Productivity (Part Two of Two!)

Hey guys, it’s Kat! In case you missed it, Julie and I already talked a little about productivity and self-motivation tips on Wednesday. Today, we’re going to go more in depth about ways to use a community to help keep you on track.

Julie and I actually got the idea to write this post because we’ve been sharing a “Progress Report” spreadsheet between us for about 7 months now. It’s set up in a Google Spreadsheet, with a new sheet for each month, and every day, we update each other on what we have (and haven’t!) achieved writing-wise. It seems like a little thing, but knowing that you’re going to check in with someone at the end of each day is pretty motivating. I guess it’s similar to those tips about finding an exercise buddy, to keep you accountable.

Julie: The Progress Report has helped me a lot! I recognize that I’m the kind of person who produces better work when I know there’s a measure of accountability involved. (For instance, I was always good with handing in papers when I was in school.) Not to say that our shared Progress Report is like being in school, (I don’t feel like Kat is going to give me an F if I don’t get my work done!) but it does help keep me focused. By sharing my progress at the end of each day, I’m able to catch myself if I see a few days where I’m not getting anywhere. Sometimes I know I’ve just been “taking it easy,” or overwhelmed by other things, but other times I don’t realize that my productivity has declined until I’m typing the third, “didn’t get much done today,” in a row. When I see things moving in the wrong direction, I can step back and figure out what might be wrong, and correct it.

Kat: I give Julie As every day 😉

Julie: Haha, thank you Kat! Actually, there is a bit of a grading component to the Progress Report, but we don’t grade each other. On the days we feel particularly good about our accomplishments, we give ourselves a check mark.

Kat: Which is really motivating, too. Positive reinforcement, and all 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who can actually be too hard on myself. After two or three unproductive days, it’s all too easy for me to slip into “Oh, god, I’ve done NOTHING this whole week!” mode…which, of course, only kills my productivity even more. When I have a record of my progress, it’s easier for me to tell myself, “Ok, so you had a bad day or two or three, but hey, before that you were doing great! Let’s get back to that.” Plus, when Julie also sees my progress, she can be that reasonable voice that tells me, “You’re doing fine.”

Julie: And she’s doing fine all the time. 😉 But that’s a great point. By sharing our updates every day, we’re able to add in notes of encouragement to each other. It feels a lot less like I’m working all alone!

Kat: This spreadsheet method has worked really well for me, but there are other ways of using a community to keep you accountable. For example, in the past I’ve sometimes had critique partners send me chapters as they revise them. I think there’s something satisfying and “done!” feeling about doing something concrete to mark the completion of each chapter. At the end of the day, it’s the same idea of keeping yourself on track because someone is going to be watching over your progress.

Julie: Kat, I love that idea! I’ve never had that type of relationship with a critique partner, but I have turned over my chapters to a non-writer friend as I worked. It gave me the same sense of completion you were talking about, (even though I wasn’t expecting feedback on the writing.) Most writers probably have a few people in their lives who would be more than happy to assume this role–if not another writer who is already a critique partner, then a family member or close friend. I know a few members of the Sweet 16s debut group have mentioned that they belong to writers’ groups, which meet regularly to read each other’s work and lend support.

Again, we’d love to hear from you guys. Does this sound like something you could see yourself doing with a critique partner/friend? Or are you already using some other method that works well for you? Let us know!


8 Responses to Productivity (Part Two of Two!)

  1. Laura Wardle Jul 10 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Another great post, ladies! I love the idea of sharing a progress report with a writing friend. I check in every once in a while with my critique partners, but not nearly enough. This would be a great solution for accountability and touching base more often with a writing friend/critique partner. Definitely something to consider.

    For now, I get accountability from my husband. We share our progress with each other throughout the day—he’s an engineer—and keep up to date on our goals/plans. Nothing concrete as such, but it does helps keep us accountable.

    Julie, you mentioned that seeing patterns in your progress helps you step back and re-evaluate. I’m the same with keeping tabs in my day planner—especially when my daily word count slips and stays low for more than a day. Referencing my writing journal (where I write about the kind of writing day I’ve had), enables me to pinpoint the problem and take steps to fix it. A very valuable tool.

    • Kat Jul 10 2015 at 10:39 am #

      Thank you, Laura! It sounds like you and your husband do a great job in keeping each other on track in your work 🙂

  2. allreb Jul 10 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    My writing group helps with accountability – it isn’t all that formal, but we meet once a week and usually lay out our goals for the next week, so when next week rolls around and we check in, we can say “Yep, I did it!” or, well… not. But knowing I’ll have to admit whether or not I achieved my goals to other people helps keep me on track.

    • Kat Jul 12 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      That sounds like a great way to keep on track! 🙂

  3. Bex Jul 11 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    Make me do math to comment! I’m a writer, not a math teacher, Jim!

    I love the idea of a spreadsheet. I have a small fb group where we sort of touch base with each other as we feel like we need it, and while it’s motivating to an extent, I’m the sort of person that really thrives with more structured goals and progress reports. I wonder if you’d be willing to share a blank copy of the spreadsheet with us? I’d like to try and implement something similar with a friend.

    • Kat Jul 12 2015 at 12:07 pm #

      Haha, yeah, it’s to try to keep out the spambots.

      I thought about putting up a blank spreadsheet, but it’s honestly pretty simple (and I unfortunately can’t attach pictures in comments). There are 4 columns and 30/31 rows (depending on the days that month). The 4 columns are labeled “Kat,” “Julie,” “✓ Kat” and “✓ Julie.” The rows are simply labeled with each date of the month (1/1/2015, etc).

      Each day, Julie and I fill in our cell with what we did for the day. If we felt like we did a great job for the day, we give ourselves a ✓ in the ✓ column. And that’s really about it 🙂 You could add things depending on what you and your friend want.

  4. Alexa S. Jul 13 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    Oh, I really definitely think it helps to have a buddy to hold you accountable in staying productive! I’ve struggled before when I was working on my own. Now that my husband and I have an update schedule, it does help a lot when it comes to me being proactive and productive when it comes to writing!

    • Kat Jul 13 2015 at 9:32 pm #

      Writing/productivity buddies are the best 🙂 🙂

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