Several years ago I saw David Allen, the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) guru, speak at a leadership conference, and he said some things that have resonated with me:
- There is chaos and clutter in your head. (I need to remember to get milk on the way home. Did I feed the dogs? Johnny has football practice today. That presentation is due this week.)
- Your head must be clutter-free in order to be productive and use creative energy.
So I created a modified version of his system in OneNote for writing ideas and to-do’s down several years ago. I started a similar approach when I first started my blog almost a year ago, but over the summer I just quit writing. Now mind you, I recognize that this is really still a half-hearted online journal at this point, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, people! So after this prolonged
writer’s block absence, this past week I decided it was time to write again, as I made a concerted effort to write AND post. So after several months, what changed?
“Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.”
This past summer I was feeling lost and feeling insecure that my writing wasn’t good/entertaining/relevant enough. My youngest child graduated high school and we were spending the summer preparing for her big move into the college dorms – good potential writing material! While focused and goal-driven at work, when it came to this blog I was less than focused. And then last week I read a couple of articles on Creative Thinking and Writing Books and Blogs and received the virtual kick in the pants I needed. I was motivated try some new strategies, structure, and focus. I rolled up my sleeves and just started writing.
Taking the “Done is Better than Perfect” attitude, I decided to post past drafts rather than keeping them in my OneNote folders for only my eyes to
dwell over see. Yes, some of the content was written some time ago, but it was a way of getting some of the chaos out of my head to make room for some new creativity. I had already spent some time on these ideas, so I just needed to make a few more edits and post.
~ Diana Scharf Hunt
Setting Realistic Goals
Countless authors on productivity and leadership have written about goal-setting. Keith Ferrazzi summed it up by saying that goals should be specific, believable, and challenging. The article about writing suggested dividing your writing up into ideas, drafts, and edits and tackling one bucket per day.
- My original goal last year for my blog was to post content one day per week. Specific and challenging, but not believable! I needed a goal that was attainable and realistic in order to stay motivated. After all, I was still in the throes of fibro-flare central but wanted to Get Things Done!
So here’s how I approached jump-starting my writing this past week:
- My goal this week was to come up with new ideas for topics, develop ideas I already had in my notebook, and post as many days this week as I could. Somewhat specific, definitely challenging, and best of all…Believable!
- I renamed my OneNote folders to match Ideas, Drafts, and Edits. I felt more productive already!
- I dusted off some ideas and drafted and edited them into content with links and some pictures. Hey maybe I am onto something. I am making progress!
- I posted and posted and… You get the picture. Post one in the win column.
Overall, I would say I have been successful at achieving my short-term goal. This exercise has served as a springboard to reaching my original goal of posting regular, purposeful content weekly. So what’s next? Continue this approach while writing about what inspires and motivates me, and develop more planned content and a real vision for the blog. For now I believe that as I continue to write, my writing will improve, my content will become more relevant, and my vision will become clear. I know they say “Begin with the end in mind” but sometimes starting is half of the battle. So here are my tips for getting started on a project when you are struggling a little bit:
- Clear the chaos from your head and jot everything down in a system that works for you – To Do Lists, Journals, Online Notebook
- Now your mind can open up for creative thinking. Look around you for inspiration.
- Set goals that are challenging, yet believable. Small wins help you stay motivated.
- Just get started. Working through the process is OK. Remember, small wins!
- Celebrate your success!
What goals have you achieved lately? Do you have some strategies for writing and developing content that you would like to share? I would love to hear what works for you.
P. S. The strategy of writing things down to clear the chaos and clutter from your head also works wonders when you are having trouble sleeping. I started doing that earlier this year, after working a tornado response for several weeks, and have used it several times since.