productivity system

Six-Month Check-In

As I’ve mentioned a few times here now, back in the summer I sat down and thought about what I want from my near-future life. I wrote up some goals and a three-year outline, devised tracking systems, and committed to a weekly review of how things were going. Today marks Week 26, so I figured it was a good time for some public accountability.

The overall approach is working. I have modified some bits along the way, but I haven’t abandoned any part of the system I came up with. It’s light-weight enough that I don’t get bogged down in record-keeping, and it’s keeping me on track without too much pressure.

Some goals have seen a lot of results. My new job is going even better than I had hoped it would, so I’m not planning to make any changes in that area any time soon. Not having that pressure and anxiety has been an amazing change, I gotta say.

We’ve been knocking it out of the park on the home improvement front. I type this in my freshly-painted brilliant yellow kitchen, which cheers me up every time I look at it. (Even the mistakes make me happy–I did this whole thing by myself, and that feels awesome.) I’m excited to keep going with these small improvements. As simple a thing as making a list and committing to doing one or two things every month is working. Not all of the projects are expensive; throwing out things that are broken or never used counts.

In six months of writing, I sent out ten query letters, wrote 72k words of a new book before shelving that one for the time being, wrote out a solid plan for 2020-21, finally did one of those Twitter pitch contests (still waiting for a reply), and am 46k words into a new project. And blogging regularly! Basically, I am doing all of the things that I feel like I should be doing. If I don’t get anywhere this year, it won’t be for lack of effort.

Equally as important as all of the above, I have clues where things are not working smoothly. Sometimes there are external factors — so maybe I need to adjust my plan to allow for reality — and sometimes there’s more of an internal block. That tells me what I need to do before I can start to move in the direction I want.

Sometimes that thing is “give myself a break.” We are still in the midst of an incredibly stressful global emergency — coming up on a full year of barely leaving the apartment — and at pretty much the worst time of year for weather-related glumness. Cabin fever has made itself right at home these past couple of weeks. Sometimes you have to toss out the to-do list and binge-read Arthurian legends, or watch the Kung Fu Panda trilogy four times in one week. The mood will pass, and the plan will still be there.

I’ll check in on this again in August.