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The #1 Question You Need to Ask Yourself If You Want to Be More Productive

I’m currently on the road–I drove with my husband and dog from NY where I live at the moment to Austin where I’ll be moving in a couple months. And it’s a 24-hour drive that we did straight through, no stopping to sleep.
 
Most people would find this situation to be inconvenient and wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not they’re being productive and getting stuff done.
 
But productivity is always on my mind. Mostly because I’m a productivity nerd, but also because I have BIG HUGE goals for my writing and my life and so I’m always thinking about how to get more stuff done.
 
I often hear writers say it’s impossible to get anything done when you’re traveling. And I used to agree with that. I used to buy into the belief that inconvenience is a huge problem and not worth pushing through on.
 
But that was the old me. The me I am now and the me I’m stepping into being knows that nothing is ever really convenient. And you’re either committed to getting the results… or you’re not.
 
So even though we were driving in the car for an entire day on Monday, I still got my blog post written and posted, and I still did my daily Live with Jen B. livestream on Facebook while we were stopped for gas.
 
Was it convenient to write a blog post on my phone? Hell no! Was it convenient to do a livestream late at night, at a gas station, when I’d been driving all day and was pretty exhausted? Hell no!
 
But I did it anyhow.
 
Why? Because that’s what it means to be UNSTOPPABLE. That’s what it means to not let anything get in the way of you and your goals.
 
Habits are only habits because you do them daily. If you don’t, then they’re not really habits. This year I’ve committed to building a habit around doing what matters and doing it daily. And what matters is my daily blog post, my daily livestream, my journaling and mindset work, and writing my books and screenplays.
 
When you know what matters and you’re committed to getting the results you’re after, inconveniece makes no difference. You just figure it out and do the best you can.

 

But there’s also a question you can ask yourself anytime you know you need to (or want to) do something, but you don’t think you have the time or the capacity to. And that question is… how can I make this work anyhow?

 
That’s the questions that’s been on my mind for the past three days as we’ve been on our trip and I’ve tried to continue my daily habits of doing what matters. (I even got up super early this morning so I could write this blog post before we have to get our day started!)
 
No, I haven’t been perfect with my daily habits since we’ve been on the road. But I have gotten all the most important stuff done each day. And it comes from asking that question… how can I make this work anyhow?
 
I asked myself that when I was riding in the car on Monday and thinking about how I’d do my livestream for the day. And the answer that came to me was, just do it at the next gas station you stop at.
 
No, it wasn’t the in-depth livestream I usually do, it was a two-and-a-half minute video where I shared this important question… how can I make this work anyhow? But the point is, I did it.
 
Even though it wasn’t at all convenient. Even though I was exhausted from driving and not sleeping much. Even though I could have easily not done it and no one would’ve given me a hard time about it because I was traveling.
 
But the definition of unstoppable is impossible to stop. No. Matter. What.
 
I see so many writers complaining about inconvenience and not having enough time. They’re too busy. Too stressed out. Too tired. They have too much other stuff to do. They have to work a day job. They’re gonna be on the road for a couple weeks. They’re [insert whatever excuse here].
 
Because that’s what those complaints are… EXCUSES. Yes, they might be true and valid, but they’re stil costing you the success you dream of.
 
So if you want to achieve more and really step into being the writer and author you see yourself as and that you dream of being, next time you feel a complaint or an excuse coming on that will stop you from doing your writing, choose to instead ask yourself, how can I make this work anyhow?
 
And then whatever answer comes up, act on it.
 
Sure, it takes discipline to not only ask the question but also to answer it and then act on it, but if you want to be a successful author who achieves everything you dream of and more, that’s what it’s gonna take.
 
You’re gonna have to push through and do the writing, even when it’s not convenient and you’re tired and you don’t have time. Otherwise you can hang your hat up right now, because you’ll never get where you want to go.
 
Harsh? Maybe. But it’s true. And that was a reality I had to face in my own writing life. I had to get really honest with myself and look at the facts… if I don’t step up and do what I have to do, I’ll never achieve my BIG writing goals.
 
And I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT OK with that!
 
I’m not OK with not letting my stories out. I’m not OK with allowing my dreams to die a slow death inside me. I’m not OK with not achieving what I came here for.
 
And to be totally honest, NOT living my purpose and NOT achieving my BIG writing dreams scares the shit out of me. The idea of dying with my stories and my ideas and messages and light still inside me scares me more than resistance and procrastination and excuses and inconvenience and being tired and not having enough time ever could.
 
Morbid? Maybe. But sometimes it takes looking at things from a morbid angle to finally wake you up to the fact that not only have you not been fully living your purpose, but you’re also not doing the work to achieve your goals, which means they’re never gonna happen.
 
No one can bring your dream life to reality except you. No one. Yes, others can support you and help you along the way and the Universe has your back, but you are ultimately responsible for taking control of your writing life.
 
So next time you find yourself ready to make an excuse for not doing your writing, I highly recommend you instead ask yourself, “how can I make this work anyhow? And then immediately act on whatever answer comes up.
 
Pockets of time. Doing what you can when you can. Prioritizing what matters and committing to getting it done daily.
 
That’s what it takes to make progress and achieve your dreams.
 
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
 
 
#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust
 

P.S. The Writing Life Rehab workshop is happening this Saturday, April 22 at 2 p.m. EST. If you’re ready to STOP making excuses and STEP INTO the writing life you’ve been dreaming of, you do not want to miss this!!

 
And there’s still five spots left to get in for the KILLER Top 15 Bonus… a FREE copy of my signature program, Write Your Damn Novel (a $297 value).
 

How To Rehab Your Writing Life in 5 Steps

I spend a lot of time with writers and authors. And one of the biggest differences I see between a pro author who has published books and an amateur or hobbyist writer who dreams of being published is what their writing lives look like.

A pro author’s writing life sets them up for success. They have habits and commitment and systems for getting shit done. And they do what it takes no matter what.

Whereas an amateur writer’s writing life is actually sabotaging them. Often they make excuses and let life chaos and other nonsense stop them from doing the work.

The truth is you can shift your writing life SO quickly if you just set yourself up for success. Here are 5 ways to do that:

1. Acknowledge and Accept Where You Are

Before you can make changes–real changes that stick–you need to accept where you are right now. And accept it without judgement or giving yourself a hard time.

The thing I often find is that writers get so caught up in NOT doing the writing and not being consistent. They’ll place blame and feel guilty and worry that they’ll never achieve their goals.

And all that does is bring on more of the same.

But when you accept where you are and don’t judge it or make a big deal about it, you’re in a much better position to make changes. Say it with me now…”up until now I haven’t taken my writing seriously but from this day forward that all changes.”

2. Figure Out What Matters to You

This is super important. You have to make sure you’re focusing on and doing the writing that you actually care about and that matters to you.

I know that may sound silly, but you have no idea how many writers I see “shoulding” themselves into writing novels when they don’t really want to or writing blog posts when they’re just not that into it. But someone along their writing journey once told them they should be doing that stuff, so they are.

Problem is they don’t really care about it. And so they procrastinate and make excuses and find ways to keep putting the writing off.

If you’re not fueled by the writing you’re doing, stop doing it and find the writing that really matters to you. I love writing fiction and always saw myself as a novelist but now that I’m two novels deep, I’m feeling much more pulled to write screenplays. I’m happy that I’ve learned and mastered craft all these years because it will make my novelist-to-screenwriter transition much easier.

I could’ve spent year shoulding myself into writing more novels. And I probably will still write novels too. But I’m finally allowing myself to try other types of writing that I’m feeling pulled to try.

When you actually care about the writing you’re doing, you’re much less likely to put it off for other things. And you’ll show up to the page excited and inspired and ready to get started.

3. Make Space for What Matters

Now that you’re clear on the writing that actually matters to you, you have to make space for it. Yes, that means you have to look at your life currently and where you’re spending your time each day.

If you’re not sure, grab a notebook and spend the next couple of days tracking how you spend your time (you don’t have to do this for long, a couple days should be enough).

I guarantee you’ll see a lot of stuff that you do on a daily basis that is far less of a priority than your writing. So why exactly are you putting that stuff ahead of your writing?

Answer: because you think you’re supposed to. But the truth is you’re not. You’re supposed to do what matters to you and do it daily.

When you ignore your writing or put it off for other stuff that doesn’t really matter or is less important to you, that’s when life loses its joy and purpose. Unhappiness, resentment, depression, anger… they’re often side effects of not doing your soul work. In this case, that would be your writing.

If you feel that way–that writing is your soul work–then you must make space for it in your day.

Notice I said MAKE space not FIND space. Find implies you don’t currently have enough space which isn’t true. You have space, you’re just not using it right.

Make implies that you’re intentionally turning something into a priority. And priorities always get done.

Imagine if brushing your teeth every day wasn’t a priority! Of course you can’t imagine that because you always make time for it. Otherwise you’d have no teeth left to eat with or smile with.

Make your writing as much of a priority as brushing your teeth and your entire life will change.

4. Ruthlessly Kill Shit that Doesn’t Matter

I used to watch TV while eating my breakfast. I used to spend two+ hours on Sundays cleaning and tidying up my apartment. And both of those things used to get in the way of doing my writing.

Now I won’t even turn the TV on if I haven’t done my writing. Now I wouldn’t even consider spending two hours cleaning if I haven’t worked on my novel or written my blog post.

Why? Because I made the decision to kill off anything that doesn’t really matter to me and that just gets in the way of my productivity.

Yes, it takes discipline to do this. But I believe that discipline creates freedom.

I do my writing every day first thing in the morning before I do anything else. Because I do this, I get it done for the day and it’s off my mind. And magically I still find time to watch TV and to clean my apartment.

Do what matters. Kill off anything that doesn’t.

5. Do Your Writing Daily

Yes, I’m telling you to write every single day. No matter what. Just do your writing.

You want to feel better and be happier and have a more freedom-filled life? Then stop putting off your writing. Period.

Write for 15 minutes. Make notes for your story while you drink your coffee in the morning. Jot down a new scene on your phone while the kids are playing soccer.

Use the little pockets of time that you have available to you. If you do this daily, it will add up.

Rehabbing your writing life is pretty simple. It just requires you to be honest with yourself about what you’ve been doing up to this point, get clear on what actually matters, and then committing to making time for what matters every day.

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust 

P.S. If you’re ready to dive in and make massive changes and shifts in your writing life, so you can be more productive, more fulfilled and make progress on your writing goals, be sure to check out my upcoming workshop–the Writing Life Rehab Masterclass. It’s happening this Saturday April 22 at 2 pm EST (and will be fully recorded).

And because I want you to step up and take massive action, I’ve included an INSANELY AWESOME fast-action bonus for the first 15 people who sign up… a FREE copy of my signature program, Write Your Damn Novel: a self-paced eCourse for emerging novelists who want to write better stories.

But hurry… those spots are going fast!! Less than 10 remain…

>> Details and sign up here

The Really Bad Habit Every Writer Should Break

I don’t know about you, but a really bad habit I have is checking my email and Facebook notifications first thing when I get out of bed in the morning. As soon as I wake up, I do my journaling and intention setting for the day, but once I’ve stepped out of bed I grab my iPhone and immediately check my emails and Facebook stuff.

Maybe you can relate?

A lot of people do this. It’s just a habitual way of being for most. But it’s a really bad habit that writers (and creative people, in general) need to work on removing from their lives.

The reason is because instead of starting your day with intention and purpose, you’re being reactive to whatever is going on in the outside world (emails, Facebook messages, etc). And when you do this, it essentially sets the tone for your whole day.

I never even really thought of it that way until my mentor said it the other night on a call I was listening to. She said, “do you really want to set the tone of your day by being reactive to other people’s shit?”

And it really got me thinking, because I’ve had a lot of days where I thought I was in for a good day and then I ended up instead being reactive to a hate-mail that came in or to something that someone posted on Facebook, and then that set up the rest of my day.

I’d be brushing my teeth thinking about the hate-mail or walking the dog and worrying that everything was a disaster and I needed to be home working and not enjoying my morning walk.

All of that is reactive behavior and thinking that gets you nowhere and puts a stop to your productive thoughts and actions, because your mind will just be reeling all day from the jolt you had first thing in the morning.

I know it’s insanely hard not to be reactive. As a society, that’s how we are—we react to things that are happening, instead of setting intention and creating what we want. We’re taught to behave this way, so it’s totally normal for it to be a habit we have.

Except it’s a really shitty one that we, as writers, need to break ASAP.

As a creative thinker, you need to give yourself a boost of inspiration and motivation first thing in the morning, to get the juices flowing and keep you thinking creatively all day long. But when you get out of bed and first thing jump into the outside world stuff by reading emails and checking Facebook or watching the news, you’re instead doing the opposite: pushing your creative juices away.

It’s really hard to think creatively and to feel inspired all day when you’re thoughts are inundated with the outside world.

And the truth is, the world doesn’t need you to be there first thing in the morning. We sometimes think it does because everyone wants instant gratification, but the reality is, it can wait.

There’s no difference between checking your email at 7 a.m. when you first wake up, and checking it at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., AFTER you’ve done your creative work for the day (or at the very least, done some journaling around creating your reality and setting intentions for your life), except then you’ll have been productive and intentional BEFORE you become reactive to the outside world.

And I don’t know about you, but I always feel better and can handle life chaos a whole lot more when I’ve actually accomplished something in my day.

For example, even if something crazy happens in my life and I get distracted from my work for the day, if I at least started my day with journaling and writing my blog post, then I don’t mind as much if I have to deal with life chaos. But when I let life chaos in first thing in the morning, then I feel grumpy and I probably won’t do my journaling or I’ll make excuses for why I don’t need to write a blog post that day.

Habits are intentional ways of being, so you need to create habits that support the writing life you want for yourself.

An Experiment

You know how much I love experiments (well, maybe you don’t if you’re new to me, but yes, I love experiments). Change is hard for me because I’m a habitual person and habits are hard to break, so the way I force myself into changing is to give myself a challenge. (Sometimes my challenges to myself are totally insane, but I live for that.)

I’ve challenged myself to not check my emails, Facebook or anything else until after I’ve done my morning journaling and written my blog post for the day. I’m doing this as an experiment for 30 days, after that I will decide whether to keep going (which is what happens after most of my challenges) or to change something up.

Share With Us

Do you check your emails or Facebook first thing in the morning? How can you step up and start moving away from that habit?

Ready to kick your bad habits to the curb and instead create habits that support your writing life and align with the writer and author you want to be? Check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a kick-ass motivation, get-your-writing-done productivity and success mindset group for emerging authors who want the dream writing life. Learn more here.

Featured image courtesy of Pen Waggener

It’s Not About Discipline, It’s About This

The other day one of my mentors posted a picture of her dinner on Facebook. She was at this nice restaurant and had ordered a meat and veggies dish–no carbs in sight–that had my mouthwatering (and I’m not a big meat eater).

Lately I’ve been working on eating healthier, and have actually been free of refined white sugar and even natural sweeteners, for almost two weeks now. But it’s been TOUGH. Like, really tough.

And yet my mentor seems to eat the way I want to eat almost effortlessly. She doesn’t even like carbs.

I commented on her pic and said, “I wish I had your discipline when it came to food.” (Because I love carbs, especially French fries, salt-and-vinegar chips and anything with sugar. )

As I’m sure you guessed it, her reply to my comment sent me into a tailspin that I’m still rolling around in my head. She commented back: It’s not that I’m disciplined, it’s that I’m committed to having the result.”

BOOM!

Kinda smacks ya in the face, doesn’t it?

You don’t need discipline when you’re committed to the result you want to create, because the result automatically tells you what choices you need to make.

Easier said than done, sure. But is it really? When you’re that committed to seeing what you want show up in your life, seems like taking the actions would be a natural progression.

And I’ve been rolling this around in my head for days now. It’s really bugging me!

Because it’s made me re-think all the things I thought I was committed to. Made me question which results I’m really willing to do the work for, and which I’d be OK having something else in place of what I really want.

Annoying.

Who wants to look at the fact that they’re not as committed as they thought they were?

If you want to write your novel (or whatever you dream of doing), are you so committed to having the result (aka: a published novel) that you’re doing the work day in and day out? If you’re not, maybe you’re not as committed to the result as you thought you were.

And that’s what I’m contending with right now. Because I have big, HUGE dreams for my writing life and my life in general. But there are some things I don’t really feel like doing most of the time (i.e. going to the gym). So what that means is I won’t ever really have what I want in those areas of my life.

Because to have what you want, you have to be committed to the result.

This is a whole new level of accountability and commitment. It’s a whole new level of assessing what you really want and picking it all apart to determine what you really care about and what you can die never having accomplished and not be bothered by it.

That’s the way to get to the core of what you really want for your writing life.

It’s tough–this being a professional writer stuff. When you write as a hobby you don’t have to worry about how much writing you get done, but when you’re an authorpreneur, you can’t lose focus. You have to know what you want, be very clear on it and specific about it, and then take action.

But if you’ve got goals or dreams in your head that, underneath the surface you don’t really care about or if you didn’t ever make it happen you wouldn’t lose sleep, you can give yourself permission to drop them. To drop them and no longer pursue or even think about them.

Now you’ve just reigned your focus in even more.

That’s what alignment is all about. It’s about knowing what you want, truly, deep down, knowing, and being willing to let go of the other stuff (the stuff you’re holding onto because someone said you should do it or because that’s what everyone else is doing).

And alignment, much like success, is a daily practice. Life happens, it’s always going to. It’s always gonna come in and get in the way.

You’re going to lose your focus sometimes, you’re going to fall off the wagon and be unproductive for a bit. It happens to all of us. Checking in with yourself on a daily basis is a great way to stay aligned with what you want and where you’re going, and also to pick yourself back up faster when you do lose focus.

But please, stop forcing yourself into dreams and goals that have other people’s names on them.

Here’s an example… maybe you’ve been telling yourself you want to write a novel. You’ve tried a few times, but nothing seems to be working. When you look deep-down, you know it’s because you don’t really want to write a novel. Novels are hard work and take way too much time. You’d be happier writing a series of short stories. But every fiction writer has to write a novel, right? So you have to as well.

Ahhhh…wrong.

You don’t have to do anything. You should only do the things you truly care about, the things you’re passionate about and actually want to be doing.

Don’t be afraid to go deep and really question the goals and dreams that you have. If you’ve been after something for a while and you’re still coming up short, maybe deep-down you don’t really want to do it and it’s time to let it go. Or, maybe you’ll find you want it more than anything and now it’s time to step up your commitment to the result.

There is no right or wrong here. It’s all about what works for you and what you want.

And what it really comes down to, is if you know that you truly want something and wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you didn’t get it, maybe it’s time to get clear on the result and then commit to having it. No discipline needed.

Share With Us

What’s one result you’re so committed to you don’t need discipline to take action? 

If you’re committed to making your BIG writing dreams a reality, be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a high-level accountability and mentorship group for emerging authors and novelists.

Featured image courtesy of Ibai