Writing consistently in a world where distractions are abundant is extremely difficult. However, if you’re an aspiring writer, consistent writing is a necessity.

There are many productivity tips for writers out there but these tips are difficult to incorporate if the concepts of willpower and multitasking aren’t properly understood.

Willpower

Willpower is a concept many of us are familiar with. It is described as personal determination, self-discipline, or self-control.

This concept is often associated with the power to resist the temptation that provides instant gratification in order to reap long-term benefits. Considering that the society we live in thrives on instant gratification and we are not used to waiting for anything anymore, willpower is difficult to achieve.

However, willpower is one of the things that most affect one’s ability to be productive. So, in order to become more productive, it is necessary to develop a strong understanding of this seemingly outdated concept.

There are multiple studies that show that willpower is a limited resource, meaning that you start with a certain quantity at the beginning of your day and as you use it to make daily decisions such as eating a salad rather than a chocolate cake, your reserve diminishes.

Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister calls this occurrence “ego depletion”.

Hence, it is important to pick and choose what tasks are more important and spend your time focusing on those first because your willpower isn’t an infinite resource.

Something to note is that willpower can be trained like a muscle. The more you practice it, the better you become at it.

There are a few tricks to instantly help you better manage your willpower:

Diminishing your stress levels helps increase your willpower. When you are in a stressed state, your body will search for the fastest route to gratification in order to diminish said stress. Hence it is better to take a moment and relax before performing your daily tasks.

Self-awareness is the most important key to developing stronger willpower. Most of us are unaware of the everyday choices we make because we make them out of habit and without any though. In order to change bad habits, becoming more aware of what you’re doing wrong is essential. This way you can determine whether you are spending your limited willpower on insignificant things.

Research has shown that self-affirmation can greatly aid in reinforcing willpower. It is better to avoid saying “I can’t” because these statements deplete your reserves faster (and you will most likely give in to the temptation quicker).

Why multitasking is a myth

Many of us hold the belief that we are capable of multitasking and that we are even good at it.

But, the truth of the matter is that the human brain simply cannot multitask.

What we are actually doing when we are “multitasking” is simply quickly switching from one task to another.

The task of constantly switching tasks is proven to be less effective and more time-consuming than if you were to simply concentrate on one task at a time. When you are multitasking you are actually doing less work than if you were to single-task.

In fact, you become much more productive once you start to concentrate on one thing because:

  1. this means that you will be less stressed which will improve your overall performance
  2. It enables you to focus and prioritize your work more effectively
  3. Working on one thing at a time permits you to enter a state of flow, which, in positive psychology, means that you are fully immersed in the activity you are performing

In addition to being less effective, studies have proven that multitasking can actually be detrimental to some of your mental health. Indeed, multitasking may lead to an overall increase of anxiety, may negatively affect your short-term memory, and will inhibit your state of flow. 

Hence, when writing, it is better to avoid multi-tasking and focus on one thing. A technique that I personally use is that I give myself 90 min to write uninterrupted. During these 90 mins, challenge yourself to avoid all other distractions and you’ll be surprised at how much work you can actually get done.

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