Dedicate More Time to Your Writing With These Tips
Don’t take the “bull in a china shop” approach by aggressively overhauling your lifestyle. You may not be able to implement all of these tips, but over time (and even with a little tweaking) you may find a strategy that works for you. Pick a few strategies until you’ve mastered them or you’re comfortable moving on to the next strategy.
Take it one step at a time to gain more time!
Focus on the Important Things
Do less. I’m reminded by one of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes: “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the inessential.” As they say, “Less is more.” Get rid of clutter: junk and nonessential tasks. Stop playing games and surfing social media. Focus on what’s important.
Remove the Clutter
Much of our “visual noise” is caused by stuff. Practice a three-part clutter rating system that will help you prevent and remove clutter:
- It’s important now. Use it and then put it in its home (where it’s supposed to be).
- It will be important. Put it in its home (where it’s supposed to be).
- It’s not important. Get rid of it: Toss it or if possible, consider donating it.
Get Organized and Stay That Way
Pick an organizational system, execute it, and stick to it. Your new system may feel foreign at first, but it will eventually form into a habit. If you slip or feel like you’re ready to give up, recall the benefits of being organized and pick up where you left off. When necessary, make adjustments, but avoid switching to new organizational systems or you’ll lose the benefits.
Keep a One-Stop Weekly Calendar
Whether it’s a pocket calendar, wall calendar, smartphone app, etc. – keep ONE calendar. First, keep track of the usual calendar suspects: events, birthdays, and appointments. Second, use your weekly calendar to keep track of bills, plan menus, make appointments with yourself to write, etc. This will help prevent the scenario of sifting through bills, notes, and multiple calendars.
Get Ready the Night Before
Get it out of your head. Plan out your next day by listing quick notes about what you need to do and even lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, etc. to prevent those early morning rushes.
Set Daily Goals and Rewards
In the morning, take 5-10 minutes to look at the day ahead (reviewing and revising the list you prepared the night before, right?) and set goals. For each goal achieved, set a reward equal to the goal. Finished that 30-day project? Treat yourself by scheduling a 30-minute massage. Cleaned your email inbox? Indulge in 5 minutes of social media or the latest puzzle app.
Do the Important Stuff First
This is the ultimate “Procrastination Be Gone” formula: Pick 2-3 things you want to accomplish today and do them first. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” – do it.
Focus on What’s in Front of You
Of course, not all tasks require 100% focus, but for tasks like writing, never multitask. If you refocus your attention on another task, it can take more time to refocus on your original task. Don’t do it. Stay focused.
I Mean It: Stay Focused
Turn off your phone and disconnect from the Internet during tasks, like writing, to focus. Don’t drop what you’re currently doing to address something you just thought of or remembered. If you think of something completely unrelated to what you’re working on, jot down a few quick notes (a word or two to jog your memory will suffice). Keep up momentum: FOCUS.
Execute Decisions Faster
If you find yourself hemming and hawing over a decision, make a decision then and there. If the task has a lot hanging on the outcome, seek/ask for more information if you need it, but the key is: make a decision now.
Delegate and Learn to Love It
We can be greedy with our workloads. Drop the “if you want things done right, you have to do it yourself” mentality. If it can be done by someone else (more effectively) and it’s not an important task, then delegate it.
Just Say “No”
Stop agreeing to take on things for which you don’t have time. If you don’t have time for it or it will take your focus away from other priorities, say no.
HELP Is not a Dirty 4-Letter Word
Ask for help (nicely). Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is all you need to get back on track, but be sure your plea is directed at the right person and is respectful of their own priorities.
We all can get swept away by television, social media, Internet browsing, repinning, article reading, and games. Allot yourself an amount of time for online activities and playing games. Set an alarm. When the time is up, stop the activity.
Time Your Conversations and Meetings
I’m not recommending that you “don’t socialize” or be rude. I’m recommending that you don’t allow conversations or meetings to completely disrupt your day. Allot yourself time. For “water cooler” talks, give yourself 5 minutes and keep them infrequent. For meetings, estimate how much time you’ll need to address the needs of those involved, come prepared, and if there isn’t already an agenda, propose talking points to squeeze more value out of the meeting.
Call, Don’t Text
Text messaging is supposed to be quick and to the point – not long, drawn out conversations. For anything beyond a quick yes or no question, call. For example, call for emergencies and all of those “how are you” and “what ‘cha doin'” questions. If it goes to voicemail, don’t worry. Most people have access to visual voicemail anyway, so it will be like a text. Either way, trust that they will get the message.
Turn Aimless Browsing Into Growth Opportunities
Create an ongoing list of questions, curiosities, or things you’ve always wanted to find out more about. When you sit down to browse the Internet, start looking for answers. You might surprise yourself with what you find.
Do Your Errands at the Same Time
Schedule time to do errands and plan a route ahead of time to ensure you’re not wasting time bouncing back and forth across town.
Filter Your Email
How much time do you waste in your inbox? Filter your email:
- Create rules for recurring emails that don’t require an action to be archived in a particular folder.
- Set rigorous anti-spam settings to block unwanted email from reaching your inbox.
- Form a habit of touching an email once: If you open it, you have to address it (e.g., respond and file).
On a related note: When you’re at a checkout counter of a shop you don’t frequent often and the clerk asks for your email address, politely decline. You can always like their Facebook page, follow their Twitter account, etc. to stay up-to-date with their announcements and promotions.
If you find yourself replying with the same or nearly identical responses for clients, keep a template to quickly copy/paste the response and tweak it as necessary to personalize the message.
Automate Bill Payments
For any recurring bills that you have: AUTOMATE. Not only will this save you time, it may even save you money and raise your credit score if you’re the forgetful type.
Sort the Mail in Your Hand
When you get your mail, don’t let it sit in a moldering pile. Sort out the junk right away and then prioritize other items respectively (see weekly calendar). If possible, go green by electing not to receive the hard copy.
Avoid Rush Hour
Do you commute to work? Negotiate a work schedule to travel during non-traffic delayed times. You can easily turn a 30-minute, traffic-jammed commute into 15 minutes by getting ahead of the traffic or waiting it out.
Keep a Running Shopping List
Create a policy that for whoever squeezes the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, kills the mustard bottle, etc., they are responsible to write it down on the shopping list (failure to adhere to this rule results in a penalty: additional chores or tasks on demand). In doing so, this will save time from taking inventory as well as keep your shopping trip quick – get into the store, grab what you need, and go (rather than meandering down aisles).
Cook for Tomorrow
Double the amount of what your cooking and refrigerate/freeze the leftovers. It may take you a small amount of time to double what you’re already making, but it will save you much more time making your next meal by not having to start from scratch.
Wash Dishes While You Cook
Rather than letting it all stack up on the kitchen counter or in the sink (this personally grosses me out on levels I cannot describe), wash your dishes and utensils you have finished using while you’re cooking. This turns that huge cleanup event at the end into a more manageable task. It also prevents food from drying and obnoxiously sticking to dishes.
Spend Less Time on Laundry
Presort laundry. This way, you don’t have to dump all of your clothes on your bedroom or laundry room floor so you can pick out the whites, the delicate garments, etc. Once that particular presorted load of laundry is full, then you’re ready to wash, dry, fold, and put it away. If you have kids old enough to participate, let them fold their stuff and put it away.
Learn While You Workout
Listen to news, podcasts, and audiobooks rather than music to keep up with trends in your niche, current events, books, and learning at large.
Exercise More Effectively
Exchange moderation for higher intensity. You can have a more effective and efficient workout by putting more effort into a 30-minute high-intensity workout than 90 minutes of low-to-medium effort. Check with your doctor for information on your target heart rate and what exercises may be right for you.
Need to catch up with a friend, but you need to bake cookies for the kiddos’ bake sale? Invite your friend over and you may find they have a great love for cookie decorating! Need to run, but you also have to take the dog for a walk? Run with the dog – he/she will love it. This will save you tons of time and can be fun in the process!
Looking at this list, I realize that’s a lot more time-saving tips than I set out to write (I initially was going to run a “Top 7” post) and there’s so much more to share!
What is your time-saving tip? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!