Bookending continues to be one of my favorite writing tips. When I hesitate to do a task for whatever reason, making a bookend call clears my mind and lets me get on with my writing.
You decide on a task – I often use bookending to get started on things I really don’t want to do, like tracking expenses or writing an article I find boring, or calling someone for an interview. Sometimes I’ll pick something I don’t know exactly how to do, like a new kind of writing or writing that I know needs reworking.
You call a friend and tell them you plan to spend x amount of time on the task. For example, I sometimes will call someone and tell them I’m going to spend 10 minutes on tracking my spending or an hour on a particular piece of writing. It’s okay to just leave word on their answering machine.
When the time has passed you call back to close the bookend. You either report you’ve completed the task or report that you haven’t. Sure, you may get interrupted and you call back later than the allotted time. That’s okay. Bookending works best when we close it up regardless of the results.
Here’s why I think this works so well:
Picking a single task actually helps calm the mind. It’s a way out of overwhelm from all that needs to be done.
Stating the amount of time you plan to spend on the task puts a limit on it or a box around it. If it’s something you’d rather not do knowing you’re only going to spend x amount of time makes it seem less awful.
Calling someone to bookend creates accountability. I know when I call that I truly intend to do whatever. I’m less likely to put it off because I’m also going to close the bookend and I hate to admit I didn’t do what I said I would. And when I’ve actually accomplished what I said I would closing the bookend gives me a moment to brag and feel good about the work I’ve just done.
Bookending isn’t a time to get caught up with the friend you call. When my friends and I call with a bookend all we do is identify ourselves, say we’re starting or ending a bookend and state how much time we’re going to spend on what task.
It’s easy to do and I find helps keep me on track for writing and other tasks. When I stay on track I’m a better writer.
How do you get yourself to do things you know you should, but really don’t want to?
Write well and often,