Productivity Tip: Fail-safe activities

office-notes-notepad-entrepreneur-38556-2

This is no ordinary fail-safe.

Before we talk about what a “fail-safe activity” is, as practitioners of an imaginative craft, we may unwittingly procrastinate in front of smart devices. On returning to our senses, we lament at the time lost, but we find ourselves at a loss when it comes to time management.

 

In my spare time, I study how people remain productive, and I blogged about productivity here and here. Recently, however, I’ve found myself in a productivity slump, and my lack of zest troubles me greatly. Besides, I don’t want to feel lazy. However, I recall the adage

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

 

So I decided to plan what I should do when I am no longer motivated to do the tasks at hand. I categorise these activities as “fail-safe”.

 

For example, I need to do a huge work-related project, but I also have several writing projects at hand as well as MOOC coursework. Instead of resorting to social media when I cannot stand the boredom, or learn to forcibly “fall in love with boredom”, I create the following flowchart:

 

Flowchart

 

Right now…

@1 Do work-related project

Motivated?
YES: Keep doing
NO: Fail safe @2: Writing Project 1 for 5 minutes

5 minutes later…

Motivated?
YES: Return to @1
NO: Fail safe @2: MOOC Coursework for 5 minutes

… (finite time-limited choices)

Motivated?
YES: Return to @1
NO: Take a shower/bite/drink and then return to @1

Task completed?
YES: Replace @1 with @2, @2 with @3 and so on, and then re-run the entire algorithm
NO: Keep doing

 

This flowchart can help exercise self-control and keep anyone on any number of important tasks. Instead of having to focus on a single task monotonously, we can now switch to different important tasks – and not even entertain the notion of procrastination – without thinking twice. It is also more practical than simply banning oneself from accessing social media sites, as the urge to go there is not quenched. However, with such a plan, completing the task-at-hand becomes easier and less boring because you can do a variety of tasks, just as spaced repetition – the practice of memorising the same words at a certain frequency not too fast or slow – makes one learn new vocabulary more efficiently.

 

Planning for failure makes success within one’s grasp. The next time you’ve hit a brick wall, try this method of planning ahead. Work in the 21st century is supposed to be flexible – and fun.

Advertisements

Sunshine Blogger Award

stuck

Long story short, I already have a lot on my plate and J. E. Klimov, not knowing that my hands are tangled up behind her monitor, has nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award, in which I am to answer questions based on a character I’ve invented.

I have a YA novel in progress featuring a teenage girl called Claudia Shannon. So I’m going to slip into her shoes for a moment and answer the following questions posed by J. E. Klimov.

(1) Are you named for someone in your author’s life? If so, why? Do you like your name?

Claude Shannon is an esteemed mathematician and engineer, and the concept of Shannon entropy in information theory is named after him. My creator, Cassandra Lee, is also a mathematics and engineering graduate. Of course I like my name. I just don’t like what Cass is going to turn me into, though.


(2) Do you feel confident that you’re going to make it into a sequel (or would, if there was one)?

Definitely. The flip side of being a protagonist in Cass’s story is that she refuses to let me die.


(3) What would be your ideal pet?

The titular cat in Toby and the Cat, another work in progress by Cass to be released in February 2018. I’m not giving you any spoilers, but even though it looks like just another British shorthair, wait till you see it in action.


(4) Do you have a sidekick or helper? Who are they?

My imaginary self called “You”. Basically, in the novel Cass is writing about me, I can only rely on myself.


(5) If you were stuck on a deserted island, which other character in the book would you want to be stuck with the most? The least? (Can answer one or both)

The most? Gareth. Ohhhh how I love this gorgeous boy. He would have been one of those who laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I began to play…!

The least? Melanie. Try not to step in her shoes.


(6) Is your author disproportionately cruel to you, or does she enjoy embarrassing you for comic relief?

She really doesn’t want me to go through too terrible a fate, but to some extent I wonder if she’s projecting her own insecurities on me, more than I’m trying to live up to her standards of being a character in a novel. The good thing about having Cass as the author is that she won’t let colourful language out of my mouth.


​(7) What is something you’d like to tell your author?

I don’t have all the answers but I sure have lots of questions.


Now that I’ve answered my lot, I’m going to nominate some other writing buddies.

C. P. Mulé: We enjoy each other’s stories and we met because of a short story exchange on the writer’s community Scribophile.

K. P. Wayne: We’re both in the Just-Us League. He’s also the other writer with me on the Claudia story.

Melion Traverse: Another fellow member of the Just-Us League. The Melion is a mysterious yet hilarious creature not to be missed.

C. P., K. P. and Melion, you get the same questions as mine, and they are reposted for easy copying and pasting to your blogs.

As for other readers, don’t forget to connect with C. P., K. P. and Melion through their blogs. They might not reveal themselves much when they sit before the keyboard, much like Claudia, but when they begin to play… 😀

  1. Are you named for someone in your author’s life? If so, why? Do you like your name?
  2. Do you feel confident that you’re going to make it into a sequel (or would, if there was one)?
  3. What would be your ideal pet?
  4. Do you have a sidekick or helper? Who are they?
  5. If you were stuck on a deserted island, which other character in the book would you want to be stuck with the most? The least? (Can answer one or both)
  6. Is your author disproportionately cruel to you, or does she enjoy embarrassing you for comic relief?
  7. What is something you’d like to tell your author?