My Favourite Productivity Tip Ever
I think I'm supposed to call this a "productivity hack," but I'm not going to. It's not really hacking anything. It's actually so simple and obvious that it's almost annoying.
I don't use this every day, but I do use it when I'm writing a book, have a deadline approaching, or just want some extra strength immersion in that intoxicating buzz of creative flow. Maybe I should though. Not just for productivity, but the enjoyment of it too.
It's powerful but simple—when I want to prioritize a certain project, I do it first. This means scheduling a time, preferably right upon waking up, and not doing anything else unless completely necessary. No computers or phones or even talking to anyone if not needed.
Many great writers and artists have sworn by this. And it makes a lot of sense.
We're so used to the hyper-connectedness of our society that it almost seems wrong to unplug. People expect you to always be available to them, and to respond quickly. But does that mean you have to? Perhaps this is a belief worth questioning. Why do we feel entitled to each other's attention, time, and energy? And right now? And why do we feel obligated to give it?
Whether you think it's right or wrong, it's definitely a problem for a self-motivated creative. You could be neglecting the most important work of your life, just because of something like FOMO, someplace like Twitter. Or someone getting mad because you didn't get their text. Doesn't that seem silly?
What about the fear of missing out on your amazing creative discoveries, the biggest inspiration of your life, or the profound epiphanies often experienced with regular creative sessions? It's all there waiting.
With creative work, there's something special about being totally unplugged, waking up early, and getting right to it before anyone or anything interferes. I'm not a morning person at all, but I will wake up enthusiastically for this. Without coffee. It's life-changing.
If you dream about going on a creative retreat, this can be an easy DIY version.
Block off some mornings, even if you have to get up extra early, and make sure everyone knows not to disturb you (or worry that you seem to have disappeared from civilization).
Turn your phone, computer, and any other devices off at night, and when you wake up, leave them off! Do some meditating or journaling or whatever rituals you need to do to be ready to work, then begin your creative project. Leave your devices off until you're satisfied with your work session.
Sometimes for me this means leaving my phone off all day.
Obviously if your task involves your computer or another device you can use some common sense here—maybe you can power up your laptop and leave the internet off, or at least stay signed out of email. Be strict, for your own sake.
Not only do I survive when I go whole days without my phone and email, but I feel like a new person. The usual stream of inspiration becomes an all-encompassing cloud of creative power. Imagine the profound effect of doing this every day—or even just every week.
If you hate mornings and are thinking about trying this at night instead, here is my word of caution: if you are truly in a state of flow while creating, you might find that your brain is so stimulated that you just won't be able to sleep at all. This side-effect of creativity is a great advantage if you decide to try a morning session though! Especially if you're excited about your work (which you should be).
Do you give enough time and space your creative life to bloom? Do you prioritize the work that is most important to you? What could you be missing?
If you aren't excited about what you do, or have trouble getting into that energized and inspired state of creative flow whenever you need it, you might want to try my step-by-step guide, Create Now.
Rather than tucking it all away in books or paid courses, I would love to keep this information flowing freely to everyone. Doing this takes takes real time, energy, and money though, so if you would like to support this work you may help by buying my book or leaving a donation. If spending money isn't an option, that's okay! Sharing my work with your friends would be great too.