A Schedule Isn’t A Personality

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

.My next book, “Think Agile, Write Better,” is about changing how we writers think about work.  There are many writing systems out there (even Agile ones), but they don’t always change your mindset.  Ticking off check boxes and statuses doesn’t mean you grow.

While outlining the book, my mind turned to the subject of schedules.  Many writers have schedules – and folks like me make them professionally.  But as an Agilist, I know sometimes schedules don’t work, and we cling to them anyway.  Suddenly the words “A Schedule Isn’t a Personality” leapt into my mind, and then into this blog post.

Why do some of we writers get so obsessed with schedules?  Why does it become part of us even when it doesn’t work or drives us crazy, becoming some kind of graven image of times and events?  Why do we obsess about schedules to our detriment?

First, I think schedules give a sense of control.  We have an idea of what to do, when to do it, and what will happen.  This ignores the unpredictable nature of creativity, life, and the world (especially as of late).  The control is often an addictive illusion.

Secondly, I think schedules are things we expect.  Everyone else has a plan.  We have schedules at work and at home.  They’re supposed to be there, right?  So we create them even if they don’t need to exist (or be that tight).

Third, I think we want a schedule due to social pressure.  Some authors have tight release dates and schedules, so shouldn’t we?  Someone else expressed a plan, and we feel we should have one too.  We’re not authors if we don’t do this, right?  We ignore that every creator is different.

Fourth, we do it as we were taught to do so.  We’re following some writing system we adopted, or because our parents influenced us.  Scheduling can become a habit (trust me, I know) even if it serves nothing.

We make schedules for many reasons, but not out of some deep motivation, need or reason.  This is why so many self-created schedules can be frustrating because we think they’re important but don’t care about them.  I’m all for scheduling, but not a schedule as self-abuse.

So don’t let a schedule overtake you.  Make one because you really want to and for your own reasons.  Even me, the Project Manager, know there’s times not to make them.

Steven Savage

Priorities and Peace of Mind

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Regular readers have noticed I’ve slacked off on my blogging the last few weeks. It is with no small irony that I’m blogging about what this taught me.

The short form is between the novel, the Seventh Sanctum rewrite, work, and the current chaos in the world, I am busy and tired. The blog sometimes takes a back seat to other things. My regular two posts a week become one. Sometimes there’s just an update.

The reason for this is actually great fuel for a blog post (and it keeps up my momentum).

One thing I’ve emphasized over and over in my Agile practices is the importance of priorities. I’ve learned to force-rank my projects – nothing can be of the same significance – so I know where to direct limited time and energy.

In the last two months, which so much going on, the blog was – unfortunately – lower on that list. It won’t be that way forever, but it’s been lower on the list for a while. I accept this because I prioritized.

This is a great advantage of prioritization – peace of mind.

When you know what is essential to do, you can get to it. You focus on what delivers the most value and tackle it. The fear of not doing these essential things fades as you’re working on what matters first.

When you know what is less important, you have less stress about not getting it done. You’ve already accepted things may not get done and thus worry less when you don’t do them.

Finally, by having your efforts prioritized, you can worry less about what to do. Prioritization takes all the worrying you might do over “what’s next” and gets it out of the way before it causes anxiety. Think of it as “worry before it becomes worry.”

So I’m not happy I’ve blogged less, and I’d like to do more. But it’s not a source of stress with me as I made my decisions. Besides, as I always re-prioritize, I know things will change.

If you’re having a lot of stress over projects, consider more time on prioritizing. It might make things easier.

Steven Savage

Organization Is Inspiration

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

This is a bit of a personal take on things, not advice or anything. But I was talking with a friend about organization and planning and wanted to share something.

I find Organization inspires me.

Planning, scheduling, breaking work down, and so on gets me going. There’s something about it that gets my imagination going and gets me inspired. So yes, I preach a lot about organizing and Agile and the rest, but I want to note how it helps me imagine.

I realized in that talk that sometimes when I’m down, planning gets me going again.

For instance, recently I was feeling uninspired and didn’t have a sense of what I was doing. So I made some finer-grained plans on my major projects – in fact, I felt driven to do it. It made me a lot more aware, a lot more organized, and a lot more “into” what I was doing.

I think there’s two parts of this.

First, when you plan and organize projects, you get into them. You feel what made you want to do them. You imagine ways to do them. You become aware of them and experience them more intimately.

Secondly, when you plan and organize projects, you can see how to get them done. You see the end goals, you see the path, you know your challenges and your workarounds. You know how to get them done – which probably energizes you as well.

So ironically, now I the planning and organizing guy, realize I may need to do it a little more now and then. That’s a useful realization – sometimes even I need to do a little more work breakdown for reasons over work breakdown.

But that’s why I share these things. Putting it into words makes me think, feedback from you the readers helps me process, and we learn together.

So let’s get organized – in an inspiring way.

Steven Savage