Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Productivity Secrets

I have a confession to make. I am a serial procrastinator, and I have the attention span of a puppy at a public park. I have low energy, I can't remember what happened five minutes ago, and I can't seem to get organized no matter how hard I try. I'm basically a cautionary tale, so it might seem that I'm the last person in the world that should be writing about productivity.
HOWEVER. Despite my flightiness and my crushing neuroses, I do manage to get stuff accomplished when I want to, thanks to some techniques I use to cope with my damaged brain.
Here are their stories.

15 minutes at a time. I set an egg timer for 15 minutes (or 20 if I'm being ambitious) and I tell myself I must only work on a single task for that time. It might be cleaning, or writing, or editing, or strength training, or what have you. I do this both for things I want to do (and might spend too much time doing otherwise) and things I dread. For things I like, I force myself to stop at the bell. For things I hate, I force myself to keep going until the bell. IT WORKS! Without my beloved egg timer, I would never be able to focus for more than 15 seconds. This means a sudden 60x increase in productivity! LIKE MAGIC!
This technique has the added benefit of helping me figure out how long things actually take. My internal sense of time is completely wrong: I think things I dislike take much longer than they really do. I am always amazed at how much housework I can get done in 15 minutes.

Don't talk about it. I try not to spend too much time talking about what I intend to do in the future. I don't let myself talk to people about my projects until they are semi-complete. For example, I didn't tell anyone outside my family that I was writing a novel until the first draft was complete.
Why? Discussing your goals or incomplete projects with other people can give you a false sense of accomplishment. For example:
You: "I'm writing a novel." (read: I have five pages written and a bunch of ideas, or just a bunch of ideas.)
Your friend: "Wow!! That's amazing!"
You: Wow! I AM amazing!
Not that you're not amazing, but yeah.
I really like talking about myself, so I reward myself with the ability to freedom to talk (incessantly and at length) about my projects once they are actually done.

Don't think about it. The more time you spend ruminating about what you want to do, the less time you have to spend actually pursuing your creative goals. You won't know what works until you try to do it anyway, so stop thinking about it and do it!

Mini-Tip Bonus Round!
Don't watch TV any more!
Don't commit to anything you don't really want to do, unless you need to do it for money!
Quit your day job and become a professional eccentric like me!*
Don't worry about cleaning too much! Life's too short!
You probably don't need to shower every day unless you have a glandular issue! Fewer showers = more productivity time!
Writers! Convert time spent waiting in public to productivity time by bringing notebooks everywhere!
Spend driving time listening to inspiring music and thinking about your projects, or use that time to listen to NPR!
Don't waste time on the webs! Figure out what blogs you like and visit only once a week!
Figure out what you love and make room for it in your life by getting rid of whatever else you can!

*seriously, only do this if you have a trust fund, very supportive parents, and/or a very supportive, saintlike spouse with a great job.

Finally, the biggest tip of all:
Figure out what you want--what you really want, what you'll gladly sacrifice a lot of free time, sanity, and even cold hard cash to accomplish.
And then DO IT!

Go with my blessing!

Monday, April 11, 2011

What is up

This moment's thought: Oh shit. That's right. I have a blog.
So I haven't blogged in over a month. That's shameful. Here's a hasty attempt to assert my enduring devotion to the interwebs and to all of my amazing, charismatic, erudite readers, all of whom have excellent taste and should totally keep reading.
Here's what's up. I'll keep it to soundbytes.

Fibromyalgia. I am probably having some sort of relapse. I feel like crap even though I've been eating okay, exercising (albeit half-heartedly) and getting enough sleep. I'm going back to the doctor soon, I think? I can't remember, just like I can't remember anything else.

Bellydance. I am teaching at the Asheville Bellydance Festival next weekend, and my workshop is SOLD OUT. Holy crap. I thought I'd be lucky if three people showed up, seeing as that's basically what happened to me at Triboriginal 2009. Not that I should be advertising that fact on the internet. I am redoubling my efforts to make the workshop totally rock everyone's faces (in a kind, student-focused and supportive way, of course).
The Sparkle Oasis workshop remains open and will be even more face-rocking because it features TWO teachers--including one teacher who doesn't suffer from fibromyalgia brain death syndrome: my majestic sister Emily.
Also. I taught a workshop a few days ago to benefit Historic Green which raised $540, which I need to go online and donate as soon as I am done with this post.

Fiction. I have started working on the sequel to my vampire novel (which I still haven't decided on a title for--now THAT is procrastination). This is not premature and it is in fact a fantastic idea even though it's making it so that I have neither the time nor the energy to finish editing the existing novel or to begin preparing said novel for the agent submission process. Shut up. It totally is awesome and you don't even know.
But seriously, I'm excited about it. I always allow myself to go crazy with the first draft and write really badly. (Otherwise I would never be able to write anything ever.) I'm probably more excited about the opportunity to write really cheesy hackneyed trash than I should be, but whatevs. It's fun not to worry so much about how things sound and instead to focus on what happens next. I don't outline, so I have no idea what is coming. I just get to keep going down the rabbit hole.
My non-vampire short story (novella? novel?) kind of stalled out, so I am submitting it to my writers' group in an attempt to motivate myself to finish it. I will let you know if this ends up being a good idea or a terrible one.

Other. Nothing else about my life is worthy of comment, except for the fact that between private lessons, classes, and tutoring, I can feel that I'm slowly approaching the burnout insanity that I experienced this time last year. I'm glad to be working and to be in demand, but unfortunately I have a Constitution score of 4 (on the DND scale, obvs) and I just can't handle working every day of the week. I'm a little scared to pass things up, though, because I know it's either feast or famine, and a girl needs to eat.
Like I said, I'll let you know how it goes.