How to become a highly efficient writer in 3 easy steps

efficient-writer

What exactly is high efficiency? In broader sense, in my own interpretation being highly efficient is being able to accomplish all desired goals in defined time-frame with satisfying results. The most accomplished people in any industry are those who are highly efficient and for writers this is a very  ‘handy trait’ to acquire.

Many of us are not born as highly efficient and productive. But we can learn to improve our performance in any realm of life which can lead to more energy, focus, confidence, productivity and satisfaction – something that any writer desperately needs.

You want to be efficient not occasionally when ‘all pieces of your life fall in the right place in the right time’. You want that sustained confidence and ability to be at the top of all things, having your life and writing under control – not the other way round.

And the next few things I’m about to say here are nothing new to you. You probably heard them a lot of times before, but yet we do forget and slip of our writing wagon. So take my recommendations as a friendly reminder and a guidance to help you examine your life  habits and how that is impacting your writing.

Step 1: take care of your basic needs properly, so you have more time for writing.

You probably could see this one coming. I simply can’t stress enough how this is important. When your basic needs like eating, sleeping  and daily movement/exercise are fulfilled then your body and mind are prepared for any challenge. It’s a prerequisite to any productivity. Fueling your body with healthy whole foods will give you energy, strengthen your immune system and endurance you need in order to achieve what you want. This, paired with enough sleep and relaxation instead of indulging in useless TV program will give you clear mind and focus you need in order to write and jump over that writers block.

I know I named this post easy steps and all this might not be easy in the beginning, but in a way we need to unlearn our unhealthy habits; to start fresh with open mind, heart and faith that with little baby steps we can retrain ourselves  –  to cultivate better habits and allow ourselves become writers we want to be.

Step 2: set reasonably achievable writing goals.

This is where, in my opinion is one of the traps we often as writers fall in. Setting too much goals or goals that are defined in tight time-frames can sometimes play as a true motivator, but more often it produces more pressure which leads to additional stress and discontent. I know that some people can have high performance under pressure, but think about it: how will that actually impact your life in the long run?

I am unfaltering advocate of being true and clear with yourself: what are your priorities? Chose one or two things you really need/want to do and start from there. Doing everything, everywhere in the same time is not a sustainable efficiency.

Step 3: do it, write it – no excuses

We are, with our human nature a real champions when it comes to excuses – why not to do something. You lack time, energy, you are busy, you are hungry, you are too hot or too cold, sleepy or..whatever. If you notice some of these thoughts creeping to your mind, go back to steps one and two. There is all magic happening. Your next poem, story, manuscript or blog post is hiding right up there. When you conquer steps one and two, your productivity will improve, your desire to learn and acquire new skills, have fun and immerse yourself in creative outlets will naturally come back running to you.

Do you have any tips on writing productivity? Please share with us in the comments below.


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5 simple ways to keep procrastination at bay

5-ways-to-beat-procrastination

When we want to get things done, it’s amazing how human mind can get creative and tricks us into any number of reasons of why not doing something. Excuses simply pile up and convince us why we should wait for some perfect conditions in order to get things done.

So lets approach this problem from other perspective. We often blame our procrastination habits for not having things done, but we can ‘take the bull by the horns’ and resolving those mental barriers.

The first step in this process is to identify which type of procrastinator are you. In this article they suggest there are 5 types:

The Perfectionist
This procrastinator is trying to avoid being embarrassed by mistakes or judged. They may spend too much time on one component of a project, failing to manage their time properly, or avoid the project altogether, then rush to finish it at the last minute. Of course, this may increase the likelihood of making mistakes.

The Impostor
Afraid of being revealed as unqualified or inferior, this procrastinator puts off doing anything to avoid that risk.

The Dread-Filled
When work is boring or unpleasant, we may procrastinate just to avoid doing it. If you hate what you’re doing or you find it mind-numbing, it’s tough to get motivated to take action.

The Overwhelmed
Sometimes, there’s just too much to do, and it’s hard to figure out where to start.

The Lucky One
Some people believe they do their best work under pressure, so they procrastinate until their back is up against the wall. If they have a history of doing this without consequence, they’ve essentially been rewarded for procrastinating.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these types?  Identify your three root causes for postponing your work. Be mercilessly honest with yourself and write them down.

For example I have noticed that number two often surfaces in my case. Since I have so many interests and I’m always curios, want to learn and share my findings – the environment might not always agree with me. It sometimes impacts my work that I end up not doing something at all. But on the other hand, this blog is also a great medium for me to beat this habit and things are getting better. You don’t always have to be qualified or master in the field in order for your opinion to count or that you are any less creative, artful, ext.

And number 4…if I have too much to do, it really makes me nervous and impacts the quality I deliver. So, I’m aware of my priorities, what and when I need to do. This wasn’t always the case but experience (and my health) taught me to ease down, make a choice between two or three important things and stick to it.

So, once you identified your type, the next step is for you to find interesting, motivating ways to replace your procrastination triggers.

1.First imagine how does look like your perfect productive and creative day.

What elements do you need to accomplish that? Write that down – every detail you think might play a crucial role. How much more do you think you would be able to achieve? How would that make you feel at the end of the day?

Now look at your average day and see where is the biggest mismatch.

Are you spending too much time on social media, watching TV? Do you sleep enough? Are you eating enough nutritious food? That everything adds up to you creative power and energy.

2. Do you spend too much time on one component of your work?

If I ever fall into this trap, I simply distance myself and move on to the other part of work. Time brings other perspective and the ability to find satisfying solution. Once you come back to it, probably you will resolve what’s been bugging you.

3. Is your schedule overcrowded?

Lighten up your schedule – not everything needs to be done today, by you. Find ways to delegate some tasks and free your time.

4.Your work load is to big for you to swallow?

Brake your tasks in small, bite-size chunks – it will help you beat that feeling of overwhelm and it will be easier for you to track the progress.

5.What is that one small thing you can do today to get you closer to delivering your project?

It can be something simple like organizing your stuff – it will give you the impression of progress and it will become easier to tackle ‘heavier’ parts of project.

Try these tactics, it will certainly improve the quality of you work.

How do you battle procrastination? Any tips? Please share in the comments below.


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A comprehensive guide to developing a lasting writing practice

writing_guide_practice

We all in the beginning have a motivation to start a new habit: we are pumped up, ready to take on that challenge we set for us and stick to it – being that healthier eating, exercise regime or writing habit. And then, after couple of days/weeks our motivation starts to wane, something comes up that distracts us or it takes more of our investment than we anticipated and what happens next? We are back, indulging in social media and TV instead of working on ourselves.

Having a lasting writing habit is like any other habit. Once it becomes ingrained in your subconsciousness there are lesser chances for you to skip it.

Here are my favorite tips on  making writing a regular practice:

  1. First, make room for your writing.

It means that you have to mercilessly evaluate and edit your schedule and maybe lifestyle in order to see where is your time and probably energy leaking. Writing requires you to focus, to devote your whole being to it, to find that sacred creative moments. If you start writing while you are preoccupied with other things, probably it won’t work – and you’ll end up being even more stressed because you are unsatisfied with your writing.

  1. Always have clear mind: why do you write?

What’s the driving force behind that urge to sit and record your thoughts? Whenever I feel doubt I ask myself this question and it helps me recenter my initial intention. Once you have that clear goal you will have that important thought to cling on, each time you feel discouraged. I even think this the most important part of developing a lasting writing habit: it’s almost like brushing your teeth: you are doing it because you want your teeth to be healthy and it makes you more confident. Treat writing the same way – find your best reasons and you can even place them as a reminder on spots where you will frequently read them. It will always give you the boost you need.

  1. Don’t think about the product, it will come as a natural result of your enjoyment of the process.

What I mean by this, many times in writing and other forms of creative actions we might be driven by fear (of reaching a deadline, being rejected, ext.). But look at it from this angle: you are going to do it anyway, so why just simply don’t let yourself surrender to creativity and stop worrying? Some of you might not agree with me on this one, but let me share with you part of my writing and research journey. When I was writing my master’s degree thesis, at that moment I was employed at the faculty as a postgraduate researcher. At some point my one-year contract expired, it couldn’t be prolonged (the funds were cut off due to political situation in the country) and I was on my own – searching for another job. New opportunity presented itself very soon, at the Institute where I was performing research, but the colleague I was supposed to replace was to be retired very soon -which meant I needed to start working very soon. As it was a government institution, it required for me to already have a master’s degree. So in the next few months I was working 20 hours a day to get that research done, written, defended in order to secure that position for me. I did succeed, but I think I could’ve enjoyed my writing more, instead of worrying all the time. And who knows, my thesis would’ve come even better as a result of that. I remember, it was exactly 15 years ago, I pushed myself so hard to a point I got ill. And it didn’t have to be that way. My most honest advice I can give you is to celebrate and enjoy each page you write, that’s what counts – achievements and awards come and go. Experience is what lasts.

  1. Connect writing action to some other trigger – make a ritual.

I like to write while I drink my smoothie in the morning – having that big mug is like a sure sign -writing is due right after – if I skip that, chances I will skip writing all together. Many famous writers are known for having that action, telling him it’s time to write. For instance, Stephen King each time had breakfast or drank tea used this as reminder to sit and write.

  1. Make yourself accountable – find a writing buddy.

This can be fun and interesting way for you to enjoy writing more. You can join some online community, meetups face to face or make a pact with an old friend and develop some rules on how, what, how much you will write and then share and discuss your writings. Many writing schools, like Writer’s studio that I attended use this technique where each week there is a different writing topic and later we would discuss our writings and get feedback. It’s a proven method that seems to work.

I hope this will help you to develop your own writing habit, one that is enjoyable, fun and productive. Do you have any tips? Please share in the comments below.


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7 most powerful ways to regain time for writing in the midst of chaos

productivity_writing_chaos

The more I write and search for inspiration for blog posts, the more I come across analogy of how certain natural laws that govern universe actually can be very well applied to our everyday life. If we fast rewind our memory to a high-school years we might recall the 2nd law of thermodynamics that basically  says: the universe tends to go from present order to bigger disorder. And does that apply to your everyday life? Well imagine: you can spend all day cleaning your messy room and within couple of working hours, you are practically at square one – like you didn’t tidied it up at all.

Sounds familiar?

We all live our lives chaotic to some degree. We cannot control every circumstance but we can put some effort and take charge to at least try make some order. And making that order can mean finding more time to write.

My first recommendation is to:

1.Have a clear writing goal

If you write for a blog or a book, have clear mind about what you want to accomplish. For a blog having in advanced prepared editorial calendar with defined frequency of your posting can be handy in overall estimate on what you need to write, does it require research and ext. Pretty much the same comes with a book. That writing goal can be a number of pages, chapters or developing your story concept.

2.Prioritize and reschedule

Squeeze writing  in your schedule like you plan other activities: your meals, working out, household chores. Once it becomes that ingrained part of your everyday life, the lesser are chances for you to skip it in favor of some other activity.

 That can also mean:

3.Getting up an hour earlier 

and writing during that peaceful time where dreams and reality collide.

4. Trading your evening TV hours for some quality writing time

Instead of being hypnotized in front of a glowing screen, indulge in your imagination and focus on your writing.

5.Using your commuting and travel time efficiently

If you travel by bus or train to work, this is an excellent opportunity to use this (almost wasted) time to think about our writing, jot some ideas down or brainstorm new poem/story.

6. Sparing some treasure time during weekends

Organize your weekends in such way that part of your relaxing routine be writing.It could be as simple as sitting down to enjoy  cup of coffee or if you go for a walk: use these breaks to elaborate your writing ideas or finish previous writing tasks.

7.Making space for writing

Putting physical order in your everyday environment can be helpful in terms it will motivate you to write instead of dealing with stressful petty things. Having that special, inspiring place you dedicate to your writing can help you in making writing  a priority – being that small gesture like  clearing out a counter to write down your new idea. Such small acts of generosity towards our passions and creativity can be a triggering point to transform our writing into a regular practice.

How do you deal with chaos and find time for writing?


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4-step process to achieving your creative goals every day

4-step process to achieving your

In our already very busy lives, the pressure to do more and perform better seems to grow, even though we stay with the same amount of hours in a day. The to-do lists are getting on popularity with all accompanying tools like apps, digital notebooks and ext. just for you to become more productive. Still, there is an underlying question: we might be able to do more, but with what quality? I am always for quality over quantity, since it is less stressful and you will be more satisfied with the work you’ve done.carnegie

So how you can organize your day, in order to meet all your desired creative goals?

Cut the long to-do list short.

So the first step in this process I would recommend for you to clearly and realistically go through your daily tasks/goals, make priorities and choose only those that are really important.

Define what’s really important to you.

In order to retain that initial drive for accomplishing our goals, it is crucial to focus ourselves on the tasks that serve our purpose, that will benefit us in the long run. Only when you divert your thinking to work on what really matters, you begin to more appreciate your time and what you do with it.

Notice when are your high energy levels.

As everything around us has its cyclic rhythm so do we. Life is made of cycles and seasons so we need to observe ourselves in what part of the day we are most productive. That’s the power we should harness as much as we can. Follow the flow of your own rhythms instead of pedaling against the stream. I’m for example a morning person and I build my daily routine around those pick energy levels to take the maximum advantage of it.

Focus only at one task at the time.

Multitasking is a myth busted long time ago. It’s a deceiving feeling you are getting more things done, while what it does it’s quite the opposite. You might initially do more, but the tiredness and stress that accumulates simply adds up to long-term exhaustion. For many years, I personally was very proud of my multitasking skills. Yes, I managed to do more things, but at the end of the day I was always left with some ’empty’ feeling, like something was missing. And that was strange, because the purpose of the multitasking is to do more things and get that feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, right? Until several years ago I realized that key source of my stress was that endless try to get everything done, fast and in short period of time. Than I began to declutter my schedule and get more focus on what’s really important. The biggest lesson I learnt is when you approach your obligations, strategically, with end result in mind, your focus will sharpen and your energy won’t get dissipated on meaningless activities. While remaining on doing one thing at the time, completely present in the moment, actually our effectiveness with time can grow, since it allows you to enjoy your work, simply to be immersed in your creativity. In Buddhist traditions, the philosophy is to do everything slowly and deliberately, with complete concentration. Put your mind completely on the task and try to avoid distractions.

If you have big projects, then break them into small pieces and do segment by segment, one step at a time.

How do you spare time for your creativity? Please, share in the comments below.


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Need a steady ‘stream of creativity’? Practice being proactively creative

Visit allwallpapersfree.blogspot.com

I have often written here about the unpredictability of creative outlets, the inspiration that comes in the most strangest time and situations, but can we really do something about it and take just a little bit control over it?

What I observed in my years of research and work is that we as humans tend to be reactively creative. It means that we search for creative solutions and answers mostly when we are challenged to do so.

For example:

  1. A problem or difficult situation appears in our lives;
  2. The situation makes us feel really constrained to the point it provokes us to ‘take the things into our hands’ and solve it;
  3. The problem is out of range of our typical solving problem skills – it requires of us to think differently and come up with a creative, non-standard solution.

When these 3 things happen, then we are prompted to react to a problem and get creative.

What if we take a stand to be proactive about our creativity? Actually, can we practice creativity regularly? Some experts claim you need to be proactive about your creativity to discover and manifest your true potential as a person.

We are creatures of habits and conformity. Most of us are dreaded by the thought of any change in our lives. But if we do make a little challenges for us every day, we are actually practicing our creativity, being proactive about it.

As Brian Eno puts it in this interview:

The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can.There’s no point in saying, ‘I don’t have an idea today, so I’ll just smoke some drugs.’ You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another… The reason to keep working is almost to build a certain mental tone, like people talk about body tone.

So what can you do to practice proactive creativity? For example: take participation in the activities in your community, take an art class, invent new recipes – learn to cook new dishes, travel and learn new language, try new sports or dance, eat with chopsticks instead of using fork all the time, change your usual route to work/school.

Try and experience something different form your current skill sets  –  you may be pleasantly surprised by the fresh creativity that will start to pour in. It’s a kind of preparation phase as B. Eno says, when unpredictable good ideas appear – you are ready to make the most of them.

We can design our lives in such way we invite creativity every day- it’s up to us.


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The importance of capturing ideas and how that impacts your overall creativity

tharp

There is simply too much information out there. And we become forgetful.

And we mix, misplace ideas, dates, terms, names…It’s simply getting hard to

keep up with everything going on around us.

As a creative, in order to nurture your creativity you need to be more than just well organized and  tidy. You want to have all your ideas stored, in one place where you can access them anytime for some further inspiration or the continuation of the project that you put on hold.

Why is that important? Author Steven Johnson, in his book, “Where Good Ideas Come From” suggests that is of vital importance to have that one central storage point, because every time you go to that place where your previous ideas are collected – that encounter is likely to strike some additional inspiration. Further more, combining new ideas with your previous ones, will produce something completely different that you’ll probably like even more – and this is how new, exciting and creative things are born.

In this enlightening interview famous choreographer Twyla Tharp shares how she keeps her inspiration intact:

Plain old file boxes, like the ones that line shelves in lawyers’ offices. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses, I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance.”

So what can you do to make your creative work even more creative?

  1. Assign that sacred creative place where will you put your ideas for any later reference and inspiration:

For many writers it is a computer, notebook or evernote: I for example like to put the articles I’m currently working on to be on my desktop so I can access them anytime. Once I’m finished, they are stored to a delegated folder, so my desktop is never crowded or messy.

pinknotebook

My creative corner and pink notebook 🙂

I always have with me this cute pink notebook as I still like to write by hand (sometimes I have a hard time to read what I wrote (I have a terrible handwriting), but persistence is what counts :))

No matter what’s the nature of your creative work you can design your own inspirational box, board, have that shelf or drawer to place all your favorite items and ideas.

  1. Develop your own system.

Once you have that special place, throw in some additional organizing – maybe using index cards, have folders you can arrange by dates or subjects… there are numerous options: it’s important to find the way that works best for you.

  1. Review your creative place from time to time: let out, to let in.

Now, as much as I like to be able to retrieve my ideas whenever I like, there is a hinder that we might get overwhelmed with too much collected stuff, items, papers, books, old hobbies we are not interested in anymore .. that actually can make us feel lost in times and bring additional confusion into our work.

In that case, I simply try to check in with myself – how do I feel about that particular idea or item: if it brings some bad emotions, memories, maybe it’s time to let it go and make room for something new to occupy that creative space. Honesty and looking really deep inside ourselves will tell us if particular idea is worthy of holding on to or not.

In such ways you have your ideas organized and accessible and you are not in danger of becoming a hoarder of trinkets and ‘maybe some day’ items.

How do you organize and store your ideas?

I had the happy idea that what I do not understand is more real than what I do,
and then the happier idea to buckle myself
into two blue velvet shoes.
I had the happy idea to polish the reflecting glass and say
hello to my own blue soul. Hello, blue soul. Hello.
 
It was my happiest idea.
Mary Szybist

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One simple, foolproof tactic that improves your writing dramatically

Sholem_Asch

There are many ways we can approach our writing. And if you are reading this, you are probably a writer who knows how writing is important: it’s how you communicate, how you record your ideas, memories, feelings, – you share who you are, and your knowledge.

But even more important it is how you build your world, your reality and the most deepest connection with your true self. It helps you sort out through the piles of information you absorb each day and you learn what you want and don’t want. It can be a remarkable foundation for our business and work as it gives us confidence and power to make an impact in a bigger, better, and more meaningful way.

Often in my posts you will recognize that I emphasize all these traits of writing and encourage you to just write – no matter what, how, where… These are free writing forms with only one goal in mind: tap into your own inspiration and creativity.

But today I will offer you a bit different approach that helped me immensely. Next time when you sit to write, bring intentionality to your writing. By that I mean to have more clear focus and understanding of what you want to write and why you want to write it.

When I’m writing, I always have three questions in the back of my mind:

  • Is what I want to say clear and understandable enough? My writing, for me to be satisfied with it, has to reflects who I truly am and transcend my message to the world in the right way. Some other questions regarding to this that can help you is to ask yourself: does it have the impact I want to create? Is this conveying the right drama, or humor? Is it thought provoking and what kind of value does it bring to my readers?
  • This second question turned out to be huge for me: Did I structure this for the best possible impact? When I was working on my PhD proposal, I remember I had an informal meeting with my mentor  and I came with a lot of papers, notes, ideas I collected somewhere during initial research..But the best advice she gave me then, is to make an outline, a backbone of my thesis which will guide me along the way of my writing. Why that became so important? Because it helps you set the boundaries in your research and writing – if you ‘spill yourself’ all over the place, without focus what information is important and what’s not – you will just get lost. It helps you to stay focused and on track. This is especially applicable to longer forms of writing –  no matter fiction or non-fiction.  Of course, you can edit and improve your initial outline as your work progresses and new ideas come into play, but it enables for your writing to get aligned with your values and contribution you want to achieve.
  • How can I improve this? With all my current knowledge and view on the subject I try to improve what I wrote, usually by simplifying it. I reread what I wrote for several times – not looking so much for punctuation errors or typos, but to make sure I’m satisfied with everything I’ve written.  I need to distance myself for a couple of hours or I leave it ‘marinate’ over night and that gives me the best perspective on my writing.

You become a better writer by focusing on the task at hand and recognizing what’s not working for you.  You are not satisfied with your descriptions or narrations? Well, dive into those and only by practice and persistence you will improve your weak points in writing.

These three questions enable me to strategize my writing, stay true to my self, my core values and share my knowledge in such way  that it has a valuable impact. So next time, in your writing try to answer those questions and observe how that influences your writing. You might be surprised with the results 🙂


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