Do you ever need just five more minutes in your day? Maybe you want to edit another post, or write a short, or a piece of flash for a competition. But you just don’t seem to have enough time. I’m writing this post, because I always need more time. I’m pretty good at being efficient. But I could be better. I know I could squeeze another half hour out my day. But how when I’m a busy worker bee, mother, wife, friend, chef, cleaner…. Etc etc?!
Cheat – thats how!
Find work arounds, life hacks, and quick fixes. For the sake of simplicity I am going to break this down into three categories. Work – because lets face it, most of our day is spent there, Home because that’s where the rest of it is spent and Technology, because that’s where your quick wins are. Snatching 2 minutes here, 4 minutes there, they all add up. I guarantee if you start thinking differently and use your time wisely, you can start churning out the words.
There are lots of things you could be doing at work to squeeze a few extra minutes into your day. You need to stay switched on, mind. None of this taking a leisurely half hour to re read what you wrote last time (I do this). You need to be on top form for this to work. For the sake of ease I am using a typical office work environment, hopefully you can translate to your work environment.
1. How do you get to work? Drive? Walk? Bus? Cycle?
Walkings obvious, you can write notes, stories or pieces of flash on an iPad or phone. But what of the other methods – what happens if you drive? Ever thought of a Dictaphone? Can’t afford it? Ok, what about dragon dictation it’s free app, and as you talk it converts your speech to text.
2. Cars parked.You pick your bag up and walk into the office. But what do you do on your walk to your desk? Scratch your nose? Pick a wedgey out? Bimble around? Chat to co-workers? Or do the worst… check facebook, twitter or a number of other social media sites?
Get your phone out yes, but have a notes app, a writing app or find a pen and piece of paper and write. Write notes, work out a character problem, write a piece of flash. Can’t write without reading what you wrote before? Fine, start a new chapter, write a character bio, do something different, damn, you could just think about your novel if you really wanted. But do something rather than nothing. Because nothing, doesn’t get your novel written.
3. What about when your laptop is loading? My work computer takes at least five mintues to load. How do you use those five minutes?
4. What about when you walk between meetings? Same principle applies. Focus, write. Walking to the toilet what do you do? What about sitting on the toilet… other than the obvious! Some people spend an age on the loo, why not use that time productively?
5. Ever stand in the lunch queue? What do you do on your lunch break? Have a social? Catch up with friends? I’ve started taking my laptop, leaving my desk, finding a cubby hole, setting a timer and furiously writing for 25 minutes. If I don’t, I end up eating at my desk and working through lunch. Well, we all need a lunch break, it is allowed you know! I get between 300 and 750 words done in that time too. That’s a lot of words I might not have written if I didn’t take my lunch.
6. Ever sit and wait for people to turn up for a meeting? write notes, take a spare notebook, write a story. What about when you are in a meeting? I mean, ok, you need to pay attention to the work, but do you ever pay attention to the people? To the body language? What about a heated exchange at work? Use it. Steal ideas for characters or scenes from your coworkers.
There are simply hundreds of ways to get more time at home.
I’m, the chef in our house. But I find myself mindlessly stirring the cooking pot like a zombie. Why not put a note pad next to the oven, and use it. Yes you need to cook, but there’s no harm in writing the odd note here and there.
8. What about when you do the housework?
Are you mindful when you do it? What do you think about? Why not think about your novel, construct sentences and plot lines. Blue tac a piece of paper to the door of every room in your house. When you come out of the room having finished cleaning, challenge yourself to write 5 bullet points or a subplot, 3 dialogue sentences or maybe 3 straight sentences from your current story.
I talked about the loo earlier, why not remove the magazines and leave a note pad instead?
9. Own a dog? What do you do when you walk the dog?
If you have a phone why not write, spend time considering your next plot twist. Dogs basically walk themselves anyway right? :p
Now here’s the biggest time waster for me. The bloody joyous procrastination tool that is, the internet. More specifically, social media. It’s fitting then, that I take my own advice and cut down. I have 30ish thousand words left of my first draft of my novel. I’ve decided to drop down to just 3 posts a week until the bloody thing is finished (well a first draft anyway). But more than that, I am taking another drastic move. I do solemnly swear to switch the wireless off on my laptop when I sit down to write, and only turn it back on for research purposes. I shudder to think the amount of time I have wasted on various social media sites when I could have been writing. Or worst when I went to research something and a notification came up which I thought ‘I’ll just check it quickly.’ The thing is, I’ve tried to be good before. But the only sure fire method of ensuring I don’t procrastinate is by switching it off.
I don’t need to list it all here, there are dozens of tech blogs that can do it better than me. I mentioned Dragon Dictation earlier. But there are lots of apps and programmes that sync up between phones and iPads and laptops, like Evernote.
Here’s The Top Ten Apps For Writers from the Huffington Post.
Here’s the 20+ top iPad apps for writers from the Daily Genius.
And because I’m not biased to iPhones (I am) here’s a list of the top android apps for writers.
And last but not least The Best Apps for Any Kind of Writing from Lifehacker.
Did I leave anything out? What are your most efficient tips and tricks for more writing?