Okay let’s try this again. More of a general post today. Incidentally, I found this post just now about the truth about what it takes to be a writer and how sometimes you have to do the work even when you don’t want to. It seemed applicable (and there’s a contest, but I wouldn’t share it if I didn’t actually think it was good), so I thought I’d share it here. In fact, the whole blog looks great and I definitely want to keep my eye on it in the future. Okay, on to the main post!


I have a lot of problems with motivation. (I’m not sure, but it’s possible you may have noticed this about me.) There are various reasons for this, from mental health to more common human faults, but the bigger question is: What should I do about it?

I’ve tried all sorts of things. I’m very good at organizing things, and even enjoy it, but I’m at heart a very chaotic person. This translates to me liking things like lists and schedules in theory, but in practice they quickly fall apart, because those sorts of things start to feel like obligations and gee I’m feeling very inspired to do something else today that would also be productive, but I really should do that other thing on the list. Outside of work, I don’t do well with obligations and putting them off quickly leads to guilt. The more I feel like something is an obligation the more guilty I feel about not doing it and the longer it takes to get it done. It’s a very powerful shame spiral and it happens every time I try to be more productive by being more organized.

So I’m trying something new. I’m trying every day to be productive for 4 hours. Not as a number I have to reach, but as a goal to shoot for. I’ve actually only hit 4 hours once since I started this about a week ago. A wide variety of things count as productive, but some things that are technically productive but that aren’t really priority goals right now or easily become time sinks (networking on forums and other social media, anyone?) don’t count. I can take days off, but never more than one in a row unless I’m sick or there is another extenuating circumstance (I was feeling unwell yesterday, which is why this post is on Friday instead of Thursday). I keep deadlines to a minimum.

And you know what? It’s a little early to tell, but so far it’s working! I’ve gotten so much done in the last week. I did hours of cleaning, which my house really needed; quite a bit of studying things that will help me with my goals in the future, such as SEO or photography; some brainstorming and fleshing out of ideas for writing projects I’m working on; and I even worked on some projects relating to visual art, which I tend to put off the most because it is hardest for me. I’ve gotten so much done that I haven’t felt bad at all that I usually do more like 2-2.5 hours than 4 or that I decided to take a day off after only 2 days of doing this. I’m really hoping that this method will be the key for me, because I have a lot of great and exciting projects planned, if only I’d actually get to work on them!

What do you find helps the most when it comes to your productivity?

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8 Replies to “Productivity”

  1. I’m glad you’re finding a method that works for you!

    I’m a list person…. to the extent that I spend more time making lists than being productive sometimes haha.

    I use a programme called Evernote to track all the tasks that need doing, and I have a list of things I like to get done on a daily basis – but I don’t beat myself up if it doesn’t get done. After all, any progress is progress 🙂

    • Hahaha I do like to spend my valuable time MAKING lists. It’s using them that i have a problem with. 😉

      Technology is great, but I prefer to do most things by hand, for various reasons. Occasionally I’ll make a note on my phone to remember something if I don’t have something else to write on, but I almost always end up forgetting about it. 😛

  2. Firstly, thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting on ‘The Ageing Guide to Dreaming’post.

    Your post has resonated with me. Firstly I’m a lists person. I would write lists about lists if I could! Lists usually work for me but on days when I’m feeling stressed, they can become instruments of torture, mocking me that I didn’t get things done!

    I’m currently trying to get more of a writing routine as well. I started this as more of a hobby, writing when inspired thing. That just hasn’t worked. My mind demands more time to write!

    I’ve realised that I need to now treat this more as a self-employed job. I’ve got serious about letting others know I am a writer. It has made me feel more accountable. The example I draw is that I used to be an English tutor (after leaving English teaching). I organised my day to research, plan and tutor. I did this self-employed. Therefore I can do this with writing self-employed. I may not have kids to tutor, but I do have a fiction and hopefully potential readers to give my services (the final product) to.

    I’m aiming for around 3-4 hours a day. I know people working full time don’t have the luxury of long stretches of writing time but I hear of many who put in the graft and make it work. This motivates me more to make it happen. I’m starting small with the length of hours and building up.

    Whilst understanding the routine is important, I’m not beating myself up about it when I don’t hit the required hours’ mark. I’m often not as I’ve just started this routine. But I’m getting there and the prods of guilt I feel when on social media and forums, rather than getting on with writing, usually gets me in the end!

    I’m also learning that writing time isn’t always actual writing; research, interacting with writing communities, blogging and enhancing my presence on social media are part of that. However, fundamentally, it’s got to be about the writing. So off I go now to do what I’m supposed to be doing!

    • I can just imagine it! 1. Check shopping list. 2. Check list of correspondences to reply to. 3. check to do list. 4. repeat.

      There really is so much to do, especially if you want to do everything yourself, as I do. And I haven’t even published anything yet that I have to actually market! But I’m learning a bit at a time, and doing things my way even if it isn’t necessarily the best way. It’s what works for me. Happy writing!

  3. For me being productive is hard when it comes to writing. There are three things I need in order to write: Inspiration, sleep, and no chance of distraction.

    Normally that would mean I write at night after everyone’s gone to bed. That way I don’t feel like I’m taking away time from my family and I can’t clean because I might wake them up. It also means I don’t have to wonder if someone’s going to run in every 2 minutes, breaking my concentration. “Mom! I found a car! Mom, look! Legos!”

    And then the baby wakes up, and someone needs to go potty, and oh look it’s lunch time.

    With the lack of sleep lately, I’ve been crashing when everyone else does, so not much writing getting done lol.

    For everyday things, I just find knowing I have a “list” of things to do drives me to work on stuff. I get overwhelmed if things build up and I try to get enough things done so at the end of the day I’m making progress or at least not falling behind.

    • Haha, kids. I can’t imagine. Definitely worth the trouble though, I think. Gotta take care of yourself and yours first!

  4. I’ve tried lists before and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Lately I’ve been trying to pick a goal and work toward it during the day, since I work better when working in big chunks of time than on multiple tasks scattered across small chunks of time. I like your idea of focusing on working for a specific chunk of time, though; I might try that myself and see if it works for me, too. 🙂

    • I’m definitely a lots of things in small chunks kind of person. Occasionally I’ll be able to focus on one task for a long time, but usually when I’m depressed I’m easily bored and can’t focus for too long before I get sick of what I’m doing and when I’m not depressed I’m excited about all the things and can’t focus for too long before I get distracted by something else. So I do what I can when I can.

      Glad you found something new to try! If it works, you’ll have one more tool and if not, well, now you know. 😀