Last week was a good week on the productivity front for me. You saw this as an increase in posts, but it was also manifested in my offline work. I’ve had a few people ask me what changed last week so I’ll answer for everyone.
Although this is a walk-through of what I as one person did, keep in mind that a lot of what I did can be translated into your workflow. Also remember that I was also as productive at my offline jobs as I was at my online ones, so whereas 5 posts in a six day period may not seem that big of a deal for a lot of bloggers, another 30-40% productivity in all domains of my work is a huge deal.
There are four factors that led to last week being really productive. I’ll focus on what you saw instead of going into my offline jobs:
I Started Reading Books At Night Again
I Used the Blog Post Planners to Plan and Prepost
No More Email-On-Demand
Using the Regained Time Wisely
Rich ideas are rarely generated in a vacuum. Usually, they come from interesting conversations with people, great experiences, ideas you get from other people.
I’ll not get into the online/offline reading debate here besides saying that reading an actual book (or printed material) is qualitatively different than reading things online. It has nothing to do with the quality of the content and everything to do with the quality of your attention. Most people tend to try to multitask when they read on the computer, with the result that they’re not laser-beamed focused on the immediate thing they’re reading.
That said, I read three books within the past two weeks, with the two most important ones being “The Dip” and “Unleashing the Ideavirus” by Seth Godin. They’re very quick, powerful reads and a lot of the posts last week were inspired or focused by those books.
If you’re running out of ideas to write about or you just want to recharge your writing, unplug from the feeds and curl up on the couch with a good book that’s NOT in the niche you write about.
I created the blog post planner and calendar to deal with the exact problem I was having – too many ideas at once, too little time to write. Since I had already created them, I just started using them.
This process actually started Sunday (one of my heavy creative days), and I wrote Sunday’s post, Wednesday’s, and then Monday’s. I did it that way just in case I didn’t finish Monday’s – I could always sit back and know I had at least one post in the pipe.
I actually wrote Tuesday’s and Thursday’s post on their respective mornings. Both were a result of either a real conversation or a one-way conversation with another blogger.
Some people read too much into what I was saying about planning your posts out. The simple fact is that if you underplan, you can still write on the spur of the moment. But having some posts in the pipe both allows you to remain flexible with what’s going on in your world and helps you become more creative since you’re not focusing on getting that next post out.
I’ll write more about this in the future, but I transitioned back to leaving my email client open and checking email frequently when I took my new job. I essentially had approached email processing as Email-On-Demand rather than Email-at-Set-Times.
After settling into my job and looking at my workflow, I began to notice that nothing in my inbox actually had anything to do with the work had set up for the day. The few people who might change my workflow knew how to get in touch with me, so email served to be nothing but a distraction.
So I shut it off and started checking it mid-morning, at lunch, and mid-afternoon. I cannot over-stress how important that was, as those hourly checks led to distractions that sapped my creativity, not to mention my time.
Since I had regained my time and creativity had a plan and plenty of ideas, I decided to use that regained time to write. Since I was fully immersed in writing and design, I wasn’t tempted to check email. The end result was more posts than most of you had time to read.
The funny thing about all of this is the amount of time I’ve spent writing on these tips and tricks. I write about them because I know they work, yet I, too, fall into bad habits that really don’t get me anywhere. It was just a matter of following the advice I have been giving.
So, What Changed This Week?
You may be wondering why I haven’t written much this week since I just told you why I was so prolific last week. I mean, if the formula works, why didn’t it show in the posts this week?
Remember that I still have an offline job. Several, actually. Last weekend I had drill, which means that I wasn’t able to sit, plan, and write. So I started the week with no rounds in the chamber.
Since I didn’t have a break last weekend, I was just tired until, you guessed it, Wednesday when I wrote my last post. Also, since I was still recovering from the weekend, I wasn’t reading at night – which left me without any grist for the mill until I started thinking and reading again.
Those factors combined with the series of tasks I had at my full-time job left me in the position that I didn’t have the time, energy, or inspiration to write as much as I did last week.
The brute fact, though, is that I’ve learned that writing that much is not sustainable for me as a writer or a good portion of my readers. Last week was more of an experiment in time management and attention allocation than it was a stab at trying to set up a writing routine. We all would have better off had I preposted the extra posts into this week, but that wasn’t the goal of the project.
Do note, though, that the factors that enabled me to write a lot last week and the ones that kept me from writing very much this week are predictable and manageable. Look at your workflow and see where you can reallocate time and attention. Try it for one week and see what happens!
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Ali Hale says
Thanks for sharing your week — it’s always great to see productivity in practice! These words of yours particularly resonated with me: “I write about them because I know they work, yet I, too, fall into bad habits that really don’t get me anywhere.” I find with The Office Diet that it’s very easy to give healthy living advice to other people — advice which I *know* works — but hard to make myself follow it!
I was also interested that you were more productive in every area of your life, not just blogging. Do you find that the more productive you are, the easier it is to stay productive — and vice versa?
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@ Ali: I have found that when I’m more productive in general I am, the easier it is to stay productive. I think a lot of it has to do with setting meaningful goals, working to complete them, and then being happy with the results.
The biggest thing I’ve found to help out in this arena is to set fewer but more important goals rather than having a list of crap that just “needs to get done.” Lower quantity, but higher quality, makes a huge difference.