As the recovering Queen of Procrastination, I know more than a little about this subject.
Let me begin by saying that I know it’s not easy. If you are procrastinating horribly and repeatedly, please be kind to yourself. You are most likely operating from a place a fear, and your procrastination is your subconscious trying to protect you from that fear.
The good news, however, is that practical productivity hacks really do work.
I am writing this article, for example, because it is scheduled. I have another forty minutes in which I must write, edit and post it. That puts me against the clock and helps me to focus.
The deadline also helps me to get the thing finished and published before the self-doubt prevents me from putting it out into the world or my perfectionism convinces me that I need to do another three days of research before I write it.
1. So that’s my number one productivity hack: Make scheduling your friend.
Block out time in your diary for writing and then protect that time with the ferocity of a mama bear.
2. Set a timer.
Regular listeners of the podcast, will already know my love of using a timer. All kinds of dispiriting tasks (cleaning the kitchen, writing 500 words when I’m stuck and tired and not in the mood, business admin) become instantly manageable when tackled for just ten or twenty minutes.
3. Treat Yourself. Often.
I’ve mentioned my love of using stickers to track my progress, but they also work as a reward. Who doesn’t like a shiny star sticker? You wrote 2000 words? Fine, you get a biscuit, too.
4. Eliminate distractions.
I’ve used Freedom in the past, but am currently using Chrome extension, StayFocusd. (The developers spell it without the ‘e’. I don’t know why.)
I also recommend headphones with music. If you don’t like writing to music you could try ambient sounds such as stormy weather, rainforest or crashing waves, or even just silence via noise-cancelling headphones. Anything to help you cut off from reality and enter the world of your imagination.
5. Develop your own rituals.
I know that it’s a job and that we should all be disciplined enough to scribble words whenever and wherever, but I think optimum writing performance and productivity can be achieved through considered use of ritual.
You can use a particular type of tea, scented candles, a special writing place or dedicated writing machine (or pen/notebook) to signal to your brain that it is time to write fiction.
Do make the rituals things you are happy (and able) to continue daily throughout your working life, however. And it might be best to avoid rituals which are seriously detrimental to your health such as chain-smoking…
How about you?
Do you use rituals for your creative time? Or do you have any productivity tips to share?