Tiny Steps

baby stepsHello, my friends!  I thought I would talk a little bit about productivity today.  My productivity, to be precise (although I hope you can relate).

Productivity has been kind of a movable feast here at the Palatial Horvath Estate until recently.  I managed to plot out my next book and, after some stops and starts, started writing it.  I have 21,000 words or so of the first draft completed, but that progress has generally been made in a very herky-jerky fashion–days of silence broken by brief productive sessions.

This cannot continue. The key to any creative endeavor, I think, is consistency. Every time I stop, I have to get back in the flow of things in order to restart.

Then there are the other goals–not the least of which is getting Believing It, edited, spruced up, and published.   Plus, I want to blog regularly, write newsletters regularly, world build regularly, think about what I want to write next regularly, and all that jazz. These, too, require time and demand attention.  If everything jerks along, nothing seems to get accomplished because a lot of valuable time has been wasted.

Productivity is my main writing goal for this year, because I want (and need) to have several products out there to form the basis for my business. I’m not getting any younger here.  That means focused production.

Not herky-jerky.

Although a ton of stuff has been going on in my personal and day-job life (as always), it finally occurred to me that the main reason focused production has not been happening in my life has been simply because I don’t sit down to write.  And I realized that’s because it all seems so overwhelming.  I clutch.  I panic and run away like a little bunny rabbit.  When I say, “I’m going to get two or three books written and published this year,” my heart starts racing.  I hear a voice in my head screaming “No! No! You can’t! It’s too much!” or “You don’t have the time!” or “You already wasted most of the day. Worry about it tomorrow!”

Then–you guessed it–the same thing happens the next day. And the next. Eventually sheer guilt forces me to sit down and work, but consistency is shot.

I knew that, if productivity is the main goal this year, I would have to break through this persistent resistance, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. That was when I ran across the book Mini Habits by Stephen Guise, and it gave me the key to this stubborn lock.

I realized I had to establish goals so small my brain didn’t really notice them until I’d started the task. Not a big, overwhelming goal of working two hours every day or writing 3,000 words a day.  Those have been my goals and I’ve been failing miserably.  No, the daily goal has to be something I can achieve before the panicked part of my brain knows what’s happening.  The point is to be consistent, to build movement, and to establish a pattern of success.  Just doing something small every day is more important to me at this point than to do something big every once in a while.

So, not two hours and 3000 words a day–five minutes and fifty words instead. Things that are so small they slip under my brain’s defenses.  Tiny steps.

I started out about five weeks ago with six small tasks I wanted to develop into habits. That was too many–I kept forgetting two of them, or realizing at the end of the day that I hadn’t done any of the six and just giving up.

After some trial and error, I settled on four tasks , and so far it seems to be working.  I am very pleased by the red checks on my calendar.

By the way, just because the step you’re taking is small, it doesn’t mean you have to stop at the daily goal you’ve set for yourself.  You can do more–a lot more if you want to.  The tiny step is just the gateway to get you going.  But if you have a day (like I often do) where you can only do the minimum, you’ll still have succeeded and earned the check on the calendar.

The point is, you did it.  And those wins build up as the weeks roll on.  You are in motion.  You have succeeded.

So, what are the tiny steps I’m taking (if you care)?

As I said back at the beginning of this post, my word for 2016 and 2017 is writing productivity. My overall business goal for the next two years is product creation and getting said product out to the public. So three of the four tiny steps I’m taking are focused in that direction.

Here are my tiny tasks –

Write 50 words of new fiction per day

Write 50 words of other work per day (that’s like blog posts or newsletters)

Work on publishing tasks 5 minutes every day (these are all of the business tasks that are not writing)

Walk 1 minute every day (intentionally – the walk to the car after work doesn’t count).

So, you can see that these really are teeny tiny steps.  Anybody can write 50 words a day – in fact if you send an email or even a text message, you’ve probably written more than 50 words.  I wanted these goals to be so stupid small that I wouldn’t be afraid to start.

But the point is–I do start.  That’s the most important thing.  Because if I don’t start, I can have all the dreams and goals in the world, but I’ll never get anywhere at all.


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