top of page

Get email notification when new content is posted:

Thanks for submitting!

I Blew Up My Workspace...

Here is the update for week 14 of the Million Words Project, including a discussion of the difference between useful and necessary tasks, and distractions I sometimes use to avoid writing.

You can watch the video here, or if you prefer YouTube: https://youtu.be/qOB9R4APpyY





The transcription of the episode is below if you'd prefer to read, instead of watching.


 

TITLE

Blowing Up My Workspace, And Other Distractions


Teaser

At the end of week thirteen, I found myself slightly overwhelmed. I'd taken some steps to make the management of my day to day life easier, and I'd talked myself down of the ledge of wanting to just give up the creative life, find a job flipping burgers, and spend my free time falling down YouTube rabbit holes.

But, things were still in a state of flux.

I wasn't feeing the immediate existential dread I had been, but I also wasn't feeling happy go lucky and carefree.

My rhythm was off. It wasn't necessarily in a bad way. But I could sense things were shifting.

As week thirteen slipped away and week fourteen started, I had a lot of things on my plate.

And, I decided to really shake things up. I made the decision to blow up my workspace.


Welcome

This is the Million Words Project update for week fourteen.

I am your host, Eric Sheridan Wyatt.

I'm an author, writing instructor, and creativity coach, and fourteen weeks ago I challenged myself to write one million new words in twelve months.

Each week, I give an update on my progress, and share some of the things I've been learning, and often re-learning, about the ups and downs of my creative life.

I share these things in the hopes that someone out there will find a little bit of inspiration, encouragement, or knowledge to help propel them toward their own Big Idea creative endeavors.

If you've watched my videos before, welcome back. I hope that means you've found something valuable buried in my ramblings.

If you're new her, be sure to check out the show notes to get more information about me, my books, and the Million Words Project.

In either case, if you find this content helpful, please consider subscribing, commenting, or otherwise interacting. It really keeps me encouraged to know you're out there.

Enough with the preamble. Let's get on with this week's update.


Update

Week thirteen was a bit of a squeaker! I came in just six-hundred and one words ahead of the minimum weekly pace.

The words were spread out relatively evenly across four of the five categories I keep track of throughout the week.

From left to right, I had another solid journaling week, partly because I was still wrestling with the existential dread I discussed in the recap of week thirteen, partly because of some of the steps I was taking to mitigate that feeling, here in week fourteen.

Non-fiction was back up to a more-reasonable level after a few weeks of a dip in numbers. And I finished the rough draft of a client project, and spent the rest of the week revising and editing that project.

As I've mentioned before, I only count NEW WORDS written, for the purposes of the Million Words challenge, so the time spent revising and editing is not reflected in this data set.

A big old goose egg in the fiction category this week. I finished story two of the collection of stories I'm writing, and I took a mini-vacation from that fictional world before starting story three.

And lastly, I've been trying to limit my Life Document work to between five and seven thousand words, and I did a pretty good job of hitting that target with six-thousand two-hundred nine words.

There was a LOT of non-writing work going on this past week, which isn't reflected in these totals, but it did have a big impact on my creative, business, and personal life.

Let's dive into that a little bit.


Topic

I'm fourteen weeks into my million word challenge, and I've been finding a fairly steady groove. My focus at the beginning of the challenge was to push the heavy object of my writing life and get it into motion, build some momentum, and restore something like a steady creative rhythm.

Now that I've gotten things rolling, though, my focus has been shifting to two additional criteria for a sustained creative and professional life: balance and efficiency.

[graphic] Balance:

I used to have a Wii game system, and there was an accessory called the Wii balance board.

You could use it to play various games, and it was also useful for health and fitness focused activities.

When used for yoga or other balance and flexibility functions, the Wii console would display a little circle with a dot inside that represented the player's center of balance. The little red dot would wiggle and wobble around, while you were standing in a yoga pose, for example, to provide real-time feedback about your balance.

I've never been known for my exceptional balance and coordination, but I learned something valuable from those fitness-related games: Even when I was standing still, the little red dot that represented my center of balance was always shifting.

Constantly shifting, in fact, no matter how still I stood. You see, most of the time, our muscles are making micro adjustments to keep us upright and poised. We don't notice it, but it's always happening.

And like physical balance, the balance I strike in my creative, business, and personal life is always in flux. Even when things are humming along smoothly, I'm making little adjustments here and there to account for new opportunities, new obstacles, and just the randomness of day-to-day life.

When things get too far out of alignment, I have to reassess the methods and routines, and bring things back to something closer to the idealized life I want to lead.

That's where a tool like the Million Words Project comes in. I wanted to be writing more words, so I started this challenge to encourage myself in that direction.

Now that I'm writing more words, I am looking more closely at that little red dot, and making adjustments to keep it inside the target circle.

[graphic] Efficiency:

Efficiency, in my case, means more than just the average number of words written per hour. It also means structuring other parts of life to maximize the use of my awake hours. There are lots of other things to do, besides write, and the more efficient I am in general, the more effectively I can adjust my focus and time spent on various parts of life that require my attention. Including writing.

Last week was a very weird energy week. My biorhythms were off. I had low energy during parts of the day when I'm usually gung-ho for writing, and lots of energy at times when I'm usually ready for a nap or bed.

And, I hit my word count, which means I did what I needed to on the writing side of the coin, but I also shifted a ton of time and energy into completely reorganizing the combo guest room and office space where I spend a vast majority of my time.

Prior to reorganizing and restructuring my workspace, I spent a lot of time contemplating work flow, organization, accessibility of different technology, new equipment to help me manage and simplify some of my ongoing projects, and taking on a whole new method of weekly planning to reduce mental clutter, ensure a greater efficiency in accomplishing tasks, and freeing up time to do the various work, creative and otherwise, that I want to do.

All of this took hours of planning time. Not to mention the physical process of deconstructing my workspaces (because I have three distinct workspaces in my office) and reassembling things in a completely new configuration.

The investment of time, energy, and effort to do all of this was not inconsequential. But, it was intentional.

I realized I was at a point in my Million Words journey where I needed to apply myself to the task of evaluating my progress so far, and refining my process to improve going forward.

I actually do similar tasks, every day, multiple times a day. My journal is a tool for assessment and evaluation. My Writing Out Loud practice is as well. In fact, I have several other daily, weekly, and periodic practices that are either designed to serve the function of self-evaluation explicitly, or at least have some component of self-examination to them.

I am constantly balancing and rebalancing. True balance is, after all, nearly impossible. And, even when achieved, it is only temporary. Something else is going to come at me, and I'll have to reevaluate, yet again.

Thankfully, I've had a lot of practice at how to deal with the unexpected. And, I've collected an ever-expanding toolbox of methods to help.


Inspiration

I mentioned last week that part of this massive overhaul of my personal, business, and creative life included finding the book Getting Things Done, by David Allen. I actually bought this book in 2019, and it had been on my to-be-read shelf ever since.

Luckily, it was there when I needed it. I developed a heavily modified version of David Allen's prescribed method to help me be better organized and focused. I won't get into the details, here. It's really very specific to my current life situation, and likely not that useful to anyone else. (Though, I would recommend reading the Getting Things Done book, and evaluating if it might be a fit for you.)

I do want to share two brief quotes from David Allen, though. First he said:

“Everything you’ve told yourself you ought to do, your mind thinks you should do right now.”

If you saw the last episode, you'll remember that the white hot center of my moment of creative crisis was the feeling that I had too much to do, and too little time to do it.

Allen points out that if we have too many things on our plate, it becomes detrimental to actually getting things done. His solution is to have a formal system for organizing and capturing all of the projects, big and small, and all of the tasks from the most menial to the most important.

This system becomes a repository for EVERYTHING that our minds consciously AND subconsciously continue to ponder and constantly revisit as long as they are undone, or what he calls an "open loop" task or project.

By having a concrete, central, reliable, secure place to deposit all of these items, your subconscious eventually comes to accept that all of those things, all of those "to dos" and "someday" items are safe and secure. And don't require constant attention. And it frees us up to focus on doing the actual work we want to do.

As Allen points out:

“You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it.”


Takeaway

This week, I blew up my workspace, and shook up my entire workflow.

After a period of self-evaluation and self-assessment, I came to the conclusion that I needed to add some new skills and processes to my routine.

Inspired by David Allen's book, I designed a new method of preparing for my week, and executing my plan.

This new method helped free up space to do the work I most want to do. Even though I a dozen extra hours this week in planning, reorganizing, and setting myself up to implement a new system, I still met my goals and completed my necessary tasks. All while hitting my word target.


Points to Ponder

Now, before you think I'm suggesting the way to meeting more goals and accomplishing more tasks is to completely blow up your own workspace and realign your workflow, let me assure you: I don't think that is always the correct answer.

What I will suggest is that if you feel stuck, or if you just feel like you could possibly be doing a little more, then the first step is self-evaluation. Take a step back, and get some perspective about where you've been, where you are now, and where you'd like to me.

Maybe, consider journaling about the topic, and just ask yourself some basic questions, then listen to what it is you say when you answer. This is also a great topic to utilize the Writing Out Loud method of self-examination that I described in week seven's update. (I'll put a link to the Writing Out Loud episode in the show notes, if you'd like to check that out.)

A word or caution: There have been times in my life when "blowing up" my workspace was really just an excuse to avoid the deeper work I needed to do. If you are like me, it can be easy to mistake a distraction, or some other point of resistance, as something vitally important to getting started or keeping going.

Part of the sober assessment process of journaling or writing out loud is to ask yourself: If I decide to make big changes, are those changes justified? Or am I simply stalling or delaying? What is legitimately useful, and what is a distraction?

Prioritize the useful, and limit distraction. (Or, at least use the distractions as a carrot and stick reward, after you've hit a daily or weekly target.)

Ask yourself, do I need a major realignment, or just a minor correction? The minor corrections are nearly constant, and shouldn't take us too far away from the core of our work.

But on occasion, a major course correction may be needed. If you find that to be the case, I would definitely suggest setting aside some time to plan the logistics thoroughly and make sure your actions are moving you toward the long-term goals you wish to achieve.


Farewell

That's it for another episode of The Million Words Project. Thank you so much for joining me.

I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have some recent experiences regarding your own efforts to maintain balance and efficiency. Leave a comment, or you can find other ways to connect with me in the show notes.

There are a number of links where you can find out more about me, my books, and this video project.

And, if you know someone who might find these videos helpful or interesting, I hope you'll send them a link and invite them to join us.

Sharing, as they say, is caring.

Until next week, remember that the motto of this video series is "Small steps lead to big results."

Go out there, and take a few more steps toward that Big Thing project you've always wanted to complete.

Have an awesome week. I'll see you again soon.


Credits and Contact

Standard end credits.


Episode Notes

As week thirteen slipped away and week fourteen started, I had a lot of things on my plate.

And, I decided to really shake things up. I made the decision to blow up my workspace.

*****

Here's a link to the book mentioned, Getting Things Done: https://amzn.to/3EKtKeT

My update for week seven included the topic of Writing Out Loud. Check it out at my website: https://www.wordsmatteresw.com/post/do-i-write-too-loud

*****

I’ve recently added a “Buy Me a Cup of Coffee” account to my links. This allows you to leave a “tip” if you’d like to support my writing and other creative endeavors.

*****

Interaction is important to independent artists! If you like a video, song, book, podcast, or other creation of an independent artist, please consider helping them (and me!) out by "liking," commenting, subscribing, and sharing.

Feedback is important. Yours is welcome!

Find all of my links here: https://linktr.ee/ericswyatt

My main website: www.WordsMatterESW.com

My Amazon* Author Page gives you quick access to my books: https://amzn.to/3Ux5X83

Link to episode one, in case you're new to the Million Words Project.

*Amazon links provided may be affiliate links that earn me commission, while adding no additional cost to you.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page