For this assignment we were asked to read and reflect on an article by James Clear, which excited me because of our previous project when we read his book Atomic Habits. I enjoyed that book a lot and felt that it really helped me with working on my personal goals and habits. After looking through his vast collection of articles I decided on an article that described writer Anthony Trollope’s approach to keeping productive, and working at a fast pace. In 38 years Anthony Trollope published 47 novels, 18 works of non-fiction, 12 short stories, 2 plays, and an assortment of articles and letters. Truly amazing, and with that incredible track record for productivity, how could I not be intrigued.
James Clear began his article by explaining his experience when it came to big projects bogging him down and his reflection on what he’d been doing wrong — I loved hearing about his personal struggles with productivity. He then explained that his approach was to do the most important and longest thing on his list first to get it out of the way, doing the things of lesser importance later. But James felt stalled and unmotivated after a while when he had been working for such a long time, but hadn’t crossed anything off of his list.
Trollope’s approach when doing big projects was to not receive a reward at the end, but within short increments of time throughout the process — for him, every 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of writing, he had to have finished writing 250 words, and if done so he’d get that satisfaction and motivation. Writing a novel is a big project, and so instead of focussing on the immensity of the job, he focussed on small goals. I find this idea interesting because I often get anxiety from big projects that seem daunting, but breaking it down into tiny bits makes it seem manageable. This process makes sense to me because I understand that need for instant reward, and that a lot of people don’t succeed with their long-term goals because they get bored of the enormity of the task.
When I was a competitive ballet dancer, considering it now, I used to use this process almost subconsciously. So much work goes into training and competing at that level, and the only way to stay mentally strong was to go step by step, and keep my mind off of the main picture most of the time, which allowed me to just do my work. Reading this article made me really realize that again, and the fact that I should start applying this mindset and process back into my life in school and my other activities. It will also come in handy in quarantine, especially for students. All of a sudden, there’s so much work coming in from every angle, and not only do you have to do it, but you have to teach yourself how to do it at home, with Netflix right there — which at least for me, has been quite anxiety inducing. Even with a sound organization system it’s so easy to slip into not getting things done, which is when the work piles up and creates more stress, making it harder to finish it. Using this system will most likely take some stress away from school on my part.
I really enjoy reflecting this way in PGP, as it really makes me realize the things I have to work on, and provides me tools to help with it. Especially in this sensitive time of quarantine it’s really helpful to have resources to rely on, and stimulation for reflection. Reflection is so important when it comes to learning because as a student, and young person, I have so much new information coming at me all the time, so lots of it is bound to get lost! Learning strategies to keep on track is crucial, and the fact that we’re learning science and research based strategies in school is mind-blowingly awesome. I’m definitely going to put Antony Trollope’s approach to use in the coming weeks of Covid-19!