Tuesday 5th May 2020

Productivity is always a massive struggle.  Even the most productive people have days when they feel off or don’t get much done.  One of the reasons I like systems so much, is that they are there to support you rather than lead you.  I find when I’m being productive I, ironically, use my systems less.  Times when I feel my productivity is off, they’ve been a useful way to get myself back on track.

I think I have task management pretty much under control now.  Doesn’t mean I get all my tasks done or don’t procrastinate, but it does mean the structures are there to support me if I get to a stage where I have a ton of tasks to juggle and need to get organised.

What’s new this year is planning.  I’ve never really liked planning.  There’s an unpredictability to the future that means the concept of planning always seems a bit redundant to me.  Why plan for a future you couldn’t predict.  I mean, who could have predicted lockdown 6 months ago?

But, I found my writing improved when I started planning so why should that be any different to my task organisation.

I’ve gone easy with myself over this, allowing myself to find my way as this is both new and unfamiliar, but I’m starting to find some structure.

I have my big year goals, and objectives to meet those goals that typically span a quarter or two.  My tasks would then hook into those objectives.  Goals and Objectives are fairly new to me.

So for example, writing a new book and getting it to my agent might be a goal.  A first draft, a rewrite, a beta read, etc, might be objectives.  Writing a chapter might be a task.

As part of my task management, I do something called a weekly review.  I do this every Monday.  The idea behind this is to go over everything I haven’t done, decide if it’s still needed, whether it needs to be changed or broken into smaller tasks.  I then reschedule the task.

I’ve expanded the weekly review.  I now create the template for the following week and note any events from my calendar.  I’ll then go into the template for the current week, and decide what the focus should be.  At the moment this would normally be something like work on the novel, but I’ve got a busy week this week filled with personal stuff so it’s been something else this week.

Based on the week ahead and the following week, I decide which objectives I need to focus on.  I’ll make a note of any challenges.

I’ll also go into the previous week and look at what I set there.  I look at the objectives I assigned myself for that week and decide whether I progressed them or not.  I’ll also note what my challenges and minor wins were.  At first, I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure about this but as I’ve done it for a few weeks now, I’m starting to see the benefit of being able to look for patterns, of taking 20-30 mins out of my week to see what’s working and what’s not and make adjustments.

There’s an additional stage to this where I will then go and create tasks for anything I need to get done this week in order to help those objectives.

It’s not perfect, and it’s not supposed to be.  However, what I am finding is that despite really challenging times, and days when I feel I’m absolutely unproductive, I’m making steady progress.

It’s not always about being super-productive every day, it’s about being able to quickly recover and keep on track.  Despite how I feel some days, I honestly think I’ll look back at this time and be impressed with just how much I’ve got done.

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Past Years: 2019 – The Year of Soldiering Through | 2018 – The Year of Priorities | 2017 – The Year Of The Offensive