"Organizing the Writing Life" Day 2: Maximize Time AND Juggle Multiple Projects is up at Write Now is Good.
This is one of my favorite posts I did for KG, because it's all about mind tricks we can do to get ourselves to work in a more focused manner.
I talk about timeboxing, which is a godsend if you suffer from perfectionism and procrastination.
Timeboxing is basically putting very strict boundaries around the amount of time you'll spend on a project or task. This is basically the technique I employ when I do my 4 hour workday.
Here's what's so great about Timeboxing:
*It gets you over the perfectionism/procrastination hump that causes so many of us to stumble. By telling yourself "I'm going to work on this blog post for 15 minutes and get as much done as I can", you sort of free yourself from the pressure of having to come up with a finished, polished product. In 15 minutes, the post might be done, but it might not be. What you're going for is just working on it for 15 minutes, rather than a desired outcome. The bright spot is that when your momentum gets rolling in a particular direction, it's likely to keep on rolling that way. Making a dent in a project is a huge, necessary step towards completion.
*It helps get momentum going on bigger projects. We've all been there. There's a gargantuan project that we need to do, and it's just so huge that we don't even know where to begin with it. Most of the time, we'll procrastinate and save it until the last minute. Then we have no choice but to dive in and "get 'er done".
Imagine how much simpler our lives would be if we just jumped in on the first day and started taking bites out of the project until it was finished. Imagine all the drama and stress we would save ourselves. Also, imagine all the time we would save, cuz you know that even though we're not actively working on the gargantuan project, we're still mentally obsessing over it and dreading it.
Again, it's the momentum thing--getting the ball rolling is half the battle. If you have a big project that you're working on, and you don't know quite where to start, do this:
Set aside a specific chunk of time (30 to 120 minutes) to devote your attention to the project.
If you're writing a book or something, you might say, "I'm going to sit down for one hour, and I'm going to write down every idea that's swirling around in my head about this book. It doesn't have to be in order. It doesn't have to make sense. I'm just going to do a mind sweep of everything regarding this project, and I'm going to allow myself one hour to do this."
*It makes time fly. By telling yourself that you're only going to work on your project for 30 minutes (or whatever) you've given yourself permission to stop at a certain time, which is a huge motivator.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. This is not just a bottomless pit of a project. Buoyed by knowing that there is relief in sight, you charge into your project whole heartedly. You start working on it with passion, and time passes quickly because you're totally focused in on what you're doing.
Before you know it, 2 hours have come and gone. This is fine. This "time-flying" experience is a positive perk of time-boxing. It's okay to work longer than you intended if you feel like it.
*Procrastination is passive timeboxing. There are some folks who say that they procrastinate because they love to have a tight deadline. They say they work best when there's a time limit, and when their adrenaline gets going, it gives them inspiration and energy.
I can totally see that. It's true-- when we procrastinate and save something til the last minute, its seems like on most occassions we're able to pull it off. There's a rush to beat the clock, and then there's a huge rush of relief when we're scrape by unscathed.
Personally, I'm trying to decrease the amount of stress in my life. Although procrastination can give an adrenaline rush, it also brings about a lot of wasted time and stress.
Here's a thought--If you want the rush and the time constraints, why not try timeboxing instead? You create your own deadlines, and if you respect the time constraints you put on yourself, you will get that adrenaline rush when the clock starts tick, tick, ticking down.
If you'd like to learn more about timeboxing and a few other mind tricks for those who want the adrenaline rush, but don't want the stress of possibly not finishing a project on time, check out my post over at Write Now is Good.