One of my goals for the year is to blog at least once each week. Behind that goal is also the desire to become a better writer. I try to make it the first part of my day by getting out of bed between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m each day. This gives me anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes of core writing and “accomplishing stuff” before starting the rest of the day. It also increases the likelihood that I will do it. Often a good article takes several sittings to write. To keep things interesting I start new articles as thoughts come to me and then work on them round-robin style until one of them is done enough.
I also use this time to chip away at side projects and other learning I’m doing. Right now I’m spending a lot of time learning WordPress to move this blog to a self-hosted site. It’s also coming in handy for helping a couple of small businesses use WordPress to start a web presence.
Here are some ways to make it happen:
1) Pick your workspace the night before–preferably separate from your regular work space if you work at home during the day. I suggest rotating between several different spaces, even if they are different chairs in the same room. If it is cold and you don’t want to heat your entire house, a portable heater nearby is an added bonus.
2) Decide the night before what you will do when you wake up–write two or three achievable tasks or articles down on a small post-it and stick it to one of things you plan to use or study, like a book or notebook computer. Put these things in your designated workspace.
3) Pick your clothes the night before–nothing fancy, a pair of sweats and a fleece will do. Put them with the things you plan to work on.
4) Get out of bed and go straight to your workspace–dress, and start doing your thing. The kiss of death is doing anything else first… even the most innocent 60 second email check-in or 5 minute scan of Google Reader. Inevitably one thing leads to another and half of the time is gone before you’ve even really started.
5) Do your computer work in an isolated space free of distractions–a fully maximized terminal window or word processing screen that obscures the clock, applet notifications, etc. can do wonders for staying focused.
6) Be consistent as many days in a row as possible. Consistency makes it easier to be productive each day, however don’t be surprised if it takes a full week to get into a groove.
7) Take one day a week off–progress and new revelations often happen from space and distance.
How do you start your day and take small steps forward with your projects?