It’s no secret that most writers have full time jobs. Lots of us have families and other commitments too. So it can all become a juggling act sometimes. I’ve got two jobs. One full time, and one seasonal, which sure is FUN let me tell you. I also try to blog and vlog, as well as write my little fingers to the bone. Here are some things I do to squeeze more productivity out of my days.
Get An Earlier Train
I’m writing this from my work canteen. It’s 40 mins before I’m due to start. I have sacrificed some sleep and got on an earlier train in order to get something productive done before my day even starts. I don’t do this every day — I think I’d collapse — but I try to do it once or twice a week to keep on top of things.
Bring My Work To Work
I bring my laptop to work. Every single day. I have 40 mins on the train to work and sometimes 40 mins before my shift if I get the earlier train. (I don’t write on the train home because it’s usually packed and I can’t concentrate. I try to read instead to keep that plate spinning.)
I’m allowed two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch break at work each day. I used to lounge about on my little breaks, maybe reading, or on my phone, and then try to eat and work in my lunch break. Didn’t work too well. Eating took like 15 minutes of the 30, for one thing, and sometimes I’d get banana on my keyboard.
Now I eat on my 15 minute breaks, splitting my food in two, so I can use my lunch break entirely for work. It’s a small change, but it’s made a huge difference!
For those keeping tally:
40 mins on the train
40 mins before my shift
30 mins on my lunch break
That’s almost 2 hours more work I’ve crammed into each working day. That adds up, let me tell you. By chipping away at stuff like this, I’ve written 5 blog posts, an 11k novel plan, 48k of a new novel, and mapped out 12 vlogs in 10 weeks of doing this. Yes, this is nowhere near my old output from when I only worked 3 days, but still… it is SOMETHING.
I get two days off. I know a lot of people don’t even get that, so I’m lucky. When my second job isn’t taking priority, I will use one day for House Things and Family Obligations. Then my second day is My Day Off. I spend that day filming and editing the vlogs, or I will have a monster writing session. Monster writing sessions are my preferred working pattern. I love me somechunks. (I’d write a 70k novel in 7 chunks of 10k if I had it my way, but sadly life gets in the way.)
The app, I mean. It’s called Clear. It’s brilliant. It’s a cloud based to do list, and syncs with all my devices. During the week, I will make two To Do Lists: One for my “life admin day”. On there now, for example: set up my mother’s TV, take the cat to the vets, buy fruit and veg, yadda yadda.
Then I have a second list for My Day Off. On there at the moment: Record 5 vlogs. Edit at least 3 of them. Write at least 3k.
In preparation, I’ll try and do every single thing I can in advance to make the actual doing part smooth and efficient. I’ve mapped out said 5 vlogs, and charged my cameras ready. I will also read the last three chapters of my WIP on my last work day so that it’s fresh in my mind for My Day Off.
This is my word processor. It is amazing! It is cloud based, so I can write on my little laptop at work, write on my big laptop at home, proof read on my ipad and iphone… it is EPIC. It absolutely helps me to keep organised and productive, because my work is with me everywhere I go. If I’m in the vet’s waiting room? I can tidy up the last chapter on my phone. If I’m on the train home and don’t feel comfortable on my laptop? I can use my phone or tablet. It’s cheaper than Word, and much more helpful for novel writing. Check out my tutorial on YouTube if you want more info!
You guessed it: cloud based! Quick snippets of writing, ideas, new ideas, changes, blog ideas, names I like — ANYTHING. It all gets dumped in here. Wonderful for organising both life and writing things.
Yes, all this is a bit of a faff, but what’s the alternative? Live to work jobs that aren’t my end game and let my writing fall of the radar? No way. I’ve worked much too hard at this to ever give it up. Plus, I love it too much. I love love love it. I get all odd and unorganised if I don’t write for a few days. Writing is my therapy, maybe. One day, I hope to flip this ratio around and be able to write more days than I work. And still… you know… be able to afford to eat and stuff.
But until then, I’ll keep doing this, and keep improving my routine to get as much productivity out of it as possible.