10 Writing Productivity Tips
Do you look at your desk and see piles of loose papers and unfinished projects? Do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in an effort to take care of clients, launch new goods and services and bring in new clients? Are you overwhelmed? If so, take a deep breath. Relax. Check out these goal management tips from me, #TheOrganizedWriter.
Remember, we all get the same 168 hours per week. It’s up to us how we spend them. The way we spend our hours will determine our level of satisfaction in our business and our personal life at the end of the day.
Ready? Set. Go!
It’s the finished project that’s important, but many times we focus on the minor details. Many of us focus on the small details and lose the big picture. Keep the big picture in mind. Chip away until the big picture project is complete.
HINT: Sometimes we focus on non-productive but busy work tasks to avoid the big projects. Procrastination at its best.
Know your vision
Why do you do what you do? If you aren’t certain why you’re a business owner or a writer or a blogger (yes I know bloggers and writers are both in the writing category, but are typically for different audiences) then your writing and your business efforts will be all over the map.
HINT: Write down your vision. Keep it posted in your workspace. Focus on moving toward it.
Find an accountability partner
It is easy to let ourselves slide and our tasks along with it. Hey, I can talk til the cows come home about “writing that cozy mystery” and if I am the only one who knows I want to do that, well, it can get put off and put off. However, if I am working with an accountability partner – whether for my personal writing or my business endeavors I know I will have to report in and let my partner know how much progress I’ve made. Believe me, it will get a bit embarrassing if after a few weeks you have nothing to report. I have a check-in call with a business colleague and being held accountable keeps me focused.
HINT: Ask a colleague with whom you have a relationship and whose work you admire if he or she would like to be accountability partners.
Stop the busy work
If you saw my to-do list, especially on days when I am not motivated you may think I get a hell of a lot done! However, if you look closer you will see – that on those non-motivated days – I have written down items like:
- Walk dogs to cemetery
- Start driving to River House
- Cook dinner
- Social media
- Call interview source
Some of those are actual work tasks, others are (obviously) filler. Some of them are busy work, especially those days when I just write “work on book chapter.” A to-do like that is a task waiting to be procrastinated. Why? It’s vague. It has no timeline attached. An effective to-do list is one that is SMART (Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Relevant. Time-Sensitive.)
HINT: Use time-blocking techniques to get more done. This is a SMART way to get through a to-do list.
Make note of your top priorities
If you do the same tasks every day for your clients or your writing projects, chances are you don’t need to write them down. Some days I will make note of them simply because it’s a great feeling to cross them off and because honestly, some days my day gets away from me and I forget the little, routine tasks.
I also make note of my top three priorities for the day. I typically have more priorities that need to be addressed during the course of the week but if I have ten and I put all ten on my to-do list, guess what… none of them will be completed because they can’t all be priorities.
HINT: Try to list priorities that can be completed within the time-blocked session.
Before breast cancer I was the Queen of Multitasking. I kidded myself into believing that I was actually productive. I wasn’t. I was dabbling in this. Messing around in that. Poking around in the other. BUT no task was being followed through to fruition. Multitasking is a myth. You are not more productive. When you multitask you are simply multiplying efforts but dividing results. The human brain needs time to shift from one activity to another. This means you’re better served to allot a specific amount of time to work on X task before moving onto Y task.
HINT: If you have a task you don’t want to start, set a timer for 15 minutes and work on the dreaded project until the timer goes off. Chip away at it bite by bite.
When are you at your best
Take a couple of days to understand when you’re at your peak. I am more productive first thing in the morning and that is when I tackle my hardest tasks or those that require the greatest levels of creativity. In the afternoons, when I am a bit fried, I work on the mundane. When are you at your best?
HINT: When are you at your best? Track that. Tackle your most difficult tasks then.
Don’t let yourself get distracted when you’re working. Believe me nothing is going to happen on Facebook that is so exciting that you need to have pop up notifications of it. Your email can wait to be checked; you don’t need auto checking and pop up notifications of that either. When you’re concentrating on a task, concentrate on that task. Simple as that.
HINT: Get into the habit of checking in on social media and your inbox at specific points during the day.
Limit your choices
You don’t have to do it all! If you’re giving yourself too many choices you will get overwhelmed and chances are none of the choices you settle on will seem satisfying. This is especially true if you’re choosing between two “good” items. For example, if there are two networking meetings I want to attend that are both on the same day at the same time I obviously can’t be two places at once so I have to choose. I may make a list of why this meeting is better than the other or I will look at the registrant list to see if there is someone I really want to talk with at one meeting over another. You get the picture. Make a choice and be happy with it. Bottom line.
HINT: Get into a routine that takes away “routine” decisions; what to wear, what to eat, when to make phone calls. Limiting choices will help get more done.
Use an editorial calendar
Whether you write fiction or non fiction or blog for yourself or your clients, an editorial calendar will be your best friend. I cannot stress this highly enough. If you have never used an editorial calendar and need help setting one up, contact me at Robbi AT AllWordsMatter DOT.com
HINT: This ONE device will amp up your productivity!
What do you need to focus on to be, and feel more productive? Do you know what your stumbling blocks are?