Productivity Hacks for Busy People

Serious face

The next-gen hacks that follow have been developed over many years of research, and a lot of trial and error. This information is strictly exclusive to this blog’s readers, and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, should they be shared with anyone, living or dead.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s press on.

As a person with a disability (MS) I find that some days are easier than others in terms of writing, so it became important for me to develop a series of skills to enable myself to get the most out of my available time / energy. In putting these together, I noticed that they might be useful not just for people with a disability, but also for any writers that find it difficult to summon energy after a busy day in the office, or writers with other time commitments.

I hope you can find something of help, but first, a disclaimer: ***All of these techniques should be used carefully and with adult supervision.***

The mobile phone trick – On one particular day, my symptoms were such that I fell on the way to my car one morning. I couldn’t get up, but what I did do, was pull out my phone and started dictating a story. Boom. Normal people (**) can use this technique when waiting at the traffic lights*. If you are not a driver, you can pull out your phone whilst waiting to cross the road and dictate a paragraph or two^.

**Disabled humour – don’t shout at me.

* Don’t do this, as it is ILLEGAL.

^ Be aware of what you dictate if there are other pedestrians around, as saying Note to self: how hard is it to dismember a human body, may lead to a visit from the police.

Notebook and pen

The notepad trick – My mobility is limited, so if I get to the kitchen, I stop and rest. Get to the toilet, stop and rest. Get to the living room, stop and rest. By having a notebook in each of these spots means that I can carry on from where I left off from where I was previously. When my son gets home from school, I get him to collect all the pages and Cellotape them together. Voila! Again, for normal people this can still be an effective strategy; a notebook for watching TV; a notebook for when cooking a meal; a notebook in the shower*; a notebook in your bedroom…^;

*I recommend water-proof plastic pads and permanent markers, or you could be creating a problem for yourself.

^To be used with caution, as this could endanger your relationship, which could have an adverse effect on some of the techniques below.

The Phone and dictate trick – If you have fallen (disabled or drunk people), or you have come to rest with no notepads nearby, pull out your phone and call your friends. Dictate 500 words to each of them. Ask them to type them up and email the finished product to you*.

*This should be used with caution, as quickly you might not have any friends.

The no paper trick – Simply carry a pen with you and write your story on your arms, legs, torso, etc*.

*To be successful, you can never wash (this will likely have a negative effect on the long game options below).

The Long Game

These may not help with this year’s writing, but should pay off later:

Meet a girl / boy, fall in love and get married (optional) – Hopefully your partner will want to help you. When they ask what they can do to help, you say, “Please write 500 words for me. Here is the topic.” This can work especially well for disabled people: tell your partner that you are struggling as a result of your disability. If they won’t help, you can quote the Equalities Act 2010, and threaten them with the law*.

*Don’t threaten your partner.

The ‘children game’ – Associated with the above tip, although the marriage part is again optional. Once you are in love, have children (I recommend at least 2), which can be obtained through a variety of methods. Put these children to work, getting them to type up your dictated notes. For a more efficient method, tell them it’s a school project and get them a sticker saying Well Done!

Old Man

The Long, Long Game

The ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ approach –. If you are struggling to write much, or are unable to dictate using one of the methods already outlined here, you can set yourself a realistic target, such as 10 words per day. If you start writing at 20 and write till you are 72, at that rate you will be able to complete 13 novels of 100,000 words.

Okay. So I hope I’ve given you some useful tips that can be put into practice to keep your flow going, even on your ‘off’ days. But what if you’re feeling great and just want to find some extra time in your busy day? No problem. I’ve got you covered:

Try starting in the early morning. Getting up before the daily tasks begin (children, showers, breakfast) may give you a few extra minutes to pump out a hundred words or so.

Stay up late at night (kind of obvious). When the kids, or your partner are in bed and the house is quiet. Perhaps not early AND late, otherwise you’ll have no energy left for writing (however, see above tips)

At work, tell your boss you have an upset stomach and go into the toilets for large parts of the day. You might need to make some unpleasant sounds every now and then to fool people.

Take up smoking and make good use of your smoking breaks by writing a quick hundred words.*

If you work in a busy office, make use of the quick swap keys for Word. Alt-F6 can quickly switch between open documents. If your boss comes looking, distract him/her by pointing out of the window and saying “Look, is that the Space Shuttle?” Works every time.

If you have a PA at work, dictate to them while you are ‘visiting’ the head office in Scotland or some other distant location.

Try to develop automatic writing, which is writing without being consciously aware of writing (it’s a thing – see below).  That way, you can type with one hand and write with the other.

Get a group of close friends to help you. Give them a rough idea of the story and get them to start a different chapter each for you.

*I do not endorse smoking. You can just pretend.

I hope these tips have been useful. I predict that using these tips you can improve your output immeasurably. I am always on the look out for a new tip to add to my arsenal, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

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