Productivity begins by recognizing and valuing your brilliance, time, and space. It starts with awareness of what works and what does not. It continues with examining what needs grease, or other needs. Search for the truth for what you need in order to rev up your writing.
1. Long to-do lists. Long to-do lists can be emotionally draining without even knowing it– even overwhelming and paralyzing at times. We all know it’s important to set our priorities. To reduce its negative efforts on our psychic it is important to limit your to-do list to only what you have time to accomplish for that day. It is also important to be specific about what part of a long-term project can you accomplish that day as well. If you write down, “work on my ebook for 12 hours this week” it holds a different energy than, “work on my ebook for 1 hour today.”
Fieldwork: Break down the bigger projects into daily doable chunks so you get that “accomplishment high” of checking them off. This is also a quiet but effective motivator. Try it, you’ll see.
Every morning review your to-do list. Get honest with your time. If you only have one hour and your list requires three, don’t’ set yourself up for feeling like a failure because you didn’t things completed. Move and reschedule the other two items. By getting honest with your time, and commitments, you begin to see higher productivity as well. If you complete your list sooner, just pull from the next day, and you will feel like you are ahead of the game instead of behind the eight ball.
2. Plan. Before you begin to write, create a quick one page writing plan. The writing plan can be just for that day or just that particular writing time. It only takes five or ten minutes after you get use to creating one.
Fieldwork: Start with recording what your vision is for that writing time or project. See the end result, feel it, and it will become a reality. Is it an e-mail, printed and mailed, or uploaded to your web site? Or is it a simple warm up or exercise to increase your writing skills? See it completed with as much detail as possible.
Next, what is your writing mission in eight words or less? Continuing on…What is your writing objective or objectives, strategy and plan?
Like I said earlier, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I’ve done many on napkins or several Post-It notes that were handy.
If defining a whole writing project, you might want to create something more permanent. What matters is clarity and the picture of the end result. As Dr. Stephen Covey says in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” Meaning begin with a vision of what the result looks like and feels like.
3. Leverage your time. If you can pay someone else to do less money than what you charge, delegate it. If your brilliance is stronger in writing and not typing or editing, stick with the writing. Hire out the typing and editing. If you are thinking you can’t afford it, then you haven’t found a way to value your time and your plan is off. You may most likely not be working on your right priorities.
Fieldwork: Check and rework your plan so that you leverage your time. Be honest with your self and what is your brilliance. Only one item contains the highest energy, the others may come class, but one stands out. Focus on that one and watch the miracles occur. Who else can do the other items so you can stay focused on your brilliance?
4. Process — a series of actions bringing about a result. Prolific writers use many processes that range from how they write — ink, tape recorded, voice recognition software, stenographer, court reporter — to everything else that requires to complete their goal.
Fieldwork: What are your processes? Draw a flow chart of your writing process, editing, sales or marketing, filing or any other processes that accompany your writing. In each area, ask yourself, “What can be completed easier and faster?” Can an interactive form on your web site save you time? Would an interactive appointment process save you time? Can a virtual assistant provide support? When asking questions, let cost aside, and allow all possibilities to enter.
5. Systems — a group of interrelated elements. What is your backup plan for operating without electricity? What system backs you up when your bridge line collapses in the middle of a class? What system do you use if your hard drive fails or heaven’s forbid there’s a fire? What systems require backup plans, what can slide, and for how long? How do you communicate your backup plans to others?
Fieldwork: Make a list of your systems and then create some contingency plans.
6. Support. Do you have a support team? Who do you call to pass on a project that you prefer not to do or you are too busy to handle? What about when your editor or editors are on vacation or busy themselves with other projects? Do your editors understand your topics? Example: If you are a coach, does your editor understand coaching? If an engineer or accountant, do they understand the lingo? Do they need to? Do you have a hardware technician or two available? Software specialists? Can they come on short notice?
Fieldwork: Make a list of support personnel and add names to each of those areas.
7. What are your power writing hours? They change frequently. What works on Mondays may not on Thursday because you are sleep deprived by this time every week.
Fieldwork: Track your power hour patterns for a few weeks. Also record what affects any changes, like a TV-show you stayed up late to watch. Heavy meals late at night. Look for the patterns and then make new choices that create big changes in your writing production.
8. Do whatever it takes to stay unconfused. Too many thoughts flying around in the old noggin? Try this system that I adore when this occurs.
Fieldwork: Create a make-shift white board if you don’t have one. Use the side of a bookcase, picture, or semi- glass wall. Using Post-It notes, write one idea per note, and paste them up. Stand back and take a large picture view. What is appearing? Move them around according to your needs. What do you see? Nothing, give it some space and return and take another look. Keep moving, adding or deleting until patterns and pictures appear.
9. Exit plan. What is your exit plan for the writing or project? Do you plan to get out if something occurs? What is your measurement when you no longer want to be a freelance writer, what to move on to something else, or even just use writing in a different manner? If you are writing an ebook, what happens if it isn’t making any money? When do you say, that’s enough effort on this, write it up to experience, learn from it, and begin spending your energy on something else.
Fieldwork: Never take any new project one, until you know what your exit plan is for it. Practice writing them even if they are a sentence or two. This shifts your thinking that stuff is forever because nothing is.
10. Environments do affect your writing. It might not matter if it’s well-organized. Do you have different areas or places that provide different energy for different types of writing? Do you prefer to sit in a garden to write a garden article? Then again, you may prefer to sit in your car. Can you sit in a bookstore to write one way? In the library, another? The kids playing loudly for another? Totally quiet for yet another?
Fieldwork: Know what environment fuels what type of writing for you. Make a list, then plan your writing around those environments. Notice as your topics change so will the environments need to change.
Reviving up your writing productivity begins with you — good communication internally and externally. My friends tell me that they can recognize the gleam in my eye when something is taking form so they allow me space without interruption to take record my thoughts. Is this what you need? If productivity needs revving. Think, what it is and ask for it.