2x Your Blog Writing Productivity and Reduce Your Stress by Single-Tasking

MAX

As bloggers we spend much of our work time online as that is where our home base is, but a key drawback to being online is that there is so many distractions so close at hand.

Combine this with the fast pace of blogging where there are many things to check, update, write and read, you can easily feel overwhelmed.

In an effort to keep up many turn to multitasking. While sitting at our computer, we respond to the beeping of our phone letting us know someone has responded to our tweet, we move from our WordPress dashboard to our email inbox to take a quick look and see if anything urgent has popped in since we last checked – which was only about 15 minutes ago.

In reality we are not truly multitasking though, we are actually task switching at a frenetic pace.

Task switching comes with a hefty price tag. The American Psychological Association reported that cost could be has high as 40%:

“Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.”

And not only does task switching take you longer to complete your tasks, but it causes you additional stress in the process:

“After only 20 minutes of interrupted performance people reported significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure {source – The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress).”

So how can we better manage our online behaviour? Single tasking. Working on one task until it is completed and setting up your work environment so it is distraction free to allow you to achieve this.

Alexander Graham Bell

Next time you sit down to write a blog post, take these steps and watch your productivity double and your stress levels decrease:

1. Put your phone on airplane mode

You may not be ready to turn off notifications on your mobile phone entirely (though I can recommend it), so with the switch of one button, you can prevent your phone from interrupting you while you write your blog post.

You don’t need your phone when writing your post on the computer and you can return calls, messages etc once you have completed your task.

2. Close down email

When things get hard our brain automatically looks for a distraction like checking our emails.

Writing a blog post can be hard, finding the words to convey your message can take time and deep concentration. Don’t allow your brain an easy way out by having a quick fix and becoming distracted by checking email.

If you are going to need information from your inbox to help you write the post, copy and paste the contents into a text doc or in your WordPress post draft. Be prepared so you don’t have to open up your inbox through the writing process and reduce your productivity.

3. Stay in the one application

You may need to undertake research to put your blog post together. Separate the research task and the blog writing task from each other.

When putting together a list style posts, for example like “5 podcasts to help you grow your email list”, set yourself a time limit to research and gather the links you will need to write the post. Keep all the information in the one place so you will not have to switch from one application to another.

Likewise if your blog post will be using images, work on the images before or after you have written the post.

Taking a single task approach to writing keeps your focus or writing flow and minimises time lost from switching to and from applications.

Every time you switch to another application, your brain has to adjust to the new application, work out what it is doing, and then readjust when you go back.

4. Timer

If you have been used to task switching, single tasking can require some retraining of your brain.

It may have become very used to the instant gratification of responding to dings, bells and alerts. Deprived of this stimuli and being required to focus solely on one activity can be hard work for the brain.

To help work through this readjustment, use a timer and start with smaller blocks of time where you have to single task.

The Focus booster app can be a useful tool for this process. It works on the Pomodoro Technique, using a timer to break down work into intervals, 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. It can be easier to get started sometimes knowing that you only have to stick to the task for a short time period and then you can have a break.

Paul J. Meyer

5. Block yourself

Writing your blog post in your dashboard means you are just a click or two away from checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from ourselves! Install an app like Self Control for the Mac or Cold Turkey for Windows which allows you to list websites that you want to block yourself from for a set time period of time.

Even if you are tempted and click away from your dashboard, you won’t be able to access the site you were after, even if you turn your computer on and off!

6. Note down your distracting thoughts

While writing a blog post, it is common to come up with ideas for another or have breakthrough moments on other projects you are working on.

Instead of stopping writing your post to pursue that thought, simply write down on either pen or paper or at the bottom of the post, your thoughts and know you will come back to them once you have finished your writing.

The act of writing the other ideas down frees up the brain to focus solely on the writing of your post.

Taking time before you write your blog posts to set up your work environment so it is distraction-free is a worthwhile investment. This environment will allow you to single task your blog writing which will boost your productivity and decrease your stress.   

Have you noticed increased productivity through single tasking?

Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged seven to 17. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blogPlanning With Kids and the author of a book by the same name, where she shares tips and tricks for organising the chaos of family life. She is slightly addicted to spreadsheets, tea, running and, of course, planning!

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