Productivity and Goal Setting

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I’m either a really productive writer or I’m not. It all depends.

When I have a deadline, I can power through a project whether it is 30 crafts and activities, a week’s worth of blog posts or researching and writing a 14,000 word book in 5 weeks. That hard and fast goal moves me forward and I write hard and fast until I'm done.

I don’t even need large periods of time. Over the summer, I focus on projects I can break into smaller pieces. My son isn’t old enough to drive but he’s on the city swim team. Between trips to and from practice and various meets, I manage to work fifteen minutes here and 30 minutes there. I get a lot done flitting from one small block of time to another, switching which project I'm working on to suit how much time I have.

Now that the school year has started, my son is back in the classroom or at practice most of the day. I have plenty of time to write but for several weeks I wasn’t getting more done. In fact, my productivity had slacked off. I’d a write blog post and then a craft. After lunch, I’d write another blog post and fiddle with some research.

But it wasn’t enough. I’d write at one sitting, rewrite at another and make very little progress over all. Sure, I’d notice the lack of progress but . . . why worry? I had plenty of time to work.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been working a bit differently. Instead of doing a bit of this and a bit of that every hour, I focus on one or two larger projects a day. Monday, I write the posts up for one blog and work on marketing, getting returned manuscripts back out. Tuesday, I watch the lectures and take the quiz for a class I’m taking. During the afternoon, I start the crafts which I finish up on Wednesday before I research my next nonfiction project.

Some people may work well when they have large blocks of time and flit from project to project. Maybe one day that will work for me, but, right now, I’m staying on just one project for longer than I have in the past.

The reason isn’t magical beyond the fact that this is what is working for me now. But the next time my productivity lags, I won’t fight it. I’ll shake things up – breaking my work up in a different way, writing in a new place or, if I feel tapped out, taking the time to recharge my batteries.

As professionals, our solutions have to be as creative and varied as the work we do.


Sue teaches our class, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins in October; places in the class are open.


Margo Dill said...

I agree, Sue. I tend to be a flitter, but sometimes I just hunker down and finish an editing project or submission for my critique group and I feel actually more productive. Thanks for reminding us that we all don't work the same way AND even the same person doesn't work the same way every day.

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