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5 Benefits of Writing: Why You Should Write Every Day

5 Benefits of Writing: Why You Should Write Every Day

Writing every day has numerous benefits far beyond finally getting that novel of yours out in the open. Whether you’re aiming to improve your vocabulary, keep track of your dreams, or keep a journal of all the goings-on in your world, writing daily can bring about some stellar effects in your life.

A Wake-Up Call for Your Brain

Have you ever hauled yourself to work and then sat there for a couple of hours, waiting for your brain to warm up enough so you could be articulate and productive? That’s a massive waste of time, especially since anything you’d be forced to tackle during that warm-up would be tepid at best.

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Instead, consider hitting the ground running by sitting down with a writing assignment while you’re sipping your coffee/tea/wheatgrass smoothie. You can either list a bunch of topics on slips of paper and just pull one from a jar to write about each day, or subscribe to one of the numerous mailing lists that can deliver a subject to your inbox every morning. Figment is great for that, but all you need to do is a quick Google search for “daily writing prompts” and you’ll have no shortage of topics to scrawl about. Getting the gears spinning so early in the morning shakes your brain-meat into good working order, and by the time you roll into the office, you’ll be sharp, focused, and ready to plough your way through anything that lands on your desk.

Stream of Consciousness Purging

Writing a few pages as soon as you wake really is a perfect way to begin your day. You don’t have to write a story, but rather just let all the first thoughts of the morning flood their way onto paper. This could be as mundane as: “Great, another Wednesday morning. I forgot to get cat food so I’m feeding Mr. Fripples a tuna omelet. I have no idea where my socks are. Hopefully Martha will remember to get more coffee for the office kitchen…” etc.

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What good does all of this do? It allows you to vent any frustrations/worries that may have percolated in your skull overnight, thus allowing you to begin your day with a clean slate. It’s also a great means of self-exploration and reflection: after you’ve written every day for a few weeks, take an afternoon one weekend to sit down to read what you’ve been scribbling. If you find that the same worries and issues are popping up every day, that’s a strong clue that these need to be addressed so they’ll stop weighing on you. Should you discover that you begin every morning with self-criticism, you can make a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself, and to start your days with positive affirmations, or perhaps something self-loving like yoga, a walk in the park, or a few minutes’ worth of meditation

Dream Recall

If you’re looking for a specific subject to write about, consider keeping a dream journal. Keep it by your bedside so you can write notes if you happen to startle into the waking world in the middle of the night, but be sure to take a few minutes to jot down some notes every morning. If you didn’t dream anything, make note of it. If you did, try to write down everything you can recall from the night’s meanderings, even if it’s just vague imagery or colours. Over time, you’ll realise that your ability to remember details from your dreams has improved significantly, and you may start to notice patterns or themes to your dreams.

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Vocabulary Maintenance and Expansion

Are you familiar with the saying that falls along the line of “use it or lose it”? That applies to many different aspects of life, and one’s vocabulary is no exception. In an era when texting and tweeting are the main vehicles for communication, many people find that their mental word banks are dwindling in favour of creative ways to condense thoughts into as few words and characters as possible. This can be problematic when you’re sitting in a meeting and can’t remember vital jargon, or if you’re writing an essay and have a word dancing just on the periphery of your memory, but it won’t come through; you’ll likely end up using a term that isn’t completely appropriate, unless you spend time sifting through a thesaurus to find the right word.

One fun way to expand your vocabulary is to subscribe to a Word of the Day email: every morning, you’ll receive a new (and often obscure) word, and you can try to fit that into a conversation or written exchange at some point that day. How fun would it be to toss words like “confrere” and “factotum” into emails to your colleagues and family members?

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Evening Contemplation and Relaxation

Most of us have very busy schedules as well as a fair bit of stress on our minds, and it’s not uncommon for these things to weigh on us when we actually have a few moments’ respite from non-stop responsibilities—like when we’re trying to sleep. Consider keeping a notepad or journal beside your bed, and allot 15-20 minutes every night to writing down your thoughts about the day. If there are things that are stressing you out, getting them down on paper to acknowledge them may help to alleviate the anxiety so you can get some rest. Alternatively, you can use that time to think about all the great things that happened to you over the course of the day, so that the last thoughts you have before drifting off are positive, constructive ones.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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