Simple time hack

Cory Doctorow, a Canadian blogger/author, at a...
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Most of us live pretty busy lives and it is hard to find time for various tasks and jobs that you need to get done. Our modern world is full of distraction; emails, rss feeds, skype, ichat, etc. Some of the best brain hacks are the ones that make us more productive and allow us to pursue something that is important to us.

Cory Doctorow, a writer which I admire, and one of the founders boing boing, offers some tips in this article.

Short, regular work schedule

When I’m working on a story or novel, I set a modest daily goal — usually a page or two — and then I meet it every day, doing nothing else while I’m working on it. It’s not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it’s entirely possible to make it all shut up for 20 minutes. Writing a page every day gets me more than a novel per year — do the math — and there’s always 20 minutes to be found in a day, no matter what else is going on. Twenty minutes is a short enough interval that it can be claimed from a sleep or meal-break (though this shouldn’t become a habit). The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day’s page between sessions.

Now Cory is talking about his technique to sit down and write a novel – but you could use his tip for whatever long term project that you want to get done.

Another of his related suggestions I thought was very useful:

Don’t be ceremonious

Forget advice about finding the right atmosphere to coax your muse into the room. Forget candles, music, silence, a good chair, a cigarette, or putting the kids to sleep. It’s nice to have all your physical needs met before you write, but if you convince yourself that you can only write in a perfect world, you compound the problem of finding 20 free minutes with the problem of finding the right environment at the same time. When the time is available, just put fingers to keyboard and write. You can put up with noise/silence/kids/discomfort/hunger for 20 minutes.

Writing a novel is no easy task. Cory is a very busy person writing many articles through out the year, giving numerous talks, not to mention his heavy contribution to the very popular boing boing. Despite all these other ‘distractions’, including plenty of net surfing not only to keep up with the modern world that contributes to his story writing, and essays, and his work at boing boing, but he still manages to pump out a novel a year by carving out those 20 minutes each and every day.

If he can write a novel a year by finding 20 minutes a day what could you accomplish?

Find those 20 minutes each day and who knows what you might end up with.

2 comments for “Simple time hack

  1. JB
    January 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    good advice. you could write a thesis like that! here’s more:

  2. Ward
    January 15, 2009 at 11:34 am


    yes a person dedicating 20 minutes a day could write a thesis, start a business, make a new invention, write a novel, get in shape, learn a new language, learn a musical instrument, learn a new field – no end to what a person could accomplish.