So, how do we become more productive and make the best use of our time? We develop good writing habits and we force ourselves, either through determination or desperation, to make these new habits a part of our every day lives.
1. Create a Writing Schedule
A writing schedule is essential to success. It doesn’t matter if you are a morning writer, an afternoon writer, or a night owl. While many people report that they are able to get most of their writing done in the morning, you have to find a schedule that works best for you.
Spend time testing out different times to write if you are unsure when you are most creative. When you find or decide what works best for you, give yourself a writing schedule that includes the hour you start, the time you finish, and break times for refueling.
2. Get Organized and Stay Organized
After you have written down your writing schedule and posted it someplace where you and your family members can readily see it, it is time to get organized. First, organize your work area. Remove the soda cans, water bottles, wrappers, and dirty dishes (you know who you are). Straighten up any papers on your desk and put the books on a bookshelf. When you are finished with your work area, tackle your computer. Get rid of any unnecessary junk files. If there are any time wasting games you get sucked into, either take the plunge and delete them now or make a solid rule for yourself that you can’t play unless all your work for the day is finished.
After everything is organized, plan on making it a daily routine. Each day, after you have finished all of your writing, tidy up before calling it quits. This way, each day when you sit down to write you can start off fresh and with everything in its place.
I know you don’t need the lecture about getting enough sleep, but…
From my own personal experience, if I don’t get enough sleep at night, my writing sucks the next day and I guess less done. Studies also show, over and over again, that we need our sleep to be at our best. So, instead of worrying about wasting time on sleep, how about you worry about how much time will be wasted if you don’t get enough sleep.
4. Learn First Draft Writing
A common mistake among beginning writers is the desire to make the first draft perfect. They think that doing this saves them time, but the opposite is true. Learn how to write your first draft and let it be a glorious piece of shit. Write it at lightening speed without any edits or corrections. When you are done, move on to the next article and write it just as fast. When you are feeling well drained and fresh out of voice, it is time to go back over what you’ve written and begin the edits.
5. Relax Before You Write
Stress is the enemy of creativity and productivity. Don’t begin your writing session all stressed out. Instead, create a relaxing ritual for yourself. You can meditate or practice creative visualization before you begin writing. You could also make reading the morning newspaper and having a cup of coffee your relaxation ritual. Do one thing before you start writing each day that triggers your mind to relax and gear up for writing.
6. Keep a List of Ideas
There is no such thing as writers block if you always keep a list of book and article ideas. Keep a notebook and fill it with ideas. I prefer to keep lists of titles for myself. This way, each day I can pick out several article titles and I know I will write an article for each of those titles. For my longer, fictional books, I keep lists of possible titles and a sentence below each title about the book. You will never, ever experience days of not knowing what to write when you start working on a list of book and title ideas.
7. Let Someone Else Do the Other Stuff
If you absolutely suck at or hate editing and proofreading, hire someone else to do it for you. If you feel you need to keep up with your social media accounts, pay someone else to make appropriate posts for you. Need to clean the house? Again, pay someone else to do it.
If hiring someone else to do things for you sounds like a waste of money, let me put it to you this way: How much do you make for 1 hour of writing? I make $45 to $100 an hour, depending on the project. If I give up an hour of my writing to do something else, I lose that money. On the other hand, if I pay someone else to do those other things for me I will still bring in, at minimum, $15 for that hour. Hire someone on Fiverr.com to do some of your online work. If you find the perfect helper, contact them privately and work out a deal with them. In the end, you will free up more time for writing and still continue to bring in an income.
8. Set a Daily Goal
If you want to increase your productivity, you need to set a daily goal. This can be a word count goal, such as 4,000 words for your book, or it can be an article goal. You can’t increase your productivity if you don’t know what you are working towards.
Here is my goal list for today:
-2k words in book
-blog post (the one you are reading right now)
-freelance article - optional (I have started giving myself optional slots for my articles because I freelance for a lot of sites and I get to choose whatever article I am in the mood to write)
-freelance article - optional
This list is a full day’s work, but it is realistic for me for today.
9. Have a Long Term Earnings Goal
I have become nearly pedantic about tracking my daily, weekly, and monthly earnings. What I have found is that the longer I do this, the harder I get myself to push towards higher earnings. I have set my targeted monthly earnings goal fairly high, but it is in a range that I am comfortable working towards. At the end of each month, I find that I am getting closer and closer to reaching my ultimate monthly goal. The goal can’t be reached on just write and pay jobs. Instead, I have created a number of passive incomes. As I work on these passive incomes, my earnings continue to grow. Keeping track of earnings and having a high, but realistic, goal in mind does wonders to motivate you to keep writing. Even if you are only increasing by a few pennies a day, those are pennies you did not have yesterday.
10. Write Anywhere, Any Which Way, All the Time
The single most important thing to do to increase your productivity is to eat, live, and sleep writing. Live in a constant state of writing. During your quiet moments or while taking a shower or bath, think up plot lines or think up new titles for articles. If you are outside walking or in the grocery store, pay attention to everything around you. There are book ideas and article ideas everywhere you go. Keep a notebook on you or in your purse and add thoughts and notes to it. Take your laptop with you during your daughter’s karate lessons or your son’s football games and write. To be a writer, you have to live like one and that means keeping your writing brain on at all times.