As a writer, it can be challenging to find time to focus and maintain a disciplined schedule. In order to finish anything, you first have to begin, but also need to keep going. What drives you to write? Whatever it is, don’t let go of that passion and spark, but also recognize you need to be dedicated and invested in the process just as much as in the outcome to make it work. Somehow as if that’s not challenging enough, real life swirls around you. For the most part, all these tips are applicable for other professions as well. It takes all these and practicing and honing of one’s skills to achieve anything. Each person finds these things are slightly different, but these 6 tips to improve productivity and focus to write will help you.
1. Plan and prioritize
Comprehending and documenting your tasks, both large and small, is a solid first step in the process that will guide to your time management so you can protect regular writing time. This section is also useful for non-writers. Start each day by creating a to-do list of tasks that need to be completed, including deadlines and any dependencies. Review the tasks on your list and determine which are urgent and which are important. Urgent tasks are those that require immediate attention, while important tasks are those that contribute to your overall goals. Use the urgency and importance evaluation to assign priorities to each task. You can use a simple numbering system, such as 1 for the most important and urgent tasks, 2 for important tasks, and 3 for less urgent and important tasks. Estimate the amount of time each task will take and allocate time for each task in your schedule. Be realistic about how long each task will take and try not to overcommit. Allocate specific time slots for each task. Schedule the most important and urgent tasks for the time of day when you have the most focus and energy. By completing these tasks, you’ll feel more productive and motivated to tackle other tasks. Schedule less urgent tasks for times when you have lower energy levels. This isn’t just a one-off event either, it benefits you to do this on an ongoing basis. Regularly review your task list and adjust priorities as needed. Priorities may change due to changing circumstances, and it’s important to stay flexible and adaptable. Planning and prioritizing can help you stay focused and avoid wasting time on low-value activities.
2. Write regularly
Writing regularly is key to building momentum and maintaining productivity. When you write consistently, you train your brain to expect and prioritize writing time. This habit also allows your brain to generate ideas more freely, as it becomes accustomed to the process of writing. Maintaining a consistent habit brings out your best work, not necessarily every day but over time. Set a daily or weekly writing goal and stick to it, even if it’s only for a short period of time. Writing regularly builds momentum. Each time you write, you build on the work you’ve done before, creating a sense of progress and momentum. Even if you only write for a short time each day, you’re making steady progress towards your goals. For procrastinators, it also helps alleviate the ‘blank page’ anxiety. When you have a regular writing schedule, you’re less likely to put off writing tasks until the last minute or avoid them altogether. Consistency is key to making progress.
3. Don’t edit while writing your first draft
Writing the first draft without editing can be a useful technique for combatting blank page anxiety because it allows you to overcome the fear of not having anything to say, and just start writing. When we try to write a perfect first draft, we can get bogged down in self-criticism and doubt. By giving ourselves permission to write without editing, we can free ourselves from the pressure to be perfect and just focus on getting our thoughts down on paper. Once we start writing, it can be easier to keep going. By getting into a flow state, we can build momentum and make progress on our writing, which can help boost our confidence and motivation. Sometimes, the act of writing can help us generate new ideas and insights that we might not have thought of otherwise. Maybe those ideas don’t mesh in that part of your writing, but by documenting it in your first draft you can work with it later through editing.
4. Minimize distractions
Notifications from emails, messaging apps, and social media can be a significant distraction when you’re working. To minimize distractions, turn off notifications on your computer and phone or use software that temporarily blocks them during your work time. Having multiple tabs open on your computer can also be distracting, even if they’re not related to your work. Close unnecessary tabs to help you stay focused on your task. If you need those tasks to remind you of action items, consider entering the title, related task, and URL into a Google Sheet which you then make your web browser home page. Still reminding you, but not in the moment you need to be focused on something else. Designate a dedicated workspace for your writing, free from distractions such as television or noise. If possible, try to make this space comfortable and conducive to writing. If you’re working from home or in an open office, it’s important to set boundaries with others to minimize distractions. Let your family members or coworkers know when you’re working and need uninterrupted time. Taking regular breaks can help minimize distractions and increase productivity. Schedule short breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries and come back to your work refreshed and focused. If you’re working in a noisy environment, consider using noise-cancelling headphones to block out distracting sounds. Distractions can disrupt your flow and make it difficult to concentrate.
5. Take breaks
Schedule short breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries and come back to your work refreshed and focused. Your brains need rest just like any other part of your body. Taking breaks allows you to rest your minds and come back to your work refreshed and re-energized. This simple activity also helps prevent burnout and increase productivity. When you work for long periods of time without a break, your focus can start to wane. Taking breaks can help you maintain your focus by allowing you to come back to your work with a clear mind and reduced stress levels. When you take a break, you give yourselves the opportunity to recharge your batteries, which can help you feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed. Sometimes taking a break can lead to increased creativity by giving your minds time to be free to wander and explore new ideas, which can lead to breakthroughs and innovative thinking.
6. Stay organized
Keep your writing space and files organized to avoid wasting time looking for information. Develop a system for organizing research notes, drafts, and other documents that works for you. When you are organized, you can feel more in control of your work and your environment. This can help reduce stress and allow you to work more efficiently and productively. Though it often feels like organizing is a procrastinating technique, it is an investment in your upcoming work and mental state. By taking the time to organize your workspace, tasks, and schedule, you can set yourselves up for success and achieve your goals more efficiently.
No single technique or approach will help you become more productive. Not even this entire combination of 6 tips to improve productivity and focus to write will solve everything, but it’s a start. Work with these tips to find what works best for you and allow that to evolve with your needs and work. Also, allow yourself the flexibility and forgiveness to adapt. Things may not always go according to plan, but try to see those moments as a blip not a speed bump or detour. Now, stop reading and go write!