I have realized an odd productivity irony in my own life as well as listening to other writers. The more free time you have, the less productive you are.
I realized that the more free time you have the more you can put off things because you “can do it later.” Then, you waste all day on social media because you get distracted down the internet black hole and reemerge only to find that you got nothing done except for watching cute animal videos for eight hours.
So what is the fix? I can think of a couple.
1. Treat Writing Like a Job
Schedule your time to write every day, your expected word count or page number that you want to write and stick to these. don’t let anyone or anything interfere with your writing time unless it’s an emergency. And by emergency, specify that someone has to be in danger of dying. Give yourself deadlines to follow and make sure to track your progress so you never get too far behind. Treat the deadlines as non-negotiable. The more you treat it like a job the more you’ll get done.
2. Create Structure
I find I am most productive when I have a schedule. I have set time blocks to get stuff done in with frequent breaks or free time. This way I trick my brain into thinking I have less time than I actually do and this increases my productivity.
3. Get busy
Have nothing to do? Pick up a regular volunteering gig. Get a job (part-time or full-time: it’s up to you and what you can handle). Get into a regular meeting for writers, or actors, or activists or any other interest you may have. Make yourself have less time by filling your time with one or two time-consuming obligations that get you out of the house on a regular basis. I am starting small by getting out of the house twice a month but I haven’t really had human interaction in a couple months so I have to ease into it.
Do only what you can handle. Don’t overexert yourself. Dip your toe in and adjust as needed to find what works for you. Next time you find yourself being unproductive don’t allow yourself to say “I’ll do it later.” Get up and do it now. Otherwise, you’ll never get around to it.