This is the time of year when we start thinking about what we set out to accomplish but didn’t in the last year. So instead of waiting until New Year’s Eve to create your writing plan for 2014, I encourage you to start now.
Here are some productivity tools you might find useful for the planning and execution of your writing goals in 2014.
Use an annual calendar to plan your promotion for the year and your overall and/or monthly writing goals. List events, conferences, and deadlines. Use the calendar to schedule your writing time and writing days. If you are using an online or smartphone calendar, remember to set reminders for each appointment you set! You can find this template at www.vertex42.com.
Action Method Notebook:
I saw a blogger use this notebook at an event I recently attended, and I was so enamored by it, he gave me a page from the notebook to use for the day. As a writer, I love a good notebook, but the Action Method Notebook is the King of all notebooks! The page has perforations so you can get rid of the ragged edge and keep the punches for a 3-ring binder; or you can cleanly ditch both the ragged edge and the holes. There is a section for a quick outline of the notes you are taking, plus a section for notations. You can even use part of it as graph paper (or you can play the dots game with a neighbor if the lecture is especially boring).
But my very favorite part of the notebook is the right hand side of the page. Most of it is set aside to use for action steps–and it even has a square you can check off when the action step is completed! This is a handy tool because it gives you a place to personalize and apply what you are learning. The bottom of the page is set off in grey and titled: Backburner–how cool is that! A place to park and easily find all the great ideas you generate but can’t apply right away!
My son and I had a discussion yesterday how background noise increases productivity because it gives your brain something else to concentrate on in the background, thereby eliminating overwhelm and helping you get your work done. Here are three good ideas for background noise: http://coffitivity.com, http://rain.simplynoise.com or classical music.
My dog has been a little freaked out about the online background noise. He keeps looking out the window wondering why he can hear a storm, but can’t see one. He also keeps barking at the people chattering in the background from the coffitivity app! 🙂
This is an app I use on my Mac that forces me to take a break every hour (you can set it for how long you need) by putting my computer to sleep for 10 minutes after it has been active for an hour. While it may not seem that a tool that shuts down your computer is good for productivity, taking a break is so good for you!
If you are like me, you could probably go hours before you realized you’ve been sitting in the same hunched position over your keyboard. When my computer is forced asleep, I am forced to get up, move around, get a glass of water, play with my dog….all things that are good for my mind and body. I always get mad when my computer shuts down, but I am always more focused and productive when I return to my work after this short break.
By the way, the app gives you a 30-second warning that it is going into sleep mode, so you have plenty of time to finish a sentence and save your work!
A Timer is also a good tool for a writer to use. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a deadline (or time to fool around with social media), and a timer is a great tool for this activity. Set the timer for 20-25 minutes and write. Or comment. Or tweet. Or watch cat videos. Then when the timer is finished so are you. Its then time to do something else. It’s low tech, and I’m sure there are apps you can utilize that accomplish the same thing, but most everyone has a timer available and you don’t have to learn how to use it!
This is an online tool to help you determine where and how you spend your time online. If you are the kind of writer who thinks it will take you an hour to write and post a blog, and then wonder why three hours later you are still working on the same project, this might be a good tool for you. It tracks how you use your computer and helps you see where you might be wasting time.
A Clean Desk:
Finally, a clean desk/writing space is the best tool you have for productivity. If you are a piler (like my husband is), have an empty basket hand when you sit down to write. Then, pick up your piles and transfer them to the basket. A clean workspace will help your mind stay focussed and uncluttered and you will get much more done! (Remember after you finish your writing, tend to the papers in the basket so they don’t take over your life!)
What about you?
What tools do you use to stay productive? Did any of these tools give you some good ideas? Comment below and let’s discuss!Disclaimer: I do not receive any commissions or kickbacks from any of these products I have recommended. I just think they are great ideas! Photo Credit: Productivity by basketman on freedigitalphotos.net