Writers are magicians. They are artists. They are an embodiment of Apollo on earth. But above all else, writers are human beings who have mortal issues like a lack of productivity and burnout.
Professional writers who spend hours curating stories, blogs, and other content may seem to have a normal job, but what goes on behind the scenes is an unspoken tale.
Writing is a taxing job that involves creative ideation, research, and attention to detail. While many people become writers due to sheer passion, it also pays our bills!
Whether it is the turbulence of working from home or a general lack of energy, every writer needs a little boost to keep their fingers flying over the keyboard.
Here is a list of eight simple and realistic ways to help you keep your productivity up and your word count high every day.
1. Go Old-School With To-Do Lists
Everyone likes to mark things “done” on a to-do list. It is a psychological trick that keeps the most productive individuals on track with their goals for the day. Most of us writers have a digital note-taking system on our devices.
However, if the typed to-do list is not getting things done, then you need to write it down on paper. Yes! A physical to-do list written the old-school way with pen and paper charges up the same reward centers in your brain that motivated you to complete homework in time to watch your favorite TV show.
Writing down your to-do list and sticking it on your computer or keeping it in front of you can do wonders. If you pair this tip with the Pomodoro technique, you will be able to achieve more in less time.
If you are not a fan of concrete rules, then you can go the opposite way. Along with a to-do list of your major tasks of the day, you can create a “might-do” list with little but essential tasks. This can be used to trick your brain into making a choice to do them.
When your mind chooses to do something, it will make sure that the task is done in due time and looks like the masterpiece you intended to create.
Make a list of all the things that you would like to get done in a given time. Don’t make a micro-managed itinerary for the day; just mark the opening and closing hours for the day, and you are good to go.
2. Have a “Praise” Folder
Most professionals like to be appreciated. But when it comes to writers, any piece of written praise often stays with them for a long time. This is not stereotyping! Writers instinctively gravitate toward written words.
Constructive feedback on their work keeps writers grounded. It boosts their confidence in the craft and helps them get in the right headspace when things seem a little awry.
On the days when the sun is not shining or the words are not ready to be weaved into tapestries, you can have a look at the positive comments from the past to feel valued.
Create a “praise” folder in your inbox, and add all the appreciative messages there to take a quick peek when you truly desire a head start.
3. Eat Your Frog
The procrastination machine in our upper chambers tends to come alive when a difficult challenge is ahead of us. It stops us from working and forces us to engage in devious activities like binge-watching Lucifer on Netflix to learn what “you truly desire!”
Procrastination is the killer of productivity. This is why it is necessary to take the most challenging task and get it done as early as possible. This allows you to have an easy time throughout the rest of the day.
One of the best ways to tackle those beastly tasks is to divide them into smaller chunks and use Pomodoro technique to strike them off the list. For example, if you have an article to write that you have been putting off for a couple of days, put a Pomodoro clock on your phone for 25 minutes. Spend 15 minutes researching and 10 minutes writing the outline.
Then, you can split the time based on your word count or subheadings. Focus on only the task at hand so writing those 5,000 words does not seem as daunting.
The sheer joy and adrenaline rush of completing a monstrous task may be enough to keep you lit up for the rest of the week.
You can keep the smaller tasks like handling social media, networking, and responding to your emails for the last of your working hours.
Eat your frog for breakfast to have ribeye steak for dinner!
4. March to Your Circadian Rhythm
Following the rules of nature is the best trick in the book for productivity.
The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg makes prominent claims about how human beings are creatures of habit. We depend on patterns and predictability to keep functioning without going into a state of meltdown.
The sheer number of decisions we might be forced to make each day could not only overwhelm the brain but also leave you in fight-or-flight mode for the entire day. But human beings and a significant majority of primates have the power of habits to help them.
Building an active routine for your writing process will help you write better and ensure that your deadlines are met. As a writer, you can easily get frazzled about finding the right time to write.
If you are struggling every day to keep up with the work because of procrastination, you can join an accountability group for writers on social media or talk about it with your writer friends and make an accountability group of your own.
Drinking a cup of coffee and taking a yoga class may all be good for you, but if you only stare at the screen without typing a word after either of these activities, then that’s no good!
The Circadian Rhythm and the Tune of Life
Now that we have established the potential of habits, let’s break down the significance of the circadian rhythm.
Essentially, the circadian rhythm is a natural clock that maintains your physiological systems like hormones, metabolism, and all the fancy words used to describe the flow of energy in the bloodstream.
The existence of this system helps the body to act a certain way throughout the day. It ensures that you stay awake and alert during the daylight hours while your body naturally hunches over as the sun goes down.
When you embrace the natural flow of energy and establish a routine around it, then you have nothing to stop you from winning.
You can easily add exercise, meditation, and creative crafts to the mix to have a balanced day.
5. Master Your Calendar
Every productivity system is based on effective calendar management. You can break down your timing and priorities into three distinct practices:
Learn To Block Time
Time blocking is an excellent way of managing your time. It is allotting a set number of minutes, hours, or days to a particular assignment.
Let’s say you have to work on a mega project about digital marketing and web copy for a fancy, high-end cosmetic product. On top of these two tasks, you have to visit your chiropractor and take the cat to the vet.
In this hypothetical situation, there are way too many variables involved. From the time spent writing, sitting in traffic, and visiting the chiropractor, you can’t schedule things down to the minute. This is why designating a block of time is the best way to approach such tasks, and the Pomodoro technique can help you actually get things done once you have blocked time for these tasks.
Live on Calendar Events
Living on the calendar is simple: You allot time for every event and activity you intend to participate in. From virtual work meetings to your post-vaccine meetup, you must enter everything into your calendar.
That way, you can manage your days in a much more productive fashion.
Tried and tested, this tip works wonders!
Protect Chunks of Time
When you learn the art of time blocking and living on calendars, you eventually get a fair idea of how your writing routine pans out. Let’s say you block three hours of time to write a blog. If you do this two to three days a week, you might notice that you can strike off that task in two hours.
Use this observation to block time wisely because if you start giving tasks more time than they require, you end up procrastinating to fill the chunk of time you have allotted a task.
Accurately blocking time will allow you to easily contribute a couple of hours each day to the projects that require a little extra TLC.
6. Embrace Zettelkasten
Zettelkasten is the gem every writer deserves!
It is a German word that literally means “slip box.” This note-taking technique allows you to remain systematic and updated on almost every topic. It is simple and straightforward too.
As a writer, you consume a lot of content, much of which might help you create better content of your own. However, just consuming it does not help much. You must have a smart note-taking system to store it all in one place.
So, the first step here is to consciously consume content so that you are in an active state of mind. The second step is to store the important information for future use.
Create a note-taking journal on your reading device of choice. Each day when you read a complex piece, summarize the key points in a few sentences, and write them down in your own words.
Make sure you use a system to keep them sorted. Index cards or a digital notes library like Google Keep or Notion are ideal ways of managing this system.
7. Keep Writing–It Works!
Your fingers must be in prime shape to maintain your productivity levels every day. Keep writing even when you are not working on a specific project. Just like a marathon runner who runs daily to make sure their legs stay in the habit, as a professional writer, you must keep your fingers working and your mind focused.
Any time you experience a creative influx, even if it is about the annoying bird on the window, you can save it in your slip box to be used at a later date. These writing prompts will help keep your fingers running over the keyboard and help you stay accountable for your time.
8. Indulge in Self-Care
Just like in every profession, writers experience burnout. But before you fall into this pit, here is a quick antidote: self-care!
From improv classes to writing workshops, candle making, and spa days, take your pick and add it to your schedule. Giving yourself some time to relax and recharge will help you stay on track for a lot longer than you expected!
The Fight for Productivity Never Ends
At the end of the day, no matter how passionate you are about writing, it is a profession that needs a serious level of commitment and conscientiousness. When you take it as your formal occupation, then you must commit to it wholeheartedly, along with writer’s block, fears, and everything else involved!
As a writer, even if you stay productive, you should always look for ways to increase efficiency and, at the same time, reduce the time it takes to complete your tasks. All the tips in this article will help you with just that—being more productive than you already are. But at the end of the day, what you have to remember is this: The productivity of a writer is not marked by the number of words written each day. Instead, it is the quality of the work produced!