My approach to productivity is seriously wanting.
As explained in my Libra’s Guide to Procrastination, Structure, and Follow-through, I have had to make accommodations for my tendency to…well…procrastinate. I do what any writer does: set goals for myself, work to achieve them, and adjust my life and work skills to make everything happen. However, those things may not happen in a Plan-Do-Check-Act sort of fashion.
I am an avid outliner, so my planning method is intact. I write based on that outline, and everything just swims along with the current.
And then a deadline approaches. A goal that I have set for myself remains incomplete, and my due date is nigh. Sure, it’s a due date that I have set for myself (as I am yet unencumbered by a publisher’s or editor’s deadline), but what’s the point of goals if I don’t have a timeline in which to complete them?
But that mentality sets in–it’s my own due date, so I can change it. Right?
DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!
So my new experience for the month of January is to follow a schedule. Plan my editing for book one (outline and all) and complete my goal by January 31st.
Tools of the Trade
I am blessed to have technology at my fingertips, so shame on me for not using it to its fullest. One app that I have used with great success in the past (with my professional deadlines in the world of education) is Taasky (yes, there are two As). It’s a to-do list with a lot of features and an aesthetically pleasing interface. Any reminder system will be useful, especially one that already comes with iOS. Find something that works and stick with it.
I have a Macbook and an iPhone, so my calendars will communicate between devices. There are also free calendar print-outs for those of us who appreciate putting pen to paper. (I use printable calendars, too, for my novel’s timeline. It’s really important to keep track of the days of the week, especially when you’re in a year different from this one.) You can Google the type of calendar that you need–month, 12-month, or even one from a specific year, and take it from there. Set a short-term and/or a long-term goal, with reminders set to keep you focused on the finish line.
For each writing session, I have had a lot of good luck with the Pomodoro Technique and have used Pomodoro Time Pro for almost a year now. I really like it on both my Macbook and my iPhone, and the program includes break times to make sure that you’re not burning yourself out. Any sort of timer will work–the one included on your smartphone, a traditional kitchen timer, an alarm–whatever works. For session-to-session use, having a timer will really help your productivity in the long run.
It’s like setting a mini-deadline that you have to accomplish. Cue the rush of fresh panic. Enter the hastened bloodflow and sense of urgency. There’s nothing like it–it makes you feel alive. (My fellow procrastinators know what I’m talking about.)
I’ll keep you posted.
Throughout the month of January, I’ll add updates on my progress. Maybe this is the year that I finally make use of the planner that I always buy myself but leave sitting on my desk!
Stay productive, my friends.
What techniques do you use to keep yourself on-task in following your goals? Let me know in the comments!