Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beyond Busy? 20 Tips to Boost Your Productivity

Author and Speaker Janalyn Voigt

As we scramble to write, edit, submit, connect, and promote, often all in the same day, writers are beyond busy. With more than ever to do, we have to work smarter to survive.  The following 20 tips will boost productivity.
1. Develop routines to dispatch mundane duties. As you complete one task, you won’t have to stop and think about what to do next.
2. Get the most difficult chores out of the way first so you can free the rest of your day for more pleasant activities.
3. Set an ending time for each activity. If you don’t, even a simple task can take hours.
4. Allow yourself breaks when you need them. You’ll do better work when you return to your desk.
5. List all interruptions to your workflow as they occur. In a quiet moment evaluate why they happened and brainstorm for solutions.
In the Office
6. When you’re tired of sitting, set up your computer so you can stand while working. While you’re at it, do a few simple stretches now and then. You’ll improve your circulation and think more clearly.
7. Make sure the room where you work is well-ventilated or you’ll struggle to stay awake at the computer, which won’t help your productivity.
8. Your office chair should be comfortable. It’s hard to focus when your legs cramp or your back aches.
9. Drink lots of water. Dehydration makes it hard to think.
10. Remember to feed yourself even while in the throws of creative passion, but don’t fill yourself with junk food and expect to be sharp.
11. Leave the Internet off until you’ve completed all writing for the day.
12. Invest in a smart phone which lets you read news, emails and ebooks at odd moments or while doing mindless tasks that leave one hand free (like stirring).
On the Phone
13. Turn the phone’s ringer off when you need to concentrate.
14. When you take a phone call, set a timer. When it goes off say your break is up and end the call.
15. Before you make a phone call jot down what you intend to cover, and don’t let yourself get sidetracked.
Email Tips
16. Don’t set emails to pop up when they come in. Instead, handle them all at once after you finish writing.Check email when other chores are done. That way you’ll have less time to dally over them.
17. Tell yourself that you must get through all emails you received that day but that you can’t go beyond the time you allot. You’ll be more choosey about what you read. Set a timer if you need help stopping in time.
18. Unsubscribe to one email list every day until your email inbox reaches a more comfortable level.
19. If a phone conversation rather than an email would save time, schedule the call.
20. If you receive blog posts by email, consider whether reading them in a feed reader would be more efficient for you. I use Google Reader.
My list is by no means exhaustive. If you have more tips to share, please comment.
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  1. Terrific tips, Janalyn. I did #18 just yesterday and got off a list I rarely participated with anyway. I have another I'm debating dropping too. I like having fewer emails to deal with!

    1. I'm taking my own advice on this one right now, Linda. Why, oh why, am I such a joiner?

  2. Nice! The most productive I've been this week is reading my review book on my Kindle while waiting to renew my driver's license. Ug. But very helpful tips! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I like to make a list of all the things I need to accomplish for the day. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I get to cross them off, and it keeps me working if the list isn't completed, yet. I hate to end the day with items still on my list! :)

  4. Great list. Schedules are my best friend. I'd be in big trouble without them. And I've learned the hard way to stay away from the Internet when writing. But I actually find it best to deal with emails as they come in. I rip off quick replies and keep my inbox almost empty all the time.

  5. Wow! I can't imagine doing that, Katie. Each to his own, though.