“Are confident people more productive?”

Yes. Or is it no?

It’s going to be one or the other, really. Pick a side and a biscuit, then have a read of 99U’s feature on the topic.

Make time for reading

I found this on 99U in a piece called How to Make Time for New Hobbies but it boils down to reading and it boils down to that advice coming from a book. There is something meta about a book telling you to read, but I like it. The book is called The Obstacle Is the Way and the author is Ryan Holiday.

Said author says:

Where do you get the time to eat three meals a day? How do you have time to do all that sleeping? How do you manage to spend all those hours with your kids or wife or a girlfriend or boyfriend? You don’t get that time anywhere, do you? You just make it because it’s really important. It’s a non-negotiable part of your life.

…Perhaps the reason you having trouble is you forgot the purpose of reading. It’s not just for fun. Human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you.

How to Make More Time for New Hobbies – 99U

That is a direct quote from the book except that I got it indirectly: this is the same passage that 99U cites. Go read what they say about it in the full piece, would you?

Making a space to work in

I did a thing on Saturday, running a little writing session for some children in Birmingham, and for the first part of it, I got us all hiding under the tables. “I don’t want Santa to hear this,” I said. And I was in full-on performance mode, loads of ideas, all ready to fire, when I realised that the tables reminded me of something.

When I was the age of these same children, Blue Peter used to have a regular feature about toy trains. Even then I used to wonder what could you say in episode 2. And I’m not into trains. All power to you if you are, or at least all steam power. But I loved the desk they had it on.

It was big and enclosed: you had to clamber underneath and pop up in the middle. That’s what I was minded of on Saturday.

And it made me realise that I have lived with how much I loved that idea for all these years. Because my office may not have this circular desk but it has half of one. The desk goes down one wall and curves around the side. I work mostly in that curve. And admittedly the rest of the desk is a mess. But that curve matters to me.

Mind you, so does the iMac.

But the space you work in matters. I used to believe I could write anywhere and in fact right now I’m writing to you from my living room when I really should be in my office on a deadline. So plainly it’s not so wonderful that I’m drawn back to it irresistibly. Still, at 5am tomorrow morning I will sit on my Captain’s Chair (it’s a thing, that’s a type of furniture, it’s not a Star Trek reference) and I’ll pop headphones on and I will feel like I’ve climbed into my writing space.

All of which comes up chiefly because of Saturday but also now because of two completely different podcasts that just happen to cover this topic. They cover it in completely different but interesting ways. First up, MacPowerUsers interviews ex-Macworld writer Jason Snell on how he set up his home office now that he is indeed ex-Macworld. Listen to MacPowerUsers.

But then there’s 99U which was devoted an entire edition to Building the Perfect Workspace.

Vincent Van Gogh go go

The artist and latterly Doctor Who star Vincent knew his onions about being productive and creative:

Get started: Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile,” said van Gogh.

Do the work: Commit to your goals and go through the motions to achieve it – whether the outcome is good or bad. Vincent van Gogh believed if you do nothing, you are nothing.

Work for yourself: The longer you work and figure things out for yourself, the more active your brain becomes. An active brain is a more creative brain.

The Importance of Doing – 99U

That’s paraphrased Van Gogh. Paraphrased twice over: 99U writer Stephanie Kaptein has a piece examining Think Jar Collective with creativity author Michael Michalko who in turn examined the work ethic of artist Vincent van Gogh. Do go follow the rabbit hole into more and more detail about this.