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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It takes only 10 minutes (exercise)

woodyhayes

While you are studying at a Faculty, many of the courses you encounter (obligatory) you don’t like or you don’t recognize at that particular time you do really need certain knowledge and skills they offer. And on the other hand, there are  subjects you simply adore and you are always excited about.

When you are young and full of energy you simply don’t want to waste your time on something you don’t like when there is bunch of other stuff you’d rather do. So I made a little pact with myself that everyday, at least for 10 minutes I will do seminars and projects that I’m excited about. Every day, consistently! Why I did this and how it helped me? It helped me in two ways:

  1. Since I had to devote my time also to courses I didn’t like that much, by doing what I liked for at least 10 minutes a day, I made sure I wasn’t behind with what I really wanted to learn;
  2. By doing what I liked, the good feeling generated made it easier for me to do things I didn’t like that much.

At the end, I managed to graduate a year before anticipated time.

These principles we can also apply to our creative projects and make ourselves more productive and exited about what we are doing.

Now, here is a little exercise I have for you today:

  1. Make an agreement with yourself that you will work on a project you are passionate about, every day for at least 10 minutes. It can be in the morning, your lunch break or evening – it doesn’t matter. The key word here is consistency.
  2. Decide on which project you will work tomorrow. If you are a writer, choose a poem, story or essay you are excited about and that you are eager to finish. Skip those “I must do this one, but I hate it”! That feeling of resistance only leads to more procrastination and that is something we want to avoid. Choose a project that brings smile on your face and that you simply love.
  3. Tomorrow, at your convenient time, set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes and work on your favorite project. Don’t pay attention to the quality of your work. The progress you make each day while working on what you love will generate such good feelings that it will make much easer for you to jump-start the project you were postponing and avoiding.
  4. When the time’s up, stop! Even if you would like to continue working, stop and leave yourself a reminder where to continue tomorrow.
  5. Tomorrow, repeat your newly established routine.
  6. After a couple of days you might consider prolonging your working time intervals and see how it goes. If it doesn’t and it makes you nervous and worried you won’t have time for things “I must do”, then just stick to those 10 minutes. It’s important for us to have fun while we are creating.
  7. If you skip some of the days, it’s Ok. Continue the next day where you previously stopped.

I hope you find this exercise fun and applicable to your creative routine. By being persistent it can eventually help you enjoy more your creativity and writing.


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Conquer your next creative adventure in 5 easy steps

Erich-Fromm

If you have many diverse interests like me, you know how is sometimes hard to stick just to one thing you are doing and it’s so easy to get distracted when something new or more attractive appears. There are certain practices you can employ in order to stay on track with your project: meaning you will finish your project – not postpone it for “some better days”.

Step 1: Sign a ‘contract’ with yourself

First what you want to do is to make a pact with your self that you will try to follow your creative endeavor till the end. You might not be satisfied with the results, but everything we do has a room for improvement so we want to step back from unreachable perfectionism that doesn’t serve us and give our best to finish the project. Try to think from the end, what is it that you would like to achieve? Think also of your reasons for doing this project – you can even write them down and put them where you will read them often as a reminder. They will give you inspiration to deliver your project on time and fuel your passion along the way.

Step 2: Give your project a place to live and breathe

As you need time, you need space where you can get comfy and cozy while enjoying your creativity. It’s of great importance to stage your environment for creativity and allow it to freely come to you, in undisturbed and relaxed space. By secluding that little corner where you can work, it is going to be much easier for you to continue your work, follow up where you previously stopped if you don’t have to move your books, ketches or tools in order to do  something else. Your project needs place where to live, breathe and be nourished.

Step 3: Define your achievable goals

Here, you want according to your busy life and routine to set some realistic goals, like time frame in which you would like to finish the project; some milestones maybe you would like to achieve. Keep in mind that as you begin to work, like for example on your new novel, you probably won’t be delighted with your first draft – there will be many trials and errors before you tap into  your creative flow and you become satisfied with the end result.

Step 4: Give your project a structure

This is highly linked to a previous step – if your creative adventure is in writing, try to write a synopsis of that initial idea, give it some structure that you can refine along the way and adapt as new ideas and developments come into play. Having that line you want to follow will make sure you don’t drift away from initial idea and get lost in your own creativity.

Step 5: Try to avoid other people mistakes

As you prepare for work, my final advice is to research you creative topic and see what other people have done or are doing. Not because something similar already exists, but we can avoid many pitfalls from gaining wisdom from other people experiences; something may or may not work for us – as long as we are informed and gather information is going to be much easier to make some choices and decisions when it comes to our creative projects.

The last thing I can say is: enjoy creating 🙂


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4 simple tips on how to use procrastination productively

procrastination

There is always some period of the year, like the holiday season or when we plan/go on a vacation and at that moment simply too much is happening in our lives: work, family, home chores… and we do feel overwhelmed, tired, lack of inspiration and ideas. Yet projects need to be finished, house cleaned, meals cooked…

I have found that in times when too much is going on in my life, my creativity is not on the top of its strengths: I have actually notice that I begin to put off things, postpone for later when ‘I have more time’ and ext. It’s something I call saturation point and procrastination just seems an easy way out. This can also happen when you lack clarity about your project or you might have too many ideas and have problem decision making. So, instead of forcing yourself to do anything, take your time to procrastinate productively – by distancing yourself from the task at hand and finding a perspective you need.

My first tip is to meditate and relax.

When you start to feel anxious about too much things to do or lost in your creative project take 15-20 minutes to relax, deep breathe and meditate, find inner peace; center yourself around your initial idea. What do you want to accomplish? What’s the purpose of the things you are doing? What’s the priority and what can wait?

This will help you regain the confidence you need in your work and you might come up with new ideas how to accomplish your tasks – it’s a great way to get your focus back.

Journaling.

Journaling is also something I like to do – it’s like having a conversation with myself. Putting all of your thoughts, ideas, doubts, frustrations on paper can have not only creative but healing power as well. There are numerous ways how you can use journaling and free writing techniques at your advantage, but really any type of writing can help you unstuck and move forward.

Talk to a friend.

If you have a good friend or a family member that can understand and support you – it’s a good idea to have a chat – open up and look at the situation from someone else’s point of view. Maybe you are missing out on something – listening to different opinions can actually be a creativity booster.

Go outside.

Take a walk. Be present and watch how life effortlessly unfolds: nature is one of the best creativity teachers, inexhaustible source of inspiration and it’s one of the most productive ways to use your procrastination time.

 

Simplicity – the ultimate sophistication of your work

whitman

Once Jane Austine said that life has turned into a “succession of busy nothings” and unfortunately I have found a lot of truth in her words. We often forget what really matters and get caught in petty, trivial things that deplete our time and energy. About 2 years ago, I took a radically different approach to my life – mostly provoked by my health issues. I began to simplify and minimalise everything I could – from physical stuff, what and how I eat, my everyday habits, what kind of thoughts and conversations I “consume” and interesting – beside the momentary benefits like feeling more free, relaxed and lighter (in every sense!) a need for poetry was born again. And I truly believe in the saying “Less is more”, where minimalism and poetry enriched my life on so many levels.

Today I will not speak much of a poetry, but rather I will try to share my tips and views on simplification, which can help in your writing, work or business; to find what really matters, prioritize and do more of the things you love. In the long run, you will feel more content and accomplished.

1.Learn to say no and cut down on meetings

I know we usually want to please everybody, but try to analyze your obligations more clearly and think: are all those meetings, tasks and chores really necessary? Today? What can’t wait? What can you delegate? What requires your personal, undivided attention? Once you manage to clear your schedule (just a little bit :-)) you will be more productive on the things that really do matter.

2.Take digital sabbatical when ever you can

According to International Association of Business Organizing a typical U.S. worker is interrupted by communications technology every 10 minutes. It’s a productivity killer and developing habits of focusing at a priority task is of vital importance in gaining time –which is your most valuable asset.

3.Find business processes you can automate

This is especially important in our business culture – everything requires approval, signature ext. Sharing files and templates among coworkers can help reduce incoming e-mail and paper jams.

4. Lean is the new black

Once you set your priorities, try to find any gaps where you can develop your own shortcuts to make processes lean as possible. Focus your resources on the things that matter the most.

5. Go paperless

Don’t get me wrong: I know, for the writer this one can be really hard.

I personally love the smell and the sound of lisp paper.

I love having blisters on my fingers from extensive handwriting.

I like to taint my fingers with blue ink – nevertheless there are possibilities for us to cut down the paper work and therefore the clutter accumulating on our desk and in our drawers. I’ve included here this simple info-graphic with tips and tricks to help you along the way:

infographicdont-waste-time-but-dont-waste-paper-either-1-1024

6.Adopt the Zen productivity mindset.

This idea is from Leo Babauta’s phenomenal blog Zen habits, where he proposes for us actually to put limits and strict rules on everything:

Besides forcing you to focus on essential tasks that have a large Return on Investment (ROI), it forces you to eliminate the non-essential tasks. No other system forces you to do that. It forces you to make the best use of your time. It forces you to limit the time you spend on things, which means you have more time for other things that are important to you, and you are able to focus on what you want to focus on, instead of everything coming at you. It simplifies your life and makes you less stressed out.

In a nutshell, limit yourself how many tasks a day you are going to execute; do one task at a time – and put rules on repetitive tasks – like, you will check your e-mail only twice a day. It’s an edgy idea but worth a try.  In my post What writing haiku taught me about business the notion of simplicity also came forth, but we can always challenge ourselves even further.

7.Cut the the weeds at their root.

It’s so easy to go back to the old habits. Once you realize you are starting to overcomplicate things again, go back to the rules. Adopting minimalism as an entrepreneurial mindset takes time and effort. Once you see the benefits, “busy nothings” will dissolve by themselves.

But I say unto you,

Take this stuff just as a stuff;
Movement is movement;
Sitting is sitting,
but don’t wobble
under any circumstances!
My stuff has turned into a dragon
and swallowed up the whole world.
Where are the poor mountains and rivers and great earth now?

Yun-men Wen-yen, (Ummon), 864-949

 

 

4 Ideas to supercharge your productivity – the poet way

goethe

Frankly speaking, this is one of my traits and habits that I’ve never struggled with. Even from my early years in school, I was always efficient, on time and productive. Most of the time I managed to do several things at once, but always kept an eye open not to sacrifice the quality of work I’m doing. When I look back, I think that my poetic inclinations have contributed to developing of my productive skills. So, here are my top 4 tricks to keep my productivity levels high:

Think from the end about the task at hand!

The first thing I do is that I always imagine how good I will feel when I finish my task – meaning reducing stuff I need to do (being project, work or house related); how it will give me more time to do things I love – like writing this blog or working on a new poem. It goes with an encouraging thought that later develops into an encouraging process – getting things done brings joy and relaxation.

Amuse and reward yourself for any task you do!

Every task, no matter how tedious you can make more intriguing and fun. I like to invent little games along the way and when I’m satisfied with the outcome I treat my self – with some extra time for reading, having chat with a friend and ext. Element of surprise is something that brings humor, loosens the tension and stress. We are all aware that it’s impossible always to follow the schedule, that little things pop-up out of our control – see them as an inspiration, a learning opportunity for you to be more adaptive to uncommon situations. I sometimes even write little poems where I joke about these tricky uncertainties of life – and it’s a perfect opportunity for us to become more responsive. Predictability is a mood killer and is our choice to game up our working hours.

If you have to repeat, don’t get stuck in defeat!

Any chore you can treat like the most beautiful poem chorus. Repetitive tasks can be tiring and feeling like it sucks out all of our life energy. But again, remember it’s an essential part of keeping life balance and work flow – like the chorus in the poem or a song: it gives meaning to that art expression; it’s base from which starts new adventure in the coming strophe.

Finding your daily beat keeps your productivity in shape and fit!

In order to master your productivity you have to observe yourself first. When you are most productive? What activities give you the most pleasure? Take advantage of those activities for setting the right mood and build momentum you need for finishing things up. Once you find what works for you best, try turning it into a habit. Don’t forget to have fun along the way because in reality – we don’t manage time: we all have the same amount of time in a day; we manage activities and there is your chance to transfer your day into an epic story.

For your further inspiration enjoy the verses:

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.

~

Time is a wealth of change,
but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth.

~

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time
like dew on the tip of a leaf.

– Rabindranath Tagore