Productivity Fortnight+1: Passionate Goals and Plans

Yesterday the latest Productivity post looked at high end dreams – mission and vision statements. This post applies passion to those big dreams, and then gets into planning the strategy to get to those missions.

Passion Equals Motivation Equals Productivity

In the first post of this series productivity was simply defined as –

Productivity = Commitment to Accomplishment

And now I’ve gone and added in two more words – motivation and passion. I think I might roughly get away with that by saying: actually, we’re talking the same thing. Motivation means commitment. And, in terms of accomplishment, there’s no point unless it’s something accomplished on a passion of yours. Yes?

passionWriters and creative artists mention something called ‘The Flow’ where a sense of time and other external factors go missing. If we find the flow, we can work for long periods of time, without distractions, and accomplish a lot. The mental state allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the task (to the extent, sometimes, of forgetting to eat or attend to our other everyday obligations). Yet often we come out re-energised.

Flow comes from passion. It’s the positive side to hyperfocus – which has similar affects, but can be towards more negative tasks (say, like video game playing) which have less productive results. I can’t think of many examples personally where I’ve felt in the flow when it’s been a task I didn’t really want to do or considered the task not valuable to my own high end goals for myself.

Passion equates to motivation – why we do something. And from the previous Journaling Week posts, there is also empirical research on productivity journals, where simply documenting progression in tasks we are passionate about has been found to lead to further motivation and therefore further action into productivity. Those productivity journals (which is what the researchers called them) tracked progress, but as we now know –

The key to tracking progress and measuring success is in adding meaning and context to the metrics we choose to keep. Word counts and page numbers don’t mean much without that meaning, and a passionate context.

Assignment 2 – The Passionate Goals Strategy

So, you have a vision, and mission (the resources and how you do things) knowledge. But why do you want to be productive right now, right here? What is the one or two passionate goal(s) you’re working on?

And how have you planned and strategised to get them done?

Your assignment is to write down a rough strategy or plan, if you don’t have one already. On the back of the napkin is fine.

You can get help with this via the Writing Plans reading below.

And in tomorrow’s post I’ll be discussing a little around chunking goals down to tasks, and some of the productivity hacks for that high-level work.

Optional Reading Assignment 4 – Writing and Creative Plans

If you really don’t have some kind of plan for your current tasks, then have a go at the following –

In my old technical employment days we had all kinds of strategy and planning documents – project plans and schedules, spreadsheets, task plans and resource allocations, and importantly, risk mitigation and replans when projects changed. Thankfully, most creative entrepreneurs don’t have to go to such extent over their own projects. But…

For bigger tasks, say, like launching a book – which does require identification and scheduling of a lot of tasks, I’ve been known to map it out on a project management spreadsheet and/or app. I profiled some apps for this in a recent #52Tech post. But that’s more because I’m a geek and like things like that – and therefore that’s the kind of tool that feeds two passions at once for me – geeky tools.

Tip: Use what you’re passionate about as a tool to foster more passion into your writing or artistic plans also. (For me, it’s geeky tech tools, for you, it may be hand-writing into a journal or new pretty stationery – if so, buy yourself a new moleskine – permission granted. No, thank you.)

But for simpler recurrent tasks like writing the draft of a book, I personally prefer not to schedule writing time into daily blocks. How we strategise is down to individual style and circumstances. However, I still find progression and motivation through being productive and achieving some weekly goals – goals like “Draft Chapters 3-6” or “Plan out Mid-beat” or “Get the protagonist’s bio and profile nutted out by Friday, or die, damnit!More on weekly goals in an upcoming post on lists and reviews.

Break it Down to Strategise

It’s a concept we’re all used to working with. Take the big goal or mission and break it down to chunks or smaller goals. Work on them. Move on, work on the next one. At the end of [the day/the week/the cycle] review the tasks.  More on chunking coming in the next few posts.

So Much Work, and I’m Not Doing Stuff Yet

Mmm, I hear you.

It’s like the plotter vs pantser writing debate also.  On that front, I used to be a concrete-reinforced plotter. I tried pantsing it on a few occasions, and got frustrated with lack of passion. Then I plotted so much that I lost passion for the project in the actual writing stage.

As I’ve matured into my writing I’ve learnt that I am both – depending on the story at hand – some need thorough plotting; some need a little outlining, then I throw the outline out when characters tell me something; some come good on winging it. But, once I’ve pantsed through a story, I end up having to go back and outline and scene card and and and…anyway.

Visioning, planning or strategising is a little like that. You can do a lot upfront, but a good strategy always allows for movement and changes, because that’s life. You can choose to spend a lot of time on planning or jump in, and then replan. Of essence, consider being able to answer one question – where are you going and why?

The rest of these posts will drill down into many of the productivity hacks and tools which will hopefully allow us to be efficient with the resources we have, and productive in achieving our goals. Those are the hows.

Productivity Fortnight 3

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