Friday, August 30, 2013

A Productivity Note

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

This post will be short and sweet because…I’ve gotten a little behind with everything this week.  :) And the odd thing is that this is back to school week, so you’d think I’d be getting tons of stuff done.
But no.  And yesterday, I had to sit down and assess where I was going wrong. Why was I scrambling to finish up writing-related tasks like promo?  Why was supper a last-minute effort? Why did I keep forgetting milk at the store?  What on earth was different?
Well, what was different was that the kids were back in school.  But it’s not quite the same as last year.
Last year…all the years, actually…I’ve driven my son’s carpool to school and back.  I sat in the carpool line and typed half of my word goal each day in that line.  And now—my son is driving himself to school. 
I’m still driving my daughter’s carpool, but not every afternoon.  That school lets out later than my son’s school, too. 
So my schedule changed and that messed me up.
Another place where I went wrong—in the afternoons, I felt so lost by not heading off to the high school to sit in the carpool line that each day this week I asked myself, “What should I be doing right now?”
And the answer each time was: “I have no idea.  Maybe I should check my email.”
Wrong!  Checking email is never the right answer to that question.  :)  Email is a tremendous time-suck for me.
What I did instead yesterday was to make a list of what I needed to do.  I’d made a list in the morning, but I’d checked those things off.  What I need now, apparently, is a separate afternoon list.  So I wrote it up.  The most pressing things were to proofread a teaser chapter that I was on deadline for, find and schedule links for Twitter, and then pull that laundry out of the dryer before the stuff started wrinkling (there’s not a lot of ironing going on in my house).  Checking email was not on this list.
So, for me anyway, even small fluctuations in a schedule have an impact. If I lose productivity, then I need to figure out where I’m going wrong. 
And lists…one list may not be enough to carry me through a whole day.  Because when I finish the stuff on my morning list—heck, I might just pull up my emails and lose an hour or more.
Do you ever have to reassess when to fit your writing in?  And do you rely on lists as much as I do?