I saw this idea over at The Everygirl and wanted to write my own thoughts about productivity. Which habits make us less productive? Let me stress – this is not a lecture. The most difficult thing about Social Media is seeing other people’s apparently impossible standards. Comparing yourself to a curated image will never make you feel better. This post is designed for people who would like to get more out of their creative sessions but who don’t know how to turn their procrastination into work time.
Lots of posts exist about procrastination. Most of them will tell you that horrible truth. The golden rule: only you can put that work in. Some advice posts leave you there. You’ve had the lecture, you know the score and the rest is up to you. OK … but I think we all encounter these difficulties and we learn along the way. One person’s solution will be different from another. The key is to identify which behaviour is currently detrimental to your work ethic.
Which habits stop you from getting the most out of your work time? Here is my list of ideas: Petty distractions:
- Set a time or a work-goal for tea breaks and stick to it. If this is a regular time it will become habit, and you will find it easier to stick to.
- Limit what you eat and drink during working time. Which foods distract you? Is it choosing a sugary snack or munching your way through the nut selection? Cut it from your working time or limit it to one portion a day. I will eat chocolate to procrastinate, but only eat healthy stuff if I am hungry.
- Set social media times. Keep your phone out of reach and work with the internet off if you possibly can.
- Get real – is it a job or another distraction? It is easy to convince yourself you need to type that email, respond to that comment and do your online shopping but if you are serious about your goals you need to give them time.
- Don’t panic if you get distracted! Don’t berate yourself. Again, please let me stress these are not rules. Nobody can be perfect all the time. The worst thing you could do is go back to work in a negative frame of mind.
Vague goals and unrealistic objectives:
My rule of thumb: if I am flicking on to social media on a regular basis, my writing goal is probably too vague. Every writer – published and unpublished, fiction writer, blogger or journalist – learns that there is only one way to fill the blank screen. That doesn’t mean you should sit staring aimlessly at it for hours. If you aren’t typing, ask yourself why. Is it because you need a clearer plan for the next paragraphs? Because you haven’t made enough notes? If so take it back to the drawing board.
Make your plans realistic within the time available. The desperation to be better and achieve more has killed many creatives before they have started. If you have an hour you will not be producing half a novel. Or a beautiful new blog. You might write a draft a decent blog post or write 1000 words. Know from experience how much you are likely to achieve.
Not taking time for yourself:
We have six books to review. We want that novel drafted. We want to improve our photography or our web-design skills. We need to respond to our social media. Sometimes this thing called real life gets in the way too. Guys … there will never be enough time in the day, but if you work work work you will burn out.
- Set a finish time. Excepting Fridays, my internet is supposed to go off at 8pm. I need some hours in the day where I am not in contact with the giant web of information.
- Allow you-time. Blogging and writing are hobbies, but if you aspire to turn them into a career, odds are you’re working hard at them. Make sure you factor in down-time.
- You-time is not for planning. I’ve spoken to lots of bloggers who are like me. INFJ-types. Over-thinkers. You have to allow yourself head space. If you find this difficult try some meditation techniques or ‘active rest’ (engage your brain in something repetitive like cross-stitch or Sudoku.)
- Get enough sleep. I can’t stress this enough. You need sleep to function. You need sleep to think. Sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Which are your worst habits? How do you overcome them? Let me know in the comments below.