Aug 19

I don’t have time to write this post

I hate using the word ‘busy’ because I feel it can take away from what is actually important: progress or results. But there are times you look at your workload and, yes, the simple truth is that you’re busy. Time is scarce, deadlines are looming, you might have several things on at once and your output isn’t as fast as what is coming in.

It is during times like this that it becomes more important than ever to know the difference between being busy and getting results. One doesn’t matter. The other does. It is so easy to get swamped in busy. Too easy to get to a point where getting through the day is the goal and indeed all you might achieve. Before long, you’re lying to yourself about where you’re at – busy is good, therefore things must be good. If I’m working long and hard then that’s a good thing, right? I shall be even busier and then I can feel even better.

I have seen this in animation production and I’ve seen it in plain old everyday life. It doesn’t work.

But if you can switch focus away from being busy and on to what you’re actually getting done, you can get some results each day. Then your workload reduces and you can get even more done the next day. So how do you do it? I come back to an obvious piece of advice I have given here often: make lists.

But here’s the thing – when my workload is truly full and runs the risk of getting overwhelming, I change the nature of my lists. Here’s why: if you end up with a huge sprawling list and things stay on it for weeks or months, you will feel like you’re sinking. The overall list expands, it is hard to focus on what you might get done and it becomes harder and harder to keep up. So now when things are busy, even if it is just me working on writing and development, I switch my lists to the way I work them when I’m directing teams of animators on tight deadlines – small daily lists.

My to-do list is wiped clean. Then the only things added to it are things I can achieve that day. I focus on only those thing. If something else comes in, if somebody is looking for something, they can go on tomorrow’s list if they’ll fit. But today is fixed in a small list of things I need to do. Things that, once done, can be struck off the list cleanly with no doubt whatsoever that they are done. So at the end of every day, that list is a measurement of results and nothing else.

The busier I am, the smaller my to-do list. The smaller my to-do list, the more I get done.

It took me a long time to realise it but it just comes down to one of the greatest challenges in our lives, especially in creative industries and arts – the need for focus. Smaller targets and the focus gets narrower.

So I added ‘write site post’ to my list and here it is.

 

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