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Posts tagged ‘productivity’

Productivity tips for your writing projects and more

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” – Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve been going in a hundred different directions lately: work, play, travel, chairing a literary contest, spring gardening, and a multitude of other projects. The other day, a friend called me “superwoman.” I used to like it when people noticed how hard I worked. Now, I hate it. I hate it just for that reason–because it reminds me of how hard I work.

I realize, after a lifetime of perpetuating this pattern, that I “get busy” and take on too many projects when I am trying to AVOID something that I really should be doing. Funny, isn’t it? The thing I should be doing, right now, is writing my book. Why am I doing everything else, then? Because I’ve reached a juncture of sorts, a crisis point, and I can’t see my way through it.

Fortunately, for me, I came across Tim Ferriss’s post today, “Productivity Tips for the Neurotic and Crazy (Like Me)” (and like me). He writes about the dangerous myths of “creative” people and lists several dysfunctional actions of his own (in comparison, they make my “busy-ness” seem boring and lame).

Tim says, “Most ‘superheroes’ are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.”  He goes on to say:

“If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note:

  • Being busy is a form of laziness-lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
  • Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”

To get myself back on track and out of my crazy-making-busy behavior, I’m taking Tim’s advice and writing down the three to five things that make me most anxious or uncomfortable. Then I ask myself “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”

If I can answer YES to this question and one more question he lists in his post, then I should block out 2 to 3 hours one day to work on ONLY this project. Let all the little, less-important stuff come later.

The most uncomfortable thing in my writing life right now is, “What is going to happen next in my story?” If I were able to break through this block, it would be a life-changer for me—not only because I may actually finish my work-in-progress but it would give me the confidence that I can be successful, that I can push through my blocks. I’d be expanding my comfort zone and creating “future fuel” for success. Sounds productive, doesn’t it?

Do you have one or two things in your life that feel uncomfortable? Are you avoiding or procrastinating something important?

For more insight on how to increase your productivity, read all of Mr. Ferriss’s article. Then check out his book, “The 4-Hour Work Week.

For more tips, read my post Stretch your writing comfort zone.

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. Read more

Productivity tips that will help you find your writer’s path

If you’re like me, making time to write is a juggling act. Last week was one of those weeks that knocked me out of my writing groove in a big way. Changing work schedules, tasks that took longer than planned, and other people’s priorities threw me off.

Sometimes it’s easy to throw ourselves off with tasks we put off doing. These tasks that take on a life of their own can divert us from our writing, take away our energy, and steal productivity from other creative projects. Read more