Notes For Creators

cross fit for the creative soul

9. How to play BlitzDesk

Ohhhhhhh, I’ve concocted a quick fun game if you find yourself overwhelmed with too much paperwork piling up in your workspace. I’ve just got to pass it on to you.

As I’m getting better at doing the important work first — The Work! — I’ve been getting worse at keeping up with the detritus of the day — all the notes and skiffle skaffle that comes across my desk.

There it sits, mocking me. Like mold it starts off in a corner and you hardly notice it. Until it evolves into a sprawling organism that cannot be contained.

In the spirit of experimentation that I’m engaged in this year — micro changes that feel fun and easy and implementable — I started playing with ways to attack this organism — this pile of notes, mail, requests, half-heartedly begun side projects.

Once you name it you can game it.

I could have gone for weak forays into sports (Field Drive — I don’t know enough about sports to get creative here) or evolutionary biology (Punctuated Deskolution — derived from punctuated evolution, the proposition that evolution can happen in quick bursts given the right conditions, rather than gradually over eons as proposed by Darwin.)

But I settled on BlitzDesk because it’s short and sharp and defines itself.

Here’s how the BlitzDesk game works:

You play in back-to-back 5-minute lightning rounds. 

In my version, you can opt to play one round (5 minutes total), three rounds (15-minutes total), or five rounds (for a total of 25 minutes).

Never more than this! You are done once you’ve finished the final round.

If you want to calve an item off your desk pile and work on it separately with focus, well, now, that’s a project. And like every other project, you schedule it. Projects deserve their own timeframe, just as certain types of workflow do.

Example: Email. The best of us schedule in one to several time periods a day for when we read and respond and tickle others with our email.

(Note: I’m not among the best of us — yet! Though I aim to be by the time I’m a 103. I skitter in and out of email a little too often for any productivity guru’s ideal. )

So — to start!

Set an alarm for 5 minutes and go to town on your paperwork.

When it rings, do it again Automatically hit reset for the next 5 minutes.

Do this 5 times. (Or 3 or 1.) Back to back to back to back to back. No stopping in between.

— And then you are done for the day!

The only losers at BlitzDesk are those who don’t play BlitzDesk….

Why only an odd number of times? I come from the art world, where odd numbers oddly make for compelling compositions. Not always, but as a rule. Three mangoes are better than four. If a Picasso, three breasts are better than two.

You of course can mangle the BlitzDesk rules all you want and make them your own.

Why 5-minute rounds if you’re playing for 25 minutes? Why can’t the timer just be set for 25 minutes?

No no no no no non!

The reason it became a pile of papers to begin with is because we’re not good at diving in when it gets too cumbersome. We — you and I — because those well-organized souls who don’t need BlitzDesk stopped reading in the first paragraph — you and I need to keep our focus short and sharp to be effective.

To move mountains requires blasts of time dynamite. Focused and fierce, that’s our credo.

Five minutes is just the right porthole of time to keep us from flagging. We have only 5 minutes afterall, to whittle away at this pile.

Each timer ding brings us back to that reality. No dawdling, just doing.

Can BlitzDesk be played longer than 25 minutes?

Only if you want to call it EternityDesk — and leave my name out of it.

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