Tired of Wasting Time? Make a “Not to Do” List!

In my last post I discussed some ways writers procrastinate, ending the piece with a few ways to avoid this trap. Here’s another tip that I found while I was straightening up my office this afternoon. Since I’m a morning person, I try to do my most important writing in the earlier hours and less intense things (like blogging!) after 1:00. If you tend to be more productive in the afternoons; just switch the prime work hours to 12-5:00 p.m. and do your easier tasks in the morning.

My Not to Do List

For between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on weekdays

  • Don’t take any phone calls (personal or work-related) unless they are true emergencies. I put my cell phone on mute in another room and have even been known to take my landline off the hook. Of course that trick has backfired on me several times but that’s a story for another day…
  • Don’t return any family, friend, volunteer work, or emails that have nothing to do with your writing career. This is harder than you might think but stay strong and look away, even when you spot an intriguing subject line!
  • Absolutely no checking social media during your work hours.
  • Don’t do any housework. This one is easy once you close your office door and can’t see any dishes, laundry, or dust. Walking the dog (or caring for other pets) also falls under this rubric. They will survive and you will both enjoy an afternoon stroll or petting session after a productive morning.
  • Don’t make any personal, professional, or medical appointments during those hours. And definitely no errands like grocery shopping. Not even going to Staples for supplies or Barnes and Noble for research books is allowed!

For me, sticking to these was hard at first. But gradually it got easier and now I actually look forward to be able to count on having uninterrupted work time almost every day. If you have any other hints or tips, I’d love to hear them!

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