On Being Productive in the New Year

2016 new yearDo you want to get your book written? Finished? Rewritten? Submitted? Are you having trouble putting pen to paper and getting it done? Are you a master procrastinator? Here are some tips for finally buckling down and getting your work done:

  • Kill the procrastination tools.

We know how you procrastinate. The same way we do. Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. Blogs. Find a program such as Simple Blocker which blocks access to certain domains for a given period of time. You can set it up to work all throughout the business day or just for a two-hour window, whatever works for you.

Find someone you know and trust in your network, ideally someone who at least somewhat understands your work and/or someone in a similar situation who could also use the accountability. Tell them your goals, big and small. Check in regularly.

I believe in this tool so much, I do it myself, along with fellow AAAer Karen. We email each other every Friday with A) what goals we accomplished this week (and what we didn’t), B) what we accomplished this week that we hadn’t planned on and, C) what we plan to do next week. We comment on each others’ weeks and goals, and we meet up quarterly to discuss more in-depth.

  • Tell people your goals, publicly.

This is when Facebook can help instead of hurt. Announce your goal. Give occasional (maybe monthly) updates. You’ll get some cheering from your friends and family, and the pressure of not living up to your public promise can help you get to work and make sure you don’t disappoint.

  • Set manageable goals.

Your goal shouldn’t be: “Write my book.” It should be: “Write 1000 words per day.” Or “Send one submission every week.” Make your goals manageable. Break them down into small chunks so you can get a little accomplished every day, and so you can feel that sense of accomplishment even when progress feels slow.

  • Make it a routine.

That doesn’t mean you’ll do something 2 or 3 days a week. Do it every single day. Something that is routine is brushing your teeth. You never think about whether or not you have time, whether you want to do it. A routine is something you truly don’t think about if you’ll do it. You just do it.

  • Try carrots… and sticks.

I had one client who just couldn’t do her rewrite. She’d put it off for a full year after I’d done her edit. She knew she needed motivation but she just couldn’t convince herself to do it. We devised a carrot and stick plan for her. We picked a reasonable deadline goal. We enlisted her best friend. Then she made a promise that if she completed her rewriting by that date, she got to buy herself two new pairs of shoes. If she did not, she had to buy her best friend THREE new pairs of shoes. You’d better believe her best friend was excited about this plan and would hold her to it! We respond better to punishments than rewards, so be sure you utilize both sides of this equation.

Good luck! And if you need assistance with hitting your goals, we can help.

If you want to know more about what editors do, check out my video this week. It’s about editors at publishing houses, not independent editors, but it can be confusing for authors to know just what editors do and why they’re always busy and why it make take some time for them to call back.