Productivity Tips for Writers: Change These 3 Mind-Mush Habits - Make a Living Writing

Productivity Tips for Writers: Change These 3 Mind-Mush Habits

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Productivity Tips for Writers to Prevent Mind Mush

Looking for productivity tips to be a better writer?

Maybe you’ve got a looming deadline.

You just landed a brand new client.

Or you’re finally ready to start reaching out to potential freelance writing prospects.

And you think some productivity tips or time-management secrets might help you get more work done.

But instead, your brain keeps churning some kind of mind-mush stew of:

  • Ideas
  • Deadlines
  • What-ifs
  • Self-doubts
  • Your attempt to balance work, family and maybe even a social life

That ever happen?

When you’re a serious freelance writer, it’s hardly the sip-tea-and-stare-out-the-window kind of experience a lot of non-writers think it is.

There’s a lot of work to do. And you can work yourself into a frenzy with freelancing and everything else going on in your life.

But that’s not a smart way to work. Believe me, as a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and mom with kids, I know what it’s like.

If you want to move up and earn more, you may need to change the way you think.

Check out these productivity tips to clear your mind and be a better freelancer.

Meet productivity-tips expert & freelance writer Jennifer Theuriet

Productivity Tips: Jennifer Theuriet

Jennifer Theuriet

Jennifer Theuriet is a freelance writer and productivity expert.

She’s a friend of Make a Living Writing and former Freelance Writers Den member who learned how to write LOIs that get results, land dream clients, and live the freelance life.

Check out the guest post she wrote about how to write LOIs that get noticed.

She’s also the founder of Life After Busy, where she helps women achieve success by balancing life, work, and family.

What’s your biggest obstacle to productivity?

When I asked the question on my Facebook page, my notifications started blowing up.

I was shocked by the response: 81 comments in 3 days.

It must have struck a nerve.

If you’re a freelance writer struggling with productivity, there’s a good chance you need to change the way you think.

There’s three mind-mush habits most of need to change. Here’s what I’m talking about…

1. Distraction attraction

The top answer and enemy #1 to productivity: “My brain.”

There are a few things happening here. When you’re too distracted to get anything done, you need to get the thoughts out of your head so you can focus.

Keep in mind productivity guru, David Allen’s famous quote:

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

You need a system to park those ideas so you can get back to work…

  • Add it to your to-do list.
  • Type it into the reminders app.
  • Delegate the thought to Siri.
  • Get it out of your head.

The second stumbling block might seem obvious…

Your brain is unique to you. My system works for me, but it might not be the best for you.

Which productivity style sounds most like you?

  • Prioritizer: logical, analytical, and fact-based
  • Planner: organized, sequential, and detailed
  • Arranger: supportive, expressive, and emotional
  • Visualizer: holistic, intuitive, and big picture thinking

FYI… you’re a unique human. You might align most with one style. But that doesn’t mean you can’t steal some tactics from other styles to maximize productivity.

2. ‘I’ll do it later’ disease

Another common answer in my poll was some form of procrastination.

Let’s define the enemy…

“Procrastination is not doing the things you know you need to do when you need to do it.”

Know yourself to fight procrastination

It’s the first step to getting your life back. If you’re finding it hard to resist temptation, make a note of how procrastination is affecting your life.

For example…

  • Did you rush through Sunday dinner so you could get back to the project that you put off until the last minute?
  • Next time you’re tempted to scroll social media, instead of hitting your word count, think about your family gathered around the table without you.

Choose your environment

It’s the second stepThe second step in your war against procrastination is to choose your environment

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How can you silence the distractions on your phone?
  • What other distractions live where you do your most important work?
  • Can you move these distractions to another space?

Finally, you must take the time to project plan. If you can’t visualize the path to finish that book, an article, a blog post assignment, or even your own marketing, your heart is more likely to lead you to procrastination.

3. The COVID-induced productivity pain point

How many of you worked from home pre-Covid? Yep, I’m raising my hand too.🖐

And, I commiserate that our loss in productivity has gone underappreciated.

Your loved ones who used to spend their days at school and work, are now popping in with a million distractions.

And you’ve got to do something about it if you want to restore some sanity to your life.

To make strides back to your pre-Covid days, communicate with your family your “work hours.”

Do not disturb…

It might not sink in right away, but make sure they know you will be in your office “for 2 hours and you can’t be disturbed.”

Over-communicate if you have to. Communication is everything.

The art of interruption

Maybe you don’t mind kids barging in at any time. For me, a closed office door means I’m working.

You can teach your family how to interrupt you when something can’t wait. For example…

  • My husband can come in and grab something, but if he wants my attention he knows to write me a note or send me a text so I can respond when I get a break in my day.
  • As for the kids, I expect them to knock (SOFTLY) if something is urgent.

The key to making this go off without a hitch is to respect their interruption rules, too.

Productivity tips to help you take action

It’s not enough to read an article on productivity tips. It’s not enough to get productivity advice from peers in a Facebook group. The results happen when you make the changes.

Progress comes in baby steps. Start taking those small steps towards the big three productivity obstacles that can turn your mind to mush:

  • A distracted mind
  • Procrastination
  • A house full of interruptions

Next time I post on Facebook, I hope to see a lot more publishing wins in my writing groups and less group commiserating on productivity.

The steps are simple but fundamental. If you aren’t making progress, I challenge you to think if you’re making the changes.

What productivity tips make you a better writer? Share in the comments below.

Jen Theuriet is a freelance writer and productivity coach who helps mompreneurs harness their time for what matters most.

Grow Your Writing Income. FreelanceWritersDen.com

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23 comments on “Productivity Tips for Writers: Change These 3 Mind-Mush Habits

  1. Maz Green on

    My productivity shot up in Covid times. Not seeing the grandchildren or being able to travel gave me so much more time. Also, being part of the London Writers Salon – 4 free sessions a day where writers write together in a Zoon room – helped me to give myself “permission” to “be” a writer. And what does a writer do? A writer writes. I finished my memoir, had two articles published online, wrote many blogpost and articles in Medium.com. Writing has become my way of coping, my form of Wellbeing … Whereas before it was something I did when all other “jobs” were done, now , the writing is the first thing I do and sometimes the other jobs don’t get a look in.
    Here is my blog, in case you’re interested:

    gramswisewords.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. Linda on

    One of my biggest issues in my cat Sparky. She tends to distract me in the midst of a brilliant thought and it vanishes as soon as she jumps on the cabinet by my desk. We’re in a small room I rent, so there’s not much other space.
    I’m working on figuring out when she’s sleeping and I can focus, write uninterrupted and get things done.
    I tend to put the phone on Do Not Disturb because the vibration of mute will distract.
    For the 4-types of productivity, I plan, prioritize, visualize and arrange. Once I’ve done that I’m good, but getting there with so much to juggle seems tough sometimes.
    Thanks for this post. It’s good to see that much of how I’m working through procrastination and productivity is spot on. Now that I’ve seen I’m normal, I’ll get more done.
    Not sure if I prioritize

    Reply
    • Jennifer on

      Hi Linda,
      Congrats for all the progress!!

      I’m not a cat owner but I can say I still have interruptions for my kids (despite my best efforts). It happens.

      My first thought is…are cats trainable? Can you get Sparky to stop jumping on the cabinet all together? Or perhaps distract her during a deep work session with a cat toy?

      Reply
      • Katherine Swarts on

        Yes, most cats are trainable, but they’re neither as possible to reason with as humans nor as eager to please as dogs. There are only two proven ways to get them to internalize and stick to training: reward them with something material (usually a food treat) EVERY time they cooperate; or make it physically impossible for them to violate your wishes (e. g., close the door to your home office) and remain deaf to their complaints until they get the message. You’ve heard, “The one thing you need to know to train a dog … more than the dog”? With cats, you have to outdo them not in intelligence but in stubborn persistence.

        Unfortunate that, unlike many human babies, they are also neither predictable in their naps nor capable of really sound sleep. But they make up for some of that in the sheer amount of time they spend napping, especially in the afternoons.

        Reply
  3. James Nguma on

    Thanks, Jen

    This is awesome. Sometimes disruption from my family and the surrounding environment hits me hard.

    But I have learned to cope and keep my productivity high despite these challenges.

    Reply
  4. Tito Tolentino on

    Planner, Important-Urgent Quadrant Chart and To-Do List was a necessity for me when I was an employee. I only get things done through the use of those tools. Now that I am retired, the more important it became for me. It’s easy to fall in a trap but it’s a decision.

    Reply
  5. Katherine Swarts on

    I’m a Planner first–and a Visualizer last, which has generated a lot of guilt trips in an age when everything (in the “success” threads anyway) seems to be about positive thinking, vision boards, and management.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Theuriet on

      I’m right there with you Katherine but trends come and go. Stay true to yourself.

      It’s ok to consult with a friend who’s a visualizer if you are faced with a problem you can’t get around. Always, good to get a fresh perspective.

      Reply
    • Jennifer on

      Hi Joyce,
      Kudos for your creativity. Now we just need to focus it in the right direction.

      Make sure you have a strong motivation tied to what you’re doing and when you notice yourself drifting off to that creative distraction….time to reconnect with your WHY!

      Does this help?

      Reply
  6. Kaitlin Morrison on

    I was really critical of myself until I stepped back and recognized that my life changed pretty significantly when Covid hit and my productivity strategies/mindset didn’t shift to keep up.

    Changes I didn’t acknowledge:

    *Home-bound spouse who was also now working remotely more
    *My baby is now a toddler with just enough independence to start becoming more destructive than before
    *We had to shift our errands to the morning and middle of the day (often interrupting time I once worked instead)

    I blamed myself, but really I should’ve recognized this earlier. I didn’t become bad at my job – it’s just that formerly-productive stretches of the day are now more challenging. I needed to find my productive times and work around everything else.

    Reply
  7. Ina L Jones on

    Loved your list.
    Prioritizer: logical, analytical, and fact-based
    Planner: organized, sequential, and detailed
    Arranger: supportive, expressive, and emotional
    Visualizer: holistic, intuitive, and big picture thinking
    My daughter and I work together. I am #4 & #2; she is #1 & #3. Sometimes we change to get the job done. Thank you for the fun input.

    Reply

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