If you want to find more time to write, you first have to review all of the activities you do each day so that you can plan better.
It’s not an accident when you get a lot done one day and then get behind on your work the following day.
There’s something you do on days you get a lot done that you might overlook.
I’ll get to that smart habit in a bit, but let’s first differentiate the art of waiting from procrastinating.
The art of waiting vs. procrastinating
I used to say that I liked procrastinating.
I prefer to be flexible about the mini-deadlines I set for my writing projects, and as long as I meet my final deadlines, procrastination never felt like a threat.
Perhaps I planned to write a draft of a certain article, but my writing for the day ended up being a few pages of messy notes in a lined notebook and a scattered outline for a different article in a digital text file.
If that’s the type of writing that happened that day, that’s the type of writing that needed to happen that day.
My top-priority writing project will probably benefit from the other work I did, and I can always return to it the following day to stay on track to finish it on time.
Then I realized my conscientious creative process didn’t rely on procrastinating at all.
It relies on the art of waiting.
It’s important for me to clarify these two concepts, so I don’t recommend the wrong one.
Here’s the difference, in plain terms:
- The Art of Waiting: the time necessary to develop an idea
- Procrastinating: you know what you need to do, but you’re not doing it
Procrastinating actually would be detrimental to my productivity.
And micro-procrastinating eats away at our days the most, leaving us with less time to do meaningful work that’s important to us, but not a top priority.
Micro-procrastinating is when you take a quick, unscheduled work break. Let’s say a micro-procrastination is a 10-minute break in between two items on your daily agenda.
When you have a long to-do list and almost magically get each item done with time to spare, you’re not micro-procrastinating. You’re going from task to task without taking an unscheduled break that slows down your momentum.
Not micro-procrastinating is the smart habit I mentioned above.
Stop micro-procrastinating to find more time to write
Micro-procrastinating throughout the day can add up to 30 minutes or more, so cutting back on it is how you find more time to write.
Seemingly innocent breaks often prevent you from finishing your responsibilities on time, and when you’re behind schedule, you’re less likely to fit in the extra writing work you want to do.
Identify what you do when you take unscheduled breaks during your day and designate specific times for those activities.
Here are three things you might do when you micro-procrastinate:
- Play a game on your phone
- Check social media
- Watch news or videos
Especially if you’re new to working from home, it’s easy to get distracted. Instead, plan for these activities and give them your undivided attention once you’ve completed your most important work. (You’ll also be free of procrastination-guilt at that time.)
In turn, your to-do list gets your undivided attention too. Effective time management boils down to staying focused and knowing you’ll get to everything you need and want to do eventually.
If playing a game on your phone, checking social media, and watching news or videos each take 10 minutes out of your workday, you could gain an extra 30 minutes if you postpone them until after you finish your main tasks for the day.
Then you can decide to do those activities, or you could … write.
It’s hard to say you don’t have time to write when you look at it that way.
What you could write with 30 extra minutes each day
Don’t underestimate the power of a 30-minute writing session.
Your work doesn’t have to be “perfect.” It doesn’t initially have to make much sense. You just have to practice.
The benefits of having 30 extra minutes a day are particularly clear when you look at what you could potentially complete over a five-day period.
- Day 1, 30 minutes: Brainstorm article topics
- Day 2, 30 minutes: Outline one of the article topics
- Day 3, 30 minutes: Perform research for your first draft
- Day 4, 30 minutes: Write a draft of the article
- Day 5, 30 minutes: Finish draft of article
Editing, proofreading, and publishing can happen during future 30-minute sessions.
You could also use that schedule to develop audio or video content.
It could be time to learn a new skill.
It could be time to enhance your current content with visuals.
It could be time to build an online course.
It’s time to work on something that matters to you.
And it all starts with first completing your existing responsibilities without distractions.