“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” – Kurt Vonnegut
I’ve been going in a hundred different directions lately: work, play, travel, chairing a literary contest, spring gardening, and a multitude of other projects. The other day, a friend called me “superwoman.” I used to like it when people noticed how hard I worked. Now, I hate it. I hate it just for that reason–because it reminds me of how hard I work.
I realize, after a lifetime of perpetuating this pattern, that I “get busy” and take on too many projects when I am trying to AVOID something that I really should be doing. Funny, isn’t it? The thing I should be doing, right now, is writing my book. Why am I doing everything else, then? Because I’ve reached a juncture of sorts, a crisis point, and I can’t see my way through it.
Fortunately, for me, I came across Tim Ferriss’s post today, “Productivity Tips for the Neurotic and Crazy (Like Me)” (and like me). He writes about the dangerous myths of “creative” people and lists several dysfunctional actions of his own (in comparison, they make my “busy-ness” seem boring and lame).
Tim says, “Most ‘superheroes’ are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.” He goes on to say:
“If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note:
- Being busy is a form of laziness-lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
- Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”
To get myself back on track and out of my crazy-making-busy behavior, I’m taking Tim’s advice and writing down the three to five things that make me most anxious or uncomfortable. Then I ask myself “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
If I can answer YES to this question and one more question he lists in his post, then I should block out 2 to 3 hours one day to work on ONLY this project. Let all the little, less-important stuff come later.
The most uncomfortable thing in my writing life right now is, “What is going to happen next in my story?” If I were able to break through this block, it would be a life-changer for me—not only because I may actually finish my work-in-progress but it would give me the confidence that I can be successful, that I can push through my blocks. I’d be expanding my comfort zone and creating “future fuel” for success. Sounds productive, doesn’t it?
Do you have one or two things in your life that feel uncomfortable? Are you avoiding or procrastinating something important?
For more insight on how to increase your productivity, read all of Mr. Ferriss’s article. Then check out his book, “The 4-Hour Work Week.”
For more tips, read my post Stretch your writing comfort zone.