Thursday, April 21, 2011

Procrastination? Or Productivity?

By Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor

It’s really easy to be hard on ourselves for procrastinating. After all, everyone has a mountain of to-dos every day—especially if you’re juggling a full-time job, kids and a writing career. Seriously, I’m in awe of you. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed and beat ourselves up over not crossing off every item on the list. For my day, it could be contracts, revision letters, back cover copy, cover art feedback, author correspondence, submissions, meeting prep, returning phone calls, or any number of other things—even editing when possible!

But it’s important to remember that we need some unstructured time. Just because something isn’t on the to-do list doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Here are five things you might consider procrastinating that can actually help improve productivity:

  1. reading blogs – it’s vital keep up on industry news and make connections with other bloggers, reviewers, and authors
  2. watching YouTube – scope out the top videos to see what’s popular and remain current (because, believe me, it’s horribly embarrassing when you’re the only one who doesn’t know “Friday.”)
  3. reading other romance novels – if you don’t keep up on the latest trends in the market, how will you know where your project fits and how to compare?
  4. email – especially if it’s from readers—there’s no better ego boost, and it’s a fabulous way to build brand loyalty
  5. getting away from the desk – If I'm stuck on something--back cover copy or title brainstorming especially--a change of scenery and an opportunity to get the blood flowing can bring a whole new perspective that's just what I needed to get past the block.

What else in your workday do you find it’s important to make time for even if not on your official task list?

16 comments:

  1. "Friday?" I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't had dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend and they showed me it and several spoofs. LOL But I wasn't embarrassed about not knowing about it. I have watched youtube for research. It's great! Watched a jaguar cat prowling in a man's yard in South America, lie down, then play with his tail. :) I included it in my new jaguar novel. Otherwise, I don't watch youtube,occasionally a blog to offer a comment, and emails if they're important!

    But it's almost Friday, and I'm getting this annoying jingle in my head....why, why did I watch that video? And all the spoofs?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to check out "Friday"--I feel so behind on the times! And I am pretty good at procrastinating on the Internet. I love Twitter, Blogs and Facebook.

    Right now I have so many projects that I feel overwhelmed with the amount of writing. And my daughter is sick. Ugh. But I just circle what didn't happen and push it to the next day. I start with that first.

    I am not superwoman--wish I was tho'!

    Thanks for a great blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I get up every morning and deal with my house pets, then head out the door and deal with a couple of four-hoofed barn pets. Having pensioner ponies puts only a modest physical demand on me, but it requires that at both ends of the day, I LEAVE THE HOUSE. For much of the year, this means I get at least a glimpse of the stars, I see lightening bugs, hear peepers, and breathe fresh air--if only for a few minutes, but they are a vital few minutes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm in the boat with Grace. When I need a break, I LEAVE THE HOUSE. That's a big thing for a hermit like me but I have an amazing back yard with gorgeous flowers now blooming, butterflies, birds and a cat, Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, who is the King of the back yard! Ten minutes of watching him romp after butterflies and chase grasshoppers through the Sweet Williams and I'm ready to write again!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pets and friends are both good at making me get out from behind the computer and play once in a while. And husbands. We have a random Starbucks date once in a while to break up the day. Then I go back to work with even more energy - and not just from the coffee!
    Carolyn, give Boots Randoph Terminator Outlaw a scratch under the chin for me:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I need a break I take a long walk. I do take the time every day to check email and get a little reading in the evenings.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Getting out of the house is definitely something that I try to do every day. if I don't, my toddler brings me her shoes and says, "Mama, owside."

    No idea what "Friday" is. I do know all the words to about 30 Wiggles songs, though!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Terry - great point on YouTube research. It's amazing the how-to's you can find out there. Probably even how to avoid procrastination. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Christine--I often feel the same way, and a brilliant woman (ahem, Deb Werksman) advised me take your to-do list and pick three must-do's. As long as you get those pieces done, you can feel as though your day was successful--even if you still have things left on the list.

    I also find it helpful to break up the big projects with definite goals, especially when it comes to editing. Instead of: Work on editing TEMPTED, I give myself: Get to pg. XX on edit of TEMPTED.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Grace & Carolyn--I'm coming to visit. Sounds like you have some gorgeous space to rejuvenate.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Joanne--I love the Starbucks date! My husband and I used to do lunch together a few times a week, and having that break in the middle of the day made the end of the day so much easier.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Since I write regencies, my favorite procrastination/productivity break has to be watching movies with period settings. The sets and costumes can do wonders to jump-start my creativity. I just have to make sure I don't watch them around my thirteen-year-old son, or he makes gagging noises and says "Dukes, again?"

    ReplyDelete
  13. Walking my dogs and/or playing with my foster puppies! The time out in the sunshine and visiting with my neighborhood clears my brain and eases back strain - plus I just enjoy it !!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sometimes if I'm totally stuck I'll do something different like play a game with my kids or getting some excercise or even getting some sleep. Afterwards its amazing how things fall into place.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your points are all very good. But I've never considered blogs, Facebook or Twitter procrastination, likewise with reading any novel and answering e-mails. Getting away from my desk is still writing as long as I am thinking about what to do next in the book. Procrastination to me is setting down and watching a movie. This involves my senses as well as my mind and takes me away from writing. And I love movies, like tonight "12 Angry Men" is on, yet this is even a study in human nature.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great advice, Leah! Thank you for an excellent post!

    ReplyDelete