By Alina Chase
We all have daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms. Working with them is one of the most painless ways to increase productivity. Write when we write best, and relieve ourselves of guilt-inducing deadlines when we know our creative energy wanes.
This sounds simple. So why is it so hard to do?
We underestimate the ripple effect. Doing more of one thing requires doing less of not one other thing, but more likely several other things. And shifting our writing schedules may impact so many autopilot activities that we’re surprised it takes so much effort—and fail to do it.
For many of us who naturally write best in the morning, why is it so hard to squeeze in an hour of writing before work instead of struggling to crank out coherent prose at night? Because getting up an hour earlier means getting to sleep an hour earlier. And that means nixing an hour of evening activities. It may mean skipping evening surfing but also may take eating earlier and replacing a beloved evening Espresso with chamomile tea. Sticking with the plan is even trickier when it affects others—what if a mate insists on watching TV in bed long past our newly declared bedtime?
So maybe Saturday morning writing marathons will work? Maybe, if we can get up before ten—which could mean implementing energy-enhancing weeknight changes to avoid being wiped out by the weekend. (Including that getting-to-bed-early thing.) Add to that doing laundry on Wednesday, mowing grass on Thursday and doing whatever else it takes before Saturday to free up extra hours to write. How simple is this?
And while allergies, holidays and tax deadlines are predictable seasonal disruptions, it takes even more forethought and discipline to plan for and around these downtimes.The key to making small changes is to recognize that there is no such thing as one small change. But continuing to work out of sync with our natural rhythms and easily anticipated downtimes can turn what we love doing into just plain work. While tuning into our rhythms, changing what we can when we can, will help create the flow we crave. Isn’t this why we write? The effort is worthwhile!