Episode #39: Manage Your Writing Space to Be a More Productive Writer
In the last episode I introduced four areas we writers can begin to evaluate and inventory in order to increase productivity: our writing space, time, energy, and attention.
My hope is that through this series we see ways to prioritize our writing—and ourselves as writers—so that our decisions reflect that priority. When we manage our writing lives with intentionality, our space, time, energy and attention can be arranged to reduce barriers to productivity.
The first goal is to manage our writing spaces.
Maybe your space is a table at a coffee shop, maybe it’s a desk in the corner of your bedroom, or maybe it’s a dedicated home office. Are you in your writing space right now? If so, look around. If you’re not in your writing space, try to visualize your space. Look at the flat surfaces and pause at the papers and any electronics you use. Think about your chair if you sit to work, and what’s at your fingertips. If you stand, what’s at eye level and what’s around you if you turn in a full circle?
- What’s working well for you?
- What makes you happy?
- Can you identify all the things that energize you to work creatively when you’re writing?
- Do you have on hand the equipment you need to efficiently plow through administrative tasks—anything from a stapler to a well-designed mouse?
- Have you incorporated some decorative items that reflect your personality and make you smile?
- How well does the color of your workspace suit you?
- Have you included at least one or two things that contribute to your health, like a water bottle, a plant, or an exercise ball you can sit on or use during breaks to stretch and strengthen?
Did your eye land on something that bugged you a little—something that’s stealing some of your energy? Maybe it’s a stack of papers you need to file or a bag of trash that needs to go out. In the corner of my office, I’ve stacked several storage boxes packed with stuff I need to deal with. These nag at me and subtly draw my mind away from the writing I want and need to do.
And how’s the lighting? Could you replace fluorescent with incandescent lights?
Would a whiteboard help you create mind maps for your projects?
Would a long blank wall serve as a place to stick Post-its and map out the plot of your novel? Or could it become an idea wall where you post a collage of images that inspire you to stick with your big picture goals and your crazy writing dreams?
Do you need to save money to upgrade equipment and pay for faster WiFi?
Do you want to try a standing desk for part of the day and see how it affects your energy level and creative process?
Is it time to incorporate a more ergonomic chair despite how well the current one from IKEA matches your decor?
Make a punch list that includes:
- things you want to rearrange
- things you want to get rid of
- items you want to swap out for something better
- goodies you want to make or buy new and incorporate into your space
- piles or containers you need to deal with soon
Keep that as a master to-do list, so you can work your way through. This coming week, I urge you to do one thing on that list each day. After you check something off, see how your body, mind, attention and energy respond to the change.
And let me leave you with an additional challenge: If your workspace isn’t clear, bump that up in priority. At the end of your work day, as you’re winding down, take a minute to clear your desk and restore the order.
I actually have that as a recurring item on my digital to-do list, and I check it off each day after I complete it: clean and clear desk.
You know what happens? My future self the next morning thanks me, because I get a fresh start.
Take the time to evaluate, manage, organize, and maintain your writing space and you will be a more productive writer.
Listen for the full podcast.
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