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Five tools and tactics to increase writing productivity

Everyone I know seems to suffer from lack of focus these days due to information overload, apps, and gadgets that compete for attention. That’s especially bad news for our brains and our ability to get work done, writing and otherwise.

Here are a few of my favorite tools and tactics to stay focused. If you want to amplify your productivity, consider if these would work for you.

Shut down anything that pings. Anything that interrupts is bad for productivity, so if you want to focus on a project, turn off any notification or alert functions on your phone and computer for e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook.

Close excess windows. Set times for research and times for writing that are separate from time spent on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I’m most focused on my writing when I close everything but my Word file.

Create urgency. Stay on track by using a timer. You might like the Pomodoro technique, in which you use a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute segments called “pomodori” (from the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”), separated by short breaks. To learn more, check out the Pomodoro website and free PDF.

Organize your tasks. Brain clutter is a terrible thing. I’ve found it’s hard to concentrate when I have too many things floating around in my mind. I started using Wunderlist several months ago to corral tasks and create lists of things I want to track. I use it for everything from my shopping list to library books I want to check out, to project task lists. I have Wunderlist on my iPad, phone, and computer. It conveniently syncs data so that I’ve always got the most up-to-date information.

Create a Dash Bag. Take full advantage of downtime to write, read, or brainstorm ideas by having a bag of writing tools ready to go if you’re out doing errands or appointments. Waiting at the doctor’s office isn’t so bad if you have your writing tools. In my bag, I carry a notebook and pens, highlighters, Post-it notes, and a book to read.

What are your favorite productivity tips and tools?

Il Pomodoro image courtesty of Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great tips. I actually take one of my most valuable productivity tips from the famous chef/writer/t.v. personality Anthony Bourdain.
    In his book ‘Kitchen Confidential’ he describes a scene between a veteran chef and an apprentice, where the veteran places both hands on the apprentices messy bench, lifts them up and shows his palms, covered in sauces, scraps and dirt.
    ‘See this?’ he says. ‘This is like the inside of your mind. Messy bench, messy mind.’
    Whenever I start feeling flustered I take a look at my desk, take five and clear it off.

    July 23, 2013
    • I’m glad you mentioned this tip! I’m with you, cleaning off my desk makes me feel so much better. I was getting ready to do an interview yesterday and cleaned all the papers and clutter off my desk first. You’re so right. It really clears the mind.

      July 23, 2013

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