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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 November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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