My 2019 Productivity Steps
Actions I’m taking to be more productive this year
We’re still in that time of year. It’s New Year New Me time, where everyone joins the gym only to stop going after a few weeks, and makes a list of resolutions that they probably won’t keep.
Except … this year is different! Just like last year was going to be different, and the year before that, and the year before that. But if you really want this year to be different, like I want this year to be different, then you have to knuckle down and make that hard-pressed decision to be different this year.
For real this time.
You have to make the conscious decision to hold yourself to it and be accountable.
It sounds easy, but it feels difficult.
But before wedive into that, ask yourself this: What did I accomplish last year?
Sit down and make a list of things you accomplished in 2018. I guarantee, once you see it on paper you’ll realise that last year wasn’t a failure. Instead, you’ll see what was a success, and what you can improve on this year.
Here’s my list.
- Started blogging on Medium, and made a little bit of money from it.
- Kept a roof over my head and my rent and bills paid sort-of on time for the whole year.
- Finally bought a 3D program I’ve been wanting to learn to expand my skillset in 3D design.
- Kept my casual job.
- Received my Agent Representative certificate so I can do casual work in Real Estate.
- Got signed on to two new casual jobs. One in Real Estate and one in Teaching.
- Earned over $4,000 in freelance work.
- Self published my first short story.
- Drafted that short story’s sequel and planned the next three.
- Worked on my main full length novel – It needs one more rewrite then it’s ready for rejection. Planned out the next full length books in the series.
- Started writing for Furious Fiction (almost) every month after I discovered it.
- Entered the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction contest and placed in the first two rounds. (Didn’t place well enough to go on to round three)
- Launched a beauty company. Unicorns & Co.
- Made new friends.
- Started dating.
When 2019 started, I immediately felt like 2018 was a sham. That I had bombed out the whole year, until I made my list and realised that I’d done more than I thought I had. That I really did accomplish something last year. Maybe I didn’t reach my ultimate goals and dreams, but I didn’t fail either.
I think I did pretty well, but I could have done better.
Now I have to do better.
Now you have to do better.
We have to take all the things we did accomplish last year and build on them. Expand on them. Make them grow.
How do you do that? Where do you start? How do you start? These are the numbing questions my brain throws around that ultimately leads to my self-sabotaged downfall.
A good place to start is by writing it all down. I learned this in 2018. My productivity spiked when I wrote things down and highlighted the things I had finished that day with a cute purple highlighter.
I started doing this on a daily basis only a few months ago, but lets start with a list of things you want to accomplish this year. It’s ok if you haven’t started this on the first day of the new year. Today is the 12th and I’m only just now putting my foot up my own a** to get things done.
Here’s my list:
- Write on Medium at least five times a week. Earn enough to pay at least one bill per month. Preferably two.
- Write everyday.
- Build my freelance client list, sign more jobs.
- Finish rewriting my novel Repentance and spend the year sending it out to publishers and agents.
- Finish writing the second short story of The Lockwood Series, The Venue, and publish it.
- End the year with at least twelve Lockwood stories published online.
- Find another part-time job (or a full time job)
- Pay off my credit card debts.
- Start a savings account.
- Earn enough money that I’m not living off of two-minute noodles and bread.
- Create more 3D art and rebuild my portfolio from the ground up.
- Expand my 3D skill set and knowledge base.
- Push my new company Unicorns & Co. until it’s the badass and successful beauty company that it was born to be.
- Build my author email list. I want 5,000 subscribers by the end of the year.
- Build my Etsy sticker shop, Feisty Fox.
- Build my author brand shop, Bella Nacht.
- Finish designing my planner and have samples printed.
- Do more creative streaming live online and build an audience for my design work.
- Rebuild my artist portfolio website.
- Visit more new places, spend less time shut away inside.
- Read more books.
- Become someone interesting.
Make your list and tape it to your desk. Every time you accomplish something throughout the year, highlight it and move on. Add things to the list as they arise.
Now, if you’re ready to really put your nose to the grindstone, put the month you want each task accomplished by next to it. After you’ve finished that, make a monthly goal list. Start with January. Use your yearly list as a guide and write down all the things you need to finish by the end of this month. EVERYTHING. Even if it’s not on your list. Write down ‘take medication everyday’ on that list if that’s something you need to do. ‘Drink more water’ ‘Meditate’ ‘Go skinny dipping’
I put my list on the wall above my desk.
Then I break it down into days.
I have a 7 day planner on my desk so I can see the whole week. I go through and write down everything I want done that week on their corresponding days and when I complete them, I highlight it and move on. At the end of the week I can see what I’ve obviously failed to do, but I keep that page and when I do finish it, I go back and highlight it. I don’t move that page to the back of the planner until EVERYTHING on it is highlighted within an inch of it’s life.
Breaking things down into little chunks is the best way to achieve those big goals.
I always thought that these lists people made were frivolous. I didn’t need them, I could remember what I needed to do. I knew what I needed to get done, and I’d just do it. Except I didnt’ do it. I had no accountability to myself. I let myself get away with being lazy and self sabotaging. If making lists helps stop that, then I’ll be a damn list maker.
Another thing to note is this. When I was a teenager, I remembered everything. And I mean everything. That was one reason I didn’t bother with planners was because I had one in my head. I never forgot a class, an assignment, an appointment. I rarely took notes in class because I just remembered everything the lecturer would say. Well, I’m 27 now, and even though I’m not even thirty, I’ve come to realise that I’ve started forgetting things. Things that I used to never forget. Maybe it’s because I’m more stressed and scattered than before. Or maybe it’s because I technically am getting older. Either way, it’s time to start writing it down.
I also found a grey hair, but that’s besides the point.
Other steps I’ve taken so far this year to hold myself accountable.
- I’ve started taking my energy vitamins at night. Maybe it won’t work for you, but I’ve started waking up earlier with more energy and staying more alert throughout the day. Win for me, my energy levels are always low and my concentration abilities suffer.
- Get a weekly pill dispenser. I have a terrible habit of forgetting to take my vitamins and iron supplements. Now I can’t forget what days I have and have not taken them. I also set an alarm on my phone to remind me to take them.
- Started a writing accountability series on Medium. Everyday I’ll add a page listing how many words I’ve written and on what, or if I failed that day. If I failed that day, and wrote nothing, I put the number of how many day’s I’ve failed so far this year. I think I’m up to 4 failed days since I started. That’s not a good number at all.
- Started a 2019 reading list on Medium. I’ll post when I start and finish each new book this year. I have a goal of 52 books for 2019. Teenager me easily read three times that number, so adult me needs to get her ass in gear.
- Take my list with me. I have a desk planner, but I bought a day to page planner that I put EVERYTHING in and carry with me. No excuses.
- Cook at home more. Health is very important, and healthy food is the key. Creating healthy home cooked meals as opposed to cheap pizzas and noodles definitely boosts my energy and makes me feel better, which helps my productivity on a daily basis, and my self confidence. To do this, I also have to work harder and earn more. Little jobs are the key to that.
- I fixed my phone problems. On my prepaid plan, I only got 4 gigs of data and 300 minutes to talk. It may seem like a lot, but I would zip through it pretty fast and end up with a week or more of the month where I would have no phone services. This effected my work and my productivity. Why? Client emails and correspondences and file downloads. I couldn’t afford to recharge more than once a month. Well, with about an hour’s worth of research, I found a new plan that only cost me $1.25 more than I was already paying. Now I get over ten time the amount of data I had before with unlimited calls and text both domestic and abroad. No more excuses.
- Fixed my internet problem. I had the same issues with the internet available in my apartment building. I get X amount included in my rent, but it’s not nearly enough to supplement the work I do in design. File downloads and video tutorials would eat it up, and I’d either have multiple weeks of the month with no internet, or, what I’ve been forced to do, is pay an extra $70 every three weeks to top up on this slow internet. So I found a new provider, and now I get much faster internet and much more data to use per month, for $80. That’s better than $70 every three weeks.
- Wake up earlier and stay up later working. You have to use energy to have energy, so get using.
- Put sticky note reminders on my wall of things that I need to focus on. My online businesses. My portfolio. My art. My writing.
- Use the library more. >OMG you can read books for free?? Yes.
- Block toxic people. Those friends that say they’re your friends but shower you in passive negativity and casually rip into the things you’re trying to accomplish? Get rid of them. Block them and don’t turn back.
- Watch the news everyday. I decided to invest $7 a month to TYT, my news source of choice, and I tune in everyday. Staying up to date on the happenings of the world is important. I don’t want to be an uneducated shut-in. I want to know what is going on, and productive talk shows are far more enlightening than cat videos on facebook.
- Stay off facebook. That place is a cesspool of procrastination. As much as I’d like to try and stay off all of social media, growing an audience is important, so I’m focusing my efforts on Instagram and Twitter. For me personally, they’re less toxic and I’m not as addicted to scrolling through them as I am on facebook. I’ve traded Medium in for FB. Intellectual articles and stories vs. error ridden FB fights. Medium wins.
- Upgrade my tablet. My laptop is useful and workable, but when I’m on the run it’s no longer an acceptable means of productivity. It still works great, but the battery is so depleted I can only work for about half an hour before it dies, and can’t afford yet to have the battery replaced. Only being able to work next to a plug when I’m on the run mean having to run around and spend an hour finding someplace suitable to work. So I’m selling my older 12.9 inch tablet and trading in for an 11 inch tablet with 1tb of storage and higher performance capabilities. No more excuses. No more no room for files or I can’t finish that project from this device or I can’t do it now becuse I have no power. I’m getting my client work done faster and delivering it with optimal efficiency. This year is about work.
- Started working on selling my 3D printer. I love it, but it’s time to move on to 3D printing projects that will have a better ROI. Selling my FDM printer and getting a resin printer will allow me to learn a new skill set to add to my resume, as well as produce high quality 3D prints that are worth selling, and are suitable prototypes for clients. (Please, anyone who reads this, do not mansplain to me how printing with resin differs from printing with ABS or PLA, I’m fully aware and don’t need yet another lecture from a random man online who thinks my poor girl-brain can’t handle this manly 3D printing stuff).
So I’ve made my lists, and I’ve started moving forward one small step at a time.
Leave comments below telling me about some of the goals you want to hit this year.
We can make it happen on our own, but having like minded individuals pushing you along never hurts.
JLRose is an American fantasy writer, 3D artist and game designer living in Melbourne, Australia. She’s spent the past three years working on the first full-length book of The Galean Universe.