Last week I was reminded that I am a more productive writer without the Internet.
For most of last week, I was out of town. I've been hired to help someone write his memoirs, and he wished to meet in person so I could hear his life story, meet his family, and get a feel for who he really is. It was a good experience, but tiring.
One of the lessons that I re-learned last week was that it is much easier to be a productive writer without the Internet. I didn't have Wi-Fi access on the plane, so there were about three and a half hours (each way) for me to get work done.
Boy, did I get work done!
Without the Internet to distract me, I wrote a lot. I just had to load everything up as soon as I had Internet access again.
How Much Time Do You Waste Online?
We all need to relax at times. You don't always have to be doing something productive. However, if you really want to kick your productivity into high gear, turn off the Internet.
Every so often, I am surprised when I realize how much time I spend doing unimportant things on the Internet. Even research can turn into a time-waster as I get distracted by what I'm reading, or interested in something tangential. And who hasn't had a “quick check” of Facebook turn into a marathon session?
I realized just how much time I spend dipping around online last Tuesday when I turned out my most productive day in weeks. And I did it in three and a half hours. I could be done with my blogging work well before lunch if I were that productive every day. Without access to the Internet, and with no other real distractions to take my interest away from my work, I accomplished a ton.
Do yourself a favor, log how much time you waste online. Make yourself hyper-aware of what you are doing when you surf the Internet. Recognize when you go off on a tangent. Notice what happens when you look at Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Start paying attention, and keep a log of your online exploits. You'll see a pattern.
Turn Off the Internet
Once you understand how much time waste online, it's time to make changes. You can boost your productivity simply by turning off the Internet.
Even if you work online, like I do, this can work. Before I left, I spent half an hour gathering what I needed for many of posts. I copied and pasted research (with links to sources) into a Word document. Once I was in the air, without the Internet, I could write without distraction, and I had everything I needed. And, if I did discover that I missed something, I made a small note of it and moved on.
With concentrated time, I was a more productive writer.
Once I had access to the Internet, back at my hotel room, I loaded all of the posts into WordPress for my clients. I spent two or three minutes on each post, adding links, and that was it. Even with the small amount of research ahead of time (let's be honest: most basic blog post research isn't very time-consuming), and adding in the links after, I still came out way ahead.
I worked on the way back home as well, accomplishing a decent amount, but I was tired from my trip, so I wasn't as effective as when I felt fairly fresh on the way out of town. And that brings me to another point. If you want to be a more productive writer, write as much as you can, distraction-free, when you feel fresh. Working in bursts can help you get more done in a shorter period of time.
Apps That Can Help You Be a More Productive Writer
If you are ready to get off the Internet and be a more productive writer, there are some apps and techniques that can help you. I know a number of people who swear by RescueTime. This app helps you see where you are spending time, and where you need to improve.
Another helpful app is focus booster. This time management app is designed to help direct you according to the principles of the Pomodoro technique. If you think that you could benefit from this technique, focus booster is an app worth trying.
If you don't mind paying $29, you can buy Concentrate. This app allows you to set work times, and then block apps and other distractions during this time. It can also suppress notifications so that you can work steadily. And, if you use the app (or any app) strictly for business, you can deduct its cost on your business taxes.
What's your favorite way to be a more productive writer?