Recently, while skyping with Improvised Life’s web developer Jason Lange, he told us of a technique he had been trying out to keep work moving forward on Share, a film he was making. For months, he’d been getting side-tracked by “paying-work”, expending all his energy on it during the day only to find himself without any creative juice left for what was most important to him. “A writer friend suggested I try reordering my day; I’ve been doing it for two weeks now and it WORKS.”

The Practice: Before email or any other distraction, spend an hour first thing in the morning working on the creative project that is important to you: writing, designing, sketching, whatever. Don’t check your email. Just do that much.

Jason says he gets up, has breakfast and then heads to a nearby cafe to get writing for the film done. Only after he’s done an hour’s work does he check his email. Over two weeks, that one hour a day of work has accrued, so that he has substantial amount done. And he has the feeling of the work moving forward.

photo: jill krementz
photo: jill krementz

We mentioned this approach to our friend Charlie Allenson after he told us he “waited for inspiration”, when we asked him about his work habit on the novel he was writing.

In our experience, WAITING for inspiration can be really hit or miss. Sitting your butt down and facing the blank screen/canvas/pad, uninterrupted for even for a short amount of time is what produces results.

About a week later, Charlie called us to say that the simple technique we passed on from Jason was helping him produce a lot of writing. He was thrilled.

Moving the ball forward a little everyday is the way bringing any creative work to fruition. Step by little step…



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4 replies on “Productivity Practice: Do 1 Hour of Creative Work Before Anything Else

  1. Thanks for the mention. By getting up a little earlier and using the restructuring of my day, I get to put some brain time into my novel (even a few paragraphs is progress as opposed to none at all), and reworking a screenplay that is close to my heart. True, I can’t afford to become a full time novelist or screenwriter but this method gives me a great start to the day, and I even feel more energized about my paying writing gigs knowing I’ve done something for myself. Give it a shot. I bet this restructuring could help others. Now if I could only find more time for the gym.

  2. Thanks Charlie. Part of what’s so interesting is how energized both you and Jason report feeling, because you’ve moved special projects forward (novel AND screenplays!!!!), while keeping the paying gigs going. A simple shift yields a lot.

  3. I pitted 5 pounds of cherries watching Brazil playing the Netherlands. I had three containers. One with my washed cherries, one for the pits and one to hold the pitted cherries. I held a cherry in one hand and a chopstick through the cherry from the stem end and pushed the pit through to the other side. No other tool necessary! I would have gone faster if I wasn’t watching the TV, but this way was very enjoyable!

  4. Love the chopstick method. Then the question comes to mind: WHAT did you make with the pitted cherries?

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