Friday, February 29, 2008

Do You Have Productivity Traps?

When you sit down to write, do you always meet your goals or do you get driven to distraction by a number of things? Do you feel like you work all day but rarely get as much done as you need to? Are you on your pc from morning till midnight and still having trouble hitting deadlines?

If you are a work at home parent, you might not be able to avoid distraction by your children but if your productivity is hampered by other things, it’s important to deal with it. There are at least two productivity traps that can slow you down. I’ll call them Writer’s ADD syndrome and the WAH syndrome. I’ll explain them so you can identify some of your own productivity traps. If you don’t nip those traps in the bud you’ll miss deadlines, have trouble meeting financial goals and find yourself “working” way more hours than you need to.

Writer’s ADD syndrome

Do you have attention deficit disorder when you are online? If you are prone to stopping and starting writing tasks, it’s time to become more militant. Many writers type a little, check email. Type a little, get into an Instant Messaging conversation. Type a little, answer the phone to the sister or friend who thinks you’re on the sofa watching Oprah and have all the time in the world to gossip. Before you know it you’ve sat at your desk all morning and typed only fifty usable words instead of your goal of 2000 words by lunch. You probably get paid per word for many of your gigs so you when you look at time and money it will quickly become apparent that you might be someone that needs to buckle down.

Getting Un-Trapped

Read your e-mails at set times. Maybe you want to only check every hour instead of every five minutes. Turn your phone off or screen calls for emergencies only when you’ve scheduled writing time. Schedule time for work and a different block of time for self-promotion or play. Don’t turn on MSN or Yahoo and resist the urge to tab back and forth between your writing assignment and checking your Adsense or Commission Junction earnings ten times a day.

While tabbed browsing is fabulous, it can also be a productivity trap for writers who work at home. Instead of being a click monster that tabs back and forth endlessly between work and other things choose to reward yourself if you want to read blogs, check community forums or play online Scrabble. Only let yourself do this when you hit milestones in your day. Set your schedule up for rewards and you might find your word count per day and $$ earned per day count up substantially.

The WAH Syndrome

As a work at home writer it can be tempting to do too many things at once. Family and friends see you as a stay at home Mom or dad instead of a work at home mom or dad so may decide to drop in, call incessantly or ask favours like babysitting when you really should be working. Define parameters with people in your life and let them know your home office is just as much a working office as their office outside the home. Take a lunch break to make calls or do laundry or wash floors but when you establish a working schedule, try to stick to it. Part of the bonus of working at home is the flexibility but if you are too flexible with your work schedule you become lax and this will hurt your productivity.

If you make a to do list and prioritize your tasks as well as set special time for surfing, chatting or self-promotion and networking with other writers you might find you have more writing work completed, more time with your family and a better work/family balance

1 comment:

suewrite said...

Hi Dana,

one of the ways I have been able to increase my productivity (although not this week, I've had bronchitis) is to divide my time up into 30min periods and write down what I have done in that time. For me, it is a good way of keeping track of things and making sure I'm not spending too much time surfing and reading interesting things.