In the Author Management and Personalities post, I challenged you to take the 16 Personalities test. Did you do it? Have you had a chance to think any more about it?
This week, I’m talking to the Sentinels out there. What are a few ways you can be more productive in this highly creative field? What challenges do you face? How can you succeed more and fail less?
If you are an ISFJ, ISTJ, ESTJ, or an ESFJ, you’re a Sentinel.
The Sentinels are conscientious, stable, and love routines. It’s not that they don’t like new experiences. They simply don’t want to waste time failing when someone else has already succeeded. They are careful and self-motivated. However, the Sentinels aren’t the most creative folks as far as productivity procedures. They believe in systems over spontaneity.
How to Be a Productive Creative as a Sentinel
Sentinels are known to be hardworking and highly productive. The problem has always been with their creativity. Sometimes, the productivity system will get in the way and shutter their creative spark. Here are a few ways to be more creative as a Sentinel writer and finish that manuscript irrespective of the distractions.
Try New Things – Like an Explorer
One of the Achilles heels of Sentinels is their zest for consistency which causes resistance to change. Sentinels will stick with what works no matter the cost because it’s a procedure that works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are apps, systems, programs, and approaches that could help save time, giving you the undivided time slot you need to focus, but you’d have to try something new.
If you’re struggling to focus try a stroll to a park, facing your desk a different direction, a time-tracking app, or walking down a path you usually drive past. It doesn’t matter how big the change is. Smaller is better. The idea here is to add an element of something different to add or engage spark.
The key here is to remember that you’re a sentinel, not an explorer, so you want to keep your changes small. Large disruptions will knock you out of production for weeks.
Design a New Routine – Like an Architect
You will discover that most people have a routine. Especially people just like you. Making breakfast, dressing the kids for school, going to the groceries, making dinner, and more. This continuous stressful lifestyle can be daunting.
What to do?
An analyst would tell you to figure out what’s not working and find a solution for it. Then tweak the routine you already have to incorporate it.
Just remember that you’re a sentinel, not an architect. An architect will redesign everything and make big, sweeping changes. Make your changes small. Don’t disrupt your routine too badly, but find fixes only for what’s not working the way you want it.
The brain will detect this new pattern and try to understand this process. Automatically, freeing up neurons and allowing creativity.
Reading and Research – Like a Diplomat
As authors, it is important to note that creativity is hinged on equipping the brain. The importance of reading and research cannot be overemphasized. It helps you stay abreast, makes you an authority in your chosen field, and often leaves you with a lot to think and write about. For, authors with busy schedules, I suggest online courses you can take any time, but with an emphasis of actually taking them. You don’t learn by osmosis.
As a sentinel, this works as a perfect solution and fits wonderfully into how you work. The only thing I recommend is that you don’t overcommit. Take one course or one book at a time.
Tools That Help You Do What You Do Best
Here are a couple of resources that can help maximize your writing hours. Irrespective of the distractions.
Trello is a productivity tool that helps you structure your content, scribble down ideas, and build lists. With Trello, you don’t have to worry about forgetting an idea.
If you’ve worked with me, you know I love OneNote. If you have Microsoft, you already have this program. It’s a great way to keep your notes organized and it goes with you wherever you are: one any of your computers, your phone, and your tablets.
Evernote allows you to save different notes. For authors, you can easily save the referenced note and easily access it. Thus, improving your speed and ultimately your productivity. You can also write notes on the go and it syncs across all your devices. You didn’t go out with your laptop? It’s fine, you can get to work on your phone.
Scrivener offers an awesome UI/UX experience. You can rearrange your texts easily, and create virtual index cards. It is perfect for creating outlines for your books. It allows you to divide your write-ups into chapters and move them freely without altering the main content. Awesome right? I know!
Notable mentions include ZenPen and Calmly Writer, a beautiful distraction-free writing tool. Another is Cliché Finder; this helps you scan through your documents and identifies cliches and repeated words.
These are one of those tools that’s a double-edged sword for Sentinels. On one hand, they tell you where you need to be and when, but on the other you’re left wondering how to come up with the words to make it happen.
I would recommend that when you ask for outlines, allow some freedom. Don’t ask your outliner to give you too much detail, or to give you bullet points that will give you a set amount of words. An outline for you is an organizational device. If you use it as a short-cut for creativity, it will become a creative crutch.
Plottr is a great tool to creatively outline your novel with the simple basics, giving you the guidance you need without being overwhelmed by details.
The only problem is that you’re in theory starting with a blank slate. So, create or find a template with beats on it. Plottr has a few and they’re easy to tweak. Here’s one template that I love to use for character-driven action. It’s set up for 24 chapters, but you can easily configure it for more or less.
It is important to note that if you are not a Sentinel you’re okay. Learning how Mrs. Amazing Author made a million bucks isn’t going to help you, like it will your Sentinel co-author. But you’ll have it easy in areas she struggles in.
But if you are a Sentinel, understand that while the basic mechanics of writing, publishing, and marketing will come super easy to you, there will be other challenges for you. Understand how you work and make the simple things – like organization which you excel at – simple so that the harder things don’t overwhelm you.
Are you wondering what the deficiency of the other personality types would be and how they can improve their productivity? Not to worry, I got you covered. The other archetypes will be covered in the coming weeks.