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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post on how to improve your writing productivity….
A recent blog post by Josh Spector caught my eye. In it, he described his 4-step process for being more productive. He wrote:
- Step 1: Write down everything you spend time on today.
- Step 2: At the end of the day, review your list and pick one thing that wasn’t a good use of your time.
- Step 3: Vow to never do it again and/or do it in a different way next time.
- Step 4: Repeat.
(If you want a link to the post, go here.)
I agree that too many of us spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t important. But I also propose a step 5: Time-block your day so you can spend ample amounts of time on the tasks that are worthwhile.
What exactly is time-blocking?
It involves making a series of appointment with yourself, all day, every working day. It sounds hard and time-consuming but I’m able to do it in less than five minutes, every morning.
Why does it work? It keeps you on schedule. If you’ve bitten off more than you’re going to be able to chew, you’ll know early in the morning. This gives you the chance to decide what you’re going to do and what you’re going to postpone. As well, it allows you to work on variety of tasks every day, allowing you to juggle more than one deadline at a time.
During the recent heat-wave on the West coast, I let go of time-blocking for about three days and I accomplished a fraction of what I’m normally be able to do, and, more importantly, I felt terrible about my work. Now I’m back to time-blocking and my writing productivity has returned.
I’ve created a Word document for time-blocking that I complete every morning. If you’d like to download it, go here. The second column in the form is where you type (or hand write) your tasks. The third column is deliberately blank, leaving you the chance to make last-minute changes later in the day.