Keli Gwyn
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One Surefire Way to Increase Your Productivity

Would you like to get more done in the time you have available? Who wouldn’t?

Over the past few days I’ve been editing my critique partner’s latest book, thirty action-packed chapters with characters I love. Reading for Jody Hedlund is a treat.

I embarked on the edit, averaging 2-4 chapters a day with a high of 6. I reached a point recently, though, where I needed to wrap things up and shift my attention to my work-in-progress. I had one day left to devote to the read, and yet I had 10 chapters to go.

Could I do it? That was the question.

The answer surprised and delighted me. Yes. I could. And I did. Here’s how.

Implementing one technique, I nearly doubled my highest daily output.

Before I began, I set myself up for success. I had a well-defined goal: edit 10 chapters in a single day. I woke early and got right to work.

Sure, I’ve done that many times and yet not accomplished half of what I’d planned. What made that day different?


I kept my mind on the task, my backside in the chair, and my eyes on the screen.

I avoided the temptation to do other things. Even though I allowed myself a few breaks to check email and take a peek at Twitter, I kept them brief: 2-3 minutes at most.

When interrupted, I returned to the task without delay. I received a call from a dear friend and another from a relative, calls I didn’t want to miss. After they were over, I fought the tendency to do other things, reminded myself of my goal, and got back to work.

I used my success as reinforcement. When I’d finished editing the first of the chapters in just over an hour, a record for me since I give a detailed read with numerous comments, I gave myself an atta girl, and I plowed into the next chapter pronto.

I enlisted support. I told Jody I wanted to finish the read that day, so she sent uplifting emails each time she received a chapter, which was a great source of encouragement.

I began the read at 5 a.m. and finished in time to get dinner started at 6 p.m. The calls and breaks took an hour, so I edited 10 chapters in 10 hours, which is a record for me.

What enabled me to do so was staying focused.

How do you increase your productivity?

Do you have a productivity success story to share?

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to getting things done?

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Keli Gwyn


  • Sherrinda says:

    I love that, Keli. Congratulations on what seems like a miracle to me! That is really amazing.

    So often we complain about not having time, when in reality, we just are lazy or procrastinating. We could get so much done if we just put our nose to the grindstone and our behinds in the chair and just get it done.

    I can’t think of anyone success story, but sometimes I pray for more hours in my day. And sometimes…it happens! Of course, looking back, it is probably just that I did what you did. FOCUS!

    Great post, girl!

  • Wendy says:

    I do believe you’d be a super star crit. partner. You and Jody are lucky to have one another. So cool, your level of motivation and devotion.
    ~ Wendy

  • Jessica says:

    Good for you! Yes, staying in one spot can do amazing things. I’m always amazed at how much I can get written in an hour if I just sit and do it. Of course, that usually happens when there are no children around. 🙂

  • Jody Hedlund says:

    Thank you again for your wonderful critique. I’m absolutely amazed with your dedication and your ability to get those chapters all edited yesterday! As my girls would say, “You ROCK!” 🙂

    Keli is a VERY detailed editor (which is a HUGE blessing for me since I’m more of a big picture writer). She leaves a lot of comments and suggestions. And she always makes sure to point out the positives too. All of that takes an incredible amount of time! Doing 10 chapters in one day was indeed an incredible feat!!

    Thank you, Keli, for focusing! I need to do that this morning as I read through the rest of my Galleys! Focus is really what it all boils down to. Determination to stick to the task at hand until it’s done.

    Hope you have a wonderful relaxing day today!

  • Beth Vogt says:

    To stay focused, which is the best way to accomplish things, bar none, I have to leave my house. Too many distractions here. The phone. The laundry. The couch–great napping spot!
    And then, once I’m someplace else (like Panera), I have to keep my Internet connection off. No Twitter, no Facebook, no checking my e-mail. Go back to the old days when a computer was just a word processor.
    As usual, enjoyed your post, Keli!

  • Cindy R. Wilson says:

    Oooh, I love increasing my productivity! Those are some great tips. I always find it helpful to approach a task with a plan, that way, no matter how big the goal, you can see the progress by checking off smaller portions at a time. I’ve never done a word count spreadsheet for one of my stories but I did this time and it’s really helping me to keep on track and feel encouraged about my process!

  • Congratulations on reaching your goal, Keli!

    I find that having a specific goal helps, like you mentioned. I also like to use a technique suggested by Randy Ingermanson. He says to set a timer for 50 minutes and just crank out the word count (or critiquing or whatever). Then take a 10 minute break and go back to the 50-minute timer, repeating the process until you reach your goal. The thing I like about this is that it keeps my eyes off the clock. I just plug away until that timer dings. 🙂

  • Congratulations on accomplishing your goal, Keli! 🙂 I’d say you deserve a nice meal from your favorite, Taco Bell. 😉 ~ I completely agree with you about the need to remain focused. I can honestly say that’s my biggest challenge when writing (or tackling any project). So often I’ve let myself become distracted—not intentionally, but still distracted nonetheless *sigh*. Hmmm….am thinking I need to write FOCUS on a big index card and place it next to my computer! ~ Another great post–thank you.

  • Great job, Keli! I look forward to reading Jody’s book! Thanks for being a dedicated editor and for sharing your secrets of success! Hugs and blessings

  • Focus is so hard in this busy world! Even when it is something you want to do. I love the points you make. AND, I can’t wait to read Jody’s book!! If you loved us, you would give us some hints as to how great it is. Ha!! Come on, just three little hints as to what happens?

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Aw, Heather. How can I resist after a plea like that?

      1. Jody’s hero in book three is her dreamiest yet, a godly man of honor with a fun quirk and gorgeous green eyes.
      2. The story is set in her home state of Michigan. She brings the early logging days of the area to life–the upsides and downsides.
      3. She’s created another page-turner with a nasty villain who is the antithesis of her hero.

      And a bonus. =) Jody’s heroine is spunky, determined, and loves her coffee. (Hmm. Wonder where Jody took that trait from. *grin*)

      Readers are going to love this story. I highly recommend it and wish you didn’t have to wait until September 2012 to savor it.

      (Note: I’ve shared this info with Jody’s permission, but the words are mine.)

  • Twitter has actually helped my productivity. Keeping me accountable! Especially #wordmongering and #myWANA. I tend to want to procrastinate a lot…I’m learning to change.

  • Jodi says:

    Thanks for the great reminder Keli. It is so true – we can do whatever we set our minds to do. My biggest culprit is guilt. Due to the fact I am not a published author – I have a day job. I also have all the house things that every one else has. The problem is that my job is my own business which means that my time is my own AND that the work day buzzer never really rings. I split my day between writing, working, cleaning ect. But I always feel guilty when I write. A hurdle I need to overcome 😉

    Thanks for posting!

  • territiffany says:

    You’re good!! I can usually increase my productivity if I am excited about the project and turn off all distractions:) I love to set goals and love more to meet them!

  • Wow – GREAT post, Keli. You’re a critiquing machine! I posted about productivity today, only from a different angle.

    I think it’s huge, huge, huge to turn off the internet. When I need to get in a word count quota, that’s what I do. The little tweets are just too temping for me to ignore.