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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Monotasking: The Quick Cure for Writer’s Block

Earlier today I realized it’s already Wednesday and I haven’t written a blog entry this week. I groaned. My head dropped and my torso slumped in my office chair.

But now, I’m physically and mentally refreshed and ready to go. What changed? I just spent 15 minutes monotasking.

I set the timer for 10 minutes and quickly, without second-guessing myself and allowing myself to be indecisive, sorted and filed the random pages that were inching their way across the top of my office countertop. That’s all I did: processed one piece of paper at a time. I knew that’s all I had to do, all I was going to do, so there was no point in avoiding the task by setting the paper aside to check email or add notes to what I’m writing today. And I knew I only had to do it for 10 minutes. I actually finished in 8.

Then I gave myself my treat: an Eddy’s Fruit Bar (very tasty, very refreshing because they aren’t overly sweet and very low-cal). Instead of my usual habit of eating at my desk while reviewing email, I sat in the rocking chair in the front of my house and listened to the wind in the elms, birches and maples.

The fact that we have a deliciously temperate day after two days of scalding record highs helped me appreciate the absence of air conditioners droning and the presence of fresh, cool air.

You gotta love the Zero Tasking tee from LifeIsGood.com

At the end of my 5 minutes of doing nothing but enjoying my fruit bar and watching leaves move, I thought about the blog again. No groan this time. My head and back stayed comfortably resting against the back of the rocker.

I’ll write about this, I thought. About good it feels to allow myself to do one thing, one simple thing without my monkey mind chasing its own tail with thoughts about all the other things I have to do.  About how a reward and a short rest for body and brain restores my motivation and creativity. About how amazingly effective it is to do one thing at a time.

And that’s what I did. In my clutter-free office, with my clutter-free brain, I wrote this blog in record time and with record ease.

Here’s to monotasking! Try it sometime. Sometime soon.

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4 Comments on “Monotasking: The Quick Cure for Writer’s Block”

  1. GoodStew September 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    I’m not a writer, but I know this method (mono-tasking) works in most areas of procrastination. Succeeding at any “one” task, seems to change my mind set and motivation, particularly when fear is the culprit. It gets the juices and the energy flowing. Thanks for the reminder Rosanne.


    • Rosanne Bane September 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      You’re welcome – thanks for your observation. Sometimes motivation is all about getting yourself in motion.


  2. rosannebane June 13, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks Michael!


  3. mkelberer June 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Nice, Rosanne!


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