I’m always concerned with output. Like a lot of folks, I work pretty hard at what I love and enjoy watching it payoff. I can’t be the only one who wishes there were more hours in the day, though, so I thought I’d share my strategy for how to remain productive the entire day.
The thing is, most people long for more hours in the day, but they’re not taking advantage of the ones they already have. If you want to be productive, part of that is living in the moment and being conscious of every passing hour.
For the longest time, I would just have a to-do list in front of me everyday and the vague sense that I could get everything on it done if I tried. Inevitably, I found myself burning time on the internet, telling myself I’d do my writing, editing, or querying later in the day (Sound familiar, anyone?) Anyways, untold minutes would seep away to Facebook, Youtube, and Tumblr, and I’d have a million things left undone at the end of the day. Self-motivation and the discpline to work are two of the most important traits a writer (or anyone working from home or honing a craft) can have. This month, I’ve really turned a corner with productivity, and this is how I do it:
I KEEP TRACK OF MY HOURS
So you’ve got a to-do list. Good for you. That’s like having the Tetris pieces and thinking you get to piece them together in your own sweet time. Time is passing every minute of everyday, so keep track of what you get done every hour! At the top of the hour, decide what you’re going to work on for the next hour. You might have been taking things one day at a time, but break that down and take it one hour at a time. Don’t be intimidated by any daunting task on your to-do list. Just sit down and do it. In an hour’s time, you can give it up and move onto something else, but hold yourself accountable for that project in this hour!
Do you remember in high school how everything was chunked up into periods and from one hour to the next you were never doing the same thing? There was a reason for that. You would have died if someone asked you to sit through a math lecture of an unspecified duration. Deadlines are sometimes more important to think about than output, simply because they force you to create output. If you honestly dedicate 2pm-3pm to writing 500 words, when you sit down at that blank screen you’re going to make headway or stare at it for an hour and then have to record that you wasted an hour of your afternoon. When those are your options, productivity comes pretty it easily.
Go down to the store and pick up a two-dollar agenda. There’s something satisfying about physically reocording progress, and use this book’s hour-by-hour layout to record not what you plan to do, but what you actually did! Keep track of how much you can get done, and before you know it, you’ll be holding yourself to a higher standard everyday…whether it’s about getting work done at the office, or fitting practice in for a hundred different hobbies. Yesterday I managed to edit a chapter of my last book, write 1,000 words of a new story, play piano, do my exercise routine, write a poem, and practice my fire-eating. Every hour is a level, every item on that to-do list is a challenge…so are you going to play the game?