I have a huge backlog of work to get done this year. Why I have this backlog is a long story, worthy of a thick novel or at least a dramedy mini-series, but let’s just leave it at: Other Things Claimed Front Burner.
This backlog includes ideas that have been tinkered with and expanded into “viability” status as well as some I’ve started and – for various reasons – stopped over the past few months. Wait, did I say months? Haha, I meant to say years. And, sad to say, a few of these have been sitting on my “get this done” list for a decade or more.
These projects include scripts (features, shorts, and TV series), novels (including sequels and 5+-book series), script-to-novel conversions, nonfiction books, ebooks, and guided journals. And then there are various production projects: booklets, calendars, coloring books, greeting cards, jewelry lines, and hand-sewn crafts. Not kidding about those last two. I love handcraft work.
That’s a lot to aim for this year, and I have every intention of blasting through this backlog. But the question is: What’s the best way, short of scheduling my headaches? (Which, by the way, I am perfectly willing to do in the interest of efficiency.)
I bent thought on this matter and came up with the following five decisions – call them resolutions if you must, though I intensely dislike the term – to ramp up my productivity in Year Double-Two. Feel free to borrow any or all of these decisions for your own backlog.
- Unplug. When I say “unplug,” I don’t mean never going online. That’s not even doable. Seriously, how would the bills get paid? No, I mean just spending less time scrolling through posts that, by and large, add nothing to my life. Oh sure, there’s the occasional brilliant insight I wouldn’t want to miss, not to mention keeping up with family and friends. Those are the exact reasons I got involved with social media to begin with. But we all know what a time-suck social media can be. My plan is to check twice a day – morning and evening – and otherwise put my computer on airplane mode.
- Track My Progress. How do I know if I’m getting ahead unless I keep track and do a review? Well, that question answers itself. And it does so with charts and checklists, most of which are simple (the best!) and effective. I’ll share those in the coming weeks.
- Practice Flexible Pivoting. Many of my projects are long-term (novels and scripts don’t get done in a week unless you’re Sylvester Stallone*), and sometimes it’s hard to immerse into one project through its entirety. At least it is for me. So, what I need to do is be able to turn attention to another project (short- or long-term) and work on that. Then, when I get sparked on the previous project again, I can turn back to it. The key is to stay as productive as I can for as long as I can – and to be able to jump from one to the other with ease. This might take some practice, which I’ll note in my progress charts (see #2 above).
- Take Naps. Not kidding about this one. Daily R&R is a great way to get refreshed and renewed, at least until the powers-that-be determine we can board cruise ships again. An afternoon snooze has been determined – scientifically, I mean, not just from me doing surveys with myself – to be beneficial. Besides, I’m a morning person, and here’s the cool thing: When I take a nap, I get two mornings out of a day. Quite efficient.
- Celebrate Every Little Thing. This might be the most important of all efforts to be productive. No need to wait until “The End” or “Fade Out” – I’m going to dance around my office when I finish a scene or complete the prototype of an earring design. If I set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day, but can complete only 250 one day – so what? I won’t beat myself up for not hitting 1,000. (I don’t work well for someone who beats me up on a bad day, even if it’s me I’m working for.) I’ll high-five myself for getting those 250 words done.
I’ll share my progress, good and bad, throughout this year, along with charts, checklists, and other cool tools I come across or create. Stay tuned for updates.
* Word has it Stallone finished “Rocky” (the first one) in nine days. I salute him.