Thursday, January 26, 2012

Productivity 101

If you've read this blog for long, you know that I am capable of getting a lot done in a very short amount of time. (You also know that I can waste time like nobody's business, but that's a topic for another day.) When I'm having a good day, people often ask how I do it.

There is only one trick I've discovered to staying on track. It's so simple that you might wonder if it actually works, but it does. I use a timer.

Let's say in a given morning, I want to spend some time catching up with social media and reading blogs, working on my novel, and reading. The problem is, once I start with Twitter I can easily spend two or three hours doing nothing else without even realizing it. So, I set a timer for 30 minutes and when it goes off, I move on to the next thing and set the timer again.

But what if I have a two hour block of time to devote to writing? How do I keep myself on track and remind myself to get up and stretch occasionally? I break the time up into half hour blocks. Setting the timer for 25 minutes, I write as much as I can, get up and move a little, and then start over at the half hour. The knowledge in the back of my brain that a clock is ticking keeps me from wandering to non-writing things like email (always so much more important when I'm trying to avoid work).

Timers are also useful for challenging other writers. Get a group of you together, either in person or virtually. Set a timer and see who can write the most words or edit the most pages in that time. Once again, the competition encourages you to stay on track.

So that's how I stay on target. Do you have any productivity tips you can offer?