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8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

Writers posses many positive attributes: creative imaginations, a rich inner life, on tap fantasy thinking, and storytelling. However, any writer will also tell you there are often aspects of their personality that many, or they themselves, deem negative: lying, and appearing too intense for some, are just two of those traits many associate with the negative condition. However, for writers, these so-called “bad” traits may actually provide good outcomes, while becoming essential to their craft.

It’s important to note that we are not talking about disorders here, rather those things we carry that do not, or will not, have a major or detrimental impact on our lives, health or well-being.

The following traits can be invaluable tools for most writers; spurring their creativity, offering substantial material, pulling them out ruts, or simply offering encouragement where there has been discouragement.

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Time to turn that frown upside down!

1. You’ve been described as too passionate.

Ever had someone call you “intense,” or describe you as “too much?” Some see you as crazy, a trouble maker, or an obsessed nut, while others are just plain scared of you. Though there are occasions where there may be a need to worry, for many writers, this intensity is part and parcel of what allows them to live outside the ‘norm’ and create amazing tales. Passion fuels intense creativity, arouses emotion, and gets the wheels turning. So although others may be turned-off by your intensity sometimes, for you, it’s a major, and necessary, turn-on.

2. You’re hasty.

For you, there’s no such thing as waiting, you’d rather get to it now. If it doesn’t work, no biggie, you’ll deal with that later. You love to jump in with both feet and don’t see any problem with that. If it’s too hot or too cold you’ll just jump out. As long as you’re not hurting yourself, or anyone else, it works for you. And as a writer, the added benefit of hastiness is that you tend to go with your gut and heart, tapping into your instincts with such focus. This leads to an impressive library of experience; some good and some bad, but all rich.

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Your impatience need not be a problem, but instead a way of exercising that innate need to “get it out,” which in writing terms, more often than not, translates into something great.

3. You’re neurotic.

Your jealousy, anxiety or loneliness can be parlayed into a ground breaking novel, a hard hitting screen play, or a poem that touches souls. Feeling frustrated? Hash it out as a character. Worried? Write a plot full of intense twists and turns. With the ability to pen your emotions into prose or poetry, you can transfer what could have potentially become something negative into positive energy, and watch the miracle unfold.

4. You’re nosy.

You’re a prolific a curtain twitcher; the typical nosy neighbor. But as a writer, you can actually treat this as research, or inspiration for your next project. Perhaps you know a little too much about your neighbors comings and goings, or are intrigued by the couple who just moved in down the street. Turn them into characters and watch them come to life. This curtain twitching behavior offers you rich material, and at a healthy and safe, non-stalker-y distance!

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The world is your museum and you use it to feel a connection to life, and to others. Plus those ideas of nosiness, intrigue and interest have given us some of the greatest novels (think flaneur, detective and thriller) which make for amazing reads.

5. You’re disorganized.

Disorganization appears to be synonymous with creative types. Clothes on the floor, books strewn out across your bed and your desk looks like a bomb went off in a library. Not good, right? Wrong. To a writer, even the most catastrophic looking room contains mountains of organisation and inspiration, somewhere in there.

So to the friend of said writer: don’t go tidying up their apartment or finally hanging those picture frames that have made their home on the floor. It may all be some sort of elaborate and useful set up that makes sense to them and their writing. Sure it could just mean they’re disgusting, but it’s more likely there’s some method to all that madness.

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6. You suck at multi-tasking.

Sure you can handle the odd multi-venture at once but, generally, this causes a great deal of unnecessary stress. Most writers need 100 percent focus when writing. Paying bills, sending emails, screaming kids and cooking all equate to one very detached and unmotivated writer. Stephen King operated a closed door system when writing, and JK Rowling wrote while her baby slept. Many writers attest to the benefits of getting away (sans internet/Wi-Fi), or writing whilst the world sleeps, like Jack Kerouack, who preferred to write from, “midnight till dawn”. The ability to live in that moment, write as though you are reading and block out any distractions is commendable, and essential.

Multitasking may very well be an asset within the workplace, after all being able to multi-task is like having super powers. But to a writer, multitasking is just another word for distraction.

7. You’re a liar.

As well as actors and lawyers, liars also make wonderful writers. The ability to write fictional tales, come up with elaborate plots and create new worlds requires next level invention skills. There is also the understanding that lying requires that side of you that removes itself from the actual and the factual, skews reality, deceives, improvises, and has folks believing it’s all real. Yes, we all know lying is bad, bad, bad, but for the writer, it’s all good, good, good!

8. You’ve been told to grow up

Sure you can be a well-functioning adult like the best of them. You go to work, you work out, you eat right, you’re responsible and mature, and have yourself together, but you also know how and when to tap into that beautiful little child within you, exhibiting that imagination, drive and enthusiasm of a kid. You reside happily within your childlike creativity; making up plots and characters and daydreaming about scenery and dialogue, all the while imagining the outcome of your tale. Sure, you can do the whole adult thing 24/7, but where’s the fun (or imagination!) in that?

Featured photo credit: No Title/Ermin Čeliković via albumarium.com

More by this author

Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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