If you want to increase your writing income in 2015, productivity counts. The students in one of my writing classes asked for my best productivity tips, so let’s talk about that.
Important: you’re not a machine, so take breaks
You can’t work full-steam ahead for hours and hours daily. Over the years, I’ve found that my maximum productivity period in any one day is around three to four hours. So, I make sure that the projects which need total focus are done first each day, at 5AM. By nine, I’m ready for a break.
The rest of the day’s writing involves simpler tasks, like outlining, editing, and writing blog posts. 😉
Let’s look at the tips.
1. DO: discipline and organization
DO is my latest favorite acronym. You’ve heard me mention DDT (Do, Don’t Think.)
DO stands for Discipline, and Organization.
Discipline is hard. Only habit makes it easy. Once you develop productive habits, you only need small doses of discipline.
Here’s an example. I have an off/ on relationship with meditation. I’ve been meditating for some 30 years, but I tend to kid myself occasionally that I “don’t need it.” Because, I’m so enlightened, right? (That’s a joke.) So, a few months back, I applied discipline to my meditation practice. Every morning, I meditate for ten minutes before writing.
Initially, the discipline was a challenge. It takes less discipline now, but still takes some effort, because I just want to get on with the writing, rather than just sitting.
When it comes to Organization, keep our next tip in mind.
2. Write it DOWN! (Please note the exclamation point.)
I used to tell my kids: “If it’s not written down, it’s not happening.” Too true.
Write everything down. That includes: contact details, appointments, tasks, ideas, inspirations… You WILL forget. This year, my primary “write it down” tools are:
- A bullet journal
- A Filofax for goal setting and planning
- Evernote (as always)
3. Batch everything
“Batching” means doing similar tasks together. So, instead of outlining and writing five blog posts for a client, I outline ten or 20. Then on another day, I draft five blog posts. On another day, I complete and schedule another five.
Turn off your email and chat programs while you’re writing, so you can focus.
At the start of each day, look over your calendar, and task management program (or your bullet journal) and collect similar tasks together, so you can batch them.
4. Start time on a project is slow, so expect that
One of the most common complaints I hear from students is: “It’s taking too long…”
Everything takes longer when you’re learning, so expect that. If you’re learning how to upload and publish an ebook on Amazon, it will take a while. By the time you’ve published your third, it will be done in a flash.
Also, when you’re starting a longer project, whether it’s a dozen Web pages for a client, a complete website, or a book, it seems to take forever. The first few chapters of a novel take much longer than the final chapters. In your first chapters, you’re setting things up. You’re getting to know the characters.
Whenever you think “it’s taking too long” pay attention to the tip below.
5. Be mindful as much as you can, and take an “investigation” approach
Perhaps you’ve heard of mindfulness. There’s something of a vogue for it at the moment, but it’s an ancient practice, because it works.
So, explore mindfulness. It will help you to write, because you’ll focus just on your fingertips on the keyboard, and your current project.
An “investigation” process also helps.
Whatever you’re writing, tell yourself you’re just investigating the possibilities. That tends to take the pressure off. You’re not writing a book. You’re investigating __ (your topic.) Or you’re investigating how a group of people react to a murder, if you’re writing a mystery.
Mindfulness, and a spirit of investigating, go a long way towards relaxing you, so that you can enjoy your writing. And if you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll be more creative.
We’ve talked about writing anxiety too. Mindfulness, and investigation, remove anxiety, so that productivity is possible.
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Updated: December 8, 2016