Finally, some good news to tell! My readers may have noticed a distinct lack of regular blog posting lately. Cutting back on them was a hard choice to better focus on vital areas of my life and my writing. That being said, I’ve not been entirely happy with the decision. It was the right choice, but not ideal.
You may be asking, ‘how is this good news?’ to yourself. It’s not. The good news is that I finally seem to have found a method of self-regulating that is working well. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that my life is hectic. That’s not an excuse for low performance, but it is an explanation. It is especially unusual in that I home school my children and am unwilling to ever ignore them completely. Even for the sake of this profession that I love.
I know many authors who shut out everything else when writing. It makes sense. It’s your job and you don’t have kids with you at work. I am out of the house 60 or more hours a week with my day job. The only time they would be getting with me would be the homeschooling time if I followed that advice. I only have a limited number of years where they want to be close. A set number of days allotted before their attention wanes and any lessons I might teach them in life are learned elsewhere.
It’s created a pretty major rift between where I want to be with my writing and where I am. It’s also exhausting. If we count the homeschooling time as work, that puts me at working around 90 hours a week. 90 hours I can’t spend writing. Doing so much does not lend itself well to staving off my procrastination. I live in a state of exhaustion.
And this is how it’s been now for years. I kept trying different ways to motivate myself. New ideas for upping productivity. Nothing ever seemed to work. I moved forward, but at what felt like I was getting passed by garden snails. It was the small suggestion of another author that finally gave me the key to higher productivity.
In the absence of extra time, I needed a way of constantly staying focused on my writing tasks. A way that kept pulling me back every time some other aspect of my life pulled me away for a while. Just making lists wasn’t enough. It seems that a special task app was the thing I was missing.
Just a little to-do list with my quarterly goals on it. Simple enough, but here’s the key. Every day it asks what I’ve done that day. Seems small, but unlike notes on my desk or information in a file, it’s unavoidable. It’s on my phone. The phone I am required to constantly use in conjunction with my day job. Even if I have done the tasks set for that day, it stays open in the background, pointing out that the list is still there.
I can move things back to another day, I can pull them forward. Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Eventually. Upcoming seems to show up in my dailies after a week or so. Eventually, never does. As I complete a new task, I move something from the eventually into the Upcoming. Sure. Some of you are rolling your eyes at how stupidly simple this seems.
I would have too. So many systems never worked for me. Gamifying my life, for example, just made it feel like one of those terrible games where you grind for rewards. I don’t want my writing to feel like an annoying task I have to do to get virtual peanuts. Anyway, the point is, it is working. I have gotten almost 3/4 of my quarterly goals accomplished so far. If this keeps going, I might manage all but 4 of them.
Bear in mind here also that part of the advice I was given was to set more goals than I thought I could meet. Big ones, small ones, and enough so that if I managed half, it gets counted as a success. It would seem that next quarter, I may have to add extra goals. That, to me, is a huge win.