Advice for Writing/ Studying/ Getting Stuff Done

Recently I had to spend some extended time writing talks.  At the moment, focus is not one of my strengths so facing a week of getting things done was a little daunting.  But I also realise it is something I need to work on as I need to be a better steward of my time.  So, here are my top ten rules for getting focussed and getting things done:

  1. Turn off Social Media.
  2. Turn OFF Social Media.  (Feel free to make any Brad Pitt references here). It really does distract your focus.  If you have the same amount of self discipline in this area as I do (none) then I recommend Self Control for a Mac and leave your phone in another room.  This also helps with texts and calls.
  3. Get ON to Pomodoro.  Pomodoro is a technique that breaks your time into 25 min blocks with 5 minutes rest.  Knowing you only have 25 minutes to write say 500 words (my average) means you get on with the task.  There are different apps available or you can buy a timer from Coles.
  4. Get off Social Media on your 5 min rest.  (Some of the more astute among you are probably sensing a theme at this point).  The temptation to get on Facebook for 5 mins is strong, but resist.  It will only break your focus and its not really a rest.  In fact, if you write on a computer like 99.9% of the world then get off screen time for the 5 min rest time.  This was some advice given to me on Facebook and it was the best advice I was given (ironic, huh?).
  5. Use your 5 minute rest for other things.  It’s best to get out of the room you are working in if you can.  I did pushups, read a Psalm, read a book (not online), made calls and checked my texts from the phone in the other room, rang a friend I hadn’t spoken to for a while (I’m a guy so these calls tend to be short), clean my desk, make a coffee.
  6. Plan your work and work your plan.  Use the first and last parts of each Pomodoro to work out what you are doing and why.  Why is this the next most important thing for you to do. And then stick to your plan.
  7. Be disciplined in the 5 min break.  The temptation is to keep going when you are on a roll, but you are doing a marathon and not a sprint.  You need to stick to the plan.
  8. Do some physical exercise.  Martial arts originally came from Buddhist Monks who needed to keep their minds sharp and so they developed exercises that would become awesome for action movies centuries later (truish story from the internet).  But the point is the same.  You need to do something with your body while you are working your mind.  Since I am not the best at this I use the 7 minute intense exercise routine.  You can find an app for that.  Ideally at the start of the day.  Think of it as an investment in focus.
  9. A new location can give fresh results.  Working in cafe or outside means you can have less distractions and new location really does change your focus a bit.  A friend of mine does all his sermon prep in his study but writes in the final talk in a cafe for this reason.  Also it means you have less access to Wifi and see rules 1 and 2.
  10.  If you are getting stuck on a section, move onto one that you can work on.  Momentum is important and keep it going for as long as you can.  When you have momentum then you can come back to the tough section with more force and it usually ‘breaks’.
  11. Get off Social Media.  If you use it, you may have forgotten that by now.  At least you will have forgotten that there were only meant to be 10 rules!

3 thoughts on “Advice for Writing/ Studying/ Getting Stuff Done

  1. So I think what your basic NB rule is for me to get off of social media? I kid, I enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing. Liked some of your other posts too, I shall camp here for a bit.
    Peace Liezel.

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