The key to getting things done? Being accountable for the work and having a deadline. – Jocelyn K. Glei
About Jocelyn K. Glei
Jocelyn K. Glei is a writer who writes about work and creativity in the Age of Distraction. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Jocelyn was the Founding Editor and Director of the 99U where she lead editorial as well as the creation of The 99U Book Series and the curation of the popular 99U Conference. Her first book, Unsubscribe, is a modern guide to getting rid of email anxiety, avoiding distraction, and spending more time on the work that matters.
In this interview Jocelyn talks about how can we make our creative work as addictive as social media, why the old adage and expression “plan the work and then work the plan” is great advice for writers and how mastery and success is a result of lots and lots of practice, not one’s gift or talent.
We also discuss completion bias, visualizing your writing progress by piling all the printed drafts of your writing project on your desk (stacked one on top of the other), and why it’s oh-so-important to remember that the best productivity system is personal, not prescribed.
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Topics We Explored
- How our technology is designed to take advantage of the way our brain works in order to get and keep our attention.
- Completion bias. How we seek easy tasks to complete quickly vs longer creative projects that takes time to finish.
- How can we make our creative work as addictive as social media.
- Plan the work and then work the plan.
- Why, if you’ve never written a book before, you should keep the first topic of your book simple and within your wheelhouse.
- Organizing your workday to align with your circadian rhythms.
- Morning people vs. night owls. And why, perhaps, no matter if you’re a morning person or not, you should do the most important work first.
- Idealizing success that’s based on talent rather than practice.
- Print out the drafts of your book and keep them on your desk, one on top of the other, so that you could visualize your progress.
- Tape a “big picture, where are you going” piece of paper on the wall over or nearby your desk. This piece of paper includes a list of the core projects that you’re focused on and 3-4 key things that you’d like to accomplish over the next few months, as well as your goals and the key steps you need to take to get there.
- To track your progress, pin a calendar on the wall and at the end of every day write down how many words you wrote as well as any other key, meaningful tasks that you were able to complete that are helping you move toward those larger goals.
- The #1 motivator for people at work is seeing progress. To aid in this, keep a sort of “work gratitude journal” where, at the end of the day, you write down all of the “small wins” you were able to achieve that day.
- The #2 motivator for people at work is appreciation. Productivity increases when the people you work with show you gratitude and appreciation.
- The key to getting things done? Being accountable for the work and having a deadline.
- Create an outline for your writing project and once you get started on the actual writing, never change that outline. No matter what.
- The first draft is always perfect. Its only job is to exist.
- The best productivity system is personal, not prescribed. If you want to be more productive, invest in your own approach. Customize it and make it uniquely your own. There is no such thing as the perfect system for everyone. Cobble together the productivity best practices that work for you and forget about the rest.
- If you pursue different interests, your calling will emerge. Meaning emerges from mastery, rather than knowing exactly what you want to do from the start.
Resources and Books Mentioned
- Jocelyn’s latest book Unsubscribe
- Jocelyn’s CreativeMornings talk on “Working Smarter in the Age of Distraction”
- The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books, by Eviatar Zerubavel (book)
- Plan the Work – Work the Plan (resource)
- Circadian rhythm (Wikipedia)
- The Taste Gap: Ira Glass on the Secret of Creative Success (Brain Pickings)
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (book)
- 99U and Behance (and their founder Scott Belsky)
- Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build your Routine, Find your Focus & Sharpen your Creative Mind, by Jocelyn K. Glei and 99U (book)
- Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact, by Jocelyn K. Glei and 99U (book)
- Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career, by Jocelyn K. Glei and 99U (book)