The Productive One Percent: You In?

How do you find the time?

That’s what a friend of mine asked after I published my novel last year.

I have two young kids. A wife. A job. Leadership responsibilities at my church.

I also like to do other stuff than write, like paddleboard, watch NBA basketball read and watch movies.

On top of that, I’m also self-publishing, which I’m fine with (this is for a later post)…but it’s also time-consuming.

All that to say, I was struck by this tweet from Austen Allred, founder of the Lamda School.

Are you in the productive one percent?

Will you hustle just a little harder when you have the time available?

Will you just leave Netflix on autoplay?

Will you make excuses about how much you already have to do or actually do something?

Take a look at this interview with Ben Tanzer, a writer I really admire. Here’s a quote about how he fits writing into his work and parenting schedule:

It looks a lot like family and work coming first and everything else, writing, my compulsions, being bent and molded around those things. It’s also about stealing time, my time, down time, extra time for work or children or spouse or rest, and seeing every new or unexpected free moment as an opportunity. If lunch is suddenly free, I write. If my wife Debbie and the kids go out for several hours, I write, run, watch television, jerk-off, all of it.
Which also means endless slotting, planning, thinking about what every hour of every day might look like, and trying to work that schedule, no flagging, no perfection, or fatigue, nothing precious, constantly plotting, and making it happen.

Ben may not be a household name, but using the method above, he’s written several books.

Scrapping for every minute, looking for every opportunity — that’s what makes up the productive one percent.

I don’t think I’m in that productive one percent yet.

Maybe closer than some others, but definitely not all the way in.

I’ve still got a ways to go to be as productive as Ben.

How about you? How are you taking advantage of the time that you do have?


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I’m Josh Spilker, a writer and author. I blog about the writing process at Create, Make, Write and write about everyday life at Vaguely Feel. My latest novel is Taco Jehovah.