8 Writing Productivity Methods To Try Out

There are a lot of productivity methods and techniques out there. The key is to experiment. You should figure out not only what works for you, but what works for your specific writing goal. In this post, I suggest 8 writing productivity methods to try out. 

1. Do you have a fairly straightforward writing task that you have been putting off?

Try: The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique breaks down work into intervals using a timer. Typically, you work on a task for 25 minutes (a pomodoro), then take a 3-5 minute break, then reset the timer to repeat the process by starting another pomodoro. After 4 pomodoros you can take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.  This number of pomodoros you do and the length of your breaks can definitely be modified. This can be a really useful method for focusing on and completing writing tasks that you have been putting off.

For more information, check out: https://cirillocompany.de/pages/pomodoro-technique

2. Do you need to make a better to-do list for your writing goals?

Try: SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timeline and aims to help users define how they are going to execute their to-list. This method can help writers create concrete to-dos. I use SMART as part of my method for dealing with challenging writings tasks.

For more information, check out:  http://charlesduhigg.com/infographic-tackle-your-to-do-list/ & https://habitsofatravellingarchaeologist.com/a-method-for-completing-challenging-tasks/ & Smarter Faster Better

3. Do you have a number of different writing tasks and you’re not sure where to start?

Try: The Eisenhower Box

The Eisenhower Box helps you prioritize by grouping tasks on based on urgency and importance. The box is made up of four quadrants where tasks are grouped as:

  1. urgent and important (Do First)
  2. important, but not urgent (Scheduled)
  3. urgent, but not important (Delegate)
  4. neither urgent nor important (Don’t Do)

This box can be a useful method for not only setting priorities, but making writing a consistent habit by scheduling time to work on important, but not urgent writing goals.

For more information, check out: http://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/ & https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-box & https://medium.com/the-mission/the-eisenhower-method-for-taking-action-how-to-distinguish-between-urgent-and-important-tasks-895339a13dea

4. Are you well into writing, but your manuscript is a jumble of notes, semi-formed paragraphs, and personal reminders?

Try: The Working Sheet 

The Working Sheet is a method that provides you that blank page when you really need it. It allows you to make progress on your manuscript without disrupting the progress you have already made.  It can also help you avoid getting side-tracked within your chaotic draft.

For more information, check out: https://habitsofatravellingarchaeologist.com/a-method-for-dealing-with-chaotic-writing-drafts/

5. Are you writing about a subject that is inducing imposter syndrome?

Try: The Feynman Notebook

The Feynman Notebook is a dedicated space for learning something new or spending dedicated time on a topic you want to learn more about. The key here is making a conscious effort to commit both a notebook and time for deep work. The set up of your notebook and how you decide to spend your time can vary. Check out my post on imposter syndrome for my setup.

For more information, check out: http://calnewport.com/blog/2015/11/25/the-feynman-notebook-method/ & https://habitsofatravellingarchaeologist.com/a-method-for-dealing-with-imposter-syndrome/

6. Do you have to read as you write (or before you start)?

Try: Analytical Writing Prompts

Analytical writing prompts help you critically engage with your reading. This means you will already have some text under your belt when you go to write. My blog post on organizing sources for research papers details the writing prompt I use. It’s a mix of a summary and reflective questions to further engage with a text. There are a number of other analytical writing prompts out there and this method can help writers to engage with their reading and start actively thinking about what they will write.

For more information, check out: http://www.raulpacheco.org/2015/08/online-resources-to-help-students-summarize-journal-articles-and-write-critical-reviews/  & https://habitsofatravellingarchaeologist.com/tips-for-organizing-sources-for-research-papers/

7. Do you need to write pieces reflecting or responding to oral presentations or lectures?

Try: The Cornell Note-Taking System

The Cornell Note-Taking System is a popular method for undergraduates taking lectures notes; however, this method can also be useful for writers working on pieces that entail listening to oral presentations. The system has a physical setup and reflective process that helps you review and engage with the material you have listened to and can help you write a more effective piece.

For more information, check out: http://lsc.cornell.edu/study-skills/cornell-note-taking-system/ & https://chloeburroughs.com/choose-best-note-taking-method/

8. Do you spend more time envisioning your potential writing success than actually writing?


WOOP stands for Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan. It’s a method that helps people turn their positive thinking into an actionable plan. A key part of the plan is outlining potential obstacles and detailing what you will do if they arise. WOOP is backed by extensive behavioral psychology research and can help writers who think about their writing goals more than writing. It’s a framework that helps you translate your ambitions and create a realistic and actionable plan.

For more information, check out: http://woopmylife.org/ & Rethinking Positive Thinking

Are you trying to increase your writing productivity? Are you going to experiment with any of these methods? Let me know in the comments below!

The header image is a stock photo.

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.



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