My Favorite Productivity Tools & Habits

Productivity Tools

Do! app on my iPod. Marketed as “the best simple to-do list” and I agree. I love the handwritten look and the ability to cross-off an item with the tap of my finger. The pencil-scratch cross-off sound is very satisfying, too.

Dry erase board in the entryway. Allows me to quickly write down shopping lists and to-do items no matter how fast I need to get out the door.

yWriter. Attention authors: this free word processor breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, leaving you free to create. You can generate a scenes report at the click of a button, which helped me develop my plot while writing THE CHANNELS. (Speaking of fiction, have you liked my new author page yet? If not, click here.)

Pandora One. Pandora saves my sanity. The upgraded Pandora One is well worth the $36 annual fee. (I hate commercials!) When I want to write, I simply pop in my headphones to drown out any distracting background noise (lawnmowers, teenagers, other music).It’s great for making chores enjoyable, too. (Read more here.)

Lately I’m in love with the Broken Social Scene and Florence + The Machine stations. How about you?

Hootsuite. This dashboard allows me to manage my social networks and lists. I can schedule messages in advance and keep an eye on what’s going on in the publishing scene. (Hint: Create and follow Twitter lists.) When I want to check in with my friends, that’s easy, too. It’s all in one place.

Tick Tock Timer. I use this online timer every week to help me stay on track with my to-do list. The alarm is useful without being annoying. I’m very productive in 15 minute increments, but I know I wouldn’t stay on track without Tick Tock. Love it!

Productivity Habits

Begin each day with my most important things. Read more about this method of work by clicking here.

Morning exercise. I know me. If I don’t exercise in the morning, there’s a good chance I won’t exercise at all. I’m not very productive or pleasant unless I exercise, so I my goal is 30 minutes each day. I go for a walk, run, do yoga or sweat it out to a cardio DVD. Exercise is easy to put off, but my whole day suffers when I do. I try to make it a top priority.

Limit email & social media checking. I’m not going to tell you how often to check Facebook or your email – that’s up to you. But I know from personal experience how much time can be wasted from mindless checking. If you struggle with this, Tick Tock Timer (mentioned above) can help you set limits. You could also try a digital sabbatical one day each week.

Turn off your phone(s). This habit annoys people who know me, but when I’m “at work,” I need time to work without interruptions. If you work in an office, forward your phone to voicemail for an hour. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.

What are your favorite productivity tips? Let’s get a good list going in the comments!

Photo by an untrained eye

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.


1 Lynn May 31, 2012 at 11:46 am

dance music = a much better time cleaning the bathrooms and doing the dishes!

2 Lisa Marie May 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I just love your posts so much. I subscribe to a ton of sites about writing, creating and simple living, but your’s is my favorite!

3 Melissa October 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

Thank you so much! That’s very encouraging. 🙂

4 erik June 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

So I’m a fledgling writer myself, but still try to find some time to watch my favorite shows (NCIS, The Voice) with the wife when time permits. We do a lot of DVR recording so we can watch when we want, and one thing that really helps plow through our backlogged list of DVRs is the new Auto Hop feature from Dish’s Hopper DVR. I can set my Prime Time recordings to automatically skip commercials, which lets us get through our hour-long shows in about 40 minutes. The Hopper also comes stocked with Pandora, Facebook, Twitter and more, so we actually get our social media AND TV watching out of the way in one sitting! A Dish coworker told me about it, and with Auto Hop I have a bit more time (and no excuses) to get my writing done!

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