Personal Productivity

The author’s signature crossword puzzle, for Fortune magazine, which won the 1971 International Crossword Puzzle Championship.

When I think about my personal productivity, I think not about a to-do list or some other arbitrary quantifiable metric, but rather a process, based on my own experience and research on writing and writing success. In my research, I find some patterns that have served me well. I mention them in the sections below. As a written-word expert, I’ve found that by organizing my mind as carefully as possible, working regularly, and spending my most active writing moments in specific parts of my brain, I can achieve much more with less downtime. We don’t want to create work that will completely derail us later.

The good news is that you don’t need to write as much as I do, or to have the same results, to achieve these goals. There are simply more pieces of time in our lives, and more opportunities to keep moving forward. So you don’t need to spend all your time doing one thing. Every bit of time you spend doing one thing gives you opportunities to do other things. So as you learn to put more effort into productive activities, you have more chances to participate in other things and to move forward.

You can start with checking your email, which helps you get something done—and makes you feel better about yourself and your choices for today.

As you grow in your productivity as you age, there will be changes that you will need to consider. Some of these will be very profound, and I welcome your input as you start making your changes.

Take a moment to write about some of your personal productivity guides. How do you track your time or how often do you go online? Do you stay connected to your digital world while you’re away from your desk? What are your daily routines for completing tasks? How do you get things done?