Monday, September 10, 2018

Top 3 Ways to Stay Productive This Fall

Hello everyone! Allie Pleiter and I (JillKemerer) are chatting about how to stay productive this fall. I’ve always loved September. I load up on back-to-school sale pens and notebooks for myself, check out the cool-weather fashions cropping up at the mall, and anticipate russet leaves, cool nights, pumpkin spice everything, and cozy blankets.

Inevitably, visions of Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that hustle-bustle get me excited—Hallmark Christmas movies!!—but just as quickly, fill me with doubts.

Will I meet the professional goals I’ve set for the year?
What about the personal goals—you know, the books I want to read, the places I want to go, the things I want to do?

At this point my mind goes blank as I try to remember what those goals were. Before I know it, I’m munching on Tootsie Rolls and fighting discouragement.

How will I get everything done?

My memory is a flighty little thing, so I skim my day planner to see what I’ve already accomplished. Then I review my current projects and jot down a few personal and professional goals I want to meet by the end of the year. My plan is ambitious. Sure, I can trim it down, but what if I press forward with it? Can I find a way to meet these goals?

Since Allie has written two books on staying productive during challenging times, I’m leaning on her for advice.

Allie, you’re a master at staying on track and getting things done even when life is super busy. What are your top three tips for staying productive this fall?

Fall is an energizing time—summer’s lazy quality drifts away and our brains gear up for productivity. It’s an excellent time to take stock, tweak plans, and even do a bit of dreaming. I definitely believe us grown-ups can get in on the “back to school” atmosphere and take steps to finish the year strong. 

Here are my top three productivity tips:

1.  Make a list.
Lists help us focus and see the whole of our task load. Even if your list ends up being very long, I promise you your stress level will go down just knowing you’ve collected everything on paper (rather than hoping your brain will hold it all).

2.  Break it down into daily portions.
A huge list feels just that: huge. It’s important to have the full scope of your demands and goals laid out, but it can easily overwhelm. Look at your list and think about what needs to be done or can reasonably be done—-just for today. I do this every Sunday night for each of the days in my work week ahead. That way I’m not held hostage by waking up in a funk on Tuesday or the temptation of a Netflix binge on Friday. I’ve got a practical dose of one-day-sized tasks batched up and ready to go, before my brain or mood can take off in other directions.

3. Number your list.
Seriously, this is the single most transformative tactic I teach. Why? Because the most powerful knowledge of all is knowing what to do next. Ordering your tasks for any given day gives your ambition “marching orders.”  Your brain knows that #1 comes first, then #2, you’ll be done at #6, etc. It sounds simplistic, but try it and you’ll discover how much it helps you stay on track!

These three tips, even in the most trying of times when you feel drowning in demands, can get you up and running toward your goals. Which leads me to a fourth powerful tactic: go back daily and take a grateful look at everything you’ve been able to accomplish! Nothing builds momentum like knowing you’re gaining ground, no matter how slowly.

Thanks, Allie! This is just what I needed. I can be hit or miss on your first two tips, so this was the nudge I needed to be more consistent. And tip 3 made me slap my forehead with a “duh.” Of course—number the list! Brilliant!

How do YOU stay productive? Please share your tips in the comments!

Interested in Allie’s books?
I have The Chunky Method and LOVE it! Full of great advice for writers!

Can’t seem to finish that novel you’ve been writing? Want to write faster and get published but fear squelching your muse? Pleiter’s innovative Chunky Method offers practical, real-world productivity advice in an easy to read and inspiring workbook. Follow a step-by-step plan to identify your unique writing “Chunk” and wield it to create a solid plan that works “even when life gets in the way.” No matter what your writing style, The Chunky Method Handbook will help you chart an individualized path to your creative writing goals.


Is your muse yelling “SOS”? How do you keep the words pouring onto the page when your real life feels like it’s under attack? Every writer knows how stress and personal crises can strangle your creativity. Help is on the way in this brilliantly practical guide. Inside, you’ll find advice that: - Gets you through the thick of your crisis - Gives you tactics that will energize you to keep writing - Teaches you to use your stress to inspire your writing - And much more!


A nanny at Christmastime…

Will she find love in this Wyoming Cowboys novel?

Six weeks on a ranch caring for quadruplets—aspiring nurse Ainsley Draper’s prepared for a busy Christmas. When the children’s handsome uncle opens the door, her task gets extra complicated. Marshall Graham is upholding his promise to look after his twin sister, the babies’ mom. But as family loyalty clashes with new love, will the perfect present include a future with Ainsley?


  1. Great advice, ladies. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Oh, oh, oh, I am a list maker. What's weird, and what I didn't notice about myself until your post, was that I don't number my list at work but I do number it at home. I think it's because I HAVE to get the list done at work but home it's somewhat optional. Hmmm.

    1. Most of us have "work" and "home" speeds--which is why things can get tangled for those of us who "work at home." I number EVERYTHING--it's almost a family joke, but I get a lot done because of it.

    2. I love the idea of numbering my lists, too, Pamela!

  3. Great post! Love that book cover, Jill!

    1. I know...all those adorable babies.....

    2. Thanks, Jackie!! The art department really nailed it with the cover--soooo adorable!

  4. love this advice and I'll add: accountability partners! having someone to report in to is so motivating!

  5. Great post! I couldn’t exist without my lists!

  6. Replies
    1. I do, too, and it's SO helpful! Easy-to-digest bites of writing--what's not to love about that?


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