Simplify: The Best Writing Productivity Hack




“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”

                                         ― Henry David Thoreau




I killed time management, yesterday.

Years ago I used to have a bunch of keys in my pocket.

I carry this group of little things wherever I go because I did not do one important thing.

And because I missed out on this, I suffered.

I got stressed.

I slowed down.

I have lessened my productivity output.

I lost time.

I had a failing grade in time management.

Now, what's this got to do with writers like you?

It encompasses everything in your writing business.

Be disorganized.

Multi-task all the time.

Mix-up things together.

Be in a chaotic workplace and you will not be productive.

Simplify things in your business and you'll be a productivity rockstar.

How can you turn yourself into one?

When you write, you close your door and forget about everything else. Go down to the basics. Write your headline first. Not until you can be sure that's the headline you want, don't leave that phase. Then make your outline. After that, fill up the segments with what you think are the barest of ideas. This will not only help you pin down the points you want to make, this will also help your readers see your point in a sunny-day-clear way. 

If you want to come up with something you can be proud of, don't multi-task. Silence your iphone, don't put clothes in your machine while writing, don't turn on the rice cooker while you do your gig, tell your teen to give you at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing time, tell him not to disturb you till the session is over.

What's my point?

Simplify.

When you put things in the most basic form, you can do excellent work.

20%, 30%, 50% or even 97% focus is nothing compared to 100% focus.

Apply this to writing and you have unlocked a treasure box of articles brewing in your soul. Hurting, exciting, kicking, itching, bursting to get out and eager to please your audience.

Yesterday, I threw all the other keys I have not been using for years. It turns out I'm only using four keys for my house. And in the bunch I carry all the time... I have at least twelve!

Now, I can look for the key I want to use in a second.

Simplify.

It works.


Photo Credit: Jack C. Haskell via Compfight cc

Stop your Clutter from Killing your Creativity (The steps you need to do)

This post was originally published on Lifehack.org



A disorganized workspace is an antagonist; a strong enemy. It stops you from doing your art. 

Indeed, clutter pushes you to stall. A desk in disarray is a time and energy snatcher. So, now that you know what it is, really, by all means  you need to devise a way to kick it out! 

But before you do that, let’s study clutter a little deeper... 

Everything; a pen, paper, your phone, your audio speakers, your sticky notes  — all are stimulants  —  whether you like it or not. When your eyes catch them, your brain recognizes each one, even if you’re not *conscious* about it. 

Once you see things your gray matter imprints them. Every tiny bit is registered. Each one occupies space inside your consciousness. Your inborn supercomputer treats every item as data. 

Simply put, the clutter on your desk is also clutter in your brain. (But that’s just one aspect of clutter).

Like your laptop, your brain slows down when it's overloaded. That’s the reason decluttering gives your brain a breather; a space to play on. 

When you do your art i.e. write, compose music, design, draw, paint -- whatever you do -- you’ll function much better if your brain has a space to move around in. The free space boosts brain cells to function much better and more efficiently, pumping up creative juices you need to manufacture art.

Step #1. Clear up your brain.

If you have a long list of activities, you have to start accomplishing some of them or else you’ll be slowed down by the thought that you have not accomplished anything. However, there are items on your list that are not urgent. These can be left alone for a while, but you have to do something about the urgent ones. You've got to accomplish them, pronto!

Reason behind: After you have done urgent items, you’ll find that your mind will be freer to create. On the contrary, if they are left undone, they can clog the brain like fat obstructing blood in the heart.

Step#2. Remove distractions.

Turn off the TV. Shut the radio off. If you really want to focus on just writing, kill the Internet as well. Open only one window on your PC and do just one thing — write. Multitasking is a big creativity killer.

Step #3. Tidy up.

When Patsy Clairmont began her career as a writer and speaker, she picked an unexpected route. She did not research, she did not free write, she did not drink a cup of coffee, or went walking for 20 minutes. Everyone was surprised at what she did: she washed the dishes.

I can see that big red question mark written all over your face. What’s really my point? She has a message for the world and she wants to put it out, but when she was about to start working on the message, she felt a strong nudge to start differently. She got out of bed and started tidying up her place.

In other terms, she cleaned up her clutter, and this very act positioned her to live more creatively. You and I should do the same. Delivering your message to the world doesn’t start on the world stage, it starts from the home front. From your closet, your office space, your desk. Eradicate all the mess there and make room for creation.

Step #4. Apply the principle: Less is More

Simplify things and achieve more. When doing your art, or any work you do for that matter, always remember to make sure you just focus on the essentials. Cut off the fluff. Once you apply this principle in your life you will create more. Talking about this belief of making more with less, I encourage you to check Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less”.

Three takeaways from Leo Babauta’s book:
  1. In simplicity is power — choose the essential and eliminate the rest.
  2. Start with small habit changes and take baby steps.
  3. Do one thing at a time to increase your effectiveness.
Don’t take a bite you can’t chew. Stop being greedy. Accept only the assignments that you can handle well. If you take too much work, in the end, you will suffer the consequences. To really be effective, take one step at a time. Study the load that is just right for your capabilities and sanity; accept only this.

Step #5 Journal.

It’s a famous option because it works. Journaling issues that are bothering you sashays you in reorganizing your thoughts. Whether it’s your upcoming meeting, your personal life or the struggles you are currently facing, writing down your problems on paper will help you produce new strategies, angles, and answers. Everything clears up when you write them down on a piece of paper or when you encode them on a screen.

Write down everything you need to accomplish each day and do them, one at a time, no matter what.

Unavoidable clutter
No matter what you do, in general, there will always be unavoidable clutter in your work and life. This makes it hard to focus on just one task. Based on the findings of researchers at Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute, the brain has a limit when it comes to processing info. So, if you can’t manage your workspace and workload properly (when it’s disorganized and overwhelming) your attention is pulled in different directions. This can bring down your overall performance. So, at its worst, it can ultimately drag you away from your art.

6. Organize your storage system.

The destination for your go-to objects is significant, but the most used items should only be the ones allowed in your workstation. (This is to minimize things in your work area). Remember less is more.

Regarding your most used tools, accessibility is the name of the game. They should be located within arms length. Example: in the top most drawers of your desk, or on a shelf very close to you. With just one step, you can reach for them anytime you need to. Not so important items, on the other hand, should be filed away and must not appear at work on a daily basis.

Example: your PC must reside on top of your desk, but your writing manual (whatever you use) should only enter the scene during writing and editing sessions.

7. Begin putting out clutter-free messages.

Find a way to set restrictions on your work. This will ignite creativity.


Sources:


How Noise Cancelling Headsets help Freelance Writers (Their Uses and Benefits included)


Photo Credit: Very Quiet via Compfight cc
This article was originally posted on Lifehacker.com 


Loud noises! They can ruin my day, anytime. I'm a writer, and at times I can easily get disturbed by various noises every day.

Huge trucks, cars, and all kinds of vehicles make annoying noises in my area all the time.

It's unavoidable. I live beside a highway, that's why.

Adding salt to the wound, and rubbing it on (ouch!), just in front of my house is a karaoke rental outlet (another ouch!).

If that's not enough, the karaoke's technicians tinker with their booming stereo speakers all day, everyday. See the picture I'm in? Irritating loud noises are my no.1 enemy. They stop me from doing my art.

How can you write, you may ask? (No writer can work in such an environment). I can't, but thank God, noise cancelling headsets were invented! 
They save me on a daily basis. Like a bedridden child given strong medicine, and getting up, immediately, after that potent shot. They aid me to do my craft. 

It used to be that the aviation and industrial markets are the only ones privileged to use these magical gadgets, now they are readily available from every retail outlet.

Do you also want to block the noise from your loud surroundings, so you can work? With this auditory wonders it's doable. Praise God, with them I can work on my writing assignments in silence. (Well almost, 'cause they can't really drown all the noises. At least they have reduced most of the disturbances.)

Let me show you how these headphones came into being. Here's a short history.



How do noise cancelling headsets work, anyway?

They utilize microphones and fancy tech processing to generate an opposite sound wave going against the one that's on its way to your ears. Simply put—it's an inverse sound wave.This wave on an opposite direction is sent via the headphone driver, and if done right, the wave (inverse one) cancels out any sound wave that may intrude. Say, while on a flight, the headphones supplied you will create an inverse wave to block engines' noises. Just to elaborate—with the sound wave, you'll hear lesser engine noise. Original Source: Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth It? Read on forbes.​com
The following video will help you understand how these headphones work.




The infographic below produced by infographicality.com can help you understand better how noise cancelling ear pieces work.


To explicate more info about this techie-laden audio gadget, active noise cancelling headphones utilize cutting-edge technology to emit sound waves that kick out ambient noises. This "intentional destructive interference" obliterates any incoming sound (especially undesirable ones) and generates silence for the wearer. (Of course, I have to remind you, it's not 100% silence that you get). You will still hear a bit of noise but at least they are less irritating and distracting.) Many noise blocking gadgets also employ padded cushions. These materials will supply additional sound barrier. The most comfortable, user friendly, and functional ear pieces use the latest audio technology to come up with pocket-comfy (easy on the budget) noise solutions.


Benefits of noise cancelling ear devices:

The best benefit of noise reducing headsets is the silence it creates. The people who have tried it said they can better enjoy their work and other activities since they can go about minus the ambient noises in their environment.

With these ear pieces, music is definitely clearer and more defined (naturally, more enjoyable to listen to), audio books may be better understood, and relaxing is more readily achieved.

Without the extra noise, users can enjoy the sound of silence (Almost that is). In many situations without the noise cancelling feature, pumping up the volume is the only wise option. This can be dangerous, especially during traveling on planes or in surroundings where disturbing noises are prevalent, and increasing the volume will, in most probability, become excessive. I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but this may cause irreparable hearing damage.

On a brighter note, using noise deleting ear sets will block outside noises and will prevent them from disturbing the wearers. 

The headphones will help them focus on several tasks much easier:

Using these headsets, a student can study in a room next to a loud roommate, a passenger in a plane can continue working on an assignment, or a person trying to relax at a subway station enjoying a crossword puzzle can do so with fewer disturbances. With the distractions pushed aside, noise cancelling ear pieces allow users to focus on their stuff without interruption, making them more productive, or if their just kicking back, they can have a more enjoyable downtime.

liGo.com has more to say about headsets aside from the pieces with noise cancelling feature:

The benefits of hands-free communication

Even for those who spend less than half an hour a day on the telephone, a headset can offer a welcome relief from the strain of having to hold the phone up, not to mention the opportunity to get on with other tasks that would have been difficult to complete single-handed. A headset allows you the chance to talk more comfortable on the phone, and if wireless also offers you the flexibility to move about your home or office whilst you speak (with most wireless headsets providing a range of up to 150m). Regardless of your requirements, you'll be able to find the headset you're looking for with liGo and get the best deal online. ~ liGo.com

Specific uses of noise cancelling headphones

Originally the ear pieces were useful in the aviation field in eliminating engine noises for pilots' safety measure, makers today find a wide variety of industries and markets that are desiring noise cancelling solutions.
ligo.co.uk carries a line of noise cancellation headphones with limitless practical applications.Aside from the call center industry, leisure, travel, and loud industries, adults and children with special needs could take advantage of the usefulness of noise cancellation headphones. Children with hearing and speech impairments can be extremely helped by noise reducing headphones. At best, the best noise cancelling headphones will obliterate low frequency sound waves, but permeates high frequency sounds to penetrate the sound barrier. A person with a cochlear implant could have a hard time doing their daily routines cancelling out ambient noises while listening to music.

The implant doesn't distinguish primary sound from background sounds, all sound is delivered to the wearer in the same manner. However, the ear pieces with noise blocking features assist to alleviate this problem by prohibiting incoming low frequencies from coming in and pushing back noises from the surroundings. With these mentioned advantages, people with autism or impaired focus could also benefit from the reduced auditory stimulation.

Photo Credit: Jabra
Infographic Credit: Infographicality.com