Do you ever feel your life is a bit chaotic? That there is always more to do than time to get it done? Do you find that amongst all the tasks on your To Do List, that writing always seems to come last? The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Productivity coach and author of Chaos to Control, Ciara Conlon tells writing.ie how she found time to write her book and how she transformed her life from disorganized and chaotic to calm, happy and stress-free.
“I am a naturally disorganized person. When I was younger my physical surroundings, and my head, were chaotic. My parents would constantly make fun of my disorganization and lack of structure. As a result of my inability to organise myself, I found it difficult to study; I struggled through college finding it difficult to focus and concentrate on one thing for too long. Over the years I tried many jobs and started many businesses. I always had a couple projects on the go and left half-finished business plans lying around. For years I felt frustrated and a sense of underachievement. After studying to become a Life and Business coach I started to recognise the things that were holding me back – I realised the things I had to work on were my lack of focus and discipline. I started to read about productivity in books and online and having tried out lots of suggestions and techniques, little by little my life began to change for the better. I learned how to organise my work and my thoughts so that they no longer caused me stress and frustration. As a result I began to achieve a lot of the things I previously didn’t have time for.”
“With all I had learned, and armed with the enormous benefits I had gained, the next obvious step was to write it all down. I wanted to compile all of the tips and techniques I had learned to help me transform my life and share them with others. That’s how Chaos to Control came about. There are many books on productivity on the market but none that took a holistic approach. Learning a new productivity system or tool can help you to become more productive but it is also important to ensure that your habits and behaviours will support that new system.
There were many activities and habits I adopted to help me transform my life but here are some of the ones that helped to formulate my book.
What’s a Priority?
I made the book my priority. A year and a half into the book I asked myself the question, “If you could do one thing by the end of this year that would make it the best year yet, what would it be?” My answer was “Finish the book” so I made it my priority. By setting the goal I committed to finishing the book. I was clear about what I wanted to achieve and that was the first step.
Clear the Way
I am a great advocate of Clearing the Clutter. I believe that ridding your space of all unnecessary items can set you on the road for greater focus. Clutter lying about not only disturbs your focus, but also inhibits your creativity. You cannot let the mind roam freely and be creative when it has so much to think about. Clear your physical space and get organised. Use a calendar and a task or to do list to ensure you don’t forget anything.
Social media such as Twitter and Facebook can be great tools to create awareness of who you are and what you do, but they can also be detrimental to your focus and productivity. If you are going to use these tools, use them wisely. Allocate time to post and check posts. Do not fall victim to aimless browsing. Switch off all notifications of messages etc. Go there when you decide it’s time and not when a message coaxes you there. Do the same for email and turn off your phone if you can allow yourself the luxury. When I was reaching my deadline for finishing my book I stopped using all social media. They say that Procrastination is the thief of time, I say it’s Social Media.
Rising early was my saviour, in the early hours of the morning I would get up to do exercise, yoga and meditate. This positive start to the day helped me to focus, gave me more energy, and helped to control my stress. With these tasks done for the day, it allowed me to focus my free time to writing.
Eliminate or Delegate Unnecessary Work
Tied in with the concept of prioritization and elimination, it can be a good idea to stop doing jobs that aren’t essential. Will anybody notice if the windows at the back of the house aren’t washed every week? Do you really need to iron the sheets and towels? These are examples of jobs that we do that become routine in our lives, but do they really need to be done as often as we do them? Or maybe they don’t need to be done at all? Can we delegate them? Maybe you could hire a cleaner for a while or make the children take more responsibility with the household chores. One person can only do so much, so be clever about it.
Schedule Time to Make Writing a Habit
You need to create space in your schedule for writing, even if it is just ten minutes a day. This is how I started to write and gradually those ten minutes created the momentum to write a book. Writing must become a habit like brushing your teeth.
These are a few of the techniques and habits that helped me to write my first book while working, studying and raising three boys. But remember, with the numerous everyday tasks and responsibilities we have it is also important to make time for you. Time to relax, to rejuvenate and to clear your mind so that your writing will express the best of who you are.