Fitting It All In


Sunday, 17 July, 2011

Content The Problem

We all have busy lives and they aren't getting any quieter without compromise. Personally, I always have a persistent to do list ranging from menial tasks to major, creative, long term projects. And with home and family craving more of my attention, life is a constant struggle to get things done. And then there's "actual work" of course.


Things do get done, whether it's within a half-implemented GTD system, via my To Do checklist, stickies notes or reminders and tasks in my calendar. I even get inbox-zero once in a while. But I'm always wondering how to be more efficient, more productive. And I'm assuming I'm not the only one.

The Daily Grind

After a tiring day at the office, I can still put in a few hours at night, but my energy will have mostly deteriorated leaving only a mental husk that reverts to habit and ease of use.

That means I can do things like keep tabs on rss news feeds (which is basically research for my blogs), react to simple email enquiries and process little jobs that can be accomplished without much preparation or research. As work-like as that all sounds, these are mostly personal things I need to do, some pleasurable and which I deem to help keep me away from "work". An attempt at balance in my work/life life...

The thing is, I'd like to make progress on the more creative, more major projects on my list. Self-initiated ones, where I need to constantly be aware of the thinking and ideas and basically stay in the "zone". I can't do this in two hours a night and still make progress. The weekend days aren't giving me a solution either when there's a super cute toddler (my daughter) drooling over my keyboard or squeaking somewhere else in the house.


Forming Creative Habits

However, one thing I'm trying at the moment is to see if I can "make a habit" out of doing my creative projects, a small piece at a time, less but often, much like I have a habit to check my rss feeds.

I'm seeing if I can organise and prune the material for my creative projects into simpler (digital) notes that I can easily scan and read, together with "journal-like" progress notes to help bring me up to speed every time I look at them.

And then I'm going to try and "stay in the zone" constantly.

The objective behind this is to try and immerse myself into each of my creative projects for a shorter period each time but as often as possible, so that I minimise the need to catch up. Perhaps a little every day or two. The constant creative process could also help maintain interest and harness mental attention and processing for times when there is little else to do but think (commuting).

In my experience, not touching a project for a few weeks, because I "can't find a whole day to work on it" makes it trickier to get back into - because I'd have already fallen behind by then. I'd have forgotten what I last thought about and more crucially, what I had to do next. So even more time is spent bringing myself up to speed and acquiring that creative flow again.

It seems making creative projects happen is alot like learning a language. Frequent study and attention is the only way to make progress - and become fluent.

I'll see if making creativity a habit like this will genuinely progress my personal projects, but I'll still be constantly looking out for more ways to efficiency and productivity enlightenment.


Self Development.

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