The biggest issue with writing (or any creative task really) is finding the time to sit down, distraction free, and put your ideas to paper.
We often put it off and never get to it.
I interviewed Karen Rizzo (no relation) author of “Things to Do, Sh*t to Bring” years ago and in her book she kept saying she wanted to learn Italian.
And guess what – she never did. She didn’t give herself the space and time to do it. Maybe you have tasks like that.
For me – I had to jump on a plane and travel across the world to give myself the space to write. I just returned from a writing retreat in France and it was divine. It was in Paris and it gave me time to focus on my creative side. (I started writing a novel! Who knows where it will go but it was so fun to start writing.)
As amazing as this retreat was, I can’t fly off to Paris every time I need to write (I wish!) So what do you do to give yourself focused productivity time?
Whether you’re writing a book, working on art or anything creative – you need your space!
Here are some ways to do it:
Eat the frog – I’ve spoken about this before. When we have a big task to complete it can sometimes hang over you all day. The dread causes you to procrastinate in all these little ways. Next thing you know you have a sparkly clean kitchen, but you’ve not written a single page. If you want to prevent that you’ve got to eat the frog, or put that big, scary task at the start of the day. The more you let it eat away at you the worst it will get. This way you get in done, out of the way and you can stop worrying! It helps if you have an incentive – for example during the retreat we wrote in the morning so we could explore the city later in the day. It’s a great way to give yourself a boost.
Cut the fat – How much of you day is taken up by ‘busy work’ – where you’re busy, but your not actually getting anything done. Reading through unessential emails, calls that go nowhere, staring into the void in the grocery aisle. Put it all to one side. Make a list of the absolutely essential things you need to do in a day and only focus on those things. You’ll be surprised how much extra time you create if you follow your list.
Lock yourself away – Finding the right place to express yourself creatively is very important. This can be different for each of us, it’s all about finding what works for you. Some people work better when they shut themselves in a room devoid of all distractions, others need to get away from their living space and go to a coffee shop – almost like clocking in and out at the office. If you’re constantly struggling, a shift of environment can help give you the fresh eyes you need.
Track your time – how long are you really spending on your writing? You might have been in front of the computer for 2 hours, but how much of that was productive time? Using time tracking software (like Toggl) you can figure out how long you’re staying focused and when the distractions come into play. Using this information you can use something like the Pomodoro Technique, where you commit to 20 minutes of solid work with 5 minute break in between to clear your mind.