Hey there! Welcome to the first in our weekly series all about increasing our motivation and inspiration. We’re going to look at practical steps we can take to be our most productive, creative and authentic versions of ourselves. So in the spirit of productivity, let’s get straight to it!

Well, it finally happened. May has risen from the depths of winter and a cold start to the spring, but with it comes longer days and the promise of change. So I think it’s the perfect time to reflect on the months gone by and move towards our writing and editing goals.

We’re already a third of the way into 2016, but are we a third of the way towards our goals for the year? Well, you know what? It doesn’t matter if you’re not. That’s right, it doesn’t matter how you’ve spent the last four months, not today. What matters is how you will spend today and the days that will follow, because, as with many things in life, we have ways to make things easier.

It’s time to trade ‘being busy’ for ‘being productive’ in one simple step.
It took me a long time to distinguish between the two and I learned the hard way that ‘being busy’ is more of a hindrance than a help. It ties your mind up with little details and you can spend a long time getting very little done without even realizing it. Our mind gains the same satisfaction from being busy as it does being productive, believing that we’re being effective when we’re actually just occupying ourselves and sometimes even creating more work for ourselves in the long run.

How do we step off the busyness treadmill?
Like many great solutions, it’s simple and overwhelmingly effective. The first, and most important, step in becoming a more productive you is to decide. I know what you’re thinking, you’ve already decided. It can’t be that simple, can it? Well, what I’m really talking about is a ‘shift in consciousness’. I’m not talking about becoming enlightened overnight, but moving slightly along the scale from ‘unconsciousness’ to ‘awareness’.

Ok, so let’s get practical!
Let’s start by writing down all of our writing and editing goals. Write down as many as you can think of. Then circle the most important ones. Aim for twenty per cent. So if you have fifteen goals, choose three. Choose the tasks that will have the greatest impact over the next 90 days. The Pareto Principle states that eighty per cent of results come from twenty per cent of our efforts. In keeping with this principle, we’re choosing our areas of extreme focus for the next 90 days.

Becoming aware.
We’re now consciously aware of what we actually want to achieve. That’s a huge step in the right … or I mean ‘write’ direction! But let’s build on this, because we’re here for results, right? This awareness must permeate our working day.

Cultivate mental space.
So making a decision on how we can best spend our time is an ongoing process. It’s easy, when we’re deeply involved in a task, to get lost in the ‘flow’. That can be a powerful thing. But unless we learn to cultivate some mental space, or to come up for air, we could be heading in the wrong direction.

How do I do this? I tie this in with my coffee break. I usually drink two cups of coffee per day. When I do this, it’s a signal to myself to stop and consider how I’m spending my time. I step outside for some fresh air and much needed sunlight (which is a rare thing over here in England) and consider whether I’m working on my most important task or if I’ve been led off down a busyness side street. If I have, I can adjust accordingly and get back to being my most productive self.

Start with a decision.
There’s no better time than right now. After all, now is all there ever is. Take today to seriously consider what you’d like to achieve with your writing and editing and what you can do today that will move you in that direction. One decision can change the course of your entire life! So use that power to your advantage!

As always, keep writing, keep learning and build a better book!