There are 3 things that make Get it Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day, different from other productivity books.
Firstly, unlike classics like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People or Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, it’s not about setting up systems that it’ll take a while to get used to (woohoo!).
Secondly, it’s not stuffy. And thirdly, and maybe most importantly, Get It Done’s written for creative people by one of our own. (Its author, Sam Bennett, is a writer, actor and comedian. So she understands the unique doubts, problems and pressures that creatives face).
The book’s based on the workshop of the same name, and is for any kind of creative. You could be a writer, photographer, jazz singer or make cat beds out of felt. It doesn’t matter, this book will have something for you.
Bennett deals with:
- getting started
- keeping going
- handling criticism, praise and jealousy
- creating the time, space and money to do the work
She sums up her mission as being ‘…to give you… an opportunity to take a good long compassionate look at your creative process. So you can figure out what’s working, what can be jettisoned, and how to get out of your own way so your big, genius-y ideas can get out into the world where they belong.’ Who doesn’t want that?
Get It Done’s the kind of book you need to read with a pen and notepad by your side. There are exercises throughout, which vary from the wackadoodle (her word, not mine), to the practical. And they’re all based on challenges Bennett’s faced, and concerns that her friends, colleagues and students have had.
Some of the exercises, like ‘5 quick questions to help you stop procrastinating’ only take a few minutes. While others, like the one that involves considering your relationship with money, need more time, and mental and emotional energy.
As well as through her prose and suggestions, Bennett showcases her creativity in the 3 ‘interludes’ that divide the book up into 4 sections. They’re positive and cheering poems like her offbeat, Ode to the Overwhelmed. And she ups the encouragement level even further by including a mixture of chatty asides and non-cringe-y quotes.
Bennett’s tone is friendly and warm, but never over-familiar or annoying. She comes across as being honest, kind and self-aware. And she doesn’t bang on about ‘just being yourself’ (yawn). She’s more empathetic than that.
She recognizes the vulnerability, and potential emotional anguish, that can come with putting your work out there for all to see (and judge). And she shares a selection of simple and easily doable ways to make dealing with this easier.
Like keeping a list of compliments you get and regularly reviewing it. Because this will mean you can see which words appear over and over again, and use them when you have to describe yourself, and what you do.
Her suggestions also include tips on how to use snippets of time. Which is handy, because it can be easy to get into the mindset where you think having several uninterrupted hours is the only way to produce anything decent. When, in reality, squeezing work into the cracks between the edges of the other demands in your life, can often be just as good.
Some self-help books, social media posts and blogs, can make you feel like your worth as a human is directly related to your productivity. (The whole ‘I got up at 4am meditated for an hour, had a super healthy, baby poo-coloured smoothie and dashed off 2,000 words of my 6th novel’, can get pretty wearing.)
But, thankfully, this quirky book is so far away from all that. Bennett isn’t a cheerleader for squeezing the most into every waking minute.
She understands what makes creatives tick, and what our needs are in terms of getting focused and organised. And she has plenty of sensible things to say about how, we can meet our goals.
If you’re a creative and you’re feeling stuck or not good enough, or you don’t know how to wriggle out of procrastination’s dastardly clutches, Get it Done’s definitely worth your time.
Dawn is an ace wordsmith with a background in arts journalism – writing features and book, food, film, TV, theatre and stand-up comedy reviews. She has also written speeches for politicians, and is a skilled business writer who’s drafted and edited content for the Scottish Government’s website.