This is probably about the worst word for me to write about. I don’t know if other writers feel the same way, but I’m incredibly inefficient most days. The artist in me shuns rigidity. I want the world to be fluid and pretty all the time.
Unfortunately, the world outside of my computer doesn’t appreciate my desire to go with the flow. Like clockwork, the kids are going to get off the bus at the same time every day, and within an hour after that, they’re going to demand that I feed them. Again. As if I didn’t just feed them that morning.
Then there’s homework, quality time, laundry (because yes, they insist on clean clothes as well), bedtime and the accompanying bedtime squabbles.
My phone has become a lifeline in my quest to be more efficient. And if you’ve seen the notification bubbles, don’t laugh at that claim. I may suck at clearing voicemails and emails, but it helps in other ways. Here are a few of the apps I use on a daily basis to help me function:
Speak To Snooze: Okay, so it may not be the best alarm clock for someone like me, because it allows me to yell at the incessant screeching trying to pull me out of dreamland. But I’m in love with it because I can download different voices to give me shit right back. Currently, Honey Badger and I are in a deep, early morning love affair.
Streaks: I love knowing how many days in a row I do something. The longer I can keep a streak going, the crappier I feel if I don’t do something. Right now, I only have four of the six allowed tasks in there, and they’re so basic most adults would wonder why I need the reminders. Well, it’s because I’m trying to form some habits to help my brain function before coffee. And now I’m wondering why “make coffee” isn’t on there. Anyway, every day, I shower (this is a more important reminder for writers than you’d think it should be), journal, eat breakfast (as opposed to drink coffee, read emails, screw around on social media, and wonder why you’re so hungry by three in the afternoon), and read (a craft book, not a leisurely read) for ten minutes. As I complete these tasks, I fill in the bubbles to keep my streaks going.
Swipes: This is the real brain center of my day. There are some tasks that go off at the same time every day, but others are reminders for the things I need to do (puppy to the vet, kids to the doctor, etc). Again, I’m learning that being efficient is about routine (shudder), so as soon as the tasks pop up, I get them done and move on. What I love about this particular to-do list app is that I don’t wake up to twenty-one tasks every day. I’m never overwhelmed by what I need to do.
Pomodoro: I’m not sure there’s a single writer out there who hasn’t at least heard about the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re like I was for a long time (meaning you think it’s ridiculous and couldn’t possibly work), you need to give it a good try. The basic concept is that you’re giving yourself permission to do something for a set amount of time rather than until the task is done. It’s funny, but when you know you’re only doing something for twenty-five minutes (or however long you choose), you will work harder than if it’s open ended.
5KWPH: This may seem a bit redundant with having Pomodoro, but I love this app! It allows me to not only time my writing sprints, but also keep track of how many words I’ve written. It becomes a competition with myself to keep improving my times while I’m writing first drafts. Okay, and the end of sprint timer celebrates with me and there are awards to be won, which is always fun!