In life we all play a lot of different roles. I am a partner, a mother, a friend, a writer, and a business owner, among others. Sometimes it is hard for me to transition between these roles, which slows me down and makes me feel inefficient and disconnected.
In writing I have different roles too: I cultivate ideas, plan what I’m going to write, write, revise, and post. For Writership, I am a teacher and curator. I read this post earlier this year, which helped me to think of these different roles as hats. It was then I noticed that, instead of having neat shelves for my hats, it felt as though I was wandering around and stumbling upon the right hat, sometimes and sometimes not. It was not a system that worked well for me.
I’ve been working on improving my transitions and efficiency, and what I’ve found is that donning the appropriate hat (and its accompanying accessories) for me comes down to setting an intention, setting the scene, and checking to see what’s working. This process makes it easier for me to stay on task, work efficiently, and allow for more joy and connection in everything. Here is how my system works.
First I set an intention. When I start a task I think about why I want to do it and what I hope to gain from it. I want to work on my novel and make progress because I want to finish the first draft. I want to read and gather articles and blog posts for the Daily Port of Call because I love learning and love sharing great content. I want to write informative and supportive Daily Gems for Writership participants so that they will have a good experience and receive what they need.
Then I set the scene. To work on my novel and fully enter my imaginary world, I need to focus and work uninterrupted and undistracted. So I turn off my computer the night before (to avoid accidentally looking at the browser when I enter my office), wake up two hours before my children do (usually), and I loosen up my mind and fingers with three morning pages. Then I play my undercover soundtrack and start writing. Setting the scene is setting myself up for success. I have cues, both mental and physical, that help me attend to the task that needs to be done.
At regular intervals, I ask, what’s working, what’s not, and what should I try next? I learned this up from Seth Godin’s Pick Four, a workbook to help in the pursuit of goals. Each week you look at highlights, what got in the way, and what you learned from what didn’t work. This habit allows me to keep what works, get rid of what doesn’t, and continue to improve my way of working. Experimenting is a big part of this, and helps me to get out of ruts I am in.
This is how I’m managing my hats (for now). I’m sure it will change as I refine my process. How do you manage your hats? What tricks have you discovered? What have you discarded? We invite you to share your experience in the comments below.