Productivity? by Cheryl Harper

Spoiler alert: I don't have any exciting productivity hacks. After years of absorbing tips, tricks, and helpful hints wherever they might fall, I've developed an aversion to them. I'm organized and always have been. I'm a planner and always have been. At this point, adding more tips on how to squeeze another drop of work out of time just adds to the pressure to Do It All.

I understand the desire for tips and tricks. We can't actually create time. The day job continues to require I be there for at least the 40 hours they pay me for.  I have to pay the bills and get groceries and mow the grass to placate the neighbors and fix things when they're broken (like the cursed

battery on the cursed mower that will not start when I am forced to mow).

When that's done, I write. I don't want more pressure to beat more efficiency out of that time. Great web sites, easy programs, things to make the work easier? Yes. Ways to organize my multiple to-do lists so I waste not a single second? Eh. Less helpful.

Right now, the keys to my success? Deadlines and consequences. That's it. The only hacks I have.

My word count rises with focus. My focus? That deadline brings it on. And thanks to that, the pomodoro technique of 25 minutes with an actual ticking clock works. I understand it. I think that's why I have this strange addiction to Food network shows. I don't cook. I am not a foodie. But I will tune in to watch Bobby Flay race the clock. Maybe I have my own internal reality writing show that requires the ticking clock. Chapped. Guys Grocery Games. Put them in front of my face so I can cheer on others racing the clock.

What about you? Do you live for productivity hacks or go with the flow?



Comments

  1. I love this piece Cheryl, because I can totally relate! I’m not good with all those tips (hacks? - see, a new term for me I’m so behind the times) but I’m usually very organized. Focussing very well with a looming deadline has always been my thing, since university days. Though the trade -off for me includes some restless nights and weight gain. (Candy stress eating) :)

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  2. Oh my goodness! Love this post. I actually just watched a video on the QuitCast about procrastination and how some people (uh..hm...me) need a hard deadline and pressure in order to focus. So in some ways my procrastination is my brain telling me to wait because my word count rises as the pressure increases and I am way more productive. I've read every book on productivity hacks and taken a jillion classes on it and none of it words for me. I guess I just have to learn to live with procrastination!

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  3. I love this. Focus is what we all need, and I for one need MORE of it.

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  4. Thanks for the post--I've done workshops and written about productivity for writers, but in the end, there's a trap to it for many women. We spend too much time telling ourselves that if we just get organized we can do it all, rather than realizing no human being could accomplish all we put on our plates--no matter how many tasks we "multi." Funny how focusing on one thing at a time seems like some kind if strange concept today!

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  5. I like tips for more productivity, but I haven't heard one that I don't already know or currently do for decades. I, too, have to do the laundry, shopping, cooking and taxi my daughter around (I deligate the lawn to a service). I feel like you're productive when you work. The choice of time and how it's done is up to you.

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  6. I usually skip blog posts on productivity. lol. But this is a good one. And I think a deadline is the best motivator there is.

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  7. Before children, I loved the push to get things finished right up to the deadline. I worked in the theater and costume design, and I loved those final days before a production. The show must go on! Burn the midnight oil! In grad school I loved the push of all-nighters. I'd pig out on fun food, crank Italian arias and write furiously. Then I had children, and I have had to completely change my habits 180 percent. What if they get sick right before the deadline and they need me? (Which is almost guaranteed as they get sick every other week, or so it feels somedays, lol). I do love the rush of being productive and creative on a deadline, though:-)

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  8. I once took a course in speed-reading and discovered that using those techniques, I could consume a short story in half the time, but it squeezed the joy out of reading. Some of those productivity tips squeeze the joy out of writing for me, too. I avoid those.

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  9. I find a deadline to be a great motivator, too. I have work I have to get done by a particular time, and whether I'm inspired or not, I have to get to work.

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