Top 10 Writers Productivity Tips For Any Writer
While I'm sure many of you have set new writing goals for the new year, have you figured out just how you plan on accomplishing them? Probably not, so I thought I'd write a brief description on writers productivity tips to use when shooting for your new writing goals.
Why Have A Productivity Plan
Having goals without a plan to achieve them is like rowing a kayak with a stick. You know what the destination is, but you waste too much time correcting your course (if you even notice that you are off-course at all).
Following these writers productivity tips will not only help you achieve your writing goals. But will help you create a better overall life.
Here are my Top 10 Writers Productivity Tips
- Get up early.
- Set goals.
- Exercise daily.
- Plan your day.
- Set deadlines.
- Do the most dreaded task first.
- Take breaks.
- Turn off distractions.
- Clean your desktop.
- Reward yourself.
1 - Get Up Early
From Hemingway to Einstein, many of the greatest minds and most productive people followed Ben Franklins "Early to Bed, Early to Rise" idiom. There is a lot of truth to this, although, like Hemingway, I'm not too good on the early to bedside end :-).
Getting up just one hour earlier than you typically get up will allow you to get a jump start on the day. And if you follow the other writers productivity tips in this article, it can significantly increase your health, focus, and daily writing output.
Some examples might be:
I will get up 1 hour earlier each day and use that time to write.
I will get up at 4:30 each weekday morning and exercise.
I will get up at 5:00 each day, plan my day, write, or exercise.
2 - Set Writing Goals
Goal setting is useful because:
- Goals give focus to the desired outcome.
- Goals help to plan your time.
- Goals provide a feeling of accomplishment.
For writers, a common goal is a daily word count. Word count goals are usually a daily target, but it can be hourly or weekly. Just choose a time frame that suits you and set a goal.
Some examples might be:
- I will write 1000 words each writing day,
- I will write 100 words an hour for 3 hours,
- I will write 5000 words this week.
3 - Exercise daily
Exercise is one of the core methods of increasing focus and maintaining health, but it doesn't have to be a dreaded chore.
Believe it or not, exercise can be fun. You read that right exercise Is fun.
There are many ways to exercise and one crucial mindset to make it fun.
Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of exercise
There are many ways to exercise, such as; walking, hiking, or bicycling, just to name a few. Your level of health will determine your exercise methods. Personally, when the weather is cold, I like to walk in the morning, and when the weather is warmer, I like to bike or hike some local trails in the morning.
While many people dread exercise, that is a mindset that can change. Pick an activity you like, such as walking in your local park and remember one of my favorite quotes:
"Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate."
This quote was a mind shift for me, and maybe it will have the same effect on you. I challenge you to shift your mindset from punishment to celebration.
Remember this, and you will live a healthier and more focused life.
4 - Plan your day
Every night I plan the next day. Depending on my current projects and life events, I may simply write a list of what I want to accomplish. It may be more detailed if I have some scheduled appointments.
You can plan your day the previous night, or when you start the day (remember to get up early), it depends on what you find works best for you.
You can use anything to write this down on, but I find a journal works for me. (see my post The top 10 uses of a journal)
Here is a five-step process that works for me:
1 - Cross out the completed items from yesterday's plan and give yourself a high-five.
2 - Copy anything that you didn't complete from the previous day's plan to today's plan.
3 - Write down any obligations or appointments for today.
4 - Look at your goals and write down the next step for each goal.
5 - Make sure the plan is placed in a visible location to reference as needed. This visibility will help you stay on track.
It's that simple.
Taking the time to set up each day's plan will increase your productivity and help you stay on course.
5 - Set deadlines
Deadlines are what drive us to complete a task or project. When you set a deadline for a goal, who knows whether you are on track and making progress.
Here is an example; I will write a 10,000-word story by June 1st. If I hadn't set a deadline of June 1st, I could convince myself that I will still write that story this year, but never make much progress. However, with a deadline, I can check in on my goals regularly and see, for example, on March 31st, I've only written 2,000 words. That's not much progress, so I'll have to pick up the writing pace to meet my goal of 10,000 words.
Deadlines make you more productive by giving you the means to measure your progress.
6 - Do the most dreaded task first
We all have tasks and to-do's that we'd rather not tackle. Some, no one ever wants to do such as cleaning the bathroom or re-writing that sub-par character introduction, Some are personal dislikes such as cleaning the bathroom (hate it!) and writing for someone else (just not fun).
However, things must get done, so the best strategy is to do the most dreaded task first.
For example: did I mention how much I hated cleaning the bathroom :-). I do it first thing in the morning. If I want to re-write something, but don't want to do it, I'll tackle it first thing in the morning, and I'm done with it. The remainder of the day is much more pleasant when I do this because I an not dreading the task any longer. It's just not hanging over my head.
7 - Take breaks
According to Wikipedia, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
The Pomodoro Technique proposes that working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break increases productivity.
While there is more to the Pomodoro Technique than I just mentioned, the principle is that you need to take regular breaks to be productive.
Sometimes, when I am writing for a long time, I will use this technique and set a timer for 25 minutes, pause for 10 minutes, and repeat until done or a pre-determined time has been reached (3 hours, meeting, lunch, etc.). Since using this method, my word count per hour improved, and I feel much better afterward because I stood up and moved around during the 5-minute break.
Incorporate the Pomodoro Technique or any variation into your routine, and I am sure you will be more productive.
8 - Turn off distractions
Distractions are the bain of our internet existence. Everything from my cell phone to my email pop-up distracts me. Even my iPad is calling out to me to check the latest news, check for emails, or distract myself with some stupid game. Fighting (and loosing) to distractions is now the norm unless you are mindful of it.
If possible, turn off your electronics when you write (or use airplane mode). This distraction eliminator is one reason I support journal writing. When I am putting pen to paper in my journal, I can have all of my electronics shut off. I could even take a hike and sit under a tree and write (you can't be much further from distractions than that).
I highly recommend a book by Nir Eyal called indistractable. In the book, the author outlines the triggers for distraction, both internal and external. He went beyond technology and discussed the root cause of why we get distracted and some suggestions on how to deal with or avoid distractions.
The simplest version of this tip is to turn off anything that could be a distraction when you're writing.
9 - Clean your desktop
Cleaning your desk is probably the easiest tip to do. My desktop cycles from pigpen to clean slate every few weeks or so. I have found that when I am having a hard time focusing on one task or organizing my thoughts, my desk is a mess. I'll then clean it up (kind of a distraction project), and then I find it easier to focus, think, and write.
Try it, next time you are fidgety, unfocused, or struggling with the task at hand, try clearing your desk and reap the rewards!
10 - Reward yourself
This final tip ties back to your goals. Reward yourself whenever you complete a goal. It doesn't even have to be a significant goal. Any accomplishment deserves a reward.
When I complete a project, I'll take my wife out to a nice dinner. When I finish some horrendously dreaded task, I'll definitely treat myself to some small reward (Hot Fudge Sunday anyone?
Rewards are what motivate us, and they are what keep us going and on track to our goals.
Reward yourself. You deserve it!
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