With my enthusiasm for my Alan Lomax project, I’ve had no problem motivating myself to make some progress on it every day. And even if I weren’t so excited about it, the frightening volume of materials by and about my subject — and the daunting task of finding, sorting through and synthesizing the most significant of these — would keep me working on a regular basis.

But if I needed a boost or a strategy for self-boosting, “Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret” (which I found through Good Experience) strikes me as a good one. Of course, there’s no reason why his approach — “Don’t break the chain” — shouldn’t apply to non-creative efforts as well, and goodness knows there are other areas of my life where I could use more of this sort of sticktuitiveness.


There’s something to be said for unsticking, too. After years of keeping to a schedule of getting up at 5 a.m. to do my “writing” work (which more often than not involves researching or reading instead of actual writing), I recently realized that my early-to-rise ways weren’t getting the job done.

(I’ll pause here while you recover from the shock of learning that getting up at 5 a.m. six days a week just wasn’t working out.)

Starting about three weeks ago, I’ve been routinely working after the boys have gone to bed, making progress like gangbusters, shutting things down around midnight or so, and then getting up six or seven hours later sans alarm clock. Often it’s 3-year-old F who is waking me up, but I feel much more charitable toward him and the rest of the world than I was when he was disrupting my work rather than mere sleep.