Friday, September 20, 2013

Do You Produce or Fritter?

I'm reading a fascinating book, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind, edited by Jocelyn K. Glei. It's a compilation of short essays by leaders and creative types.


Hard at Work
photo by stevenaleith

One of the essays, "Scheduling in Time for Creative Thinking," by Cal Newport, discusses how much of our day is wasted on pointless e-mails and other social media interactions. I enjoyed the piece and headed over to his website, CalNewport.com where I came across another great article that really made me think.

"Woody Allen and the Art of Value Productivity" (linked) argues it's not how much time we put into a project; it's how much value we produce from the time we put in. This is true for me.

When I'm mindful about using my block schedule, I produce more value content, whether it's plotting, writing a first draft, revising, or planning my future.

My natural impulse is to check e-mails, pop in on Facebook, send a quick text, and any other "quick and harmless" activity throughout the day. But when I resist, when I focus on my project, I double, even triple my output.

I can interact on Facebook in less than ten minutes. But I often find myself scrolling through for an hour. Does more than ten minutes on Facebook help me reach my current goals? No!

My reality? It's much easier to fritter away my day on "busy" work that produces nothing than to sit down and create something of value.

What is something of value?

For me, it's writing novels.

Last year I used a block schedule to organize my day. Not surprisingly, I accomplished more--much more--than I did when I wasn't being mindful of my time. Summer throws new challenges my way, but now that school is back in, I'm reverting to my block schedule.

My dreams are important. I don't want to fritter this moment away.

Are your dreams worth it to you?

Have a wonderful day!

16 comments:

  1. So worth it! Investing a lot of time in this whole shebang. I don't want to be a fritterer either.

    I pour in intensely when it's time to pour in. Do the same with playing.

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    1. I love the idea of pouring it on when playing. We should!!

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  2. I do best if I stick to a schedule and if I can turn the drudge things into play

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    1. I hear you! I'm better when I set timers for the drudge-y things too. :)

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  3. Yep! My dream is worth it to me. I don't always make the best use of my time, but it's something I'm working a lot on these days. My mom likes to remind me that God gives me the time for the things I have to get done...and I need to be okay with letting the rest of it go. Working on that too. :)

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    1. So true. I don't want to be a work-a-holic, but I do want to accomplish something every day. It's tough to find the right balance.

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  4. I'm looking forward to falling into a routine in the next few months. I thrive on routine. :P I need to be a little more rigid this fall with my schedule. On the other hand, I don't want to be so rigid that I forget to pay attention to the things God wants me to do...even if they're not in my schedule! It's such a balancing act.

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    1. Right! When we're excited about something, we can let it overtake our lives. God doesn't want that either! Good point!

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  5. I recently discovered your blog. I am enjoying it very much. I do have what might be a not so bright question.... What is block schedule? Being a novice writer I thoroughly enjoyed your sharing on the writers conference. Thank you.
    Sandra

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    1. Welcome, Sandra! A block schedule is just deciding what tasks you want to do in the time you have available. For instance, my morning block looks like this: 8-8:30 Bible Study/Pray 8:30-9:30 check e-mails/FB/Twitter/Etc. 9:30-11:30 Write/Plot/Revise. By setting the times, I limit how long I can spend "wasting." It helps me a lot! Not everyone has mornings free, so you can adjust it to whatever time you have. It's flexible!

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  6. Good advice, Jill. I've been focusing on productivity lately and it's really opened my eyes to time wasters that seem only to take a moment of time but can suck up a lot more than that.

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    1. No kidding! I was wasting a lot of time just "checking" in on Facebook and emails. Then I'd wonder why I felt like I got nothing accomplished! Duh! :)

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  7. Great advice, Jill. I'll be honest, because I've been tired, I've frittered a lot and produced nothing. My dreams are important, I WANT TO FINISH MY BOOK. So, even though I have kids home today (inservice day), I'm getting ready to go write for a bit. Thanks for the reminder NOT to get onto Facebook first. :)

    I always appreciate your insights, Jill.

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    1. Jeanne, cut yourself some slack. I downgraded my goals this week because I knew ACFW was exhausting. The thing is--Facebook is fun. I like being there. But it's only fun for so long, you know? :)

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  8. I'm going to link to the post on Friday, 9/27. It's too easy for me to get involved in "busy work" and not produce anything of value.

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