I am always amazed at how much I get done on my focused writing days — the days when I leave the office and camp in one of the cafés or restaurants where ambient noise helps me concentrate and write, write, write.
But it’s not my word count that amazes me: it’s all the other stuff I get done while desperately trying to avoid the blank screen, daunting paragraph or elusive synonym. Here’s what a typical hour looks like:
10:00: Check email. Reply to four messages.
10:10: Check Twitter. Retweet something.
10:12 Look at the document I’m working on. Read three paragraphs from my last writing day.
10:16 Check Facebook. Like something.
10:20 Check email. Reply to a message. Remember a related task, and add it to my task manager. Decide it’s easier to just write that memo memo right now, so quickly knock it off.
10:28 Look at my document again. Read another paragraph. Write two more.
10:42 Check email. Reply to a meeting invitation. Google to see if I can find a solution for the calendar syncing issue that’s been bugging me, and fix the problem.
10:48 Write another paragraph
10:57 Brainwave while writing inspires me to tweet something. Look at other tweets while I’m in HootSuite. See a few things to retweet, and schedule them to retweet later.
And so on. OK, so maybe this isn’t the textbook version of “focused” writing, but I am getting a good page written every hour. And while I’m at it I’m also catching up on email, restocking my Twitter queue, and troubleshooting my tech.
I’m such a productive procrastinator, in fact, that it makes me wonder why I schedule any other kin dog work day. If I can get all my tasks done on the days that I’m writing, why don’t I make most days writing days, and fit my tasks into these interstitial moments?
If it weren’t for meetings, I would. So if you have any thoughts on how to make meetings work in 5 minute, between-paragraph increments, please let me know.
I can’t do that. I just can’t. I do it sometimes, but I just can’t do it on a regular basis. My intervals of focus are definitely more on the 30 minutes/1 hour/3 hours mark. You see me online, but you and I know that those are Hootsuite-scheduled tweets. But I am going to try to do this and see if it works. A page a day?
Productive procrastinator – I like it. You just described one of my typical writing hours. In fact I only came across your post while I’m ‘writing’ – in truth reading/emailing – in my local coffee shop! The only meaningful difference between our two approaches seems to be that you’re comfortable with yours! My solution is self-imposed deadline plus timer set for 32 minutes in order to back myself into a corner where I’ll get the job done.
5 minute skype meetings with colleagues can work while we’re both writing/doing other stuff but I find there are an awful lot of long pauses while one of us engages in the task at hand.
Thanks for sharing.