How To Be More Productive Without Meaning To Be
The Cause And Effect Of Unintended Consequences Toward Our Productivity
So you wrote another blog post or story.
Funny thing about a blog.
The law of unintended consequences states that our actions create effects that were not what we had in mind. It could be that you choose to sit down and watch an "innocent" film with the family, only to find out that there's a love-making scene in it.
Hard to explain what's happening to a six year-old.
This law applies to writing as well.
You write something, publish it and promote it everywhere and then wait. Sometimes you wait and you wait and wait some more.
Constantly refreshing your browser to see your audience and traffic results, you wait for someone to read it, you wait for someone to comment on it, and you wait for someone to promote it for you.
And while you're waiting, another funny thing happens.
The unintended happens.
In this post, we'll discuss the law of unintended consequences as an effect of our actions. By knowing your target goals, making small incremental gains that happen in the correct order, you'll prevent negative results and making it ten times easier to stay productive.
The Law Of Unintended Consequences
Your blog post has stirred an emotion, a thought, an idea in someone else. An idea that wasn't part of your intention when writing. Duh, that's why it's called unintentional.
Since beginning this kindle publishing journey and, more importantly, began to document it on this blog, I've stumbled upon a few interesting conversations.
Just recently a friend and I had an intriguing conversation about how she could get started writing.
She asked how she could find the courage to get going, as if I had some secret confidence or potion to making it work.
As she spoke, I felt more and more like a fraud.
I knew that it didn't take much courage to write.
All it takes is just making the time a priority.
Sit your ass down and write.
What the conversation reminded me of was that we have to make it important. Make it so important it's a habit. Like breathing.
Then and only then would the words get put down on paper.
Our conversation reminded me of the critical nature of staying focused on the goal. Also it was a reminder to think about the mini-steps needed to be taken, the lines that needed to be written in order to finish the novel, blog or story, that was started.
Another thing the talk reminded me of was the discipline needed, even if it meant taking a few minutes here and there between other tasks in the day, of stealing a couple minutes to get the writing down.
Life will get in the way. That's one of the truisms, that what ever we want to do will be interrupted by things beyond your control.
There're always bills to pay, phone and text messages to reply, and emails to answer.
Hello? Is Anybody There?
Tried to connect with others in your area of interest and you wait.
Again you refresh your browser and wait for the traffic.
But still crickets.
Anybody who writes knows the anxiety of first sharing your content and second waiting for a response from an audience.
Another conversation I've had is with a friend who likes to tell me that they enjoy reading the posts, but never go into detail about what the theme or point of the post may be.
While I enjoy the compliments, I get an uneasy tension as we talk.
It's uneasy because the conversations amount to nothing more than platitudes, empty calories that are neither sustaining or nutritious. They're like a snickers bar when I'm starving. But hey, I'm not really me when I'm hungry. At least they're reading, which I do enjoy hearing about.
In yet another recent conversation with another friend, she was telling me that she felt that she wanted to read a book.
That's not surprising considering that in 2002, a survey as reported by the New York Times claimed that 81% of Americans claimed to have a book they wanted to write.
The dicks at the editorial board of the New York Times and the writer Joseph Epstein epistemologically dictates that you shouldn't waste the energy, time or paper it would take to create a book.
But that's a sidebar for the point of my conversation with the friend.
She was claiming how difficult it would be to write a book, how precious little time she had, yet how important it would be to write her book.
My advice to her was simple.
1. Focus But Don't Obsess On Your Target: Decide on the outcome you want but don't start out trying to handle the full load, rather, find a way to work backward. This reverse planning will help you anticipate some missteps to avoid along the way that you may otherwise stay blind to with an outcome based perspective.
Think of it like a marathon - Ugh, the thought of running makes my stomach churn and shins hurt - but if you know your distance to the finish line, and work on the steps leading up to it, the marathon is much, much easier - so I'm told.
2. Succeed Greatly By Taking Small Steps: You can't stand at the base of Mount Fuji and expect to get to the top in one super stride. It takes the collective number of many, many small steps to cover the height and distance.
Take the task at hand of writing a book, divide it up into micro-phases such as chapters. It'll help you organize your thoughts, and organize the direction of your thoughts.
Think of it like eating a pizza.
It comes out of the oven, the cheese is boiling hot, the vegetables gleaming, and the pie is uncut.
Looking at the size of the pizza may be overwhelming and you're unsure how you're going to eat it, much like starting out on a novel. But just like the pizza, the cook cuts the pizza into slices, 8 pieces most likely, and now you're salivating for one.
It's the little things that add up.
3. Pants First, Shoes Second: If you plan on going for a run, you need to put on your pants or shorts before you put on your shoes. Know the proper sequence of events before taking on the tasks. I've written about how to put things in proper order in a previous post that you can read by clicking here: 3 Tips To Conquer Your Fears And Become The Person You Deserve
In effect, target those micro-phases, and divide them into even smaller phases.
Just like the pizza above, you can't eat a whole pie in one bite, and you can't pelican a slice in one bite either. You're going to fold it and take one bite at a time, or if you're "cultured," you'll cut a piece off the slice and swallow it, after chewing of course.
And my point to my friend was the same.
Take the idea of a book and divide it into small slices, then take those slices and make them into smaller pieces still. It'll be more digestible and easier to find the time to get those mini-projects done.
Her response was that, "Wow, that doesn't seem as tough."