Ever struggle with ‘editor’s block‘ or just can’t get rolling on a project? Been there too. Let’s dig into some solutions.
I can’t tell you how many times I feel like I’ve been working on a cut all day long and when 6 P.M. rolls around I don’t have much to show for it.
Turns out, if I’m really honest with myself, I was probably working in a very distracted state.
5 minutes of editing…then checking Facebook on the phone.
10 minutes of editing…time to walk to the kitchen and get a soda.
Another 10 minutes of work…then looking out the window for a bit.
You get the point.
The crazy part is that if the work was due in a couple hours rather than a couple days, somehow we’d magically be able to focus hard and get it done, with a pretty great final product to show for it.
Enter Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
As humans, we’re expert procrastinators. Without hard deadlines, many projects or tasks will tend to drag out far longer than they should.
This applies just as much to editing as it does to typing a difficult email, choosing an outfit, planning a big trip etc.
So how do we combat Parkinson’s Law and push back against our procrastinatory tendencies?
How do we fend off the countless distractions and excuses that prevent us from really hunkering down and getting some solid, creative work done?
One way is by using the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique
This technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
The goal here is to create a series of short, artificial deadlines that give you the kick in the pants to get some real work done. Think of it like an interval-based exercise routine consisting of sprint / walk / spring / walk etc.
When applied to editing, there are six steps in the technique:
1 – Decide on the editing task to be done.
2 – Set your phone timer to around 25 minutes.
3 – Work on the task until the timer rings.
4 – After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
5 – If you have fewer than 4 checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 1.
6 – Once you hit 4 checkmarks, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
Of course, with a creative task like editing, there’s always the chance that you’ll find yourself in a “flow state”.
A “flow state”, also known as “the zone”, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
As editors, these are the times that hours seem like minutes and high-quality, creative work just seems to come naturally.
When you hit a flow state…GO WITH IT.
Ride the wave as far as it’ll take you and make some serious progress on your cut. You might not get another ride for a while.