By Laurel Blount
Self-discipline is…um…not my strongest spiritual fruit. So as a writer, time management is something I struggle with. I sit at my desk with every intention of writing, but then I just…don’t want to. I’d much rather check Facebook, make another cup of coffee, or rummage in my purse to see if I have any gum. In a pinch, I’ll even resort to cleaning.
Hard to believe, I know.
I understand this about myself, and I’m working to improve in this area. When I go to writing conferences I always attend workshops on time management, writing faster, being more productive, staying focused…you get the idea. Since there’s never any shortage of well-attended classes on these topics, apparently I’m not the only writer who watches You Tube videos of kittens when she has a looming deadline.
Yes, you, my fellow writers, are my people—my amazing, talented, procrastinating people. This post is for you. (Those of you who meet deadlines early and write ten books a year can go read something else now. I love you; I do. But you scare me a little.)
For the rest of us, I’ll be sharing three things that have helped kickstart my productivity:
- Timed sprints: When you are in a tough spot in your writing, setting a specific word count goal can be frustrating. I don’t know about you, but how long it takes me to write a thousand words depends on what I happen to be writing. Some scenes are just harder than others. Also—I’m an “edit while you go” first drafter, and I spend a lot of time hitting the backspace key. So instead of setting goals related to word counts, I set a daily time-related goal and divide that into sprints. I’ll make an agreement with myself to focus on my work in progress for an hour, thirty minutes, or even fifteen minutes–whatever my schedule can handle. When the timer goes off, I give myself permission to either shift my focus to other tasks or take a break to refill my coffee mug before settling down again.
- Incentives: At a recent conference I attended a brain science workshop where the presenter suggested that our minds react powerfully to rewards on a subconscious level. Until then I’d never bought into the whole “give-yourself-a-sticker” idea because I thought it was was…well…silly. But the presenter was all scientific and convincing—so I bought some stickers and gave it a whirl. Two caveats: she said you should set attainable goals. Failing isn’t a great incentive for future productivity. Secondly, pick out some seriously cool stickers. I ventured into the scrapbook section where they have fabulous stickers, thanks to all you uber-creative scrapbookers. I stuck a sticker on my calendar for each day I met my writing goal. Soon, it mattered to me to see that glittery sticker on the page, and my productivity level became more consistent. Score one for brain science!
- Time management apps: When my second romance for Love Inspired, A Baby for the Minister released in September, I wanted to explore having a launch team, to see if this was something I’d enjoy. I’d also just signed a contract for two additional Love Inspired books, one with a November first deadline. And I was juggling blog deadlines and planning my daughter’s wedding. I had a lot to keep track of! I searched for time management applications and found one called Clockify. The free version of this super-easy online program allowed me to track the time I was spending on different projects. This gave me the big picture I needed to make sure all my plates kept spinning. It’s not perfect—you can’t use it in airplane mode, for one thing. I love airplane mode because it eliminates the temptation to check email or revisit those You Tube kittens when I’m supposed to be writing. The program does have a slight delay when I begin or end a session—I have to wait for a few seconds for it to be up and ready. But overall it’s been a valuable tool to up my productivity and help me track how efficiently I’m utilizing my precious writing time. The program has bells and whistles I’m not currently using, so there’s no telling what else it may help with once I have the time to explore it more. (There are other time management programs as well—Clockify just happens to be the one I tried.)
So there you have it—three productivity hacks that worked for me. I’m always looking for more of these, so if you have something that’s helping you—I’d love to hear about it!
And meanwhile, now that I’ve got this blog post finished—it’s time for some kittens and coffee.Three Productivity Boosters for Procrastinating Writers @laurelannwrites #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #wordcount Click To Tweet
Award winning author Laurel Blount lives in middle Georgia with her husband, four children and assorted spoiled farm animals. Her days are a happy whirl of writing, housekeeping, homeschooling and hobby farming. Her second Love Inspired contemporary romance A Baby for the Minister is available now! Find her at www.laurelblountbooks.com.