“Just Under the Wire” Productivity

Productivity is a strange concept. We see a lot of articles and books about “becoming more productive.”

It might come as a bit of a surprise to many of my friends (who think I am very productive) that I have come to think of “productivity” as a bad thing.

For me, the problem with productivity is that it is a manufacturing term. It’s a term for the mass-production mindset.  If you made eight yesterday and you made ten today then you must be more productive.  You are somehow, better.

But, did the world need ten more?

How many resources did you use inefficiently in order to get the speed to make ten instead of eight?  Was it worth the waste?

With a grossly over-populated planet and dwindling resources our focus should be on improving the quality and longevity of what we craft.  “Built in obsolescence” should be a curse in our society, an insult of the first magnitude.

So how does this fit into time management?

How often to you race to get the job done? Striving to slide it in – just under the wire?  Did you get ten items off your task list today instead of eight?

But did you – or the world – benefit from getting ten items in just under the wire?

My father used to say, “The job’s not done until you put your tools away.”

I remember him planning changes, buying materials, working steadily.  I remember him occassionally stopping to look at the work he had done – really looking at it.  Finally,  he would touch up one more thing, smile and then begin picking up his tools.  His work lasted decades, not years.  Isn’t that what we really want?  Isn’t that real productivity?

I’d like to offer an alternative to the “super-productive” life. I think it’s time to bring craftsmanship back into our lives.  It’s time to do things the way they need to be done to get them done right.  No more band-aid fixes.  Build beautifully, and build to last.  Let machines make things fast.  People need to make things artfully.

Here’s the “short form” for the key elements in my new book on creating a truly productive life.  I hope to have the first draft finished soon.  It’s been through so many rewrites in my head that if I don’t get it all on paper soon I’m going to smoke my synapses.

1. Think about it.

2. Get the correct resources.

3. Do it right.

4. Smile at a job well done.

5. Put your tools away.

 

OK. I’m back

I’m not sure what the “proper” amount of time one is expected to spend mourning the loss of a parent.  In my case it’s up until now.  No writing, no editing, just the day to day work required to keep my bills and my bank account within waving distance.

Going forward, I think that I will be ok.  I feel like my dad’s presence is still there.  I still hear his advice when I’m contemplating doing something difficult, outrageous, or just plain stupid.  It’s a voice I heard my whole life, whether he was actually there or not.  I don’t expect I’ll ever stop hearing it.  I wouldn’t want to.

My life needs to move on.  I have new stories to tell, lessons I’ve learned to be shared, and new sunrises to see.

He got to read my first novel. He liked it.  The sequel will be dedicated to him.

I think he’d like that too.

First Post in my New Productivity Section!

Well the menu split between this site and my DavidNashBlog.com fiction site is now complete.  This menu system is still a bit crowded, but at least it now clearly spells out what I want to talk about in the non-fiction world. People who are interested in my fiction writing can grab the link to get quickly to the other site.

Today I’d like to take a minute to discuss productivity.  I’ve commented on it a bit in the past, but I have begun a new book on how to take control of your time and make your life more meaningful and enjoyable.  But, I believe that good ideas should be shared.  So I’ve opened a section on this site where I’ll hit on some of the key points and insights from the book.

Today’s topic is one that I never see in any of the time management books I’ve read.  Time tradeoffs.

Time is unlike any other resource you have to manage.  You don’t get back a single moment.  There are no do-overs.  The moment arrives, it passes and it is gone.  Right now, you (like every other person on this planet) are using every single moment of every single day.  Think about it.  You are not going to magically create an extra half hour in your schedule to write a bestseller, or get in shape, or start a new business.  You are going to trade it for some other thing you would normally do.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make in trying to “reschedule” their lives and “become more productive” is thinking they can add to their schedules without giving something else up.  And, unlike a decade ago, we don’t have a lot of “odd moments” during the day where we can pop in progress on a half dozen projects we added to our schedules in the heat of New Year’s resolution fever.

So this year, I have a couple of simple suggestions to make you more successful in completing your goals.

1. Look at all the projects you currently have committed yourself to.  All of them.  Write them down!  Look at the number.  Does it look like you could get them all done?  Most likely you would need to be cloned a half dozen times to accomplish them all.

Now, how many of them could be shelved for a year and nobody would know but you?  Notice I’m not saying you have to give them up; I’m saying could they wait a year?  How about six months?  Give yourself that time.  Clearly renegotiate the goals.  Make a list.  Write down that you will revisit those goals in January 2016.  Put it right in your calendar.

2. Next, look at all the projects other people have committed you to.  How many could you renegotiate?  How many could you hand off to subordinates?  How many simply should not be on your plate at all?  Get rid of them!

Pay attention to people who are using you to accomplish their goals at the cost of your own.  Perhaps it is time to stop blindly taking on every task they ask you to do?

If your boss wants you to do a new project ask him which current project he wants put on hold.  If your schedule is full, (and you know it is) don’t half do jobs, make your boss give you additional resources or put some of your other projects on hold.  A few of these renegotiations and you might find that you have a lot more respect around the office, and you will be getting more quality out of your workday.

3. This is the hard one.  How many projects are you carrying around that you really don’t want to finish, but just feel that you started on them and need to get them done?

The worst type of project is the one you start for yourself and never quite find the time to do.  Be honest with yourself.  Every promise you break to another person lowers your self esteem and your belief that you can get the job done.  But, promising yourself and hiding the fact that you are not getting it done is TWICE the damage.

Put the projects that are not getting done on the “to be reviewed in a year list” or if you have the strength, and it is time, let them go.  I usually encourage people to put them on the list for a year if they are unsure.  It is much easier to let go of a plan to learn to take scuba diving lessons after it has sat for a year and you can see how much progress you have made on other goals.  In fact, sometimes it comes off the shelf and you do it.

If you start by performing the three tasks above then you will find that you can get a lot further with your goals for the New Year.

You can’t lie very well to yourself.  If you don’t have the time for a new project, deep down you know it.  So the first step in any successful new project should be to give yourself the time to accomplish it.

I have a new motto for this year.  You are welcome to use it.

“I don’t have excuses… I get the job done.”

Here’s to a Happy and Successful New Year.

 

First book printing is done!

Well the first book is now out in paperback.  As I may have mentioned I write all my fiction under the name David Nash to make it easier for people to find it on bookshelves.  I have also set up a website — http://www.davidnashblog.com where I am going to cover all the fiction work I do.  You can jump over there now to see the new website and get links to the book and even to the earlier short stories I wrote for Tales of Isgalduin.

I’m also doing a David Nash Facebook page.  I did one before, but messed it up so it needs to be redone.  I’m sure that before everything is completed there will be a David Nash Twitter account and a David Nash Pinterest page as well.

I may end up with a split personality.

Considering how frequently l forget to update this site I have also decided to actually join a blogging group to help keep me on track.  So, in the future I expect to make more regular postings on this and the David Nash site.

Anyway, what are you waiting for?  Jump on over to http://www.davidnashblog.com and take a look at the first book.  Laci Willette did a great job on the cover and you can read an excerpt from the Amazon link to the book.  It’s available for Kindle and can be ordered from both Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon.com

 

Cover for first book nearly complete. Should hit the electronic shelves soon.

Well the cover for the new book is almost done.  Just needs some tweaking and it will be ready to go.  While I wait, I’m fighting the urge to go back to reread and tweak the novel just one more time.

Content edits on the steampunk novel are about 50% complete.  I expect that I will start moving into the rewrite phase sometime next week.  I’ve handed off the cover for that one earlier so that the novel and the cover should arrive within a week of each other.

Moving forward, I am gearing up for work on a non-fiction book on time management.  That one will require a lot more organizational effort, since there is so much ground to cover.  There have been many books written on the subject.  My goal is focus on how to make time management more about managing your time to accomplish what will lead to a happier life and less about managing your time in order to just get more done. 

Any professional time management coach will tell you that there is not enough time for anyone to accomplish all they are capable of.  Good time management skills can make you more efficient at accomplishing tasks.  Great time management helps you focus your efforts on the things that are meaningful to you, and demands that you give yourself due credit for reaching those goals.

First Draft of Steampunk Novel is Complete!

Beat the NaNoWriMo deadline by 24 hours to finish my second novel.  Later this week I’ll collect some of the fun rewards from that writing effort.  But for now, the story goes on two week layover before I begin the first round of edits.

The new novel is steampunk with romance, time travel, a murder mystery, and action adventure.  So I probably have most of the major things covered. Had a lot of fun writing it, even though it was a tough deadline.  I got started a week late because I was cleaning up issues in the first book.

The first novel is currently waiting on a new cover.  My bad.  I recruited the artist far too late.  However, I have every confidence in her ability and I’m making sure that she has a lot more lead time on this next one.

I will begin outlining the third book later this week. It will be a book on getting more fun and productivity out of your time written under my name.  I write non-fiction under my own name because people search for it by topic more than by author name.  For fiction I use David Nash because it is easy to remember.

Also in the works is a collection of short horror stories set in southern Rhode Island by several different authors. (Can’t let Providence have all horror fun!)  I’m putting together a common background for use.  The book will be published by Collins Publishing, the people who are also handling my first novel (and hopefully my second as well.)  I find they have generous terms and also deal with the electronic editions.  If anyone is interested in doing a short story for the horror series you can contact me for the background piece when it is done.  I’ll review stories for consistency with the background but, of course the publisher will get final say on which stories go into the book.

This will likely become a series.  And I’d like to go the Thieves World route, that is you can use each others characters – as long as you don’t kill them, maim them, or take them out of their designer’s context.  (I.e. portray the heroic barbarian as a lying coward).  Anyway, that would not take place until the second book and most writers of horror I know are lucky to have a character alive and sane at the end of their stories.

So, August should be a busy month.  Looking forward to it.

Second novel in the works

Decided to try a NanoWriMo summer camp.  Have to write 50,000 words in the month of July.  Broke the halfway mark on the summer camp yesterday morning.  Not bad considering I started a week late.   Looks like the second novel will be done quite a bit before the 50K mark.  Only a few chapters to go.

My stories tend to “beef up” in editing.  It has to do with the way I write.  I outline the story and then write all the dialog between the characters – ignoring the setting almost completely.  As a result, I stay in active tense throughout the story.  Then I go back and fill in the color.  It adds a lot of text, but it also is a lot slower edit process than many have. It certainly would push me past the NaNoWriMo deadline which is the end of July.

I have three choices.  I can add a new plot twist to the story and get additional words there.  I can start on a second novel (you are not required to only do one book for July, although you are for the November contest). Or, I can fill like crazy on the current novel and ignore any other editing.  All are possible ways to get to 50K.  I’ll keep it in the back of my head while I finish the basic novel today.

Stay tuned.  My solution will be in next weeks exciting blog post!

Story by the way has pretty much everything but the kitchen sink in it.  Sci-fi Victorian Steampunk, with an adventure, a romance, espionage, a murder mystery, time travel paradoxes, and huge aerial combats between giant flying battleships!  Oh yeah!  The Burning Man Festival too.