One of the hardest careers for productivity is writing. That’s because you need to be creative, pull words seemingly out of thin air and make it all sound amazing.
If you can follow the top productivity tips for writing, no matter whether you are an engineer or a photographer – or a writer, of course – you can master productivity.
The biggest problems writers face are distractions. It doesn’t matter whether you work from home or in an office, distractions make writers pull their hair out. These come in two forms. Some are passive distractions, ones that happen to you. For instance:
- People are chatting in the cubicle next to yours, and you find it hard to put words together.
- Kids are running around and making demands on your time while you are trying to write.
- The TV is on in the other room, and the sound conflicts with trying to assemble words in your head.
- The cat desperately needs your lap, because every other spot in the house is taken.
Then there are active distractions, ones that you initiate (tsk, tsk). For instance.
- Your stomach speaks, so you go check out what food is lying around in the kitchen.
- You decide to check your email for the 17th
- You stop to chat with a colleague, not thinking about how that might also be disturbing someone in the next cubicle.
- Hey, Twitter!!
The solution is to turn off all distractions. You’ll do best when you put on blinkers, just like a race horse. Well, not just like a race horse. That would look silly. Here’s what to do instead:
First, turn off everything on your computer. Turn off Skype notifications. Turn off Twitter notifications. If it takes buying a separate bargain-basement, stripped down Chromebook just for writing, so be it.
Second, close the door and lock it (don’t try this in a cubicle). Make getting up to check the food on the counter too much trouble to be worth the effort. Make checking the mail too much work to be worth the effort.
Third, put on sound-blocking ear muffs. You won’t be distracted by what you don’t hear.
Fourth, send the cat out on errands.
Some writers just start writing. In fact, most do. Even I do far too often. But don’t do what I do far too often. Instead, do what I did for this article. Prepare an outline first.
For bigger projects, create a more detailed outline.
With a detailed outline, it might be clear what research you’ll need for each section. Do the research and plug it into your outline.
If it’s fiction, add character development notes and other items into the outline where you plan to include them.
By the time you are ready to write, all the ideas should be in place. All you have to do is assemble the words.
Peak time of day
I work well first thing in the morning. Well, not quite first thing. I like to start with routine items first. But after a half hour, I’m ready to write! So everybody get out of my way, because I have a world to conquer…until lunch.
The sad thing is that I get drowsy, then hungry, in early to mid afternoon. That is not the time for me to do pro-active or creative work. It’s a great time to do more routine stuff or related activities, such as creating images or proofreading. It’s an even better time to take a nap! I do that once or twice a year.
I find that another peak time is the evening, from about 6:00 to 10:00. My energy level usually drops after 10:00, though.
Learn what your peak times are, and optimize your schedule for the various tasks you have to do.
This type of problem is unique to creative people. What should I write about? What should I paint? What should I crochet next?
When short on ideas, move on to something else. Wash dishes. Go for a walk. Check to see if the cat is back, yet. Try doodling; that works sometimes.
Let you mind wander freely for a while and see what you think of.
Another trick, is to direct you mind on how it wanders by browsing through related image searches. Or reading related Quora answers.
I get a lot of inspiration from reading comments on related blogs.
You can be more productive
If you are organized and set up the systems you need, you can be more productive. Don’t believe me? Here’s what four other writers have to say. Count how many times the word “organized” comes up.
Author Bio: David Leonhardt’s “day job” is to run The Happy Guy Marketing, which offers ghostwriting of books and screenplays and such, as well as website promotion, such as content marketing and social media marketing. He blogs about self-help topics, including happiness, fitness and nutrition.