Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Six Tools to Prevent Unproductivity

For me staying productive really means keeping myself from being UN-productive. Really. Being fairly distractible and often tired, it's very easy for me to "zone" in just the wrong place. Can anyone say social media?  So, my best tools to stay productive are those that prevent that prolonged "zoning."

graphic: Writer Wednesday 6 ways to prevent unproductivity

Six Tools to Prevent Unproductivity

  1. Stay focused This web browser extension allows you to set a time limit for all your “non-productive” web sites.  For myself, I set a 45 minute limit on Facebook and Pinterest (as a group).  This setting is in effect Monday through Friday from 8am to 7pm.  This means when I do get on Facebook or Pinterest I need to be quick and focused.  Once my time is up, it’s up.  Of course, there are ways around it like using my iPhone or Hootsuite, but this generally keeps me from being too unproductive getting sucked in to these sites.  You may have different sites you need to restrict, but this works for me so far.
  2. Timers.  Lots and lots of timers!  I set timers on my phone.  I set timers on my computer.  I set timers on my kitchen timer.  Being slightly ADDish, this helps to keep me focused and on-task.  Well, for the most part!
  3. 30/30 App  Wow!  This app was such a great find!  I don’t use it nearly as often as I should, but it’s really a cool little app.  I downloaded it onto my iPhone.  It’s a customizable task list based on timers.  I used this to help me nail down my morning routine.  Mornings are really really tough for me.  I wake up tired and have a hard time clearing the cobwebs.  And, as a Chronic Babe (i.e. I have a chronic illness), I have a pretty detailed medication regimen in the morning.  I also like to journal, stretch, check my calendar, and a few other things before I start my day.  Because the cobwebs can be pretty thick, if I’m not careful my morning routine can morph into a 4 hour oh my goodness where did my day go kind of event.
    I also use this app to help chunk my day to remember stretch and water breaks.   A nice feature is that you can set multiple schedules to fit various needs.  I don’t know about you, but not all my days follow the same schedule!
  4. Accountability.  Oh, yes.  Accountability helps!!  Especially when you are working on your own.  Intrinsic motivation only goes so far, am I right?  This is why I am part of a women’s goal group (originally modeled on Cheryl Richardson’s Life Makeover groups).  I never would have accomplished nearly as much as I have in my life if it hadn’t been for this amazing group of ladies!  

    My Writer’s Group helps too.  I know that each month, I need to have something ready for critique.  And, I need to meet my responsibility to critique their work as well.  And, finally, this blog has helped immensely.  I set a schedule and now my dear readers (that’s you!) have come to expect a writing post every Wednesday and a photography post every Friday.  I hate to disappoint, so, here I am!
  5. Deadlines.  This is very related to accountability, but it is somewhat different.  Right now I have a 60 day deadline to get my car to pass inspection (Grr! to rust holes on my trusty but rusty Subaru)  I don’t need my goal group to hold me accountable.  I know that if I don’t fix it within 60 days, I lose my registration.  So… consequences tied into the deadlines?  

    But, really, here I mean self-imposed deadlines.  Once again, I can pass them by, but knowing I have it written in my calendar or on my to-do list helps me to work harder to meet my deadline.
  6. Asking Questions.  Sometimes none of the above work or I need a little extra help.  That’s when I need to get real with myself by doing periodic check-ins.  Here are some of the questions I ask myself:
    • Is this what I want to be doing with your time right now?  I have to be careful with this question!  I may want to nap or eat chocolate or play another round of Words with Friends.  But I mean want in the bigger sense of the word.  What I ultimately want is to publish a really good children’s picture book that will make a significant contribution to the world of children’s literature.  So, is what I’m doing right now helping me to accomplish that?
    • Is this what I need to be doing right now?  Notice, that’s different from what do I want to be doing.  Sometimes I want to be writing but I really need a nap.  (Remember that whole Chronic Babe thing?)  Sometimes I need to stop and stretch, take a walk, clear my mind.  Sometimes I NEED to make some calls so I can get my car fixed before my registration gets revoked!
    • What is the best use of my time right now?  This probably gets down to a bit of prioritizing.  Sure, I need and want to work on my book, pay the bills (want may not apply here!), do some yoga stretches, but perhaps the best use of my time is to call my sick aunt.  Make sure you are authentic with yourself and with the totality of your life, because life is short!  It’s not all about work, right?
    • Why am I procrastinating on this task?  That will get you right to the heart of the matter and might help you to re-evaluate the importance of the task.  It might also help you to explore fears about a task or how to make a task less tedious.

So, what about you?  How do you keep yourself from being unproductive?  Let’s share!  I can always use more tools in my toolbelt, can’t you?

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