My Story Board.
Cal Newport is probably my work MVP over the course of this last year in A New Bloom. Around New Years last year he wrote about his rooted productivity document.
To be more concrete, create a single page document that describes the key productivity rules, habits, and systems (which I’ll summarize as “processes” in the following) that you currently follow in your life.
I type mine and keep it near my desk in a plastic sleeve (for privacy reasons, I’m showing you only the back below):
Some of the commitments on my root document include: daily and weekly planning, GTD task capture, my deep work rituals, my exercise routines, and the systems I use to track and review ideas.
Once you’ve written this root document you must make the following unbreakable root commitment:
I will do my best to: (a) follow the processes on these document; and (b) on a regular basis evaluate these processes and update the document to better reflect what’s working and what’s not, as well as what’s important to me and what’s not.
So what does mine look like? Well, I’ve already talked about what I do for my notebooks. That’s the funnel with which everything flows, so that even on days when I’m not in front of the computer hammering words, I’m still writing and making connections and building on stuff that’s come before. But there’s an added layer when it comes to new fiction ideas:
This Bulletin Board, or what I call: The Story Board. It’s filled with index cards, legal paper, various outlines and summary documents in forms of revision. Short story excerpts, to check lists, to supportive phrases (like Charles Soule’s Oracle Year personalized prediction.)
I got the idea from Benjamin Percy’s dark room, but Austin Kleon does something like it too. It’s a place where all the ideas I have for books, short stories, comics, and submission magazine notes go relating to my writing life. When I’m feeling stymied for something to work on I look at the board and see that I have no reason to feel stymied. New ideas occur to me every week and a notecard goes on the board. And that’s what helps me get up at 5am and writing past 9pm every week night. This is a part of my root productivity, some of the stories may work, some of them may be dead on the wall, but all of them will get used at some point in one form or another and I’m never short on projects to work on even when what I am currently working is just not clicking.