While developing Personal Edge, I had many frustrating days when my productivity was next to zero.
It wasn't that I was avoiding work. If anything I was working longer hours.
Sometimes I struggled to find a way to bring together my research in a coherent way. Other times, I knew what I wanted to say but I just couldn't find the words. Or I would become fixated on a minor point and a quick Google search would turn into hours of clicking on links to try to gain some new insight.
Then I came across Henry Miller's Commandments, developed while he was writing the Tropic of Cancer. It was reassuring that a genius like Miller also struggled from time-to-time and needed 'rules' to work effectively. I now have an edited version of his rules on my office wall and any time it feels like I am wading through treacle, I re-read them.
Here are my edited Commandments:
- Work on one thing at a time until finished
- Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand
- Work according to the program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
- When you can't 'create' you can 'work'
- Discard the Program when you feel like it – but go back to it the next day
- CONCENTRATE. NARROW DOWN. EXCLUDE
- Think only of the work you 'are' doing.
How do you get in your own way – and what do you do to get back on track?
Miller's original rules are here.