When you think of the word prolific, what images spring to mind? Artists are prolific. So are novelists, journalists, photographers and musicians. Those in creative fields tend to be thought of in this way. They are constantly producing hits, writing award winning books, and generally impressing the populace with their brilliance. They seem to bleed brilliant ideas, thought provoking insights, and inexplicably great content without any effort.
What does the word prolific actually mean? According to the dictionary, prolific means “producing much foliage, fruit, or many offspring.” Its synonyms are productive, creative, inventive and fertile. It’s a word that has come to mean being overly productive, and having the ability to turn ones available resources into something of use to the rest of us. It’s a highly valued trait, and one that many of us think of as reserved for those thought of as artistic geniuses or members of the creative elite.
But I would argue any one of you can become prolific, given half a chance. In fact, becoming prolific might just be the kick in the butt you need to do some real work and become truly successful. So how do you go about becoming (more) prolific?
Here are 5 ways to be more prolific in your daily life:
1. Find the right time to work
For some, it might mean rushing home after a day at the office to work on a side project for two or three hours every other day. Other people find ways to pull a few extra minutes out of their lunch break for some extra creative time. For me, the right time to do creative, productive work is first thing in the morning. This means waking up before dawn to try to squeeze in a few hours of work before I need to head to the office. Be sure to stick to a schedule that works for you and will be possible to do for an extended period. If you can’t build up a habit to do this type of work over time, you will likely not be very prolific.
2. Use tools to jump start creativity and reward yourself
Find tools that put you into the zone for doing productive work. This may mean a certain type of food or drink, a caffeinated beverage or a healthy snack. It may mean putting on your headphones and zoning in to your favorite playlist on Spotify. You may even prefer to start your day by doing a bit of strenuous exercise before you get into your creative mode. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid of using tools to support you as you start to produce. As I write this, I’ve already been for a swim, gotten my coffee, and I’m listening to a great playlist of instrumental guitar on YouTube.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” – Kobe Bryant
3. Create a system to make it easy for you to create something in a repeatable way
I try to make writing my daily productive habit. For years, I tried various ways of getting myself to start a daily writing practice, but I found it difficult to stick to my plan. I wrote in journals, used Google Docs, even tried to work with an accountability partner who would help me track my writing.
Ultimately, I began using 750words.com. The platform helps incentivize me and keeps me on track by monitoring my progress daily. It also gives me a system I need to follow each day which is not too hard to complete.
4. Stay accountable to someone, something, or yourself
Make sure to publish and share what you create with the world. The hardest part about being prolific is getting over the idea that you feel incapable of producing great content. We are our own worst critics, and it is often the case when we start to produce creative content that we second guess ourselves and avoid publishing for fear that others will think our work is stupid or worthless.
To avoid this trap, look for ways to share your content with people that are both within your circle of connections and outside. Use platforms like Medium, Facebook, LinkedIn, SnapChat and Instagram to push out your content to a broader audience. If you’re still afraid to hit publish, consider the worst thing that will happen.
The worst thing that will happen is often nothing, that nobody will even notice what you produce. Don’t let fear of rejection or silence keep you from sharing your work. The more momentum you build by publishing more and more, the more likely you will be to produce content that touches others and creates a lasting impact.
“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” – Bo Bennett
5. Do the hard work
Being prolific (or productive / creative / inventive / etc.) should be thought of as practicing a sport or exercising. Exercise is not meant to be easy. Sport is meant to be a challenging and enjoyable pursuit. The more work you put into practice, the more reward you will get later on down the line. Think of being prolific in that way. It is very rare for someone who has never produced a piece of artwork to produce a masterpiece on their first attempt.
So why would you expect anything more from yourself? Do the hard work every day, and you will start to see marked improvement. Not only will you start to receive more feedback from those around you as they see your progress but you will start to see improvements in your own work as you make subtle shifts which change your way of producing content.
One of the secrets to life is the fact that the more you give to those around you, the happier you tend to be. We are social creatures, and we have learned as a species over time to share stories and resources for the betterment of the group. In this way we have learned to regard highly prolific people for their ability to produce value for others in great quantities.
At the end of the day, we are all striving to be more prolific, and it is by learning to be prolific that we can find deeper levels of happiness and success. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent and develop regular habits which strengthen your ability to create and contribute to the global discourse on a regular basis. Now go create!