one simple rule to improve your productivity

I bet you’re like me. You struggle to get the right things done. Oh, we’re busy and we’re “productive” in terms of knocking things off our To-Do lists. But it’s depressing to look back on a busy day and realize that you didn’t get done the most important work.

For me, the work that I have to do, the work that’s most important for our clients and our company is the grind of creating content. I’m no artist but I have to create strategy and content. I have to think and write and produce.

I bet you do, too.

I’ve learned the power of identifying my “next” and I’ve built systems into place so I mostly get those things done. (You can read about the “Next” concept here).

My current struggle is to find time to write, think and create what I need to produce. I have a couple of ideas that I’m itching to get to the marketplace. (I was tempted to say: “I have a couple of ideas burning holes in my brain!”)

I do have some concepts I want to test in the big wide world. But I haven’t been getting them out there. There’s just been too much work happening to get it done.

Is that your life?

Do you have those things you want to do? Do you have plans you need to create? Do you need to write but you just haven’t found the time?

Here’s my 1 simple rule that is helping me write, produce and think more every day: “creation before consumption.”

Here’s what that means for me: Every day, before I consume content –before I read emails or scan blogs or open a book or listen to podcasts or watch videos or check Facebook or whatever . . . I force myself to create.

I write. I plan. I mind-map. I make notes. I get something written first. I make sure that I create first.

I guarantee that if you’ll force yourself to create before you consume, things will change.

I don’t peek at email until I’ve created.

I don’t update my status until I’ve created.

I don’t learn or read until I’ve created.

Setting the priority to ruthlessly block out time to create before I consume content makes a world of difference. And before you imagine that I’m a guy with lots of spare time to sit around pondering and thinking . . . let me tell you. It’s a full-on brawl to find 20 minutes in my day that’s not filled with “important” and “urgent” stuff (to say nothing about the “on fire” and “CRITICAL” items).

That’s why “creation before consumption” starts at the beginning of the day. Block out the time to create first. Don’t do anything that will distract you.

If I don’t create first, I won’t create.

And if you’re not thinking about creating content, we need to have another chat, because you’re missing out, and more importantly, the rest of us are missing out. If you want to lead in this time, you have to create content and let the world interact with it.

One more item to help you produce more content:

Learn to Time Quilt. I know, I know, bad name, but great idea. I heard about time quilting from Chris Brogan. He’s a genius.

My take on Time Quilting is that you have to set yourself up to work in fits and starts.

A quilter doesn’t sit down and do the whole quilt all at one time. They sew squares. And they sew more squares. (OK, I freely admit that I have never quilted, but I’ve got the concept, stay with me).

Quilters have a plan for what the quilt will eventually look like, but it’s about working a square at a time.

Like a quilter, who sews a quilt a square or two at a time, you have to be ready to create in small blocks of time. You have to build a system so that you can create (write or record or whatever) in the 10 or 15 minute chunks of your day.

You have to learn to create in the margins of your day.

Chris does a better job of explaining it here and here.

You can’t wait for the perfect moment. If you have to have the right music, the perfect coffee, the right pen or be in a creative mood to create . . . you’ll never get there. I know. I’ve been waiting for that moment. It still hasn’t happened. It’s a crazy broken world, the perfect ain’t going to happen very often, so create in the pauses in your day.

Create before you consume, every day. It’ll make a difference. Time quilt. That’ll make a difference, too.

So do you share my struggle to find time to create? How have you solved the problem? I’d love to know how you find time to create and what you’re up to.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: Steve Thomas)
Find Steve on Instragram: oneicity_st

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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