I know I haven’t got much time so I’ll be brief.
I realize that in perhaps no more than a minute a little bell will sound from the Anti-Social app on your smartphone, indicating that the app is now automatically scrambling the WiFi signal in your home, pulling down the mechanized blinds on all your windows, throwing the dead-bolts on all your doors, and sending out on your behalf a death notice to the NSA. For after all, it soon will be time for you to get back to work.
And, blast it, that’s what we writers are all about, isn’t it? Work! Sweat! Honest toil!
Indeed. We writers don’t like to waste a morsel of our allotted time on this frantically spinning orb. Up at 4:30 A.M., we swallow a shingle of toast & marmalade and then, with our preferred cup of stimulation in hand, we beaver away like prisoners making license plates until our designated fifteen minutes of recreation (spent, of course, reading blog posts on productivity).
So, knowing that you will soon need to get back to the rowing bench, I’ll just say a quick word about a new productivity strategy I’ve been employing that is working very well and that I think might help you, too.
High School Musical
It’s true. Everything I know about productivity I did learn in high school. Not the high school, however, I attended in the years of my callow youth. There, the only lessons in productivity I learned were about how to draw a cartoon of the teacher while appearing to be absorbed in Byron’s “Don Juan.” No; I’m speaking here of the high school where I now teach part-time.
It is the unswerving practice of my department chairs at school to request of me a 3-Week Calendar previewing the coming attractions (assignments, due dates, and whatnot) in each of my courses. At first, I must admit, I blanched at the request. Course planning was something one did while walking from the parking lot into the school building. The last thing one wanted was to straightjacket one’s improvisatory talents by planning in advance.
But now, I must further admit, I’m hooked on the drug of the 3-Week Calendar. There’s simply nothing like waking up on a cold, dark Wednesday morning knowing that one can walk from the parking lot into the school building with a song in one’s heart, assured that the day’s strategy has been set down at HQ weeks before.
Interestingly, too, the practice of the 3-Week Calendar helps summon the Muse of creativity as I plan my courses.
Home on the Middle Range
I can hear you scoffing.
“This is rich” (scoffs you). “You think you’re the Columbus of Productivity because you’ve learned to apply a 3-Week Calendar to your writing! But I’ll have you know, I’ve been keeping all manner of plans and schedules for years. I have a 5-Year Writing Plan, a 2014 Writing Plan, a Tornado Warning Writing Plan, and a Writing Plan for Low Biorhythm Days. I also keep both a weekly and a daily writing calendar on my laptop, my phone, and in a black Moleskine underneath my pillow.”
That slurping sound must be you sucking in your teeth with satisfaction.
But hold on, I say. Hold on one minute!
All those plans and calendars are very well. No doubt you get a lot of work done. But until you’ve unlocked the treasures of the 3-Week Calendar, I don’t think you can call yourself serious about getting things done.
What precisely are the benefits of the 3-Week Calendar?
At bottom, the 3-Week Calendar allows you to plan the middle range of your schedule. Farther out than the daily or weekly calendar, but not so far out as the monthly or annual calendar, the 3-Week Calendar charts an arc of time in which small but significant projects, or parts of projects, can get done. In three weeks a sonnet sequence can get written, a new direction established in one’s marketing efforts, or a book read and savagely reviewed–thus increasing one’s sense of accomplishment and spurring one on to even greater efforts!
The temptation for the writer is to overload the daily or weekly schedule, or to dream too big with the annual plan. But with the 3-Week Calendar, one can look over the hedge of the daily schedule but not indulge in the vain task of trying to pick out the fuzzy horizon of year’s end. One sees the bigger picture but doesn’t try to take in the entire cosmos.
The Mystical Number 3
There’s something almost magical or even mystical in the number three. I learned to crawl at three. I eat three meals per day. And Mrs. Stooge gave birth to exactly 3 Stooges.
So writing colleagues, give the 3-Week Calendar a try. For myself, I can’t wait to. You see, so far I’ve only been using the 2-Week Calendar, but I’m working my way up to the 3-Weeker. The peace and productivity of the 2-Week Calendar, however, are rich enough to keep me on task and aiming high.
What are your thoughts on the 3-Week Calendar? Does it sound like a strategy that would be really useful to you?
If you have a better planning system for your writing, please share it with us.