Does your day just whizz by? Get productive with Outlining
Have you had days when by the end of the day you’re wondering what the hell did I accomplish. Well yesterday was one such day for me. It just sucked out all I had and at the end of the day I was left wondering if I had achieved anything at all.
From Frustration to Light at the end of the Tunnel
Literally like a beam of light cutting thru the darkness I came across a really simple technique called Outlining by Sean D’Souza from Psychotactics.com (If you haven’t read his stuff do yourself a favour and go visit his site).
How to Outline?
Outlining is a deceptively simple but powerful technique. For e.g. while writing this article the outline I created was:
Outline for the article:
- Day Whizzed by (problem)
- Outlining (Solution)
- How to Outline e.g. Article
- One more example – Day Planning
- Why Outline – What does it give us?
- Tools Available for Outlining
Its a list of the things I want to include in the article. For e.g. Sean writes some 300-500 articles per year and when you’re writing so much, it makes sense to outline - list and get your thoughts in order else each article is going to take a while.
Your Day Planner – How is this different from a task List?
For me personally, even though I have tasks listed down I got stuck. What I did do different and how it worked for me was that I outlined the day in the morning on a piece of paper and put it right on my desk. Somehow the piece of paper sticking out just helped me breeze thru today, even though today was a much busier day for me. Best of all I achieved even more than the day before, including writing this article.
I think the proof of the pudding is truly in the eating. I bit the bullet and did exactly as Sean suggested, and it help me get the following:
- Clarity on what I want done thru the day
- Clarity on my article (note. I’ve never used outlining for an article). This just boosted my article writing productivity by 200%.
What are the tools available for Outlining?
- I used a piece of paper stuck onto my desk- You can use a computer software like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or plain old Notepad.
- You could also use a MindMap. In fact I used it today to create a new outline for an eBook I’m writing.
The large paper sticking on my desk kept reminding me and kept me focussed thru the day. I’ve used computer lists before, however the paper on the desk worked for me. Figure out what works for you.
One key concept that Sean added was the idea of planning for chaos or keeping time aside for unknowns. This one thing alone helped me a lot.
Go ahead and read Sean’s entire article http://www.psychotactics.com/blog/lack-planning-waste-time/.
(For those who are curious, this 500 word article took me precisely 31 minutes to write, and I attribute it completely to outlining.)