Having a few years ago abandoned the 9-5 office life for the life of a project-based consultant and writer (whose working schedule resembles nothing so much as the extreme ups and downs of a polygraph), I am still amazed at the extent to which my expectations of my own productivity as a writer adhere to those of office culture. I try to be at my desk by 9.30 am, and if I haven’t exercised by then I simply won’t do any exercise at all that day (save for an occasional evening tennis match when I can find an opponent or three). The fact that I often waste hours with inconsequential online activity, the making or purchase and drinking of coffee, suddenly important domestic chores and so on fails to trigger in me the realisation that sometimes I’m not achieving anything at all by sitting at my desk, willing the words to come.
Over the 4th of July long weekend I conducted an experiment to see how much writing I would do each day. As it turned out, I wrote more than 1,000 words every day. But each time I wrote them between 3.30pm and 7.30pm. So if I could turn myself into my own client, I should be strongly advising myself that I get all my research tasks, personal admin, business development, exercise, grocery shopping and so forth out of the way by lunchtime, then have lunch with someone to network professionally or simply to catch up with a friend – and then get down to my real work. It would be great if I could take my own advice. Can I make this my resolution for the new financial year?