In NaNoWriMo, utilizing every spare moment of the day is what helps you stay on top of your classes, get enough sleep, and cross the finish line.
…I’m really bad at using my time wisely. Sure, I plan my time down to the half-hour, but I never feel like doing what I’ve scheduled. I end up sitting at my desk arguing with myself over what to do until I’ve wasted an hour (or even two) fighting an arbitrary schedule of my own creation. And even if I remake the schedule, it happens again.
I can’t afford that kind of time loss during NaNoWriMo, so last year I created a productivity system based on a checkbox method that Austin Kleon used to create 250 poems in six months.
Here’s how it works:
- Make a to-do list for the week or the weekend. Include your assignments, word-count goal, and anything else you want to get done.
- Break up every single item on that list into manageable chunks that preferably take between 30 minutes and an hour to complete.
- Draw the boxes onto a sheet of paper, grouped by task.
- Fill in a box whenever you complete that portion of the task.
So simple it seems kind of stupid, doesn’t it? But turning your to-do lists into a visual progress bar can radically increase your productivity.
Usually when I have a spare 45 minutes I figure I don’t have enough time to get started on anything, but this system helps me shift my big-picture thinking down to the micro level and I actually get stuff done. Little by little, yes, but a small amount here and there is easier than trying to do it all at once.