If you are anything like me, you are a self-improvement junkie. You love reading self-help articles, trying out every single app that promises improved productivity, and then you find your head stuffed with so much information and don't really know what you've accomplished on the journey. If anything.
Not only do I do all of this because I strive to be the very best version of myself BUT I also want to help YOU thrive in your life, writing, and business. I want you to be crushing goals and taking names.
Maybe I don't have it all figured out but in this past year, I've jumped and gone miles from where I was at the end of 2016. Here's what I've learned.
HEALTHY HABITS BREED HEALTHY PROGRESS
Read, Read, Read
As Stephen King put it, “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” If you don't know what makes a story great, how do you intend to write a good story? You should read as much as you write - books inside your genre and books outside of your genre as well.
Simplification is the secret sauce! Seriously, you don't need a desk full of a million loose papers or a phone stocked with 50 apps you don't use. I saw a significant jump in my productivity when I began clearing my life, home, and work of the unnecessary. Here's how you can do the same:
- Konmari your house- This book was a complete life saver for me. It takes you through every step necessary to get the junk out of your trunk (a.k.a your life, girl.) If you aren't ready for such a significant purge, take baby steps. Start with your clothes, then your office, and move on to other aspects of your house. I like to remind myself that simply re-organizing is pretty much finding new ways to "hide" or "horde" my belongings. Unless it comes to books. I don't care what anyone says, you can never have too many of those babies.
- Turn off ALL of the notifications - yep I mean emails, tweets, instagrams, facebooks, pinterests, etc. You don't have to know the second someone hits you up. This will free up more time and save you from fighting the impulse to "just see what the notification was, really quick". Instead, pick a time block or two during the day to dedicate to checking everything.
- Organize your files. My computer used to be a complete and total file wasteland. I went through and spent a good few hours finding a home for every single file, photo, and document. I deleted everything I didn't need and now when I open my computer, I'm no longer overwhelmed with the sight of my electronic junk.
Set Daily Affirmations
There are lots of ways you could do this. You could write them down on flash cards, print them out on pretty paper and hang on your vision board, create a Trello board dedicated to your goals and affirmations, or do what I do - write them out in your journal. And, yes I'm totally serious! Creating affirmations and reading them/saying them aloud has done AMAZING things for me and my life and writing. The universe wants to help you, you just have to tell it what you want. Here are a few examples of affirmations I like to use:
- I will get 10 new subscribers to my newsletter today.
- I will write 4k works this week.
- I am a creative powerhouse and am able to write an amazing novel.
You may be thinking that this sounds silly, but just try it. Proclaim what you want to the universe over and over, change them with time if you need to, and see what amazing things happen.
Don't Edit While You Write
This was such a hard one for me to get the hang of. It is extremely hard for me to write a first draft without wanting to go back every two seconds and re-work what I just wrote. So, I totally get it. But, guess what? That is the opposite of best practice when it comes to getting that first draft completed. Your mindset needs to be in a completely different state when you are writing than when you are editing and it's a productivity killer when you flip between the two so frequently.
When I get that itch to edit something or go back, I make a point to remind myself that the first draft is all about FINDING your story. Write down anything and everything. Every scene and every thought. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done. Then, after you type that last sentence and take a nice break from the manuscript, it's time to go back through and revise and rework things if necessary.
What are your goals? Why are you even writing in the first place? Friend, when times get tough or you feel that spark of creativity and passion dulling, knowing WHY you are doing what you are doing is so important in keeping up the momentum.
If you don't know where you are going, how do you expect to ever actually get there? I encourage you to take some time to figure out your why and craft your legacy as a creative writer.
When times start to get tough, it can be easy to decide to give up completely. Knowing this information can help you bring you back to center, re-align, and continue on the path to goal crushing.
Systems & Schedules
This is one of my FAVORITE things to talk about so I could go on and on here. But for the sake of keeping this post in a good readable length, I'll share five of my favorite tips with you.
- Keep all your eggs in one basket - as an author and writer, your resources can quickly become overwhelming if you are keeping everything in separate places. Having notebooks here, papers there, files in two separate drives, and a schedule somewhere else is no way to be organized. You need a centralized hub where you go to find everything you need. For me, that place is Trello. It's free. It's amazing. I absolutely swear by it. But, more on that a different day.
- Create workflows. Workflows for social media. Workflows for newsletter writing. Workflows for blog post writing. Workflows for Youtube videos and vlogs. Workflows for Podcast episodes. Whatever you do and do often - you need a workflow for it. Checklists and to-do lists are an anuthorpreneur girl's best friend.
- Automate what you can. Have survey answers sent to a spreadsheet. Use ITTT to send your Instagram posts to Twitter for consistent content. Things like this free up more time for writing so you can spend less time doing tedious tasks.
- Write consistently. And stick to whatever schedule you place for yourself. Now, I'm not going to preach about writing every single day because as a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and human begin I know that sometimes that is impossible to achieve BUT dedicate an hour or two three days a week to write and then DO IT.
- Batch process. There is more to a writing career than just writing. Have yourself a batch day where dedicate yourself to a single task and get that stuff done. For example, you can have a blogging day, a recording day, or a batch day you spend updating your website. When you have an entire period dedicated to just ONE thing and you aren't attempting to multitask #allthethings, you get so much more done.
Track Your Progress
I LOVE being able to look back and see what I've accomplished. When you can actually SEE the work you've done, you are much more motivated to keep doing what needs done. One of my favorite and most used apps on my phone (and computer) is called Toggl. Each time I sit down to do a writing session, I click the timer button and track exactly how much time I'm writing. I do the same when I'm outlining or writing blog posts or creating products. This way, I can see exactly how much time I've spent doing what and where I'm spending the most of my energy.
I also encourage you to track your web analytics and your social media growth. Where is your traffic coming from and how can you make sure you show up there and provide the best content possible for those people? Do your analytics correlate with how profitable you were? Hint, hint - usually, that answer is yes.
Find What Works For You
Sure, it can take some work to find exactly what works for you. But, once you find your groove, there is nothing that can stop you. Use what works. Create a plan of action and execute it like the BOOK BOSS you are.
Yes, life happens. Dogs need walking, families need feeding, houses need cleaning. But, that's exactly why a plan is so important to have, should something super crazy happen and attempt to throw you off track.
Being organized and productive IS possible. Getting stuff done IS possible. Now, who's ready to have the BEST writing year ever?