Monday, November 7, 2011

The Productivity Game

Still looking for that magic feather...
Photo by scottchan

Too many mornings I've sat down at my desk, ready to get started raking in the dough... and instead found myself goofing off on Facebook or looking at funny pictures of cats.  To anyone looking in, it might look as if I have nothing to do when it's really the total opposite.

Do I start on the article for the client?
Do I work on a post for this blog?
Do I work on a post for the financial blog?
Do I update my website?
Do I work on some marketing?
Do I work on my e-book?
Do I edit the novel?
Do I query some articles?
Do I write that game review on my back burner?

I could actually keep going on this list.

If I have a pressing deadline, that can usually point me in one direction, but once that's done, I'm caught back up in what my mother calls the "paralysis of analysis."  Too many options, and no idea which should take precedence over another.  Plus, I still have books and blogs to read, classes to take, games to play....

I didn't realize how much it was bothering me (or how much it could potentially be losing me) until I actually had a dream about it the other night.  I dreamed that I had downloaded some kind of magic worksheet that allowed me to properly prioritize my projects, put things into perspective, and allowed me to quadruple my daily output.  I was a writer on fire!  When I woke up, I actually hit Google trying to see if such a magic productivity worksheet actually existed.  Of course, in this same dream I had gorgeous straight hair and looked like Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I figured at least part of it might be a possibility.

Alas, such a worksheet does not appear to exist.  I did find a book called The Productive Writer, and a number of worksheets that go along with it, and I downloaded the book onto the Kindle.  Unfortunately, my Kindle decided to go belly up so I haven't made it past the introduction yet.  The kind people at Amazon are sending me a replacement and I'll hopefully have more insight at that point.

In the meantime, I'll continue using my workaround.  I make a list of my options, attempt to rank them by importance, and dig in.  Perhaps, in time, I'll invent my own magic productivity worksheet.  I doubt I really need it, though.  It's likely something along the lines of Dumbo's feather -- all I need is the belief that I can fly, the feather just helps to focus that belief.

Although it would still be nice to look like Sarah Michelle Gellar.  Oh well.

How do you organize your projects?


  1. I find the Pareto Principle helps: 80% of effects come from 20% of causes (or whatever fraction applies). 20% of clients may bring in 80% of the income, while those who bring in 20% of your income may tie up 80% of your time. Find more like the former and sack the latter. In my government job, 20% of my job may have 80% of the impact, while I'm tied up with the 80% that doesn't.

    One line version: do the one or two things on your list that will give you sleep most soundly from the sense of accomplishment.

  2. It's really true, isn't it? Part of me wants to get the "non-fun" stuff out of the way so I can do "fun" stuff the rest of the day. The problem with that strategy is that by the time I'm doing "non-fun" stuff, I'm burned out and irritated! I'll balance it eventually!

    Thanks for reading!

  3. I usually try to get the contracted stuff that's on deadline that week out of the way, and then blog and then start working on everything else. I still need to fine tune the system though, because the personal projects end up being sidelined. Lori Widmer recently blogged about making time for personal projects and she suggested doing them first before starting on client work. I'm thinking of trying that because sometimes I'm so tired at the end of the day I'm not in the mood to work on personal projects.

  4. Yup! Exactly! Maybe I'll try swapping them around a bit too. I'm going to have to play with it and figure out what works best.
    Thank you so much for reading!

  5. I gave you some link love, Amelia.

    Why is it our "free" time ends up being wasted because we can't figure out what to do first? We need a plan! LOL