Anatomy of a Murder(ous Writing Routine)

If you’re writing and marketing for your company or clients, being productive day in and day out is never easy. But when you add all the daily distractions that are now typical, it’s downright ugly. Here are 5 essential productivity tips to help you get more done (and guarantee you meet your specific and serious goals over time).

 

Here’s To The More Productive You

Apologies to the terrific 1959 film, Anatomy of a Murder, directed by Otto Preminger and featuring the wonderful actors James Stewart, Lee Remick and Ben Gazzara.

But the title fits. Many of us get so little done at work. Even when it’s not our intention, our checklist of tasks finished can come up short. And it’s moidah!

 

Here’s a great post on how some creatives say “no” to interruptions. Not that I want to interrupt your reading of my own post . . . ; p

 

You probably know what I mean. You start a day fresh and eager, with the expectation of getting a lot of things tied up, out of the way. Today is THE day you pave the way for bigger and better things to come.

Then—usually without realizing it—you descend into the frustrating madness of non-essential calls, people stopping by for quick chats, meetings that accomplish little. And focus-destroying events designed to support your procrastination habit. Like deciding you must get that 4th cup of coffee. Or mail a birthday card right NOW. Or search for an industry conference you heard about last week.

Suddenly, it’s 7 pm. Nothing you can point to represents substantive accomplishment.

So, again, why do we get too little done, too often? Actually, it’s because we let “too little” happen. Yup, it’s you (and me, of course). Sure, some interruptions are out of our control. But most we CAN control. Face it. Things have to change—YOU have to change—if you want to obtain awesome results in the timeframe you’ve set for yourself.

There are some great steps you can take to lock in more successful days (which means more successful months and a downright tremendous year of accomplishments). Here are 5 to get you started:

 

1. Have a plan for your day before that day starts.
Try this the evening before. Maybe before you leave your office. Maybe after dinner or before bed. Or, if you’re a major morning person, in the wee hours of your upcoming work day.

Use a daily agenda/diary. Or your online calendar. Whatever you’ll use every day most effectively. List what you must accomplish and set specific time frames in which you’ll get it done. Big deal work and more mundane tasks. Black out 1 to 3 periods where your only focus will be on the most pressing project(s). Make them long enough to immerse yourself completely and accomplish plenty.

Never again start a workday without knowing what you’ll be doing next.

 

2. Turn off that smartphone.
Unless you absolutely must keep it on, shut it down. Put it away. Enjoy the freedom.

For instance, whenever you start your day, have one last peek and turn it off/put it out of reach. At lunchtime, turn it back on, check messages, send some texts, whatever. Then off again until late afternoon or end of day. You’ll get used to it. And you may be amazed at how much better you focus and get things done.

 

3. Limit how often you check email.
Try the same 3 times a day routine as mentioned above for your phone. If you use an email program, be sure to actually Quit, not just close the window. You don’t want any notifications of incoming mail distracting you during your peak effort hours.

 

4. Prevent people from physically interrupting you.
Put a Do Not Disturb sign on your outside cubicle wall. Shut your office door. Drop the blinds if you must. Silence the ringer on your office phone.

If you start thinking, it’s weird to be so unsociable, heaven help you. During your uber-productive time, it’s all about you, getting your stuff done. You’re not being rude, you’re getting more accomplished. Shout out a greeting on your way to a meeting. People will understand. If they don’t, you’ll be able to winnow down your acquaintances to those who really support you.

 

5. Every day, review why you’re doing 1 through 4 above.
This may sound simplistic or idiotic. But I’m serious. Every morning, step back and look at the big picture. Revisit your big, exciting dreams. Think of how you’ll feel when you’re living those dreams.

Then, remind yourself that if you don’t change—if you don’t take steps on this day to get more done—your dreams will always remain out of reach.

 

Most of us know that being productive feels great and means actual, tangible results. Every opportunity to be productive that we let slip is a tragedy. Because the more often these “lost days” happen, the more likely it is that we won’t meet our goals.

And, oh, by the way, you can lose more than days. Years, decades, even whole lifetimes of productivity, accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness depend on you deciding to get it done.

So what are you waiting for?