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2x Your Blog Writing Productivity and Reduce Your Stress by Single-Tasking

Posted By Nicole Avery 21st of June 2016 Be Productive 0 Comments

2x your blog writing productivity and reduce your stress by single taskingBy ProBlogger Productivity Expert Nicole Avery.

As bloggers we spend much of our work time online as that is where our home base is, but a key drawback to being online is that there is so many distractions so close at hand.

Combine this with the fast pace of blogging where there are many things to check, update, write and read, you can easily feel overwhelmed.

In an effort to keep up many turn to multitasking. While sitting at our computer, we respond to the beeping of our phone letting us know someone has responded to our tweet, we move from our WordPress dashboard to our email inbox to take a quick look and see if anything urgent has popped in since we last checked – which was only about 15 minutes ago.

In reality we are not truly multitasking though, we are actually task switching at a frenetic pace.

Task switching comes with a hefty price tag. The American Psychological Association reported that cost could be has high as 40%:

“Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.”

And not only does task switching take you longer to complete your tasks, but it causes you additional stress in the process:

“After only 20 minutes of interrupted performance people reported significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure {source – The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress).”

So how can we better manage our online behaviour? Single tasking. Working on one task until it is completed and setting up your work environment so it is distraction free to allow you to achieve this.

Alexander Graham Bell

Next time you sit down to write a blog post, take these steps and watch your productivity double and your stress levels decrease:

1. Put your phone on airplane mode

You may not be ready to turn off notifications on your mobile phone entirely (though I can recommend it), so with the switch of one button, you can prevent your phone from interrupting you while you write your blog post.

You don’t need your phone when writing your post on the computer and you can return calls, messages etc once you have completed your task.

2. Close down email

When things get hard our brain automatically looks for a distraction like checking our emails.

Writing a blog post can be hard, finding the words to convey your message can take time and deep concentration. Don’t allow your brain an easy way out by having a quick fix and becoming distracted by checking email.

If you are going to need information from your inbox to help you write the post, copy and paste the contents into a text doc or in your WordPress post draft. Be prepared so you don’t have to open up your inbox through the writing process and reduce your productivity.

3. Stay in the one application

You may need to undertake research to put your blog post together. Separate the research task and the blog writing task from each other.

When putting together a list style posts, for example like “5 podcasts to help you grow your email list”, set yourself a time limit to research and gather the links you will need to write the post. Keep all the information in the one place so you will not have to switch from one application to another.

Likewise if your blog post will be using images, work on the images before or after you have written the post.

Taking a single task approach to writing keeps your focus or writing flow and minimises time lost from switching to and from applications.

Every time you switch to another application, your brain has to adjust to the new application, work out what it is doing, and then readjust when you go back.

4. Timer

If you have been used to task switching, single tasking can require some retraining of your brain.

It may have become very used to the instant gratification of responding to dings, bells and alerts. Deprived of this stimuli and being required to focus solely on one activity can be hard work for the brain.

To help work through this readjustment, use a timer and start with smaller blocks of time where you have to single task.

The Focus booster app can be a useful tool for this process. It works on the Pomodoro Technique, using a timer to break down work into intervals, 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. It can be easier to get started sometimes knowing that you only have to stick to the task for a short time period and then you can have a break.

Paul J. Meyer

5. Block yourself

Writing your blog post in your dashboard means you are just a click or two away from checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from ourselves! Install an app like Self Control for the Mac or Cold Turkey for Windows which allows you to list websites that you want to block yourself from for a set time period of time.

Even if you are tempted and click away from your dashboard, you won’t be able to access the site you were after, even if you turn your computer on and off!

6. Note down your distracting thoughts

While writing a blog post, it is common to come up with ideas for another or have breakthrough moments on other projects you are working on.

Instead of stopping writing your post to pursue that thought, simply write down on either pen or paper or at the bottom of the post, your thoughts and know you will come back to them once you have finished your writing.

The act of writing the other ideas down frees up the brain to focus solely on the writing of your post.

Taking time before you write your blog posts to set up your work environment so it is distraction-free is a worthwhile investment. This environment will allow you to single task your blog writing which will boost your productivity and decrease your stress.   

Have you noticed increased productivity through single tasking?

About Nicole Avery
Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged seven to 17. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids and and the creator of the Planned & Present e-course, a step-by-step guide for mums on how to organise the chaos of family life while still leaving space to enjoy it.
  • It is true that there are just too many distractions for those who are working from home. I’m suffering from this as well.

    However, I did learn something very effective, productive and powerful. I learned the technique from Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing, it’s called Time Blocking.

    Every morning, I will time blocking and do my most important work that will give me the most result. In this period, I will only do the task and nothing else. No email, no phones, absolutely nothing.

    I will put all my focused into doing the task until it is done. It is very helpful and you may want to try out. :)

    • I highly recommend The ONE Thing by Gary Keller too – for the last few years I have used their tips to set one goal for personal and work and it has made a tremendous difference.

    • yes setting goals will definitely make difference in productitivity

  • Thank you so much for writing this because I feel normal now. Whenever I need to write a blog post, I cannot be distracted. I get so frustrated if my thoughts are interrupted and I started to think I was a little OCD.

    I go into my home office, shut off my phone and notifications on my computer. I tell anyone that is around not to disturb me….I do have a do not disturb sign on the door lol. I even use a white noise machine.

    When I write my thoughts do to to many directions. I have an old fashioned pad and pen that I jot them down on so I can continue.

    My husband is my business partner and he can work with noise and interruptions. I feel so much better now.

    -Donna

    • I too love pad and pen Donna, the minute I start to feel overwhelmed I find it and write it all down – works so well to clear my head!

  • Many of these are the very tips I’ve followed to write 126 eBooks Nicole ;) I wrote and self published 90 in 3 months because I devoted all my attention and energy to this 1 task, and where your attention and energy goes, grows. Brilliant post :)

    • Thanks Ryan! 90 ebooks in 3 months is amazing – congratulations!

  • I really enjoyed this post.
    I tend to get distracted, especially right now since my son just turned 10 months old.
    I feel whenever I try to sit down and get anything done for the blog or social media or even cooking, I get overwhelmed because there are other things that I could be doing.
    Thank you so much for making me feel normal and for writing this!

    • We live in a super distracting world Krysten, while lots of these distractions are fun and can help us, we have to learn how to switch them off to help decrease the stress. Good luck!

  • Love the post. So useful I’m like a kid in a candy shop most of the time. A little off topic but I am working on fictional ebooks and was wondering I’m finding it hard to find a method to promote them. I’ve written a blog from the point of view of one of the characters as a start. Anyway I’d love some insight.

    I’d post a link but don’t want to appear as a spammed.

    90 ebooks is amazing amount can I ask what was the word count on those bad boys, seems an amazing amount of work.

  • That is such good advice and is one of the reasons I love to get up early and get started on my daily routine tasks. There are far fewer distractions at that time of the day – less chance of an email popping into my inbox etc. – because most people are either asleep or getting themselves off to work, kids to school etc.
    Blocking out time and having a daily routine that I follow has helped me enormously. I also turn off most sounds on my phone, that way I don’t get interrupted by every retweet and the like.

  • Great post Nicole. I am actually working on your tips and focus on doing single tasking. Its really help me to put 100% of my efforts to the work and make it more successful. Thanks again for these awesome tips.

  • lisa

    Great post Nicole! It hasn’t been very cool to admit you’re not a multi-tasker, but I am growing in confidence and volume on this topic as more and more evidence comes of the inability of the brain to function on multiple tasks at once. It’s great to know you & others see the value in single tasking too, & these tips include quite a few I hadn’t considered- thanks!!

  • Awesome article,

    Sometimes it’s best to concentrate on one task, rather than trying to do multiple things at once.

    Multitasking can sometimes be a distraction, focusing on the task at hand can increase productivity.

  • Wow. This is the same thing I’ve been yelling at my readers and followers.

    Multitasking is the surest way to kill your precious time. You won’t get better results by focusing on doing too many thing at once.

    I recently read the book by Gary Keller “The One thing” and he talks about why you should always focus on the ONE thing and he also tells you why multitasking is really bad.

  • Nice post to increase productivity. Although I try to be focused when writing a post. But since am working from home I get lot of distractions which breaks my flow. And switching applications is the biggest thing I do on my small 16″ screen.