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It’s ironic, but I’m trying to write this post fast. After a discussion with a friend and looking at what I got done (and didn’t) last year, and what I’d like to this year, I realized I’ve been letting myself remain unfocused and called it creative thinking when really I was reading blogs and trolling Facebook.
So today I’m trying to do better. Last night I wrote a list of all the things I need to get done today, along with things it would be good to make progress on. There are 16 things on it, including my shower and lunch.
Then I scheduled how much time I hoped each thing would take and scheduled my day down to 15-minute increments.
As I write this, it’s supposed to be 10:45. It’s actually 11:41. So much for my great planning.
The Importance of Focus
Actually, being an hour behind is still not all that bad. I got behind first because I took a little more time doing chores (and maybe a little longer shower) than I estimated. So I wasn’t wasting time; I was doing things that needed to be done.
(We won’t talk about the 10 minutes I spent playing Zamboni on the Goolge doodle. Or the longer than it should have been Facebook time. Or visiting websites that made me realize there are three awesome events I’d like to attend all happening on the same weekend, hundreds of miles apart.)
What is good, even though I’m behind, is that I still feel on track. I’m marking things off (this is item 10 of 16) and making progress, and I know there are things later I can speed up or spend a little less time on so I can still at least touch everything on my list.
This goes back to planning again, which I think really is the big secret of how I get so much done. And then, of course, just having the time and taking the time to do it.
It’s that taking the time part that can be so hard for so many of us. We might carve out time to work on our blogs but then we actually spend the time on Facebook or Twitter, reading other people’s blogs, tidying up the office, daydreaming, whatever.
I’m hugely guilty of all that. I work from home and am alone all day (from 8:30 to 3:15 or so), and at the beginning of the day that can seem like a huge expanse of time.
It’s not. A little more than six hours. It goes away fast when you spend half an hour or more cleaning up the house, 45 minutes exercising, half an hour taking a break for lunch…
And I’m usually writing for three blogs a day, and trying to make things as well. Time disappears quickly if you’re not vigilant.
I used to have some software on my computer that would block me from going to websites while I was working, but it frustrated me because I actually have to use the web for my work and I hated putting in exceptions.
So instead I just try (and fail regularly, but still, I try) to keep Facebook closed and ignore my e-mail most of the time. There’s really nothing that’s so important it can’t wait until the end of the hour or when the next task is done. I know it’s hard to believe.
Write without a Filter
Once you’ve gotten those distractions taken care of, you just have to sit and write. Magic, right?
OK, not really magic, but the point is you have to get the words out in order to publish them. Don’t worry about them being the perfect words just yet. Just write.
If it helps, make a quick little outline or take some notes before you start. If you need to research something or find links, try to do that first, but set a time limit so that doesn’t become another rabbit hole time suck that keeps you from actually writing.
Speaking of timers, you might want to set an actual timer for your writing, too. Racing the clock can help you focus and make the words come out faster than if you think you have all the time in the world. This works for me because of my background in journalism: I completely understand deadlines.
Remember, too, though this post isn’t a good example, that your posts don’t have to be long to be effective. Know what the major point is that you want to get across and get to it as soon as you can. Your readers will thank you and you’ll be able to get more written in less time.
Because this post is already long enough, we’ll save what comes after the writing for another day, or another couple of days. But it is important to note that, unless you’re in some sort of blog-posting emergency situation (is there such a thing?), you should not just hit publish as soon as you’re done writing.
So give it a break, and I will, too.
Do you have any tips for writing faster? I’d love to hear them!
Thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing.