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January 3, 2013

2013: The Year of Efficiency

In an effort to streamline my work habits and reclaim my productivity, I've had to result to drastic measures: SPREADSHEETS.

Yes, the very word gives me gut-twisting anxiety, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

I'm a writer who likes to keep very liberal deadlines. If I expect that it will take me six or eight months to complete a book, I ask for a twelve-month deadline in my contract. My brain can take a vacation day here and there. I can let the book "breathe" a little before I go back in for edits and rewrites. I can relax and try to enjoy the process instead of feeling like I'm ducking the executioner's blade.

All of this cushion built into my deadlines does come with a downside: I turn into a complete and utter slacker until the pressure is on. Why? Because apparently that's when I get serious and build some real structure into my routine.

Well, I've resolved to clean up my act in 2013. I'm doing that by keeping meticulous logs of my working hours, including:
  • start time
  • starting word count
  • end time
  • ending word count
  • average words per hour
  • work location (home, cafe, parked car, etc.)

With these logs, I will (after some time, of course) be able to spot when and where I am able to work most efficiently and then reorganize my schedule to reap the benefits of those hours. At this early stage in the game, I'm pretty sure that I've been wrong about what I assumed was my peak productive time for several years. Uh-oh...

Talk about forehead-smacking embarrassment! I've been struggling against myself all that time. My brain can't help but wonder how much more I would have been able to complete if I had been working smarter instead of harder (and more frenzied.)

Have you ever made a lab rat of yourself and monitored your habits and progress this way? If so, I'm dying to hear about what you learned. If not, how about joining me in this experiment for the month of January and  seeing where it leads you?

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