I’ve been a little remiss with my weekly postings recently. It’s ironic because my focus has been on the topic of Productivity. D’vorah Lansky has a Master Class on Productivity coming up in November for her author community and I’ve been asked to participate as a guest speaker. That translates into shining the spotlight on my own productivity in order to speak to others about it.
The result is an awareness of the contrast between my productivity on a daily television show and what I accomplish when I am home “building a business with my book.” Self-publishing a book is one thing. Turning it into a springboard for workshops and additional content and content in a variety of mediums requires something more. It requires an element of productivity similar to daily production.
To be fair, our show was not always a model of productivity. We had to find our way from a concept to a full-fledged, funded operation. It felt rather amorphous in the beginning. So does personal productivity.
You see high productivity is experienced in an environment with well-defined routines, scheduled time for preparation, and very real deadlines. In the beginning – and for many self-directed projects, time is carved out from our “leisure” time, just as money is reallocated from our discretionary income. I have a general routine and I can organize myself to prepare for what I want to accomplish. The question becomes one of priorities.
In its purest sense, we choose what we most want to do. We choose what will help us achieve the goals we hold dearest. However, when there are multiple tasks involved that all contribute to those goals, how do we make those choices?
How do we prioritize all that we have to accomplish? Do I focus on the nearest deadline? Do I place the regular post over the more involved presentation? Can I just push the long term project back? Do I block out a specific chunk of time and write only during that period on one of these projects, then move on to the next?
My own creative process doesn’t seem to work that way. I sink deep into my topics when writing, and focus on it until I reach a sense of completion. I may or may not have the time to move on to a different piece of writing, so perhaps I will choose a different aspect of the project. Sometimes the writing I schedule requires more time and I have to push other tasks back. I go with the flow, literally.
We also have to designate the chunks of time for the lifestyle we desire – both long and short term. We have to plan for real life, not just our “work,” even if it is our passion. I remember Jack Canfield saying that he schedules date nights and family vacations into his calendar or he would never make time for them.
If deadlines influence productivity, we face a challenge. In the beginning of a venture, we have very few deadlines. Is it possible to build “artificial” deadlines into our creative schedule? Is it enough to sketch it out on a calendar when there are no consequences? When producing a daily show, our time constraints are real. We have to deliver even if we have to work all night to do it. The equivalent is organizing a campaign to bestseller that has to time out to a book release date on Amazon.
This is where working with an accountability coach, a mentor, a mastermind group or mastery class is so immensely valuable. Even though these communities of like-minded people impose few deadlines with consequences, there is an impetus to perform well within the group. And perhaps even more importantly, they become our support system. The successful achievement of any goal requires persistent focus, action and a belief that we can do it. The individuals with whom we surround ourselves become the “loving mirrors” who help us stick with it and believe in ourselves.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t include the importance of managing my thoughts as one of the most important aspects of my personal productivity. If I do nothing else, I block out time for my Inner Game which includes meditation, journaling, affirmations and Afformations. Not to do so would open up the possibility of negative self-talk to creep in with excuses, self-criticism and second guessing my choices. That is the equivalent of driving with one foot on the brake. We do so much better when we realize that positive self-talk is a supercharging fuel additive that helps us reach maximum productivity.
So how does my experience translate to Your productivity? I’d suggest the following:
- Set up an environment in which you can be productive. Place all your supplies around you ahead of time so you don’t have to go search for them and get distracted. Do enough preparation to know what you need.
- Get into a ritual of how you set up for each project. Have your materials, writing implements, tissues, water bottle, clock or anything else you routinely need while working right next to you so you don’t have to jump up and down and interrupt your progress.
- Know yourself. Do you write best in the morning? Is it better to write for a few hours and then shift to other tasks that still benefit your overall productivity, i.e., research, phone calls, or technical tasks?
- Surround yourself with a support team on a timetable that increases your productivity. I find getting together weekly is best for me. Any more often and I do not have enough time to prepare for the next meeting. Once a month doesn’t give me enough impetus.
- Make time for your Inner Game. It’s a source of inspiration and solutions.
- Make time for breaks at convenient times. Brain experts tell us that we should focus for 45 minutes, then take 15 minutes off to walk or do something entirely different to function at our best.
Talking this through with you today has already helped me focus on ways to improve my personal productivity. I have reached my sense of completion on this post. May you find ideas that help you amp up your personal productivity as well. You’ll only know if you act on them as well.
To Your Success,