Accidental Creative

The Secrets of Nearly Every Productivity Book Revealed

Time and Money concept image. us currency and a pocket watch portray time and money.Business concept.Do you wish you had the ability to add more time to your day? I do.

However, as I cannot create more time (at least not yet), I read books about how to increase and maximize my productivity.

I have read a fair number of productivity books over the years and recently I noticed that they all offer the same formula for success; authors just use different jargon to convey the same productivity recipe.

In this post, you will discover the blueprint offered in nearly every productivity book.


Blueprint for Increased Productivity

The formula for increasing and maximizing your productivity consists of 6 Steps:

Step 1: Create goals.

Dream about your life.

What would you like to accomplish? Where would you like to live? What kind of relationships would you like to forge?

Think about every aspect of your personal and professional life and note your hopes and dreams.

Step 2: Write down your goals and internalize them.

After you think about what you want to accomplish and what you want your life to be like, write down your ideas.

Read and refer to your written goals often. Visualize yourself realizing your goals as you review them. If you internalize your goals and believe that you will accomplish them then you will find ways to achieve them.


SuccessStep 3: Break your goals down into actionable steps.

Create an action plan.

What work do you need to do to achieve your goals?

Outline this work and use this sketch to plot out actionable steps that you can take to realize your goals.


Step 4: Review and plan progress weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

Life goals tend to require a lot of action steps to achieve. The sheer number of steps it might take for a person to realize their dreams discourages most from trying. Overcome this mental barrier.

Break down the number of action steps you need to take by plotting out how you will undertake a portion of those steps each quarter.

Divide the steps you plan to accomplish within each three-month period among each month in the quarter.

Distribute the work you will tackle within a month among each week within that month.

By dividing your action steps into manageable steps and time frames you will make incremental progress toward your larger goals.


Step 5: Tell people about your goals and your progress.

Hold yourself accountable for progress by telling people about your dreams.

You will make the most progress toward achieving your goals if you know people are counting on you or that they will ask you about your progress.


Quill-and-InkStep 6: Maintain focus by writing down ideas and tasks.

Maintaining focus can be hard. Free up mental space by writing down ideas, tasks, and other important thoughts in a safe place. Your mind will let go of these ideas once it knows that you have filed them in a place where they won’t be lost.

Each week, month, and quarter, review the ideas and thoughts you stored and sort them into your action plan. If the ideas don't align with your larger goals, file them away for “later” and let the ideas rest.



The above six steps appear in nearly every productivity book. Authors call each step something different to make their book stand out, but their advice represents a variation of the same success formula.

The key to their advice: you can achieve almost anything if you make steady, incremental progress and persist in your desire to reach your goals.

Now that my brain has recognized this productivity recipe, I won’t be reading any more productivity books. Instead, I will will divert my energy toward accomplishing the tasks in my action plans and to reading other books on my to-read list.


time-to-shareShare Your Story

What are your favorite productivity tips? 


3 Project Management Tips That Will Make You a Better, More Prolific Writer

overwhelmedDo you have too many research and writing projects going on? Are you tired of trying to manage these projects with calendar and to-do apps that leave their promises of an easier, more organized life unfulfilled?

I used to feel the same way. I had too many projects and not enough time for the project I most wanted to work on most: my book proposal. Or so I thought.

My search for solutions led me to Todd Henry’s book [amazon_link id="1591846242" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice[/amazon_link]. The book promises to “help you establish enough structure in your life to get the most out of your creative process…to stay engaged and prolific over the long term.”

Convinced that this book would fall short on its promises, just like my calendar and to-do apps, I borrowed it from the library. However, Todd Henry proved me wrong.

The Accidental Creative lived up to Henry's billing. Using Henry’s practices, I have become an effective project manager and a better, more prolific writer.


AccidentalCreativeBookGraphicSynopsis: The Accidental Creative

In The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry outlines the creative process. He asserts that “by building purposeful practices into your life” creatives can “stay engaged and productive over the long term” and “increase [their] capacity to do brilliant work, day after day, year after year.”

The book has 2 parts: Dynamics (Part 1) and Creative Rhythm (Part 2).

Part 1 describes who creatives are, the kinds of work they do, and why many creatives burnout.

Part 2 lays out Henry’s 6-step plan for managing creativity, which will help a creative avoid burnout.

The heart of Henry’s plan is conscious recognition. Creatives must be conscious of all of the information they take in, the time they spend consuming information, meeting with other people, and creating.

Once creatives become conscious of the information, experiences, and time they consume, they can manipulate those factors into productive creative time.


3 Project Management Tips from The Accidental Creative That Will Make You a Better, More Prolific Writer

genius at work title written with chalk on blackboard

1. Notation: Write down all of your ideas, even if they are not immediately relevant to your current project.

Henry advises readers to keep an idea notebook and to regularly review it.


Henry's 4 Tips to Optimize Idea Notebook Organization and Review Time

1. Keep the first few pages of your notebook free for the “Idea Index.” 2. Number the pages of your notebook. 3. Each time you write down an idea, flip to the index and record a brief summary of your idea and note the page number where you wrote down the full idea. 4. Take a few moments each day to scan your “Idea Index” as old ideas may help you with your current project.


2. Checkpoints: Take time each week, month, and quarter to conduct a checkpoint.

Checkpoints are written action plans or schedules that you create on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

Henry offers a specific checklist of items you should think about when you conduct each type of checkpoint in Chapter 9.


Checkpoint Basics:

  • Set aside time: Weekly Checkpoints: 20-60 minutes; Monthly Checkpoints: 60-90 minutes; Quarterly Checkpoints: 4-8 hours
  • Identify the projects you want to complete and the tasks, research, and meetings you need to accomplish them.
  • Recognize and take into account all non-work related projects and familial, friendly, and professional obligations when you create your project schedule.


3. Pruning: It is okay to "prune" or let go of activities and commitments that "inhibit your ability to effectively perform."

Pruning doesn't mean saying "No" to every project that comes your way, but it does mean letting go of time-consuming projects that do not add to your overall professional and creative goals.



Todd Henry's "Accidental Creative" practices work.

These 3 valuable techniques have helped me better organize my projects and my work.

Keeping and reviewing an idea notebook has relieved my mind of the burden of trying to remember the ideas I have for my various writing, research, and consulting projects. The notebook holds my ideas until I need them.

The practice of conducting weekly, monthly, and quarterly checkpoints has provided me with the roadmaps I need to complete my projects. Knowing exactly what projects I must complete each week ensures that I make time for them.

I have more focus because I have eliminated time-consuming projects that do not help me get to the “Freelance Historian” life I envision.

The best part: Following Henry’s advice has enabled me to be a prolific writer. As a result, I accomplished my goal: I finished my book proposal.


What Do You Think?

How do you manage your projects? What methods work, or don't work, for you?

Have you read The Accidental Creative? What practice do you find most helpful?