Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoughts From Another Create / Consumer

When I first came up with Create / Consume, one of the first thoughts I had was that it would be a great project to pitch to others to do themselves, since it's tremendously flexible. Lots of friends showed interest, but so far only one of them actually followed through and did the full experiment for a month.

The face of a man who knows how to balance his time.
My fellow Create / Consumer's name is Drew Tarvin. I met him a few years back at the Magnet Theater where we both perform improv every week. Drew went through his own version of C/C that was fairly similar to the one I set up for myself, tracking writing, shows, research on the one end, and internet use, TV, and leisure reading on the other. He also tracked a few "gray area" items of note (like watching improv shows).

Hmm, even more time creation time than me. No need to outshine me on my own project, Drew!

He even went so far as to track the times of day he was most productive, something I didn't even think of:

Drew's thoughts on the very successful experiment can be found on his personal blog - which you should totally go check out. I'd like to share his final thoughts on the experience here though, right now:

"So what was the biggest benefit of all this? For me it was giving me insight into how I work and keeping me honest about how I’m spending my time. By having the data in front of me, I can make strategic decisions on things I want to keep or change (such as less time on the Internet).
But perhaps the greatest thing about doing this challenge was that simply knowing I was tracking my time influenced my behavior for the better. Early on when I didn’t have much “creation time” reserved, I did less consumption because I didn’t want to tip the scales. That alone was worth implementing the system.
For those of you with creative ambitions, I recommend you give it a try. You certainly don’t have to keep as strenuous of logs, nor do you have to go into as much analysis, but it is an interesting challenge to at least try for a month."
Thanks a ton Drew for fully committing to the experiment and helping to spread the word. Create / Consume is officially a multi-person project!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One Month Challenge Completed!!

There you have it. My final numbers for my first successful month of Create / Consume. 85 hours and 14 minutes of creation to 56 hours and 1 minute of consumption, which came out to a nice overall 60/40 split. I really did it you guys!

By comparison (and in addition to the hours seen above), I slept for about 217 hours (No, I didn't actually track this, but I know for a fact that I come pretty close to 7 hours of sleep on average each night), worked my day job for 144 hours, and whatever else time was left in the month was spent commuting, bathing, exercising, cooking, eating or very likely, socializing (though there's definite crossover with that and movies, television and games).

Lots of great stuff accomplished in thirty one days. Four research books read, a full revision on my card game, a second draft of an older short story I was working on, and a first draft of a new story. Four weeks of improv shows/practice, one live storytelling set, and an average of two blogs posts a week on this blog and my other main blog (not to mention regular updates on my Batman tumblr).

With plenty of time still spent enjoying myself. Over a full day of television! Seems high, but national stats show I'm very much on the low end here for a full month compared to the average American (2.8 hours a day, or 83.7 hours a month). And that's just with television!

Next Steps / Going Forward

So you'll be happy to here I'm not done with Create / Consume. I absolutely love having an excuse to not be lazy, and I've yet to discover something as effective. So this is not the end of the project for me, merely the beginning.

Here are the changing I'll be making going forward, adjusting from the initial rules I set for myself:

1) First and foremost, I'm allowing myself some "vacation" time this weekend, as a reward for finishing the first month. I have a three day weekend coming up, so from Friday evening through Monday evening I'm allowing myself UNLIMITED CONSUMPTION, which won't be tracked at all. Then it's back to regular C/C again. I may do this once a month or so as a nice break, or whenever I leave town and am actually on a legitimate vacation.

2) I may at some point decide to count certain activities as 'creation' that are only actual creations in the loosest sense of the word. 'Exercise & Chores' is probably a lot more accurate. But I could use any added incentive to work out and do things like paint my apartment, so I'm ok with loosening the original requirements for the experiment for the sake of added overall productivity.

3) I may also adjust the values of certain kinds of creations over others. I've found that as a writer I am incredibly bad about editing/revising pieces I've written once I've finished and have cooled off a draft. Tweaking old ideas just never appeal to me as much as cranking out new ones. The solution? Editing and revising old drafts will counts as double creation, meaning every minutes effectively counts as two. I may do the same for other activities I similarly find myself dragging my legs with. And conversely, if a situation arises with a certain consumption I find myself addicted to (Skyrim, anyone?) I may do the same there to curb the habit a bit.

4) Non-research books are just going to be a neutral activity going forward. I think reading is always going to be valuable as a writer, and so I'm not going to punish myself for indulging on that front, unless I wind up with a subscription to US Weekly or something. Podcasts will also get a pass going forward, just because I listen to them while I'm walking or working out and they distract no more or less than music does, which was already exempt.

5) Lastly, I'm allowing myself to have internet breaks at work without penalty. Like most people who work in an office, I take mental breaks during the day, and all last month I recorded that time (approximately 15 minutes each day) diligently, but since I'm not counting the work I do at my day job as creation, I don't feel it's fair to penalize myself for the breaks I take from it. However, if I'm able to get away from my desk for lunch (which is not always possible), I will count that time towards either creation or consumption depending on how I use it.


I won't be updating weekly with stats anymore, but I will certainly continue to post here with updates regarding my own personal experience with the project, and for any related ideas that may help others who are looking to do the same thing (and if you're working on this project now, and have any thoughts or feedback, please let me know!)

Thanks to everyone for following along. I hope so far you've found the project as interesting as I have. Here's to another successful month, year, and/or lifetime of balance and productivity!