There’s a lot of talk about productivity these days. And rightly so. Who wants to waste precious time? But productivity should be a customized strategy. There are a lot of great tools and methods out there to write faster, get more out of your day, and produce more books. The bottom line? Find productivity strategies that fit your personality and your energy patterns and you’ll have the optimum solution. Here’s how that worked for me.
Many authors work at home—I am one of them. When I made a decision to leave my rented office space in 2013 and move home, there were a lot of changes to make. And my first priority was evaluating my productivity.
My office complex had open and closed hours. Sometimes I like to work at 3 AM. I was subject to the sounds of other offices—a distraction that was tough for me as I am not a headphone or ear bud person. I wanted to remodel my business to whittle down my consulting hours and build up my writing and online class creation hours. That change was going to mean less income in the short run. So I weighed the pros and cons of moving home and decided it was time to give up my outside office. Next step, I needed a new plan. So I started researching the concept of time management.
Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
I sometimes sleep odd hours. My highest creative energy is early morning. Most mornings that means getting up at 4 AM—sometimes a little earlier. Before you gasp, I should tell you I am usually in bed by 8 PM. I love the morning and I need the flexibility to get up—in my pajamas—and work when I am most productive.
I plotted my highest energy times of the day against my most important tasks and I was amazed at how much more I got done. This is a method I had learned reading The Power of Full Engagement. I teach this method of energy management in the free online course that goes with my new book, The Newbie’s Guide To Sell More Books With Less Marketing. You would be amazed at how different your day is when you plan your tasks according to high and low energy times.
I like to work in project slots. I use Kanban Flow to order my day and I work by time blocks or slots. Some mornings I get going and work past my 8:00 workout time but most mornings I take a break to work out. My brain just works better that way. When I was in the office I had to workout before I went in to work. I also like to take brief walks or go in my kitchen or do some house work on occasion. It clears my head. Tough to do at the office.
I have two desks now. I used to have a nice big “U-shaped” desk at the office. When I came home I tore it apart and made a standing desk and a sitting desk. I go back and forth between the two. I like the flexibility. I also like to look out my window and think—something I couldn’t do at the office. I did have a window but only had a view of the sky. Here I look out on my yard. I know it’s weird but I like to watch the birds.
My home office set up gives me what I call lifestyle juice. I’ve always had flexibility but now it seems that I am more able to take a break in the middle of the day to go for a walk, go to the grocery store, or go to coffee with a friend because I am not trying to get the most out of my “8 to 5” office space. Has it made me more productive? Yes. The only downside: I rarely get dressed in professional attire any more. More of my closet is taken up with workout and casual clothes. That’s okay—it’s a change I gladly make to be able to be happier in my work space.
Where is your productivity sweet spot?