Most people struggle with procrastination and distraction, I do too. Contrary to many people's opinions, I struggle to find time to sit down and get writing done because ever since I transitioned into a freelancer, the business has been picking up and writing has been dwindling.
Now, it's not to say that this is acceptable on my part. In fact, thanks to this realisation that I have lesser time than I think I do, I started making little changes to how I do things. Here are some of the apps that I think are very handy for writers with a double life.
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The aim of these apps is to maximise efficiency and give yourself quality time because quantity is not a thing.
#1: Pomodoro App / Work Focus App
Many people create this app. Things like Forest help to block out all other notifications on your mobile phone while you're working on something that requires full focus. I know that I'm very guilty of not replying to messages on my phone during the day when I'm 'off work' and doing other things like writing and running errands. However, I don't think most of those messages were important anyway.
Cutting out vibration and sound notifications from the phone is cutting out about half of my distractions when writing during the day. I often do not write during the day for several reasons. The weather is hot, my paying work takes precedence most times and I have an Asian father who doesn't understand personal time.
Getting a Focus App helps a little but it isn't everything.
#2: To-Do Tracker / Reminder
The reason why people do not have productive procrastination is that they often do not have a goal to accomplish within a specific timeline. I like to write things out by the week. I used to do them by the day until I realised that my freelance work is just as flexible as everything else.
When they mean flexible working hours as a freelancer, they really mean it. Parents can reschedule classes at any moment because I cannot blame their children for getting Covid. It happens one day before and I have to reschedule for the week or even the month, depending.
The to-do list and reminders help me to know how I can fill in these suddenly empty pockets of time. I usually know how long to give myself to complete one task. For instance, I can write about 1,000 words per hour if I'm being lenient with myself and I do give that much time because I don't want to end up burning out and putting a burden on my fingers. I play the piano and am learning the violin, they are putting a huge strain on my arms and wrists and fingers without even writing 5,000 words a day.
Learning how to juggle tasks and manage time is an essential skill for every writer and freelancer. It would be more efficient if I had a personal assistant to help me with all the things I'm doing but I'm too poor to afford one. Hence, the next best thing is the task reminder apps that I have.
Best part? They're free.
#3: Daily Fitness Journal / Trainer
I know this isn't very related to writing. At the very least, not a direct relation. However, that's because most writers haven't been writing as long as I have and honestly, if you've written 5,000 daily for a few years in a row, you start to notice certain things.
The first thing you'd notice is how much older you've become physically. Your neck is stiff, shoulders heavy and back starts to hurt. Before you know it, you're caught up with reports from the doctors about slipped disc and carpal tunnel as part of your everyday life.
This doesn't just happen to one author. I know several if not 80% of all the writer friends I have who talked about it. Personally, even before I was an author I had issues with my health so setting timers using pomodoro helps and I keep a fitness journal. It's a loose fitness tracker but I do keep this list in my weekly reminders. Fitness is not about how much you move but how frequent you move about. You'd be surprised by how much 1 hour a day could do for you in the long run.
I can't do push-ups for real. So I do other things in short breaks to help that strength build up like stretches, planks and sometimes light weight lifting repetitions. Every little bit counts and don't forget to do lumbar strengthening exercises because anyone who sits on a chair for more than four hours at a time knows how important that is. It's easier to strengthen that muscle than correct my sitting posture at any rate. Asking me not to cross my legs is a lost cause.
You don't have to adopt all these things but find something that will help cut out certain time-eating habits so that you have more time to do the things that really matter. Remember, it's about priorities and making time, not finding time.