As a dedicated freelancer and creature of habit, I typically begin each workday at my desk. Regardless of whether I have a project or an assignment, I can always find something constructive to do. However, last spring, after a routine physical and a few lab tests, my doctor informed me that I was woefully deficient in Vitamin D. Wary of taking the 50,000 unit megadose he prescribed, I decided instead to begin each morning sunning myself for an hour on my balcony overlooking a creek that runs through a shady ravine.
To pass the time, I began reading the books that have been patiently waiting on my bookshelves for years while I worked diligently away, growing more Vitamin D deficient with each passing day. At first, I experienced pangs of guilt as my mind strayed toward my vacant desk. But it wasn’t long before I found myself craving that sunny hour on my balcony each morning, indulging in the long-forgotten luxury of reading purely for pleasure.
My summer reading list began with a folksy Southern cookbook called Screen Doors and Sweet Tea (a Christmas gift from my brother Nolan); followed by Inspector Saito’s Small Satori, a collection of Japanese detective stories. Next came the classic tale of Zorba the Greek, and believe it or not…all 564 pages of Alain Danielou’s Complete Kama Sutra.
And then along came Don’t Worry, Make Money by Richard Carlson, a boutique-sized book comprised of 100 little essays on various business-related tips, many of which are based on social pleasantries and old-fashioned common sense. One in particular however, an idea described in Essay Number 22, has since become one of the most effective productivity tools in my repertoire. It’s called: The Critical Inch.
The concept behind this technique is to step back from the big picture and focus instead on the minutiae. As with any goal or project, it’s often the small things that eventually add up to its completion; and at any given moment, there’s usually one piece of the puzzle causing a log jam in the flow of productivity. Whether it’s making a crucial phone call you’ve been procrastinating, running an errand to buy supplies and sundries, or even something as simple as tidying up your workspace, there’s always one small step, that Critical Inch, which is, in reality, a giant leap toward achieving your goal.
On the day that I read Richard Carlson’s Essay Number 22, once my sun-drenched reading hour was up, I marched straight into my office and began making lists of all the tasks, both big and small, that would get me to the finish line of each of the projects I had in development. As a result, I’m pleased to say that, thanks to Critical Inch thinking, I’m now on the threshold of launching a line of boutique spice blends, and finally publishing a children’s book that has been 20 years in the making.
Celeste Heiter is the author of Turn Your PC into a Lean Mean Freelancing Machine, the creator of the LoveBites Cookbook Series for Kindle Fire, and the author of Potty Pals , a potty-training book for children. She has also written ten books published by ThingsAsian Press; and spent eight years posting her recipes, food photographs, and film reviews on ChopstickCinema .