Mar 142013
 

It’s so easy to get sidetracked these days, what with all this cool stuff online. Facebook. Twitter. Google Plus. Building a platform. WordPress. RSS news feeds (my favorite online time-waster). Email. The list goes on and on.

I’ve taken steps to limit my dependence on these online trinkets. I shut off all push notifications and email alerts on my phone, forcing me to check maybe twice a day. I don’t mess with Facebook much, though I’m hot and heavy with Twitter. About the only thing I waste a lot of time with is that infernal news feed. Hate it. Hate it. Love it.

I don’t want to miss anything. But in doing so, I miss a lot of opportunities to actually get to work and get stuff done.

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Jan 102013
 

How much are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of your art?

Sure, the stories of the writer starving in his garret sound all romantic and stuff, but not this kid. I’ll give up a lot, but keep that starvation stuff away from me.

But if I’m unwilling to sacrifice my Facebook or TV-watching time to get a couple of thousand words down, then I need to get real. If I’m ever at that point, I might as well forget about calling myself a writer. I’m just fooling myself. Everybody else knows I’m full of it.

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Jan 042013
 

I’d written about peak hours before, and I guess it must be a hot topic in some circles. Folks are always trying to squeeze more productivity out of their days, and playing with the body clock seems to be the favorite way of doing this.

More sleep? Less sleep? Uninterrupted or multiphasic sleep?

Start your day doing little, easy-to-do things or tackle that big job you’d rather not think about first?

Is it true that if you burn the candle at both ends you get more light?

Is my brain really more creative when I’m tired? And why won’t my brain shut up at night?

Everyone’s got an opinion there.

I found this infographic from HealthCentral (and some other perspectives by Ridiculously Efficient) a few days ago, and it’s interesting. I’ve pasted it here so you can have a look at it, and myself being one who keeps his opinions to himself (why is my nose growing?) I’ll have some observations here.

Accomplish more in a day by synchronizing your cicardian rhythms

One of the things that caught my attention is the assertion that most people keep a similar natural timeline — like about 80 or 90 percent. This suggests most so-called night people are that way by choice.

I noticed this because I’d always gravitated toward night work. I did a lot of nightside reporting back in the day, spent a lot of late nights playing music, and even most of my so-called day jobs (cab driving, casino work) were at night. But was it me, or was there some other attraction?

OK. Maybe the pay was better, the boss more easygoing, the clientele livelier and the girls prettier at night. But as I got older, I found myself going more toward days. Most of the time (except those times my overactive brain keeps going) I’m usually in bed by 11, like an old fart. Even New Years Eve — a time when most people are out howling — I struggled to keep my eyes open while waiting for the ball to drop. 2013 almost started without me. Man, did I feel ancient.

I’ve also noticed how, on this infographic timeline, the creative process kicks in at around 8 p.m. This in itself is interesting. Fatigue seems to kick-start the process, according to HealthCentral.

I do see evidence of this. At around 8-ish I’ve usually had dinner, my computer is shut down, and I’m chilled out in the recliner, some heavy jazz playing on the Bose, and my mind goes all over the landscape. I usually spend that time with a clipboard in my lap, slamming down ideas as fast as I get them. That’s also when I write my crappiest but most imaginative first drafts and do my wildest brainstorming. Sometimes my bipolar brain won’t shut up, so I gearing down and getting to bed at a decent time is an issue. This does cut into my beauty (!) sleep.

A couple of other things I noticed:

  • A person is more easily distracted from about noon to 4 p.m. (For me, true.)
  • A power nap at 2-ish is good for the body. Maybe it’s encroaching geezerhood, but I find I do this more often than not.
  • But while the brain is easily distracted in the early afternoon, hand-eye coordination peaks around 3-ish. Interesting.
  • Cognition is at its best in the late morning. (For me, also true.)
  • A hot shower is recommended in the morning, because it’ll warm the body and make you more alert. That’s the claim, anyway. I do know my body thinks it’s a Ford because it doesn’t start well when it’s cold.
  • Email sent out before 9 a.m. is most likely to be read. I do have to challenge this, but that’s because very little of my correspondence stays within the Eastern Standard Time zone.
  • For social media junkies, 8 a.m. tweets are the most upbeat and those sent out in the late afternoon are most likely to be retweeted. Facebook status messages sent out at 8 p.m. are the most “liked” (again not accounting for time zones), and a person who builds his whole day around a social media schedule is probably addicted.

Or something.

This whole thing is interesting, but probably not a be-all end-all. Will my habits change because of this infographic? Of course not. I’m not even sure if this infographic is based on hard science or wishful thinking, and even if it was hard science we’ve all got our own peak times anyway.

I think my own biggest take-home is how the brain runs rampant when the body’s tired, but that’s something I’ve suspected anyway.

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Sep 192012
 

While you do much of your work in private, successes and goals don’t need to be. Now it’s easy to put your large and small triumphs out there; just takes a couple of seconds to post it on your favorite social media.

I’m ready. As soon as I reach today’s goal it’s going up on Twitter, Facebook and probably LinkedIn (love that Hootsuite online tool). How about something like this: @creativedanger Wrote and posted my week’s worth of 3-graffs blog entries. On a roll. #amwriting

Get brave. Sprout some guts. Do something dangerous. Meet your daily goal and let everybody know. I find these dispatches get likes and/or retweets, which is always a bonus.

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Jul 312012
 

When I got involved with National Novel Writers Month a couple of years ago, I started paying attention to how many words I wrote every day. Then I started publicizing that.

In all my social media, I put up daily dispatches of how I did, whether good, bad or ugly. This public posting helped keep me accountable. I’ve kept that habit, and when I mention my daily writing goal (1,000 words) in this blog, it’s my way of staying accountable.

Try going public with the small, daily goals. You might find it becomes a habit.

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Jun 262012
 

While the Facebooks and Twitters are good for announcing what you had for lunch (please don’t!) or that cool viral video you saw, these social media tools are good for building some accountability.

Right now. Get on your favorite social media site. Announce your new project, your goal for the day, (like a word count if you’re a writer) and hit Send. Then get to work. After you’re done, announce whether you met your goal. Be honest here; post both your successes and your failures.

You’ll probably find someone who is watching and pulling for you.

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