Damned Useful Writing Habit #4. - Use Quick-and-Easy Resets to Keep Your Productivity Humming

A few days ago, I inherited a sweet little chestnut-colored upright piano. She’s nothing fancy, and badly in need of a tuning, but she’s mine, and she fills my house with the most wonderful sounds.

So, over the course of the past few days, I’ve gotten into the habit of wandering downstairs from my office at interval to spend a few minutes sitting at the piano bench and tickling her (slightly worn) keys to the best of my (rusty) abilities.

These little interludes have gotten me thinking about the value of creative palate cleansers.

When you’re busy, or on deadline, or lacking ample motivation for the day’s tasks, or just generally contending with a lot of work, it can be super useful to take frequent breaks. Little five-minute stretches of zoning out, about once an hour or so, just to keep you limber and energized.

It’s the mental equivalent of a little bite of sorbet between courses at a fine French meal, or ginger between bites of sushi. It soothes, resets, and signals to your brain that it’s time for something new. (Or, perhaps, more of the same, but only after a little novelty has been had.)

Social media scrolling is a perennially popular palate cleanser for weekday warriors in need of respite, and why not? It’s easy, and it’s fun, and it’s always right there.

But zoning out online can also leave a person feeling fuzzy and disoriented and even guilty.

I’m not trying to play sanctimonious, here. I’m a big proponent of frittering away time on the regular, because we all work so hard, and haven’t we earned it? I fritter unapologetically, and so should you, if you want to.

But too much frittering can really throw your work groove off, so it’s also good to seek out other means of mental refreshment—like, for example, my erstwhile episodes of graceless but still rather refreshing piano playing.

Just for kicks, here are a few more creative palate cleansers that I’ve employed so far this week.

·      Cleaning out my bulging voicemail inbox. (Spoiler: 7 of the 11 messages were from my mother.)

·      Knitting four rows on a blanket-in-progress.

·      Eating something spicy. (Like salami.)

·      One minute of jumping jacks followed by thirty seconds of push ups.

·      Chugging water.

·      Sweeping underneath the living room rug, cause that shit’s just gross.

OK—it’s your turn. How do you reset when it’s time for a creative break?

My Little Music Maker - Erin J. Bernard

My Little Music Maker - Erin J. Bernard