1 Productivity Tip From An Actress

Fun write-up with a serious e-mail productivity tip.

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On first blush, she comes across as a girl from an extended family I might meet at one of the lavish Indian weddings.

And there was something unusual about her story. She had no big godfathers. She made her foray to the big screen in her late 20’s — late by Indian standards. She did not have an iota of formal [acting] training.

Yet, in the last 10 years or so, she has carried varied roles. Some of them author backed and many of them, she seamlessly fitted in and knocked it out of the park. She bucked many conceivable trends and stood out. In that sense, she had me mesmerized. Being the curious kind, I researched.

I am glad I did. Why? That helped me connect the dots on my writing and even email productivity. First a back-story.

I write the first email draft within few minutes — a stream of consciousness. Then, I start to think as I edit. I turn my head slightly one way to the side. I make a few changes. I pause a while, turn my head to the other side and repeat. All the time, I am staring at the screen.

Now that I describe my own responses –viewing myself from afar, I chuckle. Maybe, I am literally thinking in different angles. By the time I press the send button, the first few creative minutes have multiplied and melted away in the edits. That makes me wonder. Should I switch to Slack, could it be faster? Or pick up the old fashioned phone? Or, can I find ways to edit faster?

My answer to the last question is where I connected the dots to Vidya Balan’s acting flourish. In this video, she shares her secret.

Yes, she does prepare for her roles and she is curious. But the golden nugget I found the most useful — she reacts emotionally to the scene by taking the persona of the character. That is her simple approach to her method acting.

I wondered — what worked in her acting world, could it work in my editing world?

Conventional wisdom for editing is to think in your customer shoes. That is precisely what I did racking my left-brain while editing the emails.

Vidya Balan helped me turn editing around on its head. She inspired my editing aha — feel in that one person’s shoes and go with the emotional flow. I found the connection between acting across genres and fruitful, frequent writing. That approach helped me turn blog posts faster and even add a social icebreaker to my repertoire.

In Houston parties, someone standing next to me breaks the ice with a quizzical look– “your face looks familiar” and then their quizzical look morphs into an aha of recognition –“you are that prolific blog writer?” And I smile. I am relieved that my audience found their own word to remember me — writer. That is the first time, I had the luxury of simplicity in introduction. And to be completely honest, there was a part of me that liked the charm of being semi-famous — a fun word introduced by my friend and fellow writer, Dustin McKissen.

Vidya Balan, being the famous one, by sharing her secret to success helped me share with the world one of the best productivity tip for editing. I used to spend 80% of serious, written communication in editing. Now, not so much.

Does her method acting work for all of us? I cannot say for certain. All I can say for certain, prolific writing has a pleasant upside — social gathering icebreakers and being semi-famous. Her approach may add to your fun.

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Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

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