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Make A Game Of Writing Productivity

writing prodcutivityA Guest Post by Amelia Ramstead blogs about writing.

I’m fairly new to this whole writing thing.  I’ve learned a lot, and encountered a number of problems I hadn’t anticipated.  I detailed one of these in a recent blog post, The Productivity Game.  Turns out I’m not exactly the only one to be stymied by too much to do and plenty of time in which to do it.

I suppose most people wouldn’t complain about that problem, and there are certainly worse ones to have.  But it can make getting any actual work done pretty challenging, and that will keep you from making money with your writing.

A number of possible solutions for the problem were suggested:

  1. Make a list, give everything a numerical value based on priority, and do the jobs in that order.
  2. Rate your jobs based on how fun they are.  Do the less enjoyable ones first then reward yourself with the fun ones.
  3. Rate your jobs based on how fun they are.  Do the more enjoyable ones first, so you are all warmed up for the less fun ones.



These are certainly great suggestions and will work just fine.  But they’re just so darn logical!  I tend to be inspired by the unusual, the unexpected, and the serendipitous (maybe that’s why I became a freelance writer!).  I want a dash of spice in my day!

So I got to thinking.  I titled my post “The Productivity Game” – what if I turned it into an actual game?  So without any further ado, I now present my rules for playing (subject to change whenever the heck I feel like it, of course).

  1.  List all the different projects that need some love today.  Note—Items with a deadline closing in are exempt and should be done first!
  2. Number each item on the list.
  3. Choose a favorite random decision making tool.  If you are a geek like me, you might have a set of dice lying about that go higher than six.  You could use a random number generator app on your phone.  If all else fails, go with “einie-meinie-mynie-mo.”

  4. You should now have a project.  If you still find yourself looking for ways to avoid work, set a timer for twenty minutes and commit to working solidly for that time.  I find that by the time the bell rings, I’m happily involved in my work and I’m barely aware of turning off the timer and finishing whatever I’m working on.  If it’s a longer project, like an e-book, you can either reset the timer (if you’re in the groove) or take a little break.
  5. Reward yourself.  I’m not above a little bribery, even to myself.  A quick snack, some good snuggle time with my daughter, a quick trip over to Facebook… these are all great rewards for me.

Hopefully my little game will resonate with you, or you’ll devise one of your own liking.  Sometimes the element of surprise is just what you need to create a jolt of inspiration!

Freelance writer and editor Amelia Ramstead blogs about writing at ameliaramstead.blogspot.com and about family money management at payingourway.blogspot.com.  When she’s not playing with her two kids (three if you count her husband), she enjoys slaying computer-generated dragons.  For more information, please visit ameeramstead.com.  

How do you help yourself be more productive?

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Whew..sounds like a good problem to me to have. 🙂 I’m in the process of just starting and trying to find jobs!
    Ellen recently posted..Half dozen of one, six of the otherMy Profile

    • Ellen, remember none of us were born knowing how to be a writer – we all were at the just starting place once.

  • Hey Amelia,

    Randomness is good! I make lots of my decisions randomly and thought I might be the only person who does that. I’m just not much of a decision maker and it ultimately doesn’t matter; if I’ve got 3 projects to work on today, I have to work on all of them.

    And turning work into a game is always a good idea. I’m at the point now where I don’t call it ‘work’ anymore. When people ask what I do for work, I tell them, ‘I don’t work. I write.’

    Great post!

  • We’re on the same wavelength about making work a game. I use the list randomizer at random.org, and force myself to tackle the chosen task for a minimum of 20 minutes. And I reward myself between tasks. This method got me started on all sorts of tasks I had put off for months. Great post!

  • Love your ideas! Productivity is a big chunk of the game and being the best Productive Creative that you can be starts with what you put into your body…it helps you to organize your thoughts well enough to implement the ideas in your post:) I have posted a survey regarding health and productivity if you would like to take part in it…5 short questions…would LOVE your input! http://taniadakka.com/?p=783

  • Stephan Hilson

    Sometimes I feel that I should feel encourage in increasing my work productivity. That’s why I agree that rewarding oneself and getting breaks are really important. The actual work is really challenging. If I am getting motivated with the lists, which I made, then my work will be lighter and will have more direction. Thanks for the tips.
    Stephan Hilson recently posted..Comparateur de forfaits mobilesMy Profile

  • Hi Amelia,

    I have found the best way to be a productive writer is to always work ahead of myself. What I mean by this is that I always start with a short statement of what this particular article is trying to achieve.

    I then scribble down a couple of the most important bullet points which I want to include or ideas I feel that will make the article or what I’m writing interesting.

    I may have 20 or 30 such ideas under way and I keep revisiting them and adding my ideas and thoughts until I become crystal clear in what I’m going to write.

    It’s a simple formula but always works for me.

    Kind regards

    Kevin

    • I have a notebook full of “partial pieces”! I’m constantly coming up with other stuff to write and I have to write them down or I forget. Then I look at them and feel completely overwhelmed!

      Sometimes all I need is something to point me in one direction and say “Go!”
      Amelia Ramstead recently posted..It’s a Matter of DegreeMy Profile

      • I know what you mean… I use idea files the same way.

    • Kevin, that sounds sort of similar to my statement that every piece of writing needs a purpose statement. https://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2009/02/every-writing-project-needs-a-purpose-statement/ I like the way you keep many going at once.

    • That sounds quite familiar to how I work, Kevin – except that I have two pools of ideas: one which is just a short idea, wheras I have 10 or so articles that I work with in much the same way you describe.

      Like you, I also try to concisely summarize the substance of the article before I flesh things out; I’ve found the SCORRE method (http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-use-evernote-as-a-blogger.html) somewhat interesting, but must admit that I’m more comfortable with letting an article take shape form in a more natural manner. For the time being, such a framework feels excessively rigid.

      /Jørgen
      Jørgen Sundgot recently posted..7 leadership lessons from SantaMy Profile

  • I try to get myself being more productive by walking away from the computer for ten minutes at a time every time I feel myself starting to get anxious about what I should be doing or are doing on the net. Just a little break away makes all the difference to me , I get much more work done that way. Of course some chocolate does help to :))

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