Lately, I have been able to free up more time during the day while writing much more than I ever did.
I don’t feel as stressed as I used to and have much more time reading books, going for walks, and even watching TV.
I attribute my current productivity to five changes I have made in the past few months.
Here they are without much ado.
1. Use a timer
The timer has become my #1 productivity tool. I have become very diligent in using a timer while writing. For example, before writing an article or working on a book, I set 15 minutes timer on my computer.
I tell myself I am only going to work on it for 15 minutes. I get much less resistance from my ‘monkey brain.’ I get focused quickly as the clock is ticking, and I get a fair deal done. Sometimes I go into a flow state, and 15 minutes pass in 5 minutes. By that time, I have written more than 300 words. That is a decent size article.
This technique is based on the Pomodoro technique, where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break afterward.
2. Only one priority per day
I used to spread myself very thin. Each day I will have a to-do list of 8–10 tasks, and I will go from one to another, crossing them off my list. It would leave me exhausted.
Now I only have one writing-related task a day. Whether it is working on a chapter of the book I am writing or an article on Medium. When that task is done, I am free to do whatever I want to do.
I get much more done this way compared to when I had a long to-do list.
3. Step away from the computer
My eyes get exhausted pretty soon while working on the computer. Previously I used to persist and keep going. Now I have limited my computer time to the bare minimum and use other tools. I do my planning on the notebook. I even write my first draft in the notebook and then type it up on the computer later. I check my mail on my phone, and I download imaged on iPad or iPhone.
4. Use Roam Research
Recently I have started using Roam Research, a note-taking tool that uses 20th-century German writer and sociologist Niklas Luhmann’s Slip-box technique to create notes. This tool is a life changer. I have been able to organize my research (still working on it) so that I can access it at a minute’s notice.
5. Get to the point straight away
We often get stuck trying to connect points or find appropriate stories while all we want to do is give the vital information. Write in dot points. Give the information and forget the fluff. Just like you, other people don’t have time either. Short is better. To-the-point is best.
It was close to 10:15 pm when I started writing this article. I finished it in two 15 minutes intervals. If it weren’t for those, I wouldn’t have written it.