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  • Writer's pictureSusan Gable

3 Productivity Tips

Sometimes we need some help to boost our productivity, whether we're talking about writing or some other activity. Here are a few ways to up your productivity:

1. Accountability

You need a way to hold yourself accountable. To set a goal and have a way to track it and hold your feet to the fire. A partner is a good way to do this, someone you report to on whatever basis works for you.

For me, I found that daily goals and reporting my results to critique partners who were also writing was a huge help. Mutual support works.

You can use social media as your accountability tool. If you put your goal out there in public, there's pressure to make things happen.

You have to know yourself to know what will work best for you. If the idea of public “embarrassment” with the world knowing you didn't hit the mark is paralyzing to you, using social media isn't a good strategy for you.

You'll also need some way of tracking your progress. I used to use index cards, one per week to track my progress on my WIP. Now I use a spreadsheet - one less scrap of paper to clutter up my desk. For some people, just this tracking device is all the accountability they need. This is about finding what works for you.

A weekly meeting with a critique partner may be helpful. The pressure to bring pages to exchange is another way of holding your feet to the fire. This works with a partner you meet with online as well as in person.

2. Sprints

I love the sprinting technique. This can be done by yourself, with a partner, or group.

Basically you're going to set a short period of time - using a timer - during which you are going to do nothing but the specific task. For me, it's writing. Start the timer, get your hands on the keyboard (or however you do it! ) and write until the timer goes off. (That's my Death Star timer! How cool is that?)

It's that easy. This allows you to focus. It allows you to overcome fear. It's only 10 minutes. (Or however long you choose.) You can do anything for 10-15 minutes.

Then you do another sprint. And another.

This is a way to make use of small bits of time in your day, time you may have dismissed before as “not long enough” to accomplish anything.

If you're doing them with a partner (and you can check in with those partners via email, text, chat, social media - whatever works for you!), it adds both an element of support/companionship and accountability as well as competition. “I got 600 words that time, what did you get?” (Again, only use what will motivate you! If the competition element is too much pressure or you're working with someone who gets cutthroat about it...don't use that element. )

3. Incentives Matter

Incentives matter is a mainstay of economics and everyday life. There should be a carrot attached to working hard and achieving your goals.

Again, this is highly individualized. I know some writers who literally give themselves a gold star on a calendar every day they meet their writing goals. It's a highly visual way to see their accomplishments and gives them satisfaction. Maybe just seeing your goal acknowledged in your tracking spreadsheet is enough for you. If so, that's fine.

You can add weekly rewards, as well as an incentive for finishing the book. Maybe you can only have a Starbucks treat once a week, IF you've made your goals. My long-distance critique partner and I are going to try to do bi-annual writing get-togethers for plotting purposes. But we can only have such a special treat if we're actually producing books.

That's a pretty good motivation for me!

Find what works for you. There's nothing wrong with “bribing” ourselves into increased productivity.

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