It’s time to write!

Is it just me or is finding the time to write a challenge? There are so many things to do, especially when you add three kids into the mix. Like most people, I have responsibilities, but how do I successfully balance those responsibilities with finding time to sit down and write? When needing to get everything else done and needing to write are equally important, how do you prioritise? 

The short answer for me – I set myself goals! Ultimate goals, weekly goals, small day to day goals – whatever works! For the bigger goals I want to reach, I like the concept of SMART goals:

  1. Specific – Your goal must be clear and well defined.
  2. Measurable – Your goal should have clear parameters that can measure your degree of success.
  3. Attainable – Your goal should be possible to reach.  
  4. Relevant – Your goal should be relevant to what you want to achieve.
  5. Time Bound – Your goals must have a deadline so you can measure both success and achievement.

Beyond being SMART, there are a few things I have found make a goal even more powerful: 

  • Be positive! – Use “I will…” rather than “I won’t…”
  • Make it motivating! – It’s important that your goals motivate you. Writing down why – this can help if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually achieve your goal.
  • Make it visible! Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do.

So I have my goal. Great! But does knowing what I want to achieve help me actually do what needs to be done to get there? What steps do I take to reach it? 

Here’s where planning and avoiding procrastination come in handy – something I constantly have to work on. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How is that some people are so much more productive with that time than others? Part of the answer lies in how they manage their time or in essence manage themselves. So what are they doing right that we can learn from…?

They break down their goals into smaller more manageable steps.

Instead of saying “I will finishing writing my first draft before the summer”, plan to “write 500 words today” or “write for 2 hours every morning”. It’s a lot easier to get started on a project and keep moving forwards when you have smaller, simpler, more reachable steps towards your ultimate goal. It’s also a great way to feel a sense of accomplishment and see the progress you’re making.

They create a timeline or schedule for these smaller steps.

Setting aside the time in your schedule to write allows you to prioritise writing as highly as going to work or cooking dinner. If you don’t make time to write, you won’t take time to write! 

They get rid of the distractions.

If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Messenger are too much of a draw – shut them down and rid yourself of the temptation! It might feel good to keep up with what’s going on out in the world, but it’s actually been proven that activities like social networking can significantly increase stress and reduce your ability to focus.

“When we connect with people online, we don’t tend to get the chemical benefit of oxytocin or serotonin that happens when we bond with someone in real time, when our circuits resonate with real-time shared emotions and experiences…. [Web users are left with an] overabundance of dopamine that, while it feels great, creates a mental hyperactivity that reduces the capacity for deeper focus.”

David Rock, harvard Business review

In short – your brain functions better without Facebook! Don’t you just love science?

They maximise their effort for 60-90 minutes and then take a well deserved break.

First off – don’t drift back to social media during your break! Instead get some good, old fashioned exercise – stretch, go for a walk, do some yoga – all of which have been proven to calm the brain and reduce overall stress and anxiety. Meditation is also an effective way to reduce stress and boost your focus and sense of well-being. Just a few minutes can significantly calm and reset the mind and in the long run help you fight against depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Help your body and your mind take the break it needs to refresh, so you can get back to the task at hand when you sit down again!

They reward themselves.

No matter how small it is, allowing yourself a reward may motivate you to keep going! Save the really huge rewards for the big achievements though. That way you’ll have earned them! 

They share what they’re doing with others.

It’s all too easy to postpone or “forget” if you’re the only person holding yourself accountable and responsible for your goals. Share what you’re planning to do and as an added bonus, you also have someone to celebrate your victories with, no matter how small.

Some days writing just isn’t in the cards, but by using some or all of these helpful suggestions I can often find the right motivation and take the steps I need to help me reach the ultimate goal of finishing my novel! Even if it’s in teeny tiny steps!

Hear’s hoping you all have a productive day!

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