Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Increase Productivity

"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort." -Paul J. Meyer

"Great minds have purposes, others have wishes." -- Washington Irving

"Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up." - IBD November 30, 2001.


I’ve been working on increasing my productivity and have seen a big improvement by making a few changes in my writing routine.

Stephen King (Productivity King)

"Keep track of what you do and write everyday in a day timer or on a calendar. I record page counts and word counts which shows my progress. I record the total pages at the end of each week and at the end of each month. This is good to know for when you’re contracted and an editor asks, “How long will it take for you to complete the next book?” You’ll also see which months are more productive than others.

I also record days I write up blogs, edit and revise WIP or sold projects. How long does it take for you to edit a completed manuscript?

Blogging is a valuable tool, but also is time consuming. Make note of the time and days you spend on blogging. If you’re blogging too much, maybe you can cut back to once or twice a week. Record any major time chunks like a guest blog event. Keeping track of your time is like keeping track of what you eat during a diet. Sometimes you waste valuable time when you could be writing. For dieting, sometimes you don’t realize how much you eat until you write it all down.

Can you work on small projects like writing a blog during your lunch break? Or bring a chapter to edit? I write most of my blogs during my breaks at work. I check resources and find photos when I get home.

Use a digital timer to limit your time on Twitter, Facebook, email other social networks. If I don’t finish my email by 7:30 pm, I turn it off and begin writing and don’t look at it again until 10:30 pm or later.

Don’t check the Internet for “one little reference question”. I do this a lot and then find myself in a domino effect of searching other topics that don’t even relate to the original question. The things I discover might be interesting, but they’re not helping with my WIP. Instead I add a # sign and type in red and in capitals #LOOK UP SUCH AND SUCH. And later do a search for the # signs.

Buy a digital timer. They’re in the kitchen department at Walmart or Kmart. Set it to count backward from 3 or 2 hours, or whatever you can fit in for uninterrupted writing time. DO NOT get up to answer the phone, check email, make a snack, do laundry, (fill in blank for whatever you do to procrastinate), etc. If you have to get up, pause the timer and continue it when you come back to your writing.

This one may not be a favorite, but it helps. At least one weekend or one day a month, set your alarm for 4 am. YES, 4 am. Try it once. Preset the coffee pot the night before, quietly slip out of bed and go straight to your computer. DO NOT turn on your email. Start writing, even if you feel like you’re not awake, you’re mind is uncluttered, the house it quiet and you have it all to yourself. You’d be surprised how much you can get done. It’s like a mini writing retreat.

Add a Stop Doing List to your To Do List. Have the discipline to unclutter your schedule and stop doing unnecessary projects, volunteering for everything, taking on things you don't have time for, etc. Learn to say "No" and mean it.

Try these tips and see if your productivity improves. Please leave a comment and send me your tip or let me know if any of these tips have helped.


Amber Skyze said...

Great post, Kathy. I used to get up at 4am everyday, but lately I've been sleeping late. I'm not getting any writing done! ugh.

pattie said...

Love this post, Kath--I'm such a procrastinator and I LOVE to do research, whether online, in the bookstore, in the library, or wherever...

My favorite of your suggestions is the "Stop Doing List"! Some things I will never stop doing, like babysit or visit my kids and grandson. But I AM saying no to volunteering in the future. I might take on small jobs, but no more board positions for a long time! ;-)

J Hali said...

AWESOME advice...and boy, did I need to visit your blog today! I really like the 4am bit, too. I've done most of my writing then and it seems I've fallen back into a later morning pattern that's not working. And then there's FB...

Thanks for such a timely post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I don't record page/wordcounts, but I do set aside blocks of time for fiction writing.

I think if you're not well known, then it's important to make time for blogging, but like anything else, it comes down to quality more than quantity, and at the end of the day, fiction writing should take priority.

Thanks for sharing, Kathy :)

Suzanne said...

Great post! My way of keeping out of the "research black hole" is to substitute a word (such as "albatross") that wouldn't normally be found in my mss whenever I have a hole of info that needs to be looked up. Every few days, I'll do a search for "albatross" and give over an hour or so to doing nothing but looking up things like "what I called that bartender back in chapter two" or "what year that statue in city park got built."

Sarah said...

This is a timely post, Kathy :) I've been trying to manage time better for all the important things, between house cleaning and emerging from the office to see my husband once in a while, remembering to eat, and acquiring more appropriate hours of sleep. I have a day job and as of yet no children so I've been squandering all of my glorious evening time on destressing and writing. Certainly need to focus more so the hours I have are one day when the great swathes of time vanish, I'll be able to make more of the smaller chunks of time too. I'll be applying some of these tips to my routine; hope something works!

Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'm glad these ideas helped. I have to remind myself to focus since it's so easy to get scattered with so much going on. Thanks for the great suggestions too!

Michelle Polaris said...

I'm hopeless at tracking words and time, but I'm willing to try. I have to learn fast how to increase my productivity, so your post is just perfect. Although getting up at 4am cannot happen until I learn to go to bed before 1am.

Kathy Kulig said...

Hi Michelle, I just use the Tools and Word Count function in Word and check it before I write and after I stop. Yes you need more than 3 hours of sleep. LOL

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

SOME GREAT IDEAS. I like the DO NOT DO list. I should not, I tell myself over and over, NOT go into my emails...just for fun, every other hour.
Time killer BIG TIME.
You go Kathy!

Kathy Kulig said...

Hi Cerise, Yeah, I'm bad with the email too. I am doing a 4 am thing this weekend tho.