project on longevity – hit that magic spot in my creative mind and my rational mind (that combination can be scary) 🙂 I took a serious look at the project – making lists all over my notebooks. Filled the three whiteboards over my desk with notes and sticky posts about ideas, concepts and technical questions. I won’t bore you with those details.
But one nagging question continually surfaced.
It’s a personal one. It’s about the work habits I’ve developed over the past year or two. I’m still productive but not in a focussed way. I tend to follow what looks like it needs to be done rather than on having a plan for the days and sticking to that plan.
To make it worse, in a former life I used to teach time management. Oh yeah, let me allow that cat to escape the bag into my consciousness. I was screwing up and being attracted to the bright and shiny instead of focussing on what really needed to be done.
Researched A Better Productivity System
There are a ton of “productivity” systems out there but understanding I needed to change a habit (Luckily I’ve read that book) (Amazon) which meant I really needed to change my routine, I decided to go with the 100 day project in the Freedom Journal system. (Amazon)
Did I really need a system? Yes. My understanding of how I work is that when I’m the most focussed on an end product is when I’m the most productive. And for the next while, I want to be productive. But I also want a life. So…
This project to change habits is based on 4 work periods per day. I chose to make each one of these periods 90 minutes long.
I also picked 15 minutes between periods (time for a coffee, walk to the mailbox and/or to pull a few weeds)
It’s also only 100 days long. This is long enough to a) change the habits back to productivity and b) get some of these projects well and truly launched.
The Projects Themselves
- Fiction writing
- Garden writing
- Non-Fiction Writing (things like this blog)
- Admin – the books, taxes etc.
The way this system works is I decide in the morning which four of the above projects I’ll work on in any given day. I write those on a page in the journal, evaluating each one when the 90 minute timer goes off, and score them at the end of day.
It’s not important to this note but the system is designed to measure and create a continuous improvement in focus and productivity over the 100 days of the project.
How I Set The Projects
There’s only one of the above projects that’s included every day and that’s Exercise.
Exercise is my second project of every day. I’ll be writing more about this in future posts but for the moment, understand that exercise/health is the foundation for everything else physical, emotional and creative in my life and projects.
The Sweet Side Benefit
I only do four periods of focussed 90-minute work. I’m finished after 6-7 hours (ish) So when I start early in the morning as I normally do, I shut my computer down by noon or just after. Shut it right down so I’m not tempted to “take just this one peek.”
I can then focus on the other creative things I want to do – on or under the water, working with stone or whatever bright and shiny thing attracts my wandering attention. I’ve done the work. Put out the words. I’ve enjoyed doing it.
Does it get any better?
Is There An Ending To This?
I’ll get back to you along the way. The project is designed to take 100 days to establish the habits. My take on it is I’ll likely continue to do it again if it works.
I know if I don’t focus on what I need to do, I’ll be sidetracked again by the bright and shiny of something new. I may simply have to plan for that. 🙂