In this blog post I will discuss my ‘resetting’ method of productivity: it both reinvigorates me when I hit a productivity slump, and helps me stay productive in the long-term.
While I have seen other videos, blog posts and podcasts which have touched on this idea, I haven’t seen anything which goes into what I think of as my ‘resetting’ method.
Please note I mainly talk about this method in relation to creative goals which matter to you, but it can be applied to other areas of your life.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY ‘RESETTING’?
The Oxford Learners Dictionaries (https://oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com) define productivity as:
“The rate at which a worker, a company or a country produces goods, and the amount produced, compared with how much time, work and money is needed to produce them”.
The thing is, this definition makes us sound like machines doing the same repetitive task day in, day out, over and over again, achieving the same result, over many years. While some of us probably feel like this is what we do, the reality is that our tasks and priorities vary, and so does our energy, physical and mental health, concentration etc.
We are not machines: our productivity fluctuates on a daily or even hourly basis. Even with schedules, to-do lists, and a bucket of coffee, we cannot stay focused 100% of the time. The context in which we’re carrying out our tasks also fluctuates (priority, importance, company changes, illness, world events etc). Both our productivity levels, and the tasks we wish to accomplish, fluctuate over time.
For this reason, I utilise both major and minor ‘resets’ to reinvigorate my energy and interest, reassess my priorities, and stay productive over the long-term.
I carry out a major reset around every three months. Minor resets are for the times when I am having a bad day or a bad week, and they help me stay flexible when, for example, one of my children is ill, or something else collides into my schedule out of nowhere.
Around every quarter I carry out a big-picture assessment of my writing and editing business, my goals, and how things have been going over the previous few months. I identify what I have achieved, what I haven’t achieved, and what I wish to focus on in the coming quarter. I identify which strategies are working for me (and which ones aren’t). I overhaul my goals, my lists, and my schedule, and I try and plan for the next three months (e.g. taking into account any school holidays or other life events: my productivity is always lower when the kids are off school!)
While I’m doing this work, I choose a date on which my new productivity schedule will begin. This could be any date you prefer: the following day, or a few days’ time, or the first of the next month, whatever works best for you and allows you enough time to properly assess your current and preferred future position.
For me, it is worth taking a few hours out of my time every so often to reassess how things are going. The optimal time to do this may be different for you. You might need a major reset every month, or every six months, or every year. I recommend a major reset at least once a year, as a lot can change in that time!
A major reset is also useful after a major change in life circumstances. If you are preparing to move house, or are going through a bereavement or other difficult life event, it may be worth pausing any grand productivity plans and just keeping on top of the bare minimum until things settle down or until you feel in a healthier place. Do not neglect self-care!
A major reset may also be helpful if something about your life or routine or schedule is changing in a way which will increase, or decrease, the amount of time you have available to pursue your creative goals. This is the position I’m currently in.
My youngest son is starting nursery in September and I will more or less be able to work during school hours Monday to Friday from then. It is a major change for me as I’m hoping I can reduce the amount of time I spend working in the evenings and at weekends. As much as I adore my children, I’m beyond excited to get some of my time and freedom back!
I’ve taken time this August to reassess my business and goals. I’m feeling blocked on my current writing project, so I’m outlining a fresh project that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for months (yay plot bunnies). In September I will have a new manuscript to work on as a fun palate cleanser.
The other major change I’m making is that I will work my schedule, goals, and resetting times around the school holidays. Time and time again it has been proven to me that I’m not as productive when my children are not at school or in childcare (shocking I know). Yesterday it took me thirty minutes to dress myself because of interruptions, arguments and tantrums from my beautiful children, so hoping for lots of focused writing time during the summer holidays is laughable.
It makes sense to use school holidays to organise editing and writing deadlines, and use the holidays themselves as my reset time. I usually do a major annual reset every December, but I’m considering moving this to August so it aligns with the academic year rather than the calendar year.
This is a technique I use as and when I need it to help me feel better about the times when, for one reason or another, I’ve not been as productive as I hoped. It helps my mental health to say: ‘I’ve tried really hard today but it just hasn’t worked out. I’ll have a break and start again fresh tomorrow’. This mantra can be extended to the following week if it’s something that ends up running longer than a few days (e.g. the stinking summer cold that put me on my arse for a few days at the start of August).
Sometimes it is events or circumstances outside our control (looking at you, youngest son, vomiting in the middle of my writing time). Sometimes it feels like we sabotage ourselves, no matter how much we want to achieve our creative goals (tired, run down, not feeling it etc). A minor reset can help us take care of unexpected life events, help us listen to our minds and bodies when they are desperate for a rest, and reduce the guilt we may feel when a day or week just doesn’t go to plan. It happens. We need ways to move on from it and reset our productivity.
OTHER PRODUCTIVITY ARTICLES THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU
The current blog post ties in with others I have published. These are linked below:
BEFORE YOU GO…
What are your thoughts on the ‘resetting’ approach to productivity? Do you do any version of this? Please join in the discussion (contact details below).
Please feel free to comment on the article and/or contact me if you have any questions:
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I welcome respectful and friendly discussion on the topics I write about, including if your opinion differs from my own.
Disclaimer: generative AI
I do not use generative AI to produce or inform my blog, my images, or my fiction. All of my content is generated by the chaotic firing of my own (human) brain! (I have access to some images through my Wix subscription). I do not consent to the use of my content, images, or fiction to train generative AI models. Please contact me to discuss permission and compensation if you wish to use my content in this way.