For the past year, I’ve been experimenting with increasing my productivity. I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts on the topic, read many books, and even checked out a few things on youtube.
The trouble with being a creative adult is finding time to create, maintain the house, workout, make food, etc. The lure of busy work is strong. It’s hard to sit down and make something when your home looks like a bomb hit it, or maybe you have a to-do list with a million non-creative tasks that need to get done.
If I tackled my menial task list or cleaned my house first, then I had no energy to create when I was done. Now, I don’t do one then the other. I handle both to do lists at the same time.
This is my new favorite way to work. I’ve been using it for a few months now and it is by far the best way to tackle a creative session that I have used.
It’s a combo of Pomodoro and best practices for avoiding, or living with, RSI — repetitive strain injuries like tendonitis or carpal tunnel.
Here’s how it works
1) Get a timer. Just type “timer” into the search bar on Google and it’ll pop up, or download an app for it.
2) Make two lists – big tasks and small tasks
– the big tasks are creative tasks and exercise, basically anything that takes 25 mins or longer
– the small tasks are all the annoying chores that need to get done
3) Perform one of the big tasks for the time limit. I need 45 mins for writing since it takes me longer to work with words. For drawing, it’s recommended that you rest every 25 mins for arm health, so that works out well.
4) When the timer goes off, immediately switch to the small task list and do as many as you can in 5-10 mins. The larger movements required in these tasks are perfect for breaking up the smaller movements and stationary position required for drawing.
5) When the timer goes off, immediately switch to the big task list and continue with your creative session.
Once I do about 3-5 cycles, I start to feel very accomplished, and feeling good about yourself helps you create more.
Here’s and example of a rare Saturday work session. I had a whole day free. A weekday session is 1/4 to 1/2 of this. I work like this every night after I get home from my 9-5 job.
What are the extras?
I have an additional feature I like to add onto my lists – the extras. For the “must have” list items, I work very diligently – zero distraction or interruption. Once I’m done with those, I usually grab a tea or a beer and slow way down. If I still have gas in the tank, I’ll pick off a few of the extras, if I’m too tired, I won’t.
What do you think about this way or working? Can you see a way to improve it? Comment below.
If you’d like to get a timer that isn’t on your computer or phone, these might work well for you.
Consequently, there’s also a notebook designed specifically for this purpose! I just found it and I’m getting one. 😀
Edit: 4/6/16 – I now have the notebook and it is epically pink and black polka-dotted. Expect photos of my amazing lists soon!
If you liked this post, you might like these others.
How to Win at Creative Adult – The Two List Method