Now that I am committing myself to my writing and editing career, I am doing my best to treat it like a full-time job and find ways to increase my productivity. Here are five things that I’ve been doing to keep myself on-track with my goals:
1) Using sticky notes to track goals
I’ve made it a habit to write specific, measurable, and realistic goals on sticky notes that I attach to the bottom of my computer monitor. This is a habit I picked up during my teaching days. I was like an octopus constantly reaching out in many directions, so writing my daily or weekly goals on sticky notes became a great way to keep me on track. I can also revise them as I go if I discover that they are not as realistic as I thought they were or need to be more specific.
2) Setting Limits
Distractions are different for everyone, but for me my main sources of distractions are with Netflix and video games. I love it when video games transport me to new worlds and pull me inside exciting stories with interesting characters. I also have a Netflix account with a growing list of shows that I want to watch. However, if I want to take my work seriously then I must set limits. I’m making a habit to work from 8-3 Monday through Friday without being distracted by video games or Netflix. It’s not always easy, though, because now that I’m working from home my PS4 is just a few feet away from my keyboard and it’s so tempting to jump into Destiny 2 for an hour or two.
3) Frequent breaks
I’m spending more time in front of my computer monitor writing or editing, but that can be bad for my health. In order to avoid burnout and fatigue, I’m taking frequent, five-minute breaks to drink water, eat a light snack, use the bathroom, or stretch my legs. I’ve discovered that these breaks can help keep me focused and productive.
4) Organizing and cleaning my workspace
Another habit I picked up as a teacher. I get distracted if my workspace is dusty or cluttered, so I’ve made it a habit to dust and organize my computer desk at least once a week. I have a shelf just for writing tools, paper clips, pencil sharpeners, and other office supplies. Another shelf has my books on the craft of writing within easy reach if I need to look something up. Keeping my workspace clean and organized makes me feel professional and keep me productive.
5) Making time for myself
Writing and editing is exhausting, so another way to keep myself productive and avoid burnout is to step away occasionally to recharge. I make time in the evenings and on weekends to do fun things, like play video games, watch Netflix, or read books for fun. I also make time to pursue other interests, like practicing Taekwondo at a local martial arts school or tutoring high school or college students in my other job as an English tutor.
These five things have helped keep me focused and productive with my writing and freelance editing career. These habits could evolve and change over time and I would love to hear how other writers and editors keep themselves productive.