Let’s just be honest about it. Productivity is probably the number one thing that either makes or breaks us as writers. And if you’re like most freelancers (I raise my hand in confession on this one, too), you could use a lot more productivity in your day. It’s easy to start blaming good ol’ time, but really time has nothing to do with it. It’s how you use your time that matters. Productivity is an art, not a science, and it takes awhile to figure out your work style and what makes you most efficient. For me, getting lost in the world of The Glitch Mob Radio on Pandora is just enough for me to stay focused for hours on end. (Once the headphones come off, though, good luck getting back into that world.) But there are a few other tricks I’ve picked up along the way for boosting productivity, and I thought I’d share them. The more productive you get, the shorter the hours you have to work (or the more money you make in the long hours…whatever).
Turn Off the Electronics
Okay obviously not your computer. But that cell phone needs to be turned off. Not on vibrate. Not on silent. Not on silent and out of reach. Off. The only exception I have to this rule is if for some reason you’re needed on an emergency basis – like you have a small child who depends on you and is at day care. Fine. But don’t touch that phone unless you have to. Same goes with the television. I love it when writers tell me they “work better with the television on”. I really strongly doubt that. You may not be able to work in silence, I’m with you there. But I know very few people (actually…exactly zero) who are more productive with the television on.
Stop Refreshing Pages
I do this with Kindle sales, available work on job boards, email, and other things without even realizing it. Seriously enough with checking things. Your email will be there, your Kindle sales will update, and life will go on if you don’t check them every five seconds. I promise. Checking in on sales and whatnot might seem like a really productive use of your time, but it’s not. Sales are like flowers. You don’t have to sit there and watch them grow – just peek out the window every once in awhile and soon enough it will be obvious when they’re there. Email can be checked a few times a day, if need be, but in all reality your clients can wait 24 hours. Friends can wait longer. You are, after all, running a business.
Get Off Social Media
I don’t care if it’s for work. Seriously. HootSuite, people. Use it. Schedule your social media updates the night before. Or better yet, take an evening on Sunday or Saturday and schedule your week’s updates. The more you can automate, the better. Then, you have a dashboard where for five minutes or ten minutes every morning you can check your messages, mentions, likes, followers, ninjas, pirates, stalkers, whatever and be done with it. I really can’t stand social media, but I know that at this point it’s almost a necessary evil for business. So I use it. But the more I can streamline that shiznit, the better. HootSuite is easy, free, and once you figure it out it’s super easy to just schedule, check, respond, and be done.
Work in the Window
Get off the window seat you look ridiculous, that’s not what I meant. What I mean by work in the window is this: if you work on sites like Textbroker, Zerys, Constant Content, or whatever else, there are submission forms and fields. Work within those forms. I know it’s so tempting to go to Microsoft Word or Notepad or whatever you Apple people use (it’s a loving kind of scorn, I promise) but for some reason when you’re out of those windows, it doesn’t feel like working. It’s easy to get up and walk away. And I can’t explain why. But whenever I start working on an article within an online form, I stay there and finish it much more quickly than I do when I’m working outside of forms. Of course, if you’re working for actual “real” clients you earned yourself, you’ll have to use a word processor. But only have the one document open, and unless you’re using it for research, close down the internet. Which brings me to my next point…
Work on One Thing at a Time
I am the world’s most ADD writer, I promise you. The other day I didn’t strategically plan my time like I usually do (read: have to in order to stay sane and get anything done), and I had – no joke – 45 tabs open at one point across two windows. *shakes head* Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. I had no idea what I was doing, I was working on a million things at once, and nothing got done. The reason is because I’m pretty much an intellectual squirrel. My brain is continuously going “Find the acorn, find the acorn – SHINY – find the….what was I finding…Oooo look an acorn!” O.o It happens. I will run around the park of writing all day long chasing different things and never finish anything if I don’t focus. And by focus I mean have absolutely zero distractions if possible. My solution? I know the different tasks – in a very vague sense – that I want to hit per day. So, I know that I have some corporate articles for Client A, I want to email market, I want to work on Textbroker, and I need to submit to Constant Content. I list those avenues out and then I work on one thing at a time. As in when I’m on Textbroker, ONLY Textbroker is open and perhaps one to two tabs if I’m researching. This is the only reason I’m still a freelancer and earning money. Otherwise I’d have 500 half-finished projects laying around and not much else.
So those are my top five ways to boost your productivity right this second. But if you’ve noticed, they pretty much all boil down to “minimize distractions”. Other than music – which I usually listen to in order to block out other people – I really have no distractions during the day. Music is a world to me, so once I’m in it I find it comfortable and hitting that pause button just feels disruptive. Maybe for you it’s finding complete silence or working in nature. Maybe a library helps you – sometimes it does me. Find what works for you and then minimize distractions as much as possible. The more you can focus on what you’re doing, the faster you’ll do it, the more accurate you’ll be, the better your writing will get, and the more your income potential will grow.
Hopefully this helped you!
Until next time – happy writing.