Productivity Habits

This is an extract from an extract of a book about the habits of productive writers. What are your best creative habits?

Here’s the first paragraph of the extract by Oliver Burkeman and then the six habits he found in reading Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals:

One morning this summer, I got up at first light – I’d left the blinds open the night before – then drank a strong cup of coffee, sat near-naked by an open window for an hour, worked all morning, then had a martini with lunch. I took a long afternoon walk, and for the rest of the week experimented with never working for more than three hours at a stretch.

1. Be a morning person.

2. Don’t give up the day job.

3. Take lots of walks.

4. Stick to a schedule.

5. Practice strategic substance abuse [the most common is coffee]

6. Learn to work anywhere.

So, I’m asked, What about you, Scot?

1. Yes, by all means, I’m a morning person, usually at my desk by 7:30am.

2. Yes, again. I’m a professor.

3. I take lots of walks, but very few of them are walks of creativity. Kris and I walk daily … about 2 miles … and some of that time I wander into the reveries of creative thinking… and Yes, sometimes ideas come to me on our walks.

4. Yes, I’m a schedule kind of person. When I’m home, 7:30 to 3pm or so for writing and reading. Never at night for books. Almost never on weekends — and only if a deadline demands it… otherwise, it’s a M-Friday kind of scheduling. Teaching, of course, finds me in a different schedule but we’re talking here about the writing schedule. My summers are M-Friday schedules of 7:30 to 3pm, though I do shut the desk down as early as 2pm on some Fridays.

5. I drink coffee at 6am, 8am and usually at 12:30 to 1pm. Never after 3pm.

6. I can adapt to different places. I don’t have to very often, as I write from home … The extractor who wrote this article nailed me. Dead center. I would add one but don’t know if it is true of the creative sorts:

7. Don’t work non-stop day and night … leads to burnout. Let your mind rest from the one project… brain studies seem to say the mind keeps working in free associations and making connections not otherwise made, which wouldn’t be the case if you work 7am to 10pm on the same project day after day.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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