I need a lot of focus to succeed as a writer, a content marketer, a guest blogger and all those other hats I wear on a daily basis. And I’m not a very focused person. So I need a few tools to succeed as a writer.
When the third person this week asked me how I get everything done that I do on a daily basis, I knew it was time to fess up. I need to tell what tools I’m using to help me get through my day without losing my mind or the contracts I have with clients.
Now I have to tell you that I’m a bit of a scatterbrain. I can’t stay focused on one thing for an extended period of time. I lose focus and before long I’m busy fiddling with everything but work.
That’s why I do so many different things. At the moment I’m writing a novel, starting a new membership website for writers, doing the SEO for various company websites, freelancing as a content writer, doing some guest blogging and doing online networking for a recruiter.
I need to fill my day with a variety of things while being able to focus on each task at hand.
A writer’s best tools are sometimes not so obvious
The obvious tools I have are of course my laptop, a notebook and my voice recognition software (which I rarely use because it doesn’t quite understand my Afrikaans Aussie accent!). But when it comes to a writer’s best tools, I have three very valuable ones without which I can’t get through the day.
My Google Calendar is always open on my laptop. On there I have a to-do-list that keeps me on track.
It often happens that, while I’m doing one thing, I will think of a great article for a blog post or some way in which I can better the SEO on a client’s website. When this happens, I quickly click on the calendar and just type in the idea I had in the corresponding space. The times I haven’t done this, I would later sit, trying to remember what on earth my great idea was.
When I have a meeting, a family birthday or some other event that needs to be on the calendar, I just slot it in and move the rest of my list up to make space for whatever is happening.
I love the reminders Google Calendar has built in there. It can be set to either send me an e-mail or to send a message to my phone. When I have an important deadline looming, I may set it to send me a reminder the day before. If it’s a meeting I have to attend, I may have it send an e-mail reminder the previous day so I can prepare for the meeting and a reminder to my phone about an hour or so before the actual meeting. Without that final reminder, I have been known to get lost in my writing and completely miss important meetings!
Every kind of task on my calendar is marked in a different colour. It makes it easy to spot what work I have to do that day. And the line that moves down during the day really gives me a feeling of accomplishment as I see it passing across every task as I get it done.
My Buffer App
There is a free version which allows you to schedule a limited number of posts ahead of time. For around $10 a month you are able to schedule an unlimited number of posts to as many as 12 different platforms.
Buffer allows me to show my face on social media at different times of the day, even when I’m not online.
How does it work? I take an hour each day for social media and to catch up on some reading and my e-mails. As I see articles I think some of my followers will be interested in, I just buffer it. It then goes live on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or whichever platform I scheduled it for. Some articles I may even put on more than one platform. This allows me the freedom to tweet and post articles at different times of the day, without having to keep returning to my social media pages. In this way I can concentrate on my other work while my buffer is ‘communicating’ on my behalf.
Another great feature of Buffer is the analytics. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to know how their posts on social media are doing?
My Desktop Timer
Especially when I’m writing, I tend to lose track of time. One afternoon a friend called and while trying to run to the phone, my legs gave way under me. I then realized that I had been writing for almost 5 hours without getting up once and both my legs had fallen asleep.
We all know that it’s unhealthy to sit for such long periods. But as a writer, how do you remind yourself to get up every once in a while?
I believe the writer’s best tool in this case is a simple reminder that time has passed and it’s time to stretch those legs and get a drink of water. I have an online timer downloaded to my laptop. It is set to go off after 50 minutes. I have it in a small floating window on my laptop and the alarm is set to the beautiful sound of birds singing.
When I’m doing something I’m not enjoying, a quick glance at the timer shows me how time has passed and I’m motivated to continue for a few more minutes. When I’m working on an article or some other writing, it reminds me to hurry up because in a few minutes I need to move on to the next task at hand.
After the 50 minutes have passed, I get up for a few minutes. During this time I have a drink of water, go outside to the lake or even make a quick phone call to a friend. But I make sure not to stretch this time out longer than 10 minutes.
When I then get back to my laptop, I’m refreshed, I check my calendar to see what my next task is and I set my timer for my next 50 minute session.
I know that every writer has his or her best tools that they depend on. Which are your writer’s best tools?