5 Ways to be Productive & Stay That Way

I get it. You are a busy person. You want to write your own novel, you want to storyboard that original television show and you have grown-up responsibilities to tend to. I’ve been there, done that. It’s difficult.

However whenever something is worth it…It is never easy. I’ve been struggling with time management like most and that’s why I love the idea of 15 Minutes of Creativity. So here’s a list of ways you can start being productive today and how to stay that way.


1. Write EVERYTHING Down

It doesn’t matter how good your memory is. Write everything you want to do, everything you plan to do, everything and anything at all. Write. It. Down. I cannot tell you how many plans and projects I want to do and when I think about all of them compared to the amount of time I have to do them, it’s overwhelming. I get stressed just thinking about it, which results in me deciding to go on Facebook or Pinterest instead of working.

Write everything you want to do, everything you plan to do, everything and anything at all. Write. It. Down.

If you have a list of projects that you want to work on, write them all down. You can start out by simply listing the titles. If you feel as if you won’t be able to fully identify them, then write a sentence about the premise of the project. Keep doing this until you run out of ideas. Use multiple sheets of paper if you have to-or type it all out.

Once you are done, take a long look at your list. Feel free to make edits or cross out any duplicates that you have written down. Rewrite your list if you need to.

By now you must be feeling as if you have taken off a great burden from your shoulders and in a way you have. Give yourself a pat on the back, good job!

2. Simplify

If you have written down your plans, projects, or even future vacations. Realistically you will not be able to accomplish everything you have written. At least not right now and not without the right funds. And that’s okay! Look over what you have written and narrow down five to ten that you would like to focus on. Then expand on each of those. Dedicate 1-3 pages on each plan/idea/project/ect and go over everything that you can think of for it. Materials, costs, characters, locations, the list can go on and on.

Then once your brain feels sore from all that thinking, save your progress. Either do a Save As on your Word Document or make a photocopy of your hand written list.

Now take that copy and be prepared to mark it up. Use a different color ink. I tend to use pink, but red, blue, or green can work as well. Contrast and visibility are important so don’t use yellow unless you want to squint.

With your pen, you are going to simplify your ideas into manageable chunks. If your goal is to write a trilogy about a young girl, cross that off to a single novel. If the list of materials you have includes expensive brands of paint, perhaps you can go on amazon and look for cheaper variants to get a similar result. The important thing here is to simplify and lesson the overall time and cost of your project so that you can actually do it. You can always make your next project grander next time.

Remember, focus only on the bare essentials. You can add the bells and whistles to make your project better later. It’s important to break down your project into manageable chunks, especially when starting out. This way you can take frequent breaks and enjoy the small accomplishments as you build momentum. This is just the beginning of your productivity, don’t psyche yourself out with taking on something more than you can chew.

3. Reward Yourself

This may sound like a strange tip. Why reward yourself? You have so much to do and you don’t have the time to waste by stepping away from your work. However I encourage you to follow the motto of this website and do your work in chunks. After each chunk, go give your cat a hug or make yourself your favorite cup of coffee.

Make sure to save before you get up from your seat! There’s nothing more painful than losing progress! Save early, save often.

I encourage small rewards so you have a light at the end of the tunnel to head towards as you work. As stressful as it can to be working and troubleshooting, if you promise yourself a medium pepperoni pizza when you finish the mini-goal you set for yourself, you will work much faster. Food is a good motivator.

You also want to prevent from burning out. This guide is meant to make you productive and to most importantly stay that way. You may get a lot done by sitting and working until your eyes start to droop, but then what’s the point if you’ll go back to your lazy routine for the following three weeks? Make small but consistent steps towards your goal and you’ll get there. Slow and steady wins the race.

4. Be Nice to Yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself. So you were sick and missed a day of writing, that’s okay. Tomorrow was in the past and today is the present. If you miss a deadline, then oh well, better late than never right? The point is that negative feelings and stress can reduce the quality of your work and can send you down an unhealthy spiral of laziness by constantly discouraging yourself from working.

Now I’m not saying, screw reality and deadlines.

What I am saying is, don’t let your self-esteem and negativity stop you from continuing your work. Don’t be discouraged by everyone else’s work and focus on your own. If you stumble, don’t fall- find your balance and keep on going.

You need to be your loudest and most enthusiastic cheerleader. After all is said and done, your projects and goals are yours. You are the author and driving force behind your projects thus you need to be your biggest motivator.

5. Rinse & Repeat

My final tip? Do monthly or bimonthly updates on your list, or set up a new list each month for more goals that you want to achieve. You’ll find what kind of method works for you with each project you break down and complete. You’ll discover new ways to cut corners or do produce high-quality results in half the time. By actually doing instead of thinking you’ll accomplish so much more.

Remember to constantly take breaks and to not go too hard when you miss a self-imposed deadline. It’s important that you look back on your work and remind yourself that by simply doing you are doing much more than you were yesterday.

You can only get better my friends. Have an awesome day!

4 thoughts on “5 Ways to be Productive & Stay That Way

  1. Pingback: 4 Ways to Save Your Work, Digitally & Traditionally – 15 Minutes of Creativity

  2. Pingback: Planning for NaNoRiMo- Part 1: Choosing Your Topic – 15 Minutes of Creativity

  3. Pingback: Tips on Making New Resolutions for the New Year | 15 Minutes of Creativity

  4. Pingback: The Artist’s Way Adventure: Week 8 Recovering a Sense of Strength | 15 Minutes of Creativity

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