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Working on a deadline? Try these tips for maximum productivity

Deadlines. We all have them, whether it’s personal or for work, self-imposed or not. Everyone’s situation is different, but when I was balancing a full-time job with school, I had several strategies to stay focused and keep my energy up.

I limited the amount of sugar I’d eat and tried my best to balance out the caffeine to avoid the jitters. If I was preparing for a long writing session, I’d cook extra food ahead of time and buy healthy snacks, so I wouldn’t have to spend much time in the kitchen. I’d try to find blocks of time to work without interruption, even if I had to get up extra early.

If you have a looming deadline, you might want to try some of these tips courtesy of a nifty graphic from

Set up your writing space. My blogging partner Carol and I like to do timed writes together. We set deadlines to motivate ourselves to reach writing milestones. Before we “go in,” we like to set up our space a certain way. We set out our favorite pens, clear the clutter off our desks, and secure our beverage of choice: water, coffee, or my personal favorite — tea, which contains an amino acid called L-theanine that helps with relaxation and focus.

Take exercise breaks. Whether it’s a quick walk around my neighborhood or a full-out Tae Bo session, I can only stand so many hours staring at my computer screen and sitting in my chair before I feel fried. Exercise breaks help stretch out my muscles from sitting. And even as I’m reluctant to take time away from the keyboard, I’ve found that some of my best writing ideas and insights strike when I’m kickboxing. Even a quick dance break will rev up your heart and energize you to carry on.

Turn off all extraneous noise. You may think it’s just background noise, but having your TV on can pinch productivity. The same goes for your Facebook dinger. Cut out all distracting sounds and interruptions. Every time you have to yank yourself back into your writing and thinking groove, you lose time and focus. It’s just plain bad for the creative process. Instead, schedule that surfing, Googling, Binging, Facebooking time in a microbreak or maxibreak where you set a timer, get it out of your system, and then go back to writing.

For more deadline tips and tricks, check out the graphic.

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