How to Be More Productive Now

speed-writing

I am definitely not a speed writer by any means.

It sometimes takes me hours to get through a first draft, slogging away at the keyboard, sweat dripping on the keys, checking and re-checking my grammar and spelling, trying to get the best turn of phrase, just the right jibe.

In order to get more writing done, I know I have to just write fast and write not-so-great first drafts, but my doubting brain keeps telling me to correct as I write and I trip and stumble my way to a first draft, only to have to do about the same amount of rewriting anyway.

So what would it take to become more productive? We could all use a few more hours in the day to get things done, right?

I know I could.

So I scoured the interwebs for some great advice and here is what I found.

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1. How to Wake Up Earlier

I’m a night owl, always have been. I love to push it past 2 am to almost 3, sometimes 3:30, before I let my giant head crash on the pillow for some fitful sleep. I know I need to get more sleep and get up earlier, but how?

One way might be to plan something exciting for breakfast. Perhaps there’s a special food you’ve been looking forward to having. I like Nutella on just about anything, but since I’m doing the slow-carb diet, my breakfast these days is eggs and spinach and beans every morning except Saturdays. Not too exciting.

Maybe you could plan something exciting that you can do alone (or with a special someone) that will help you wake up before everyone else. Perhaps reading a favorite book, watching an inspiring video, or taking a brisk solitary walk around the block gets you motivated.

I do know that research shows absolute darkness in the bedroom is important for our brains and bodies to recover fully. Ditto for drinking water before hitting the hay. If you rely on an alarm perhaps putting it across the room or buying an alarm clock that rolls of the table and makes you chase it might be the key.

The ultimate reason to get up, though, is that you are excited to get to work on sharing your story with the world. Remember, you are contributing to the good in the world by adding your story to it. That might just be the motivation you need.

“I’m getting up early to make the world a better place!”

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2. How to Think More Quickly

I come from the world of film, theatre and television and have done my share of improvisation. One of the first rules of improv is to never say, “no.” It’s better to say, “Yes, and…” Making a habit of saying, “yes, and…” will lead you on many interesting adventures. I know it’s done that for me.

By going with your gut and working with your first thoughts, you will most likely find the essence of your idea. If you over-think, you’ll give yourself room to let self-doubt and negative chatter creep in.

You know how you can have “knee jerk” reaction to something? What if you had a “mind jerk” reaction instead? By practicing coming up with many ideas all the time, you’ll be priming the mind jerk to spring into action when you need it.

James Altucher (I’m telling you, subscribe to his blog!) recommends that you carry around a waiter’s order pad and write down as many ideas as you can in order to constantly flex your idea muscle. He also finds it comes in handy in warding off intruders who are trying to keep you from coming up with any good ideas in coffee shops. Just ask, “Can I take your order?” Who knows, maybe you’ll make some tips

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3. How to Work Faster

Listening to music really helps. I’m listening to JaBig’s YouTube channel with the video (just a static shot of Beethoven’s face) called  6 Hour of The Best Beethoven – Classical Music Piano Studyin… [sic] (maybe put an ‘s’ on the end of Hour for me, JaBig?)

I have to admit that having this playing in the background has helped me write this post faster than I could without it. There is something about fingers flying across a piano keyboard that keeps my fingers moving across my computer keyboard as well.

Turning on more lights is supposed to increase production as well.

I remember working as a proofreader for a big credit card company in, yes, Wilmington, Delaware, (where all the credit card companies have their offices, look at your statement) and we were in the same part of the building as the graphic artists. They kept the lights really dim and there were very few windows.

I think they thought it was good for reducing eye strain with all the big computer screens, but to me, it was good for having me fall asleep. The copy was 6 pt. font already and in the dim light with the clickety-clack of keyboards all around me, I was often Captain Nod of Sleepyland in about half an hour of working. I think I must have consumed a pot of coffee a day at that job. According to Philips.com, if they had just increased the light from 300 lux to about 2000 lux, our productivity would have gone up about 8% and our tasks performance by 16%. 10000 lux is what we consider full daylight, not direct sun and you can buy therapy lamps that are in this range.

I’m the worst offender of this next one, but I have to admit that clearing my desk and keeping it neat does help me to be more productive. First, I’m not stressed about finding things and second, I don’t get the urge to stop what I’m doing and clean up the desk and forget about my writing. By keeping the work surface clear, my mind seems to stay clear as well.

One last thing I’ll share is – use a timer. When I don’t feel like working at all, I pull up a timer app, or grab a kitchen timer or punch numbers on the microwave and give myself 15 minutes to get a first draft done. I tell myself if I don’t get anything done in 15 minutes, I’ll give up and go on to the next thing. I almost always get into it within 15 minutes and when I look up at the clock again, 40-50 minutes have passed and I’ve gotten close to a 1000 words done.

Those are just a few of the things I use when I want to be more productive. I’d love to hear what you do!

Drop me a line below.

 

 

One Simple Technique to Change Your Writing (and your Life) Instantly

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I’m a big fan of James Altucher. He blogs, he podcasts, he writes books, he kvetches, he kvells, but he is AUTHENTIC and inspirational He speaks his truth to power and his truth is engaging and has made a big difference in my life.

I recently started using a technique James taught in his post, “I Used My Magic Power and Exploited Everyone in My Path” and it’s made a huge difference in my day-to-day to life. I want to share my story with you. Although James says he exploited everyone, he really gave them a gift. The gift of himself.

If you haven’t read James’ post yet, pop over to his site, read the post, follow him and then come back over here for my version. You’ll be glad you did.

He does this thing that he calls his “magic power” where he smiles at everyone he sees AS IF he is their mother or that they are about to die. At first, it sounds really creepy. But I’m a big fan of the AS IF as a fiction writer so I thought I’d give it a try in the trenches of higher education where most students are so wrapped up in their cellphones and their relationship woes and their grades that  I have to jump up and down in front of them in class to get their attention.

A few days ago, I started using James’ technique and thought, “These students are going to think I’m creepy. They’re going to run away and report to the Dean’s office that some pervert is on campus smiling at them like he’s their mother.”

Well, that never happened.

What did happen was amazing. The first few people I met changed instantly. Their faces went from concern and worry and looking lost to being open and smiling and glad to see that someone cared about them, even if it was just for a split second. Some of them knew my name and I wasn’t even sure I had ever had them as students. Some of them jumped like an electric current passed through them. Some were unreachable and that was alright, because I know there have been plenty of dark times in my life when I’ve been unreachable as well.

I started using this technique off campus with everyone I’ve come in contact with, strangers, friends, students, elderly folks, little kids, it works on everyone.

Each person I’ve used this technique on, unless they were completely wrapped up in their own darkness, transformed into someone whose face lit up for a brief second as I sent them my full body smile. Like, James, I’ve started to feel stronger, like the rays of the sun giving power to Superman.

My favorite time to do this is when I see someone I normally don’t want to engage with, someone a little off, someone who seems a little too crazy or emotional or withdrawn, but almost every time I’ve done this, even with those people, the difference has been remarkable. It’s almost like those people are the ones who need it the most.

But really, I’m the one who needs it the most.

I’m a natural introvert and would prefer to stay all alone in my dark little world most of the time.

But opening up in this way, smiling at people as if I’m their mother and they are the most important person in the world to me at the moment, has been an engaging and uplifting experience and one I recommend.

We’ve recently had two gun incidents on or near campus just in the past week. One of them was fatal. Maybe if people practiced this technique with each other, they’d spend more time caring about making someone feel loved and less time worrying about why they’ve been “disrespected” and now have to shoot them with a gun.

Thank you, James, for sharing your experience with all of us and allowing me to share it with others as well. I think it can make a huge difference in the world and I appreciate that.

Let me know if you start using this technique and what affect it has had on your life and those around you. I’m looking forward to hearing your stories, because stories are the wildest things.