Writing and blogging look fun, but doing it professionally is hard. Like really hard. Which is probably why so many people want to do these things, yet very few actually do. The biggest struggle is planning the content. And even more difficult is actually creating the content. Also, constantly using new formats and keeping it creative can be a great hassle. Meanwhile, lethargy sets in and there are numerous distractions available to keep you away from work. Amidst all the chaos, how do you stay focused and finish the work at hand? Fortunately, science and professional experiences over the years have done us a solid by coming up with proven productivity tips that can help any person become more efficient and consistent at their work. All it requires is some self-control and discipline.
Here are 7 productivity hacks for authors and bloggers.
The important thing is to start.
At the end of John Fante’s book Dreams from Bunker Hill, the character, a writer, reminds himself that if he can write one great line, he can write two and if he can write two he can write three, and if he can write three, he can write forever. He pauses. Even that seemed insurmountable. So he types out four lines from one of his favorite poems. What the hell, he says, a man has to start someplace.
Log off social media, right now!
Christopher Nolan, the legendary director who created the masterpiece Batman trilogy and also huge hits like Interstellar and Inception does not own a smartphone because he feels that it distracts him. And research sure does agree with him. The social media stress emanates from the need to constantly check your phone or tablet or laptop for any notifications or messages that people might send you. The reason for such behavior is a social phenomenon called the fear of missing out (FOMO). We fear that we might lose out on so many important social happenings and events and the company of friends around us. Since a smartphone is the quickest way to get access to such information, we spend time obsessively checking every “bleep” or “tin tin”, with social media fueling the angst even more. It has been found that it takes 64 seconds to get back to work once we get distracted by a notification. Practice rigorous discipline to beat this addiction. Keep your phone away while working and turn off sound notifications for all social media apps. You will save an immense amount of time.
Break big ventures down into small, discrete chunks.
For example, if you are writing a book, create a separate document for each chapter, as and when you write them. It’s only later when you get to the end that these chapters are combined into a single file. Why? The same reason it feels easier to swim seven sets of ten laps than to swim a mile. Breaking it up into pieces makes it seem more achievable. The other benefit of working in bits? It creates a sense that each piece must stand on its own.
Stop overthinking and over analyzing.
It’s no secret that in any environment that you reside in, there is a data overload. Starting with unrestricted access to the Internet to the number of same fruit juices, but different brand options, at the local grocery mart. So many options and decisions eventually immobilize the brain’s capability to take the effort to stick to a single decision as a result of analysis paralysis. Should I finish that blog post due tomorrow evening? Should I send this week’s email newsletter first? The questions are countless, and not to mention that you probably haven’t yet gotten to the domestic and personal decisions that you have to make which, arguably, might affect your life more seriously. So the next time you find yourself taking more than a minute to decide which is a better header image for your new post, just take the plunge and move on to the next thing.
Pay attention to your posture.
Whether you’re at home or at work, sit straight up. Slouching can make us feel lazy and unfocused. At home, investing in a good standing desk is also important. At work, have a walking meeting instead of sitting down. This can also keep us awake especially during a lazy afternoon.
Keep yourself nourished and hydrated.
You can’t really focus on your work when you’re hungry. Keeping food and water nearby can also save your time from going back and forth through the kitchen. However, storing too much food can also be distracting. So make sure to store just the right amount, keep the water near you, and keep the food somewhere away from your eyes (in your cabinet, inside a food bag) but still within your reach.
Take a break once in a while.
Your body and mind need break. After working for 45 minutes straight, have a 5-minute break not thinking about work. Watch pet videos, play a quick game, have a short bathroom break or whatever it is that will relax your mind. Do this every 45 minutes.
Happy blogging and writing!