The thing I hear the most from people who want to write but don’t is that they don’t have enough time. Same thing from those who want to read but don’t. Here’s the thing: I think there are times in life when that’s definitely true. Say you’re a parent, working full-time, and going to school. Or your someone who works more than one job. Or you go to school full time and work full time…etc etc etc. You get the idea. There are people out there who have very limited free time and that time is probably needed to relax as much as possible or, I don’t know, to do laundry or go grocery shopping. I know these scenarios exist.
For most of us, though, it’s more of an issue of time management and focus. Sure, it might be that your free time is in the evening and you write/think/create better in the morning (hi, I’m describing myself) but you have free time and if you organize it effectively, you can use it to do the things you truly want to do.
I’m saying all of this just because I think it’s always good to sit down and prioritize what we want in life. Do we really want to write? Do we really want to read a book? Do we really want to learn to speak French? Make a movie? Learn to walk a tightrope? If the answer is yes, then a good hard look at how we manage and focus our time is in order. We have the time, we just have to claim it for our passion in life.
Here are the apps that I am currently using and loving to help me focus my time and my brain more efficiently.
I used this for the trial period and loved it. It allows you to block certain websites and decide for how long you want to block them. There’s a Hardcore Mode that won’t let you stop the timer. I love that you can say which websites to block so you can make sure you don’t check your email or social media out of habit if you do need to do a quick internet search to remember the name of some object that has left your brain. If you’d prefer you can use the internet at all, you can do that as well. The cost is $20 for the most basic package and you can add on fancy features for more expensive versions.
I haven’t personally used it, but there is a free, open source app called SelfControl with similar abilities.
Bear is a note taking app. You can use it in any number of productive ways. I love it for keeping track of characters, settings, random ideas, etc etc etc. For time management, I love it for writing when I get a sudden burst of inspiration and I’m not at my computer. If you use public transportation, are waiting at the doctor’s office, on break at work, then you have little chunks of time to think about an upcoming scene or issue in your manuscript. Sometimes inspiration strikes at these places or you just brainstorm some good ideas. Bear allows you to take notes on your phone that sync with your computer. There are plenty of notetaking apps out there, I personally love the aesthetic of Bear the most.
This app is super cute and fun. You set a timer and during that time, you don’t use your phone. If you don’t cancel it, you’ll have grown a pretty little tree while you worked on something truly important instead of scrolling through instagram for the tenth time that do. (Again, I’m talking to myself.) Honestly, I recommend putting your phone in another room while you write. You should just grow a little tree while you’re at it. If you stop the app before the time you’ve set, it withers and dies. SUPER SAD. DO NOT DO THIS. Bonus: real trees are planted on your behalf when you use the app! So open the forest app and set a timer before you leave the phone in another room.
While researching this, I found that Forest has a Chrome Extension!! How cool is that???
I know, I know. You know what this is already. But do you schedule in writing time? Do you send invites to anyone in your family who shares the app? No? Well, start! Block out that time. Mark yourself as busy. Reject any new calendar events during your writing time. This is your sacred time and you are the only person who can set up the expectations around that time. Maybe it’s just you and you alone who control your time. In that case, you should still do this! Make it your number one priority. Turn down other events. Tell your boss you can’t stay late because you have an important appointment because you do! (Unless you’ll get fired because it’s mandatory…use common sense here.)
I loooooove white noise apps. There are a lot of them out there. This one has long been a favorite. It’s free. It has “rain on a tent” and “crackling fire” which are pretty much my two favorite sounds. Find one you like and use it when you need to really focus on something. It’s enough to block out the ambient noise in your house but not enough to distract you. Instrumental music works well for this too.
What about you? Do you have a favorite app that helps you carve out some sacred time for your writing habits?