Get Stuff Done.

January 30, 2015 1:21am
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It’s easy for me to start new things, unfortunately to a fault when I’ll have a to-do list filled to the brim with no plan in sight of how to actually finish any of them.

This goes for pretty much everything in my life – writing, work, personal stuff … my life is more or less run by to-do lists, to the point where I often find myself spending more time managing said lists than I do actually completing and getting things off of them.

And that’s a problem! But it’s a problem that I’m aware of, and I’m trying to do better at it.

It’s especially painful when I look at some of my lists now and can single out a dozen or so tasks that might take less than five minutes a piece … reason asks why in the world I didn’t just do the task when I was putting it on the list! Of course, there are some valid excuses – like maybe it’s a writing idea that I literally got at 3:30am and noted down from the comforts of my pillow, or maybe I was in the middle of working on a much larger task at the time and didn’t want to interrupt myself.

Either way, now it’s going to take me an hour to blow through all twelve of them in one shot, which is a much grander feat than simply knocking out a few simple things here and there.

I think a bigger part of doing this better in 2015, though, is simply in identifying one or more of the larger tasks in a given list and saying, “I’m going to get one or two of those done today – no matter what.” so that in theory at the end of the day I can always look back and say that at least I did that as opposed to a few random things here or there, but nothing really of any substance that’ll make me feel good about circling back to the list to begin again tomorrow.

There have been far too many days in the past couple of weeks when I go to bed feeling that I was completely and utterly unproductive with the time that I was given, so maybe instead of just incessantly making lists and getting a little done on a few of them, my time might be better spent just honing in one less things and following them through all of the way ’til the very end.

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Spent a good couple of hours wrapping gifts this evening – no wonder the wife stopped after she had taken care of the ones for her side of the family! What you see here is mostly done, divvied out into more or less three piles in preparation for shipping up to New York and West Virginia and Michigan. We’re still waiting on a few more packages from the likes of eBay and Amazon, scheduled to hopefully arrive on Thursday.

According to the website, we’ve technically got until Saturday to ship via priority mail and have these puppies beat Santa to their respective trees of destination. I’m actually hoping to get them all in the mail on Friday, both to give us a little wiggle room and because we’re heading over to Disney this weekend, so we’ll see…

I don’t even want to think about how much shipping is going to cost for all of this stuff!!!

Late Night Distractions

April 9, 2013 12:24am
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Sometimes you’re really productive and get all sorts of writing done, and sometimes you end up spending half the night watching people sing surprisingly fun covers of songs on YouTube… 😉

Internet, Take Note!

December 15, 2012 1:09pm
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This may very well be the only productive thing that I do today…

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Prioritizing My Mind

August 7, 2012 2:31pm
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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to put some other things on hold in order to get through the rest of this month in one piece.

I’m very much not happy about it, but the truth of the matter is I’ve just got way too much on my plate right now and nothing is getting done while I sit around and stress about not having enough time to spread around.

I’ve got a project that was supposed to be done a week ago, and another that I wanted to relaunch soon.

I’m way behind on my writing in all sorts of different capacities.

And oh yeah, I’ve also got this house that I just bought that I’m trying to move into!

P.S. Also, diet & exercise.

It’s just too much, so I’m picking a couple of things at a time and as I make my way through those, then I’ll get back to work on something else. It’s probably going to mean more stress later trying to tie up loose ends come year’s end, but right now it’s really all that I can do.

Moving & Overdue Project #1 – you’re up, with writing catch-up and diet & exercise on deck after them…  😐

Don’t mind if I do!

You like how I rhymed that and everything for ya?

I still can’t believe that summer’s here already – it honestly feels like we were just getting over the Christmas hump yesterday, so you mean to tell me that in another six months it’ll be time to do it all over again?! Well, I do love me some Christmas, so as long as I can manage to get a few … well, a lot of things done by then!

Even though I’m still a day or two away from finally closing the book on that gigantic, ridiculously demanding project that managed to derail the first part of 2012 for me, in a way I’m already looking ahead to the weeks to come and trying to plot out what I’m going to focus on next once this thing is finally in the books. It’s something that I normally try to avoid because I have a bad tendency to hop around between projects a lot and as a result, I might get 50% through three or four things instead of just all-out finishing one or two…

…but this time I’m feeling a little better about it, I think because the next few things on my list are orders of magnitude more manageable than this last one was, so when I put down a few tasks to do each day, that’s literally the entire project as opposed to being part #37 of section C of BIG PROJECT X that just seems to have really no end in sight! Which I’m hoping will be a nice change because I should see things start to pick up just a bit and getting more things out the door as opposed to simply churning the same over and over is definitely preferable.

I’ve also got several things in the pipeline that are relatively new for me, whether it’s something completely new that I’ve never even dabbled in before or even something that I’ve been away from for so long that I guess it just feels like a fresh face. It can be tough when you work on one single thing for such a long time that you kinda start to get sick of it and just yearn for anything else in the world to focus on instead of that thing that you’re supposed to be doing! Hopefully there won’t be too much of that vibe as I launch this new site in the next couple of days because I do still need to write for it on a weekly basis, though not having the huge list of article backlogs and features to develop will be a welcome change!

So anyways, I really wish that I could say more about specifically what I’m looking forward to working on in the next couple of months, but at least know that I’m pretty excited about each of them and that more importantly, their development cycles should all be a lot shorter so you’ll actually get to start seeing stuff that I’m creating throughout the summer instead of waiting 18 months like has been the case as of late…  😳

Busy busy summer, but let’s bring it on!

I’ve kind of been in a bit of a rut lately.

If you’re a fan of my creative works, you may have noticed that some of them haven’t been updating lately as they should. Basically, I let myself fall behind on some stuff over the last month or so in order to focus on some other entirely different projects, and now that said projects are officially behind me, I’m just having a really hard time getting back into the swing of things again.

In a way, I am glad that I did it because it was a project that I really needed to get done earlier in the year so that it has time to build momentum on its own, though I wish I hadn’t had to sacrifice my timeliness because now it feels like I’m underwater with my other stuff, which I think sometimes makes it even harder because seeing a dozen columns to work on is a lot more daunting than saying, “I guess I’m a week behind or so…”

I just need to power through it – quarantine off one or two things at a time and just focus on those, then keep going until I get through the entire pile. It’s tough to tune out all of that background work because sometimes it makes it that much harder for me to get into the creative mindset that I need to be funny, but it’s really the only way! I need to get going and I need to plow through the things consistently so that I can actually finish up and move on to other stuff before the next week’s column just adds itself to the pile! A little at a time, but a lot at the end of the day and even more by the end of the week…

In fact, I could probably be working on one of those things right now!  😕

Progress & Productivity

March 26, 2012 4:51pm
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Even though it feels like it flew by way too fast, I feel like I had a pretty productive weekend.

We were going to go over to Disney again, but bailed at the last minute due to concerns about the weather and just ended up staying home. My wife picked up a copy of The Hunger Games and read it pretty much cover-to-cover, so I had loads of time to catch up on various creative projects and clear out some things that have been bogging me down for a while. I ended up finishing off two specific projects that have been on my list since god knows how long, and as I look ahead to what I want to tackle next, something very apparent hit me square in the face – I am absolutely horrible at setting timelines for my creative tasks!

Take the two that I had just finished up this weekend, for instance:

  • Task #1 – originally estimated to take “1-2 weeks” … final result: 4 weeks!
  • Task #2 – originally estimated to take “a few hours” … final result: 10-12 hours!

I’m just really bad at estimating how long these things take, sometimes even to the point where I think it might be hurting me in the long run because I’ll build out a timeline for the next six months and then find myself increasingly frustrated as I pass deadlines where I’m supposed to be moving on to other things and instead am still only halfway through the first. I’ve thought about just taking my original estimate and doubling it, but that seems a bit drastic when I’ve got some that are expected to take months, though I’d prefer them not to take up my entire year…

Then again, a big part of productivity in general, I think, is really a sanity factor and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about improving the quality of my work by means other than just dumping loads of time into it (i.e. getting more rest and relaxation), and so to an extent I guess part of me wonders if stress could ultimately play a role in that process, too. I remember hearing a story once about an auto repair shop who would always quote its customers as much as double the amount of time that they needed to do the actual job. The reason they cited was expectations – if you call a customer and tell him you need another hour, he’s probably going to be disappointed, however if you call to say that you finished the work early, that’s something to be excited about and ultimately helps to better promote their business because then they’ve got customers walking around saying that this shop always gets their car in and out ahead of schedule!

Granted, it might take a little getting used to – especially if you’ve got other shops to compare the work to, but in something like my case when it’s all just in my head, why not add a little extra padding to my own expectations of time spent? Worst case scenario, I end up needing every bit of that time and just make it at the buzzer, but admittedly it always feels good to finish early!

*Ahem* – almost always…

…perverts…

…I think I’m just going to go ahead and get back to work now…  😛

I came across this interesting article today that really resonated with me regarding productivity and the idea that more time worked doesn’t necessarily translate directly into more work completed on a one-for-one basis.

It’s a problem that no doubt anyone in the professional world has had to face – bosses pushing people to work overtime more and more regularly instead of hiring additional workers to keep up with demand – although I can say without a doubt that I’ve seen it with my own personal creative work just the same. And if you strictly look at the input and refuse to consider the ultimate output, it seems like it should make sense – more time that has already been paid for (i.e. salaried workers don’t get overtime) results in more work for the same cost to me!

Or in my case, I’m only one person, so my own time is the only currency that I have and the more that I pump into creating my work, the better … right???

Up to a point, yes.

The studies cited show that for pretty much any type of work (but even more so for knowledge/creative-type work), one’s productivity steadily decreases after you surpass about 8 hours per day/40 hours a week, so as to say that if each day in a week is worth 20% of your work, adding an extra workday on the weekend doesn’t automatically result in 120% productivity for that week. In addition, if sustained over longer periods of time, the overall productivity in general starts to drop, in that 48 hours of work might only yield 60-80% of what a standard, 40-hour work week once gave you in the past because, well, people are only human and most of us need things other than just work in our lives, be it family time, exercise, recreation, sleep … and if you deprive a person of those other things for long enough, his overall quality of life starts to suffer and as a result, the piece that you as an employer actually care about takes a hit, too…

In particular, the two that I run up against with my writing most often are #1 – sleep, and #2 – family time, because I have a ton of things that I need to get done trying to get my business off the ground and thus it just eats up ridiculous amounts of my time, although after reading this study it almost makes me want to re-evaluate the pacing of my strategy just a bit to see if ultimately I would end up being more productive by spending less time actually working. Re-reading that sentence, it sounds absolutely bonkers, but it actually kind of makes sense – if I spend 4 hours spinning my wheels trying to solve a problem one night that on a clear head I could’ve tackled in half the time, it’s actually a net gain for everybody because my problem still gets solved and my wife and puppy get a few hours with me instead of me staying locked in the office all night by myself running on empty. Of course, it’s tough to quantify those types of gains even in hindsight, but just recently I can think of at least a couple examples where I was fighting a problem literally for hours on end, only to come back later with a fresh look and realize that I had actually solved it long ago and just didn’t realize that my results had actually been correct the whole time!

I should also note that I’ve actively seen this ring true specifically when I’m trying to write things, too – the creative part of my brain doesn’t do well at all on little sleep … until it reaches a state of fuck all and decides to just crap any old thing out for the sake of letting me go to bed, anyways … but as for real quality work, I not only need to be rested to be able to write well, but it also actually helps when I’ve spent some time recently doing other fun things that aren’t work because it actually makes me look forward to writing as a release instead of just seeing it as another tick on my checklist of things to do. Besides, if I stay locked away too long, chances are I start to run out of things to write about altogether, which is really no good, either…

Granted, it’s an unfortunate truth, both for the creative entrepreneur juggling to do everything all by himself and for managers the world over who’ve got budgets to meet and find it easier to tell Johnson he’s working over the weekend than tell his boss that they can’t meet such-and-such arbitrary deadline, but at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding and if your workers are still face down in said pudding when you come in the next morning, I suppose that’s probably a sign that something somewhere needs to change! 😉

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