Staying Productive

A few weeks ago, Madie Hodges, community manager for, contacted me to ask about how I stay productive.  While I don’t have all the answers, and at times I’m certainly NOT the most productive person in the world, I do happen to have a few things which work for me.

First of all, who are you?

My name is Molly Daniels/Kenzie Michaels, and I need to clone myself.  One to write, one to watch TV, one to take care of the house, and one to do everything else.


Okay, okay.  Since my two busiest seasons are coming up, NaNoWriMo in November, and Christmas, this is a perfect time to remember these.

1)  Prioritize:  Not only am I a stay-at-home Mom, but a published author with two pen names, fourteen books, and four more due out in the next two years.  I’m also home schooling my youngest, caring for my two year old granddaughter, and dealing with a diabetic spouse who has a wound on his foot.  Yes, your read that correctly.  I’m essentially a teacher, Mom, Grandma, Author, Domestic Engineer (I hate the term homemaker), and Nurse.  I get up anywhere between 7:30 and 9 (that’s the beauty of home schooling!) and go to bed around midnight.  

Obviously, the granddaughter takes precedence in the mornings, getting her changed and fed until her mom wakes up.  She loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so while she watches it, I can check emails and social media sites.  Then I get the Youngling started on his schoolwork, which is a combination of independent work and me working with him.

Household chores are next; twice a week I tackle laundry and the kitchen patrol, while the spouse and daughter usually take care of the rest (and yes, they gripe about it!).

But what does this have to do with your writing?  I’m getting to that.

2)  Social Media:  I’ll admit it; I’m addicted to Facebook.  But this also helps me stay focused.  HOW?  I post my word count.  I join other authors in word sprints or word wars, either on Facebook or Twitter, where we write for 45 minutes at a time, then post our word counts.  There’s no prizes for who’s written the most words; it’s all about encouraging each other.  I like to do these between laundry loads.  I use that 15 minutes in between sprints to stay on both tasks, and it means I have to get up and MOVE.

3)  MUSIC:  I like to work with music in the background.  Years ago, when my older two were little, nap time was ‘my time’.  I’d get them settled, put on Hooked On Classics (remember those?), and write for two solid hours.  This was before we had a computer, so I wrote in longhand, since my electric typewriter was noisy.

4)  Being Alone:  Sometimes I work best when the family members go somewhere and leave me alone.  I also call this a ‘mini vacation’, ha ha!  I can play my music as loud as I want, and no one complains if I play the same CD over and over.

5)  Change of Venue:  Sometimes, all it takes is for me to be elsewhere with my laptop.  I can be at the coffee shop, or at my writer’s group for the words to flow.

How often do you do this?

Sadly, not often enough.  For example, over the summer I managed to get hooked on NetFlix, watching Star Trek Deep Space 9.  If I found myself with a free hour, I fired up my Kindle Fire and watched another episode.  I finished the series this past weekend, and now I’m catching up on shows I didn’t watch this summer (Extant) and the new season of shows which began this month (Ink Masters, Good Wife, Madame Secretary).  The only ones I’m actively keeping up with are Survivor and Big Bang Theory.  Plus the new episodes of Ink Master; I think there are only 3 I’ve not watched.  Yes, I’m hooked on TV and my DVR.  See why I need a clone?

8 hours of sleep equals 16 hours of productivity.

Not quite.  When you factor in an hour for lunch and dinner, plus clean up, that reduces it to at least 13.  Plus I need at least an hour every morning to get ready for the day.  So now we’re down to 12.  Not to mention when I have to spend at least two hours working with the Youngling-

I get it.  You’re now down to ten.

Plus I read for at least an hour every day.  That makes it 9.  Add in my TV time and that’s at least two more hours.  So we’re back to 7.

So 7 hours to do laundry, grocery shop, make sure your son does his lessons, write, cook dinner, and keep up with social media.  Whew….I’m tired and all I did was write that sentence!

I also have to write blog posts, then spend time promoting myself on chat loops, facebook groups, and other social media sites.  That can take up to two hours.  We didn’t even touch upon my spouse’s doctor visits.

Wait a minute.  The purpose of this post was to talk about your PRODUCTIVITY, not reasons why you’re UNPRODUCTIVE.

Hey, you started it with your ‘how-many-hours-can-you-be-productive’.  What do you say we go to lunch?  That’s another problem I have:  Procrastination.  Maybe my publisher will see this and give me a kick in the pants.  My next book is due to be released in March, which means I have to get the rest of it written and turned in no later than mid-January.

Forget lunch.  Let’s go get a drink.  You’ve worn me out.