“I was inspired by how smooth and solid Jim Gaffigan was at Oddball Fest. What a f—king pro. Made me mad and then motivated. Which is better than mad and self defeating.” – Marc Maron, WTFPod Dispatches
Before I wrote this post, I had no idea what I was going to write about. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, nor will it be the last, but the fact is I have a ton of ideas and things I could write about.
I could have written about the latest iOS and how its release can help you be more productive. But I found reasons not to do that, seeing as that has been covered in so many other places on the Internet. I could have expanded on the idea of “versioning” some more. I could have written about a lot of things. So what did I do instead of writing about any of those things?
I “productively procrastinated.”
I did the dishes. I did some advanced meal preparation. I emailed my personal trainer to let him know my right shoulder was bugging me and that I needed to take a break from sessions to heal – despite the fact that my next session was a couple of days away. I did everything I could do to – as my friend Michael Schechter puts it – “crap rationalize” that what I was doing had just as much merit as writing for Productivityist. As a result, this post took longer to take shape.
Once I woke up from that false perspective – the perspective that the other stuff was more of a distraction at the time than anything else – I got mad at myself. Then I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get back on the horse – the right horse. I was motivated.
The problem is, in order for that motivation to have a chance to thrive and be sustained I needed to make sure I had something to rely on to help with that. So here’s what I did:
- I reviewed Todoist and honestly evaluated what I needed to do that would keep me on the right track. The label “writing” helps me with that, but the filters I use called “Weekly High Energy Writing” and “Weekly Low Energy Writing” are even more helpful.
- I physically wrote down the three things I needed to do to keep the momentum going. I use a separate notebook for this than my usual Field Notes capturing notebook. The larger Field Notes Arts & Sciences are ideal for this because they are larger. I tend to use these ones for sketchnoting these things because once I craft them in a sketchnoted style (hat tip to Mike Rohde and his new book The Sketchnote Workbook) they carry more weight for me. Occasionally I’ll use some of my Evernote Post-It Notes for this exercise, but the key for me is to use something different than my usual capture notebook.
- I close everything except Scrivener and I start writing. Thanks to the Learn Scrivener Fast course I purchased, I’ve really learned to leverage Scrivener in ways I never thought possible, and now I have a central writing hub that I use for all of the writing I do on my Mac. (When I’m on my iPad, I use Editorial. Its ability to sync via Dropbox allows for me to continue writing in Scrivener on my Mac later.)
After I’ve done this bit of “motivational triage,” I’ll look at my processes and adjust them accordingly. This time was no different.
No longer will I write so close to the edge. I was writing that way so that I could seem more timely with my work, so I made adjustments to make sure that argument wasn’t as strong as it tried to be. I’ve moved my Productivityist Newsletter writing task to Mondays for Sunday delivery. Blog posts will be written on Friday and Tuesday. And other writing (books, for example) will take place pretty much every day in some form or another.
I’ll try this new method and see how it fares. If it fails to deliver, I’ll adjust again. My workflow is both static and evolving, which is why it is called “workflow.”
It’s when I have these moments of being mad followed by being motivated that I make adjustments to keep the anger from rearing its ugly head so often. I know that I’ll trip up, but I also know that I’ve at least got a roadway that I can get back on when I do. And like any roadway, it needs maintenance…and I’m the road crew.
So when you find yourself in a situation where you’ve let yourself down, don’t get mad…get motivated and build a workflow that helps you stay motivated. It’s much better than getting even – because it actually gets you ahead.
(Note: A variation of this post appeared in the Productivityist Weekly Newsletter in September. If you’d like to see content like this week’s before it can be viewed on the blog, click here. Keep in mind that not all content from the newsletter makes its way to the blog, so sign up if you want to get exclusive and first shot at some of my work.)