Project Motivation: Phase One

Project Motivation is all about getting myself to work more efficiently and effectively by using self-management strategies rather than requiring motivation from outside influences, such as deadlines imposed by others.  Basically, because I want to work for myself, I have to teach myself to follow self-imposed rules, schedules and deadlines (That was a lot of self in one sentence).

Phase one is all about increasing working behavior.  At this point, I am working sporadically on various writing  projects.  There are days I work for hours without stopping, but more often I work for 10-15 minutes before getting bored or frustrated and moving on to another project or going to do something else entirely.

To be able to increase a behavior, it’s important that you define it.  Here is my definition:

Working: sitting at workspace and actively engaging in work-related activity (i.e. writing, typing, reading work material), without pausing or looking at non-work-related materials for more than 15 seconds, for the duration of the work session.

My chosen definition required that I specify a few things, namely: what is my workspace? what counts as work? what is a work session?

This is my workspace:

I’m going to work strictly at my desk to start, but hope to be able to add other work spaces as I progress.

Defining “work” wasn’t quite as clear.  I’m currently trying to establish stronger portfolios in three areas: creative writing, copy writing and grant writing.  I am frequently at different stages for different projects so “work” may be writing, researching, making contacts or revising, depending on the project at hand.  I plan to have a running list of projects and/or assignments from which to choose for each work session.  Because one of my major issues is staying focused on one thing at a time, I will only allow myself to work one assignment per work session.  I can only move on to another assignment when the first one chosen is complete or if completion requires an action from an outside source for which I must wait.

In the beginning, a work session will be 15 minutes, which will be rewarded by 30 minutes of free time to do something fun, like reading, napping, talking to friends or practicing handstands.  Basically, if I work I get to play.  When my 30 minutes are up, I’ll go back to work and repeat the cycle for a total duration of four hours.  Since a typical work day is 8 hours, I will repeat the cycle twice each day, probably in the morning and evening because that is when I’m most alert and productive.

When I am successful in working (as defined above) through all work sessions without getting off task for 4 out of 5 days, I will increase the length of a work session by 15-minute increments, until I am working for four hours straight.  I will also schedule myself two days off on which I won’t require work session cycles.  And, I will  plan for flexibility in my schedule by allowing increased work sessions to make up for times when scheduling conflicts keep me from completing two, full 4-hour cycles on a given day.

The last, but probably most important, aspect of this project is accountability.  I will hold myself accountable by requiring myself to post a weekly progress update, on Sunday evenings, in which I will share my successes and failures for the week and evaluate my performance.  If I don’t complete my weekly update, I will have to give away a book, which to some may be nothing, but for me is a very serious consequence.

Phase one will be considered complete when I am successfully working on writing assignments for forty hours a week.  At that point I’ll take a look at my work behavior, decide what I want to tackle next and move on to phase two.

Don’t worry, between updates, I’ll continue to dazzle you with my random musings, experiences and/or antics.



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