writing life

Optimizing My Life

This year, I’ve been contributing posts to Fiction University about various aspects of the writing life. My latest, from last week, is about creativity boosters.

This series has come out of my ongoing quest to optimize my life. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about productivity and creativity, and I think it’s making a big difference. For one thing, I’m really getting my house in order. Some of the trouble spots I’ve fought for years are clear and have stayed that way for weeks, even months. I’ve organized my closet and drawers, my bathroom, and my kitchen, and that’s turned into a big time saver because I don’t have to go searching for things. Everything I need is right where it’s supposed to be. I think I’ve shaved a good five to ten minutes off my morning routine just because I can just reach for what I need. That’s really nice on mornings when I have to be somewhere. There’s no frantic search for the shoes I want to wear.

Then the tidiness has led to being able to keep things cleaner. When you don’t have to move things to dust or vacuum, it’s quicker and easier to dust or vacuum.

This has a ripple effect that seems to be making me work more effectively. When the room is clean and orderly, I can focus on my work. I do still sometimes get sidetracked with thoughts about what I need to be doing, but it’s not quite as bad.

Meanwhile, I’ve really established an exercise habit, which also helps my productivity and creativity (there’s science behind that).

You can read a lot more of my tips in my Fiction University posts.

I’ve been doing this reading for years, but it seems to finally all be coming together. I think it really started when I was in physical therapy for my knee a couple of years ago. That meant I had to do exercises daily, and that started a new habit, which led to more new habits, and those new habits have pretty much stuck, so I’ve been able to start more new habits.

This year, I’m on track to have spent more time writing than I have in years, I just have the upstairs to get organized and cleaned (which has to wait for cooler weather because it’s unpleasant up there right now), and I’m on track to surpass my annual reading goal.

The really important thing I seem to have finally worked out is that failure in any one thing doesn’t mean everything has to fall apart. If I get busy and things get untidy, I don’t just give up (which used to be a bad habit of mine). I merely tidy it up again and get back to my habits. Ditto with exercise, eating right, and writing. In the past, every time I started a diet, exercise program, housekeeping routine, or writing schedule, I’d do fine as long as I could keep things the way I wanted them. Then when something upset my system, it would all fall apart. I seem to be doing better now about forgiving myself for little lapses and then going back to my routines.

My latest attempted habit development is focusing on promotion and marketing, trying to dedicate time to that every day, with plans for specific things to do. I’ve had lists of things I felt I ought to be doing that I never did, but now I’m trying to make it a priority to actually do them.

It’s weird how all of these things tie together — being more organized seems to make me not only more productive but more creative, and that spills over into being healthier, and the overall result is being a bit happier and more satisfied with life.

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