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7 Strategies To Help Boost Productivity As a Writer

7 Strategies To Help Boost Productivity As a Writer

Productivity is a major issue in any workplace. This is especially true for writers. For a lot of writers that get paid per output, improving their productivity means getting a bigger paycheck. The problem with writing is that working hard doesn’t always mean that you are making the most of your time at work.

The reality is that a lot of writers find it difficult to maximize their productivity because of so many factors. From writer’s block to distractions, these are things that could hinder a writer from maximizing their performance during working hours.

So how exactly do you boost productivity as a writer? Here are seven effective strategies that you can apply to your writing process.

1. Make a list of things you need to do

Ever wondered how the simplest pen and paper activity of listing your activities can help boost productivity in the workplace?

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It is a common problem for writers to forget and miss out on things that they need to finish. By simply making a list of things you need to accomplish, you can eliminate this problem. You can cross each task off as you complete it.

2. Have a schedule for the entire day/week

Next thing that you need to remember is that it is important to plan things ahead. For writers that have the luxury of working any given time of the day, it is a common scenario to forget about the time.

It is important to schedule your entire day/week to prioritize tasks that need to be accomplished. This is especially useful when you deal with deadlines. Approaching the workday or workweek in an organized manner will help prevent moments of panic wherein you compromise the quality of work just to meet the deadline.

3. Wake up early and end at a specific time

Aristotle and Benjamin Franklin are proponents of starting your day early. Unfortunately, a lot of writers stay up late just to finish tasks that they should’ve done in the morning. According to experts, you accomplish more when you work in the morning than at night. And it can be explained by the body’s programming to want to sleep at night.

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If you are not a morning person, there are morning routines that you can do in order to energize the body. This way, you get to feel ready for work even without caffeine. Tony Robbins is a proponent of doing a morning routine that can help the body to perform for the entire day. Exercise, breathing habits and meditation are just some of the things that you can do to feel energized in the morning.

And of course, it is also important to set a specific time for when to stop working. There’s a reason why workplaces only implement an eight hour workday. Setting the time when to finish, not only prevents burnout but also creates a habit.

4. Have a schedule for when to check emails

Now that you can receive emails and private messages not only on your computer but also on your phone, it is important to have the discipline to minimize distractions. In order to boost productivity, it is important to have a schedule for when to check and reply to emails and private messages. This is a great way to minimize disruptions when you are writing. Limit checking your emails and private messages to two times per day.

5. Close unnecessary windows on your computer

Multi-tasking is common in today’s society. But before you open multiple windows and decide to work on different tasks at once, keep in mind that there’s a reason why it is considered dangerous to text and drive. This is because of our inability to focus on multiple tasks at once.

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In fact, people who multitask think that they are actually saving time. Instead, it is the complete opposite. Make it a habit to commit to finishing one task at a time. As rule of thumb, close all unnecessary windows. This helps eliminate distractions and helps you focus on the task at hand.

6. Read all you need to know first

It is a reality that for a writer to write effectively, he or she needs to do some research. One problem that writers have is switching back and forth between writing and doing research. This can be a problem, especially when you want to get the most work done.

It is highly suggested for writers to read all the information first before proceeding to write. How does it help? It gives the writer a clear picture of what the topic is all about. And once he or she has a complete understanding of the topic, writing will be the easy part of the job.

7. Break down broad ideas first

A common problem that takes up a lot of time in the writing process is considering how to discuss ideas. There are some topics that are just too hard to write down on paper. Though you fully understand the discussion, making a well written finished product may seem difficult because of the details and intricacies that you know you shouldn’t miss.

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A solution to this type of problem is to start with general topics before getting into the details. This helps the brain to have an idea of where to start from and go afterwards. To organize your thoughts, you can start making a mind map of ideas. From this diagram, you can then proceed to writing.

Conclusion

Writers all over the world face productivity challenges. In the age of highly advanced technology, writers have to deal with so many distractions to get to the final output. With these tips, writers can potentially boost productivity and also improve on the quality of work they deliver to their clients.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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