My Favourite Productivity Advice Ever
How can you get that large or neglected creative project done NOW, without the guilt of neglecting everything else?
I don’t use this strategy 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.
It’s powerful but simple – when I want to prioritize a certain project, and get it done as quickly as I can, I do it first and ruthlessly ignore everything else. 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. Most importantly, HOLY CRAP DO NOT CHECK FACEBOOK, TWITTER, OR THE NEWS! This is especially important during stressful times – creativity really does require retreating from the outside world for awhile, and you can’t do this if your brain has decided that there are impending dangers you must immediately attend to.
Fear is the root of creative block, so why subject yourself to it just before getting to work?
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, right now? And why do we feel obligated to give it, too?
Whether you think it’s right or wrong, it’s definitely an obstacle 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 fear of someone getting mad because you didn’t get their text. Doesn’t that seem silly?
What about the fear of missing out on amazing creative discoveries, life-changing inspiration, or the profound epiphanies often experienced with regular creative sessions? It’s all there waiting for you to start paying attention to it.
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 could be the perfect DIY version.
Block off some mornings, even if you have to get up extra early, and make sure everyone knows not to disturb you.
Turn your phone, computer, and any other devices off before bed, and when you wake up, leave them off! Take care of your basic needs, do some meditating, 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 and email off all day, and nothing bad has come of this yet.
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. Time-wasting habits are broken. Anxiety drops down to zero.
Imagine the profound effect of doing this every day, every morning, or even just once a week!
If you hate mornings and are thinking about trying this at night before bed 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 won’t be able to sleep afterward. 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? You deserve it, guilt-free.
- If you are blocked: 7 Methods for Unblocking Your Highest Creativity
- If you feel lazy or unmotivated: Motivation & Inspiration—How to Seriously Love Your Work
- If you feel like a disaster: My Biggest Productivity Fail Ever—And How it Led to a Book Deal