I’m always trying to be a more productive person.
I’ve read all the major books and tried all the common systems and taken bits and bobs from each to build something that works for me. It’s gotten me quite far in my marketing career, and I’m pretty good at getting my personal life in order too. Where it tends to fall down though is my writing.
But I often fall into the self-delusion that writing is an act of high-art, that I need a muse, that I have to feel inspired, that I need to be drunk, or sober, or tired, or awake. This is bullshit thinking, but too often I let it stop me from doing anything – putting off writing for another day when I feel more like an ‘artist’…
One thing I’ve learned though from my time at Amazon is that focusing on time-bound processes and input/output monitoring can make a real difference in improving productivity and impact – to that end, I’ve been testing different writing schedules and time-blocking slots dedicated to a particular output (like blogs, short stories, novels, etc).
I’ve tried quite a few different schedules – late night, lunchtimes, early mornings, weekends – but have found that the following is optimal for me:
- Monday to Friday mornings: I wake up at 6AM, get ready for the day, and write until 8AM before driving into work. This gives me around an hour and a half of writing. I spend the first 30 minutes planning, which involves reading any preceding work and bullet pointing out the next part which I’ll work on. With the plan in place, I then write for an hour, averaging around 1,000 words in that time if it’s the first draft. If it’s not the first draft, I’ll spend the entire hour and a half editing.
- Wednesday evenings: I write short stories. I’m planning on writing two short stories per month going forward, but you will only see a few of them because I’m going to be submitting them to competitions and magazines (meaning I can’t publish them on my website until they’ve been accepted or rejected!).
- Sunday evenings: I write blogs. I’m planning on writing two blogs per week going forward (published every Monday and Friday).
Why does this suck?
Because it’s probably wrong and will change over time, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m going to keep this post updated with my current schedule and will repost it every now and then when enough changes have happened.
If all goes well, I’ll post my results after six months and a year to show how much I’ve produced following it.