Fridays have a way of sneaking up on us. As much as we all look forward to the end of the work week and the weekend, we’ve also all had that moment where we look up from our desk, realize it’s late afternoon on a Friday, and ask ourselves “what the hell did I get done this week?” only to be disappointed by the answer.
At this point, you may already be thinking about how you can do better next week. After all, much of the advice you’ll hear about productivity is to end your week by planning for next week, so that when Monday arrives you feel less overwhelmed and ready to start your week. Making a plan, however, is meaningless if you can’t execute it effectively. So before you open your planner to next Monday, take a moment to reflect on what happened this week, and think about what went right in addition to what went wrong.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started. You’ll see that some of the potential responses might feel so familiar, you’ll think you wrote this post yourself. Or, you may find that there are other forces at play not even mentioned below that are either supporting or hindering your writing goals.
Did I schedule any writing sessions this week?
No, I didn’t schedule any writing time.
- I felt too overwhelmed by all of my other obligations.
- I didn’t have time for a long writing session, and I didn’t think a short writing session was worth it.
- I didn’t even think about scheduling any writing time.
Did I write at the scheduled time?
How did I manage to do it?
- I made sure not to schedule anything else during that time.
- I said to no to requests I received after I made my writing schedule.
- I wrote away from my office or other spaces that have distractions.
- I had a non-negotiable deadline so I had no choice but to write.
- I wrote early in the morning before I got distracted.
- I wrote later in the day after I handled all of my other obligations.
- I got caught up in grading.
- I had to attend a meeting that was scheduled after I made my writing schedule.
- There was a work emergency.
- There was a personal emergency.
- I started writing but got interrupted.
So much of our productivity talk is focused on doing rather than reflecting. Yet, if we fail to understand the why behind our actions, we’ll never be able to change our behavior or maintain the good habits that we already have. If you answer the questions above weekly for a few weeks, you will begin to notice patterns. Those patterns will tell you much of what you need to know to improve or maintain your writing practice. Then, you can sit down on a Friday afternoon to schedule the next week’s writing, confident that you will get that writing done.