On dormant blogs and completing projects

August 5th, 2008 • 3 min read #Meta #productivity

I am currently ramping up to reinvigorate my blog / online presence / personal brand / social media strategy, etc. etc.

What you are seeing on my blog today is a temporary placeholder until I can officially "relaunch."

I've recently moved to the East Coast (Somerville, MA) and have been doing some Big Thinking about where I'm going with my work, life, etc. Part of this is a renewed emphasis on ego-building online. It's easier now than ever, and I'm really exhausted by seeing uninteresting people have all the fun.

However, as an antidote to my bad habits of taking on too many low-value projects and passive aggressively making the last 20% of ongoing projects drag on and on, I have been trying to implement Cal Newport's idea of a completion-centric productivity. In a nutshell:

  1. Make a list of the areas of your life (ex. Professional, Relationships, Physical)
  2. Under each category, brainstorm on all the projects you have going on for that "sphere" of your existence.
  3. Identify the top 1 or 2 in each category that, if you finished them w/in 2 weeks, would make the most positive impact (however you'd like to measure that). Break down large projects into mini-projects that will take around 2 weeks to finish. I aimed for 8 or so projects.
  4. Create a worksheet listing of these projects. (Excel worked well for this) Next to each project, identify a completion criteria. This is a narrative that describes what your world will look like when that project is finished and out of your hair forever. (hint: write this in the past test. ex: "I submitted the article proposal to the editor.")
  5. Print this out and carry it with you everywhere. This is your script for the next 2 weeks. You have to adopt a mentality that no matter what happens, you will make as much forward progress towards completion on these projects as you can every single day. At the end of 2 weeks, you should have completed every single project on that list.
  6. If other project ideas come up (and they will tempt you over and over), you need to put them in a holding bin. Nothing new can come on your list. If you are in the thick of it and don't have your act together, trust me, new stuff can wait a couple weeks. Just write it on the back of your worksheet.

Here is the key that make it work for me: I only work on one project at a time in 4 hour chunks. I also have been blocking in "me time" for things like sleep, hanging out w/ the SO, and exercise (a la The Now Habit) All of these are scheduled into iCal and are treated with the seriousness of meetings and appointments.

For me, this means I've been pulling late nighters to just get festering projects off my plate so.

It also means "Relaunch the blog" is a project that's currently sitting in the holding bin until 8/17. So you should see a relaunch w/in 2 weeks after that (i.e. around the end of the month).

I am staring at my holding bin (and backlog of other projects) and see lots of extremely valuable, lucrative, exciting, and downright fun ideas. It is so tempting to drop the current list and just start working on those.

But that kind of action got me into lots of trouble before Hence, rigor.


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