I struggle with being productive, as I'm sure you do as well. I think most writers run into issues productivity killers. I don't know about you, but I'm easily distractible. It could be anything from a TV show, to my son wanting to play, to a game, or a book that I want to read. Or even just checking email or social media. I even have the RescueTime app installed on my computer to help me with this issue. I've identified three common productivity killers that I run into—and I think that most writers probably deal with these as well.
What is your biggest productivity killer? What sucks away the time you might have to lead a productive career?
It isn't always Minecraft. This month Minecraft has taken up a surprising amount of time. It's easy to spend time on one task after another in the game. Before you know it, time has gone flying by.
I'm not suggesting that you should give up entertainment, whether that is games, sports, television, movies, or social media. I think we all need to to relax and have fun. I have fun writing, but sometimes it's nice to just relax and explore some chasm or build up a village.
I use RescueTime to track my time spent on my desktop and phone. I haven't set it up on my writing laptop because I use that offline. RescueTime reports on categories, websites, and applications that I use. It ranks activities from very productive to very distracting, and assigns a productivity to score to the results.
With a big list of books to get out, I appreciate seeing where I'm spending my time on the computer. What about time spent offline?
The app does have options to manually input offline time. I don't tend to use that feature. I want to track how I'm spending time on the computer because that's when I have a choice. Do I play a game, or work on a cover for the next book on my list? Do I create a new tee shirt design, or watch shows on Netflix?
I love that I can see all sorts of detail and analysis using RescueTime. In my dashboard, I can focus on this month and everything marked as Very Distracting Time. How much time? 22h 27m logged this month, 33% of all my time logged! I've already talked a bit about my top productivity killers, but let's break that down a bit here. The order might be different for different writers, but I'd suspect that these three are in the top of many writers' distractions.
Lately, that's been Minecraft for me. At other times it has been Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft. I know writers who find the Civilization series or The Sims series very distracting. I love games, and they're a great way to spend some time either alone or with family and friends. I have no problem with playing games but I do what to keep an eye on it. RescueTime does have alerts and goals, so I might set up something for next month to keep a closer eye on how much time I spend playing!
I'd guess that this tops the list for some writers. I'd generally say that I don't spend that much time on social media. The funny thing is, with the RescueTime app tracking my time, I can see exactly how much time I spend.
Facebook tops the list. It doesn't seem like I spend that much time there, mostly just scanning through my feed once in a while. And really, when I look at that for the month, it doesn't seem like that much time. If I switch views in RescueTime, I can see it broken down by day, time of day, look at trends, etc. I also have the option to turn off access to the sites when I reach a certain threshold!
Looking at my trends for the past four months, my use has dropped considerably—because I can see clearly how much time I'm spending!
Is it just me, or do we need a different phrase than "TV Shows?" If you know of a better phrase, let me know in the comments! This is one area where I plan to start logging my offline time as well. I often stream shows through my Roku (it'd be great if they hooked into that as well) and sometimes watch a DVD or Blu-Ray. I have the app on my phone so I could easily log shows as I watch them. It'd help get a better picture of how much time I spend in this area.
None of these productivity killers are necessarily bad. By being mindful of how much time I spend, I can make more informed choices about what I want to do. What about you? What are your productivity killers? Share in the comments!
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Writer, librarian and illustrator, Ryan M. Williams, author of more than twenty novels, writes across a range of genres including fantasy, science fiction, romance, paranormal, and mystery. He earned an M.A. in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and an M.L.I.S. from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.