Whether penning a novel, a blogpost, or a magazine article, most writers work on deadline. But even with a due date, it’s easy to focus on life’s more pressing matters. After twenty years as a working scribe, I’ve discovered a few tricks to keep my productivity on track.
1. Schedule an appointment
If we were in an actual office meeting, we would not be answering the phone, replying to e-mails, or folding laundry. We can use that same mindset to stay focused while working from home. Each day, set aside a specific time for writing. Block that time on the calendar as if it is for an important meeting, and allow no interruptions.
2. Maintain a Detailed Goal List
Corporate employees are expected to write goals and report progress. We can follow that same strategy. First, we need to create a list of goals, assigning each to be completed by end of:
Then we must don our ”boss” hat and hold our “employee” accountable.
It helps to keep a Daily List, too. Each night, select specific tasks to be accomplished by end of the following workday. The next morning, our plan will already be in place and we won’t waste time deciding what to do.
3. Find an Accountability Partner
Teamwork! It’s very important to build a relationship with at least one trusted writing partner. Share monthly goals, set regular check-in times, and press for the best from one another.
For those who don’t have such an acquaintance, consider joining organizations such as Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, etc.
Many communities offer an arts council or writers organization, and libraries may host events, too. National Novel Writing Month is another excellent source of encouragement, with perks such as local Meet-Ups, daily wordcount check-ins, and more.
4. Go High-Tech
Many online tools can boost productivity. For example, a service called Focusmate allows users to share a virtual cubicle of sorts. Each user schedules a 50-minute session during which assigned partners work quietly while they can see one another onscreen.
Calendar apps can save time by syncing schedules across all devices. This allows users to book appointments from the road and stay organized. Two of the most-used programs for either i-Phone or Android are free: Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar
Brainwave apps use binaural beats to increase focus, attention, and productivity. Basically, users tune in to an online station, listen to specifically formulated music, and voila! The choices are endless, so it’s best to search “brainwave app” on the selected device and find the best fit.
Voice dictation apps allow us to turn speech to text. This maximizes time spent in carpool lines, and it frees us from our desks. Google and Apple each offer a free and reliable voice-to-text service, while Dragon charges a fee and requires a bit more time investment on the front-end.
5. Earn Rewards
We are all wired to work for rewards, but one of the best things about being the boss is that we control the reward system. When we add a new chapter, for example, we may earn a walk outside or a chat with a friend. But a finished novel may earn us a new piece of art or a weekend getaway. The greater the accomplishment, the greater the reward. And that keeps us coming back to the page.
Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, public speaker, and TEDx presenter. Her fourth novel, Perennials, releases November 14 and is now available for pre-order. Learn more by following her on Amazon and GoodReads.