I’ve been having a hard time finding enough time to think lately. Some of that is the obvious change in my personal life, but some of it was beginning long before Leif. We’re all really busy and are bombarded with new information and have a lot going on.
I started doing it on a whim, and then found it so rewarding that I built it into my work day. I walk into my office drop my stuff and start typing. Some days I’m a little slower (like today) because I have to boot up and I chat with someone on the way in. It takes me an average of 11 minutes to type out 750 words, so I’m normally done before many of my colleagues come into the office.
So what is this site?
The premise is that you start your day (or end it, or whatever) with writing 3 pages to clear your mind. At about 250 words per page, that’s 750 words. Once you’ve logged into the site you’re presented with a blank page and a word count icon at the bottom of the page. And you just start writing. It’s not for anyone; it doesn’t even have a “publish to WordPress” or “publish to Tumblr” option. It’s just to get stuff out of your head and organized a bit. Of course, it’s online, so I wouldn’t recommend writing your deepest darkest secrets or anything you’d be embarrassed to see get out there, but that’s a good general principle to follow no matter if it’s online or on paper.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it’s been really helpful. Here are the three main benefits I’ve found so far:
- The built-in reflection time gives me a clearer head throughout the day. I’m more capable of complex thought and holding many variables in my head at once.
- I am more able to focus throughout the day. Before I started using this site, there were days where I’d get distracted by some other task after just 3-5 minutes on a task. Sitting down and starting the day with a 10 minute task that is enjoyable sets me up to be able to concentrate for much longer stretches. The other day I realized it was time for a meeting and I had been nose-to-the-grindstone for an hour. That concentration more than makes up for the 10 minutes of writing first thing in the morning.
- I have a better understanding of my goals. This isn’t just my annual goals, but what I want to do and where I’d like to end up. I have a clear idea of the type of work I’d like to do in five years and this time also is helping me figure out what I need to be doing in the meanwhile to get there. Before I was taking tasks as they come, which is okay, but the big picture will be more helpful in the long run and will help me make sure I end up where I really want to end up.
You’d think these types of gains would more than motivate you to continue to participate, but even for me, those in themselves wouldn’t be enough. In the moment that pressing email or task seems more important. But 750 Words also makes uses of game-inspired features. You get badges for repeated participation, you get really amazing stats based on your writing (I allow a limited selection of stats to be public), and there is a community of folks participating in monthly challenges. All of these features keep it fun and have helped me get motivated to do it, even on the weekend or when I have a full todo list.
And there are days (like today) that I use it to start working on writing that I need to do for my job. I start my writing in 750 words in a really loose format, then copy and paste it into Word to start cleaning it up for work purposes. The 750 words format helps me start from a more general, big-picture place than I start when looking at a blank Word document for some reason.
This site may, or may not, be for you. But it’s made such a difference in my day-to-day that I wanted to share in case you’re looking for some reflection time, too.