I’ve had one helluva hard time getting productive with my blog post writing over the years.
Have you ever had a day that feels busy and productive until you look clearly at what you’ve actually produced in the last 8 hours… and your heart sinks.
What happened? Did the clocks speed up? Did I go through a time warp?
Have you ever put off doing a blog post for hours… days… weeks even!?
That used to be my every day
Fortunately, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with writing productivity over the years. And with a lot of blood, sweat and typos I’ve tried and tested dozens of techniques for months on end.
Today, I’m three times as productive as I was, and ten times more relaxed (exact results may vary).
And I’d like to share what’s worked for me, in crystal clear steps. When you take on a few of these habits…
…You’ll double your productivity, guaranteed
Big words? I beg you to try them out and see for yourself. They changed my productivity, my business, my mental wellbeing, and my life. They can for you too.
Just to be clear, I’m thinking here that your goal is to sit down and without procrastination or stress, and with great focus, write a very fine blog post, or several posts, in as short a time as possible. And finish still full of energy and feeling well-rested and relaxed, ready to get on with your other work.
Sound good? Let’s begin.
Two layers to productivity. We’ll start with layer one….
The first techniques will show you instant results, so let’s start with those. The later, deeper layers, are even more powerful if you are serious about making long term change. I’ll call these layers 101 and 202.
This first layer 101 is beeeeeautiful – it gives you the freedom to get a tonne done and feel like you’ve had a very rich time relaxing, getting a few chores done, browsing Facebook, chatting to friends, and popping out for coffees and fresh air. All at the same time.
How? Here’s how…
Layer one (Blogging Productivity 101) has three steps:
Step one – choose your frog
This is simple but sometimes hard to do. As you sit down to write, choose the piece of content or blog post topic which will genuinely do the most to take you towards your goals.
Brian Tracy calls this ‘Choosing Your Frog’ – cos you have to eat it and it doesn’t always taste good.
It might not be the thing you most want to write, but be tough and pick the job that you will be most happy with having it done when you look back at the end of the day.
Step two – give yourself FREEDOM with a timer
The cycles of human concentration, focus and energy have been studied extensively. In the 1980’s Francesco Cirillo found that the energy of our mind, emotions and body acts in more or less 2-and-a-half hour cycles.
I find Eben Pagan’s interpretation of this to be the most effective. We ideally should work in a cycle of;
– 50 minutes focused work on our frog,
– Then 10 minutes focused relaxation
– Then 50 minutes focused work on our frog
– Then 30 minutes focused relaxation
That is one cycle: 50 / 10 / 50 / 30
Now, the key here is to train yourself to truly focus.
Set a timer. I like to use this one: Egg Timer (I’m using it right now!) but any timer will do.
And promise yourself that during that 50 minutes you will only work on that frog – your blog post. No answering calls, no talking to colleagues, no checking emails, no Facebook, no Twitter, no coffee, no toilet, no picking your nose, no nothing.
The incredible thing is…
It gives you FREEDOM to relax and truly work!
And the reason why I wrote FREEDOM in big old capitals is because this gives you a wonderful sense of freedom from distractions and indecision. Try it and see! I first thought it would restrict me – having a timer – but once I tried it I found the opposite to be true.
There is no emergency that can’t wait 50 minutes. It’s liberating because you know that 10-minute break is coming up. You can relax, no battling with yourself with indecision. Every time a thought about cookies comes up into your head, you just think ‘yeah cool, I’ll have one in my break in (check timer)… 23 minutes’, and you stay focused on the job.
Even the cookie monster could stay focused with this technique.
When you first start this, you will find yourself doing other stuff after 20 minutes. Just out of habit. Don’t beat yourself up. Just notice it, maybe make a note to do it in the break, and go back to work.
When that timer beeps, YOU MUST STOP!
Even if you are in the middle of a wonderful writing flow, you must stop. That 10-minute break is as important as the 50 minutes of focus.
Set the timer again, and during that 10 minutes it’s very important that you do anything except think about your work. Get up and move around (see below on how to break properly).
Train yourself to focus on truly relaxing during your break. Don’t worry – your timer set to 10 minutes will snap your attention back to work when it’s time. So for a blissful moment you can forget all about it
So you can TRULY RELAX – try it. It’s a wonderful feeling.
See what I mean by giving you freedom?
And when that timer beeps again, just drop what you’re doing tell yourself ‘Game Time!’ and get back to writing.
…FYI, I just took my 10 minute break! See, I practice what I preach. I feel relaxed, reenergized and ready to go…
Now set your timer for 50 minutes again. And continue with equal focus. Until you reach…
Your 30 minutes break!
When you reach that first 30 minutes break, if you have managed to maintain focus through both 50-minute periods you will get such a good feeling that you have earned your break. And you will be able to take it completely guilt-free.
Not only will you have done a lot – you might have finished one or two posts by now – you will also have taken a 10-minute break in the middle.
How you spend your 30-minute break is very important too…
Step three – balance your mental, physical and emotional energy
Writing is a very mental activity. So during your breaks try to do physical and emotional things. If you balance out all three energies throughout your day you can reach the evening feeling wonderful.
Do something physical: move, go for a walk, do some pushups, grease the groove as Mark Sisson says, with a little bit of exercise. Eat (healthily), drink water. Do the washing up.
Don’t spend all your breaks on the computer screen, checking emails and Facebook messages. Force yourself to get up, rest your eyes and move your limbs. Get some fresh air.
I keep a mini-trampoline (a rebounder) and a chin up bar in my office, and I want to get a punch bag too (but I’m also a little bit crazy so no need to go that far if it’s not your thing).
Do something emotional: call up a friend, talk to your colleague or family. Have a laugh, read a little of a good novel. Have a cry (just joking there… I hope).
Once you pay attention to managing these three areas, you’ll find you can keep going on these cycles of 50 / 10 / 50 / 30 all day long and still feel fantastic at the end of the day.
Not only that, you’ll get a lot of great writing done, and also feel like you’ve done all those little chores and distractions during your breaks.
And you’ll be a super-productive badass blogger
In part two of this post ‘Blogging Productivity 202’ I’ll lay out some even more powerful, much deeper habits and techniques which have truly and totally super-charged my productivity, and the day-to-day quality of my life.
So stay tuned.
And please let me know if you try these tips, and how it affects your productivity!
Don’t be shy, comment and share below…