If you’re like me, sitting down to write can be a frustrating task.
Unless you have a clear-cut idea of what you’re going to write about, it can be a tedious process. The laptop screen (or paper, for you traditionalists out there) starts taunting you, and suddenly everything else looks like a lot of fun.
Washing dishes? Yes, please.
Watering the plants? Yay!
Crafting an origami goose out of my to-do list? Challenge accepted.
Before you know it, 5 hours have passed and you have nothing to show for it.
Well, not quite nothing. You have a clean house and an origami animal collection.
Not the kind of productivity we’re looking for though.
So for those writers who are easily distracted, here are 5 tips to improve productivity and keep you focussed on the task at hand.
1. Keep phones and tablets out of reach
For most of us, turning our devices off is a sin and would naturally lead to us being ostracised from the community and turn us into hermits. Of course, as freelancers, it’s important that clients are able to contact us when they need to, and you should certainly not ignore their calls, but there are 23 other hours in the day to respond to emails and tweet.
Put aside your devices (out of reach, not just on the table next to you) and focus on what’s in front of you.
2. Set yourself working hours
Yes, a lot of us get into freelancing to avoid this kind of thing. To have more freedom with our time. But if you aren’t getting content out, you need to knuckle down and give yourself some tough love.
You are your own boss, so set yourself some hours and make sure you are at your desk doing your thing during those hours.
Treat your work like work. If you need to go to the store, save it for your lunch hour, or after hours.
3. Allocate time for social media (and stick to it)
Social media is an important part of a freelancer’s life. Networking is crucial, and social media platforms are a fantastic way to make connections and share information.
But if you’re not careful, a quick look at Twitter can turn into three hours of cat videos and articles on how to use banana peels to clean your teeth.
Set yourself an appointment with your social media accounts. Pencil it in, and stick to that time frame. Reply to your messages, retweet and like all the cat pictures you want. If you like to post regularly, then work out a schedule that allows you to post frequently, but set aside time for doing other things such as making connections.
4. Stock up on snacks
Working from the comfort of home does present certain challenges.
A trip to the kitchen for a snack or a glass of water can turn into an hour, and a quick game with the dog, and rearranging the furniture, and when you finally get back to writing you may realise you forgot to actually drink the water.
Keep a bottle of water and a snack of your choice handy, to avoid having that excuse to wander off from your keyboard.
5. Reward yourself for reaching goals
I recently discovered a writing app that gives you virtual guavas when you reach your word goals for the day. While the concept is great, the motivation to write for a prize of a virtual guava wanes really quickly.
If the virtual guava was a real chocolate though, that could work.
Or an hour of TV. Or a nap. Whatever suits you.
Cue the productivity skyrocket.
Choose something suitable as a reward and set your goal. Smash your word count and get your reward. Simple as that.
Hint: Don’t leave your reward chocolate next to your snacks within easy reach.*
*Tried and tested, not recommended. Reward system goes out the window.
Writing can be hard. It can be tedious, it can be boring. There’s a reason Thomas Mann said “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
Put these ideas into practice and you should see an increase in your productivity.
And in your chocolate consumption.
What other helpful tips do you have for writers who struggle to focus? Let me know down below!