Jay Barnson wrote about the importance of lists and mentioned his experience with a lack of productivity that made me think he was watching me at home the night before…what a creep!
I had most of an evening dedicated to working on Oracle’s Eye. The next thing I know, it is 11PM and I haven’t done much to improve the game at all. Maybe I changed some code, but I didn’t really have a good direction or focus. And even after I’ve posted about planning my next steps!
I also noticed that my Next Actions list isn’t strictly a list of next actions. I already knew that it wasn’t perfect, but a number of items have been sticking around for longer than I thought they would. I put a new entry: “Analyze/Update this list” for when I had time to do so.
When I read through the items, I realized that the problem was that many of the items weren’t next actions at all. A lot of them were objectives or goals. I wrote down what results I wanted, but I didn’t write down the actionable steps needed to get there. For example, my entry “Create level loader for Oracle’s Eye” isn’t a next action. It is too vague for me to do anything with, requires me to try to remember what I need to do, and so it is really easy to gloss over it and try to find something else to do. Next action items on a list are supposed to be effortless at reminding me what I need to do. I should not need to question what my actual action is; it’s right there on the page!
I haven’t been happy with only getting an hour to work on the game project during a session. It doesn’t seem right that I can sit down at the computer for two to five hours and only get minutes of actual work completed. By not having specific and clear lists, I’m sabotaging my productivity and making it a lot easier to procrastinate, and as Barnson says, “managing yourself can be a trick”.
As for my list, I think that rather than fixing it so that they are all Next Actions, I should recognize that the list has Projects. I could then create a few Project pages in my notebook (or at least get a good excuse for buying a new notebook for each Project) and list Next Actions under each one. It will force me to write down actual Next Actions, which will make it easier for me to work on my tasks when I do get a chance.
The next time I sit down for project development, I shall be awesomes.