Get more productivity for your time with these apps and tools that help beat procrastination and lack of focus.
First – This is sooo simple but effective developed around a simple kitchen timer that was built into a whole technique – The Pomodoro Technique, to keep you focused and productive.
Wikipedia describes the underlying principles as thus:
There are six stages in the technique:
Decide on the task to be done.
Set the pomodoro timer to n minutes (traditionally n = 25).
Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops into your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 1.
Else (i.e. after four pomodoros) take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To Do Today” list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodoros are completed, they are recorded, adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
For the purposes of the technique, a pomodoro is the interval of time spent working. After task completion, any time remaining in the pomodoro is devoted to overlearning. Regular breaks are taken, aiding assimilation. A short (3–5 minutes) rest separates consecutive pomodoros. Four pomodoros form a set. A longer (15–30 minute) rest is taken between sets.
A goal of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. A pomodoro is indivisible. When interrupted during a pomodoro, either the other activity must be recorded and postponed (inform – negotiate – schedule – call back) or the pomodoro must be abandoned.
Find out more about this technique below and let me know what you think.
Jett Farrell-Vega over at The Write Life shared a few more apps for productivity.
Writing often feels like creating something out of nothing. It can be easy to just click over to Facebook and never return. Enter distraction blockers.
For Android, FocusON is a true example of the nuclear option for blocking access to apps and websites. It’s hard — I mean really hard — to shut it off once you’ve enabled a block for a certain period of time.
For Chrome, TimeWarp is a customizable option. It requires some discipline, but the option to divert to a different website or an inspirational quote might be all the motivation you need.
Trello has quickly become my favorite writing tool that most writers have never heard of.
It’s a web-based productivity app with a premise very similar to the old school method of using index cards on a cork board. For a writer, the possibilities are endless. You can use a Trello board to make to do lists, prioritize submissions, even to track research.
My favorite use for Trello is as a scene organizer for fiction projects. Make a board to represent your novel, then make lists on that board to represent each chapter. Finally, make cards for individual scenes or story events. It’s very easy to move scenes around.
Being organized can take a huge amount of stress off and allow you to focus on your content.
Author’s program note. 150 years ago, March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln (born 1809), became 16th president of the United States. And if you do not believe in destiny, fate, or kismet, even you will wonder at the undoubted fact that at the time of its maximum peril, the Great Republic should have found the perfect man to guide her affairs and so preside not over her premature dissolution (as so many thought and even wished) but her greatest trial, from which, terrible forge though it was, emerged the greatest of nations. Oh, yes, here was the hand of God, indeed… to the wonder of all… and as we know His ways are mysterious so we shouldn’t wonder at this man and his story… a story to be told in the words he loved, the words he mastered, the words he used to effect his great purpose… the words we all have at our disposal… but which only he used with such grace and power… and such resolve… the mark of the consummate master of our language and the great uses to which it can always rise…
For this tale, I have selected as the occasional music a tune Abraham Lincoln loved and tapped his toe to, “Jimmy Crack Corn”. It’s a frolicksome number thought to be a black face minstrel song of the 1840s. Like so much that touches Lincoln, it’s not quite what it appears to be…. that is, a black slave’s lament over his master’s death… it has indeed a subtext of rejoicing over that death and possibly having caused it by deliberate negligence…. “Dat Blue Tail Fly”… It is a feeling every slave must have thought at some time… which every master must have understood and feared… and from this seemingly unsolvable conundrum Lincoln freed both, saving the people, cleansing the Great Republic.
Without benefit of formal education… yet with every necessary word to hand.
Consider the matter of Illinois, the 21st state, frontier of the Great Republic in 1818 when it was admitted to the Union. It was a land firmly focused on the bright future all were certain was coming… the better to obliterate and make bearable the rigors and unceasing travails of the present. The land was rich… the richness of the people would soon follow.
In this land of future promise, inchoate, Lincoln, like all those who delight in words, found his labors lightened and vista magnified by books, and thanks to the good and helpful work of Robert Bray (2007), we may learn just what books he possessed, and so which words he knew, by whom rendered, and how.
It is impossible to know in just what order young Lincoln found the books, read the books, and with what degree of joy and enthusiasm, for Lincoln (unlike many who love and live by words) was not a great writer of marginal commentary, in which reader engages in often enraged tete-a-tete with author. Such marginalia are cream to any biographer, but in Lincoln’s case were infrequent.
In any event, we can surmise that he learned his words first from the great King James version of The Bible, perhaps the most influential and certainly most lyric book in the language. If so, it bestowed on him not only the words but their sonority, cadence and above all, moral certainty, all of which were critical in the development of his mature style and so helped save a great nation from self-destruction. There followed first the odd volume, happily received, then a steady trickle, then the glorious days when he could have as many books, and so as many words, as he wanted; paradise to a man for whom each word, and every book, was a key to greater understanding of the cosmos… and himself…
Thus, E.A. Andrews and S. Stoddard “A Grammar of the Latin Language” (1836); Nathan Bailey “Dictionary of English Etymology” (1721); James Barclay “Dictionary” (1774); George Bancroft “History of the United States (1834); Francis Bacon “Essays” (1625); John Bunyan “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (1678); Benjamin Franklin “Autobiography” (1818); Edward Gibbon “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1776)…
… and one great poet after another, for as Lincoln learned, as every word smith must learn, there can be no mastery of words where there is no understanding of poets and their precise, meticulous craft… and so one finds without surprise the works of Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Thomas Gray whose “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751) he so loved… with its sad beauty, lines which, once read, seem to have been written for Lincoln himself:
“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour, the paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
It was a thought Lincoln knew only too well, and he had but to touch this poem to think on its powerful, unanswerable, haunting words, including these…
“Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne”… but not yet… not yet.
And so Lincoln on every day sought out the light enabling him to learn the words, all the words he needed and his work demanded…. thus was he up with day’s first light… to finish his work betimes, to snatch some minutes for the words…, then to pass the night and gain some further words by fire light and smokey tallow. Because the words would not be denied… Lincoln was not to be denied. They beckoned. He followed… until he was at last ready to begin, just to begin, his great work… the work that needed all of him… and so every word at his command.
Thus was he summoned from Springfield in Illinois to the greatest city of the Great Republic, New York, where its most renowned and anxious citizens, worthy, substantial, concerned, waited with impatience, condescension, worry and, yes, even hope to hear what a prairie lawyer named Lincoln had to say to them about the great issue of their day and how this great blot upon the Great Republic could be resolved… and their great experiment in governance be purified. And so did Abraham Lincoln rise to speak, at Cooper Union, February 27, 1860.
The most important speech since Washington’s Farewell Address (1796).
These days only specialists are knowledgeable about the Cooper Union speech… but this is wrong, for it gave the Union a new voice, a new leader, and a man fiercely dedicated to the preservation and triumph of the Constitution. Without Cooper Union Lincoln would never have been nominated in 1860, so never would have served, and could not have brought his signal talents to bear on saving the Great Republic. And thus the greatest experiment in human history and affairs might well have come to naught, to the impoverishment and despair of our species.
But Cooper Union did happen… and with every word the nation knew it had found not merely a good and honest man, but a savior… a man fiercely dedicated to truth… fiercely dedicated to working together with even obdurate men who hated and outraged each other… fiercely determined to find the formula to protect and defend the Union… And so he was fierce in his moderation… fierce in his implacable opposition to anyone threatening the great federal Union… fierce in asking all good citizens to step forward and work for the greater good… And such was the power of his fierce message of what must be done, such was the excellence, clarity and reasonableness of his words, that this audience of the great thrilled and cheered him to the very echo.
This single man whose ambition was defined (according to his law partner William H. Herndon) as “a little engine that knew no rest”, was now in place for the uttermost struggle, a struggle for common sense, common purpose, common decency and the validation and acknowledgement of all. He was ready… for he had the ideas, the fortitude, the moral certainty… and, above all, the words he needed, the words that saved the Great Republic and remind us still of what is possible when we have a leader who summons the “better angels of our nature.”
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business
when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois,
publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned
four college degrees, including the PhD. from Harvard.
He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the
first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 20 books, thousands
of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television
He has founded several successful corporations and businesses
including his latest at …writerssecrets.com
His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered five prizes
that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs
of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by
this man of so many letters.
Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of
becoming a successful writer.
Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.com
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A multi- award winning, gloriously written and unique memoir by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
First Place in Class at The GREAT SOUTHEAST BOOK FESTIVAL
Great Southwest Book Festival
Sole winner in the category
Awarded FIRST in Class at Southern California Book Festival.
SECOND in Class at the Great Midwest Book Festival.
SECOND in Class at the Great Northwest Book Festival, March, 2016
THIRD in Class at the London (England) Book Festival.
THIRD in Class at the New England Book Fare.
Dr. Lant also was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award with a focus on “A Connoisseur’s Journey” with this citation.
“Dr. Jeffrey Lant. On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I congratulate you on the release of your Memoir, ‘A Connoisseur’s Journey’. Your work is a groundbreaking experiment into the use of musical citations in literature, adding depth and nuance to the reading experience.”
(signed) Charles D. Baker, Governor and Karyn E.Polito, Lieutenant Governor
Preface of “A Connoisseur’s Journey” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant –
This is my twentieth book, but only the first of my memoirs. Over the course of my long connection with books, the discovery, the reading, the writing, the rewriting and rereading I have come across many volumes of memoirs, some glorious and gloriously written, some so forgettable that you cannot remember the author even a moment after putting the dreary pages down, vowing to avoid him like the plague forever after. However I, dear reader, shall give you what you want in a memoir… humor, indiscretion, secrets, stories of the rich and famous, stories about places and situations you’ve longed to visit and enjoy. You will learn much in theleast demanding of ways… and feel more and more intelligent as you read.
You will be in the hands of a man of learning, privilege, and audacity, who has been there, done that, and lived to write the tale. There is nothing fair or objective in what you’re about to read. Nor should there be. For a memoir is all about you, your life, your point of view, your unique journey wherever on Earth and in whatever way you choose to make it. And if some — even you! — cavil or object to even a single word or sentiment, why then write your own memoirs, for the genre is open to all.
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“WHETHER I SHALL TURN OUT TO BE THE HERO OF MY OWN LIFE. REFLECTIONS AT THREE SCORE AND NINE!” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
A candid look at one man’s spectacular journey from the great plains of America to worldwide renown as author, marketer, and commentator.