We may think we need a writer’s retreat to finish our quarterly content creation or write the first draft of our manuscript. In reality, we need to be able to trust ourselves enough, and trust what we want to write about, in order to truly see success with our writing. An endless stream of distractions can ultimately ensure that we never attain our creative project goals. However, there are ways to mitigate these distractions and fully allow ourselves the time, energy, and motivation to keep on task.
“Am I allowing distractions to get in my own way?”
We have so much technology these days—it’s hard to even have a conversation with our loved ones without checking our phones every couple of minutes. Not only do distractions limit our ability to accomplish tasks, but they also cause us to take a longer period of time to complete a task. A team of psychological scientists from George Mason University also found that when our attention is diverted, the quality of our work is also diluted.
Keep these tips in mind when trying to write your next piece of work:
- Put your phone on airplane mode. We habitually check our phones as a society. But when your phone is on airplane mode, you take that one distraction away.
- Open up a new browser window. If you have 50 million tabs open on your computer (like I do) almost every day, then you’re also allowing yourself the option of clicking on those tabs. Instead, open a new browser with your Google document and start writing. Better yet, disconnect from the Internet entirely and open up a Microsoft Word document.
- Shut down your computer. If you feel you can’t control yourself and are still allowing distractions to limit your productivity, try shutting down your computer, and take out a pen and your notebook. You may be surprised at how productive you can be with just those two tools.
Increase Your Motivation
“How can I increase my own motivation?”
In order to help increase our productivity, we must realize that motivation is a key aspect in doing so. Our motivation to write can center upon several factors, including the need to help others, pour our hearts and souls onto the page, and change someone’s perspective on an important issue.
Think through these suggestions as you dive into your next writing project:
- Try a short visualization exercise. Close your eyes, and get comfortable. Uncross your legs. Wiggle your toes and your fingers. Take a deep breath in for four counts, hold for four counts, and breathe out for four counts. Repeat this breath pattern two more times. Close your eyes. Imagine your clarity surrounding your writing. Imagine you have the greatest incentive to keep motivating yourself. Imagine that you have the greatest strategies in place to keep yourself motivated throughout the writing process.Take a deep breath in for four counts, hold for four counts, and breathe out for four counts. Repeat this breath pattern two more times. Wiggle your toes and your fingers. Open your eyes.
- Journal your goals. Once you become clearer about the goals and intentions you have with your writing, you will surely feel more motivated, and more confident, to succeed in achieving these goals.
- Define your purpose. Once you define the purpose of your writing, you’ll be able to motivate yourself and, therefore, become more productive.
Alleviate Pressure & Stress
“How can I alleviate pressure I put on myself?”
Creative folks can ponder all day about one sentence. We can edit our work over and over again, and we can stare blankly at the next page for hours. One way to help increase our writing productivity is to simply alleviate the pressure we put on ourselves.
- Work on a soft deadline. Instead of telling yourself you’ll write 10,000 words tomorrow when you already know your kid has a doctor’s appointment, you need to go grocery shopping, and you have client work to fulfill, consider a realistic deadline for yourself. Could you write for 20 minutes in between activities?
- Find a healthy balance. Instead of exhibiting behavior that doesn’t serve you or your writing goals, you can discover ways to relax your attitude when it comes to your writing.
- Replace overwhelm with excitement. We became writers not only to make a living, but also because we find writing to be a joyful creative outlet for us. Instead of feeling a sense of overwhelm, and feeding into that, remember what it’s like to feel excited by the promise of seeing your byline in print.
Make Fewer Excuses
“Am I making excuses when it comes to deadlines I set for myself?”
This is an extremely difficult, yet important, habit to discuss when it comes to writing productivity. In order for us to collectively produce better work at a more efficient pace, we must look into what’s causing us to make excuses in the first place.
- Procrastination leads to avoidance. I firmly believe that when we procrastinate, we do ourselves a disservice. We aren’t allowing ourselves to fully be present or productive, and our goals are pushed further back. The Atlantic has a great article entailing why writers are the worst procrastinators.
- Avoid critical self-talk. When you tell yourself you “can’t” accomplish a task, it’ll be significantly harder for you to sit down and write. Instead, allow yourself to reframe these negative thoughts. Write three positive affirmations daily about yourself, your writing, and your goals to increase positive self-talk and productivity.
- Change your mindset. Allowing yourself to uplevel your mindset will also allow you to become more productive. You’ll start to believe you can produce the work you want to produce, and, as a result, you won’t permit yourself to go back into the “land of excuses.”
Track your Time
“Am I spending time on mindless activities that don’t serve me well?”
We truly allow ourselves to see how we can better, and more effectively, use our time when we take a look at how we are spending each hour of the day. Oftentimes miniscule tasks end up taking us longer to complete, and that can derail our goals for the day.
- Multitasking won’t serve you well. Did you know that you could ultimately lose 40 percent of your productivity by multitasking? When you switch tasks, it actually takes up more space in your brain. Do yourself a favor and allow yourself to concentrate on one task at a time.
- Write in shorter increments. I’m a huge proponent of the Pomodoro Technique. Choose a task to work on for 25 minutes and take a break. Repeat this cycle four times, and take a 15-minute break. When you have this “break,” you can easily give yourself permission to check your email or social media platforms. Make sure to set a timer so you stay on track.
- Use a tool to track your time. I use my Google calendar, but you could use tools like Toggl or Harvest. You will see how much time a task takes you to accomplish.
When you give yourself permission to attain your highest potential, you’ll undoubtedly reach great productivity with your writing. By giving yourself an efficient amount of time, energy, and motivation, you’ll soon be able to change your mindset and allow yourself to think, finally, that you can become a productive writer.