Do you wish you could use your time more wisely? Do you check your email “real quick” before beginning your work and then suddenly, an hour or more has been frittered away? So many of us struggle with being productive. Writing and multitasking are like light and shadow – the presence of one cancels out the other. If you’re ready to buckle down and get some real work done today, follow these expert tips.
Are you being “fake productive”?
When you have an important writing assignment waiting in the wings, it can be easy to fall into the trap of being “fake productive.” Suddenly you have an urge to bake cookies for your daughter and her friends, you feel obligated to clean the bathroom right away, or you get inspired to change the sheets on your bed. But are you being genuinely productive or fake productive? Are you tackling the most important task, or are you avoiding it?
The idea of fake productivity comes from a recent episode of the popular podcast, “Happier,” hosted by bestselling self-help author Gretchen Rubin, and her sister, Elizabeth Craft. In this episode, Ms. Rubin posits that, “Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.”
Take stock of your priorities, and if you have a writing project that needs to be taken care of right away, step away from the oven (or bathroom, sheets, or whatever the case may be).
Just turn it off!
Is the tech surrounding you causing endless distraction? When the time comes to put your best foot forward with your next writing project, make sure to eradicate your workspace of digital distractions:
- Ask someone to change the WiFi password until you’re done with your writing project
- Disable social media and text message notifications while writing
- Use apps like Self Control to block yourself off from internet use for up to 24 hours
- Better yet – turn your cellphone off entirely (it does have an off switch, you know!)
Set the stage for success
“Feel the serenity of a quiet study area,” recommends this article from CPACareerMentor.com. If you want to concentrate, you need to find an environment that inspires real focus. Think about distractions that often impinge on your focus while writing and craft solutions to eliminate them. Perhaps you need to send your kids off to the park with your spouse to prevent interruptions. Maybe the TV beckons when you take breaks, and then suddenly you’ve lost lots of valuable writing time. Perhaps piles of unfolded laundry seem to be calling your name as soon as you sit down to write. If so, consider working at a library, coffee shop, or co-working office so you can really zero in on your writing.
Some people thrive with their writing when listening to music, white noise, or other background noise. Take the time to figure out what works best for you while writing and consciously craft an environment that’ll enable you to maximize your time.
Take the time to figure out what works best for you while writing and consciously craft an environment that’ll enable you to maximize your time. Tweet This!
Schedule writing time
Do you find that your days are constantly filled up with tasks, but your writing always gets put off for another day? You’re not alone – it can be hard to sweep aside the endless To Dos of everyday life to hone in on your writing projects. But when you put writing time on the calendar, you’ll find that it’s easier to make sure it gets done at the appropriate date and time.
Guard your writing blocks and don’t allow anything except an emergency encroach on them. You’ll be thrilled with how prolific you can be with writing time set aside. When you purposefully schedule writing, the chances of it getting done will increase dramatically.
Distractions don’t need to be distractions
Sometimes all it takes to resist distractions is to reframe them in your mind. As Tris Thorp pointed out in this The Chopra Center blog, “Distractions are only distractions if you label them as such and allow them to derail you.” So if your friend invites you out for coffee, make sure to finish writing before grabbing your wallet and heading out the door. Let distractions be the incentive that you need to write with utmost concentration.
Go forth and write
Writing requires precise focus and deep concentration. Get more done by noticing when you’re being fake productive and curbing this urge. Turn off (or at least silence) all your distracting devices, assemble the ideal environment for maximum productivity, and prioritize your writing time by inputting it into your schedule. Reframe distractions so they can spur you to success, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your maximum potential as a writer.
Estey S writes blogs for dozens of small companies per month and is a weekly columnist and freelance journalist for national journalism website with focus on local news. She also serves as a staff editor and writer for an international religious magazine and works as a copyeditor, proofreader, and writer for a national website.