5 simple ways RescueTime will help you build a better writing routine and block distractions

RescueTime has teamed up with NaNoWriMo to help you write your novel. Sign up and get RescueTime Premium for free until the end of November (with the option to renew at a discount). 

As we wrote last week, a solid writing routine will help make sure you write consistently. But with just 30 days to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo 2018, you need to use every tool, trick, and hack at your disposal to make the most of your time in front of a keyboard.

RescueTime has been used by authors of all levels—from amateurs to best-selling novelists—to help understand their time, build better habits, and hit their goals.

As Shanna Peeples, National Teacher of the Year and author of Think like Socrates, told us:

“RescueTime is like the Weight Watchers of time—helping me become aware of how I’m using my minutes and manage them better.”

Here are a few simple ways RescueTime makes you a more productive writer:

1. Build a better writing routine and stay accountable to your goals

Before NaNoWriMo starts, you’ll want to have a daily schedule mapped out so you know exactly when you need to be writing to hit your goal.

As RescueTime Mac and iOS developer, Keli Fancher explains:

“Writing a 50,000 word novella in a month is hard, but doable. Unless you can dedicate enormous blocks of time to it you’re going to have to squeeze writing into all your free time.”

RescueTime works invisibly to keep detailed track of how you spend your time on all your digital devices. And for NaNoWriMo 2018, we’ve built a custom dashboard to focus in on your writing time and goals.

RescueTime Nano2018 Dashboard
We’re still polishing the details of the report, so it might not look exactly like the example above, but that should give you a pretty good idea of what’s to come!

So what does this tell you as a writer taking on NaNoWriMo? I’m glad you asked!

  1. How much time did you spend on writing today? And did that happen during the writing schedule you’ve set? The most successful writers follow a writing routine with a specific time set aside for writing each day.
  2. Did you hit your writing goal for the day? Want to write for 3 hours a day? We’ll help you stay informed and accountable.
  3. Your monthly view and how much time you spent writing each day. Seeing progress and your streak of writing days is one of the best ways to stay motivated and focused.
  4. What activities are taking up too much of your time? Distractions can kill your word count. We give you insight into where your attention is going.
  5. Tools and resources to block distractions and stay focused. Set up FocusTime, learn about writing routines and time management, and more.

Even better, RescueTime reports are completely customizable. Meaning you can categorize any activity you want as distracting and create a custom block list to help you stay focused during your writing time.

2. Set a daily writing schedule and goal for time spent writing each day

Speaking of goals, RescueTime can also help track and keep you accountable for your daily writing goals.

When you sign up for RescueTime as a NaNoWriMo participant, you’ll be prompted to set a writing schedule (when during the day you want to write) and writing goal (how long you want to write for).

RescueTime Nano2018 Tools
Set a custom writing schedule, goals for your daily writing time, and even block distractions while you write.

We’ll send you an alert when your writing session starts and ends, and you can even include a custom message to get displayed when you hit your writing goal to keep you motivated.

3. Block distracting websites (like social media) when you’re trying to write

Our lives are filled with distractions. And yet somehow they seem to get even more powerful when we’re trying to sit down and write.

Here’s Keli Fancher again:

“Social media, podcasts, entertainment are not bad in and of themselves, but when you’re adding something like NaNoWriMo to an already busy schedule somethings gotta give.

“I try to make it a point to all but eliminate usage of all social networks and media consumption during that time period (no podcasts, movies, tv, books, etc).

Not only does this free up an enormous amount of time you can use to focus on writing, but giving your brain a “break” from constantly consuming content helps spur creativity.

Instead of letting social media, news, sports, and YouTube pull you away from filling up the blank page, RescueTime’s FocusTime can block distracting websites when you’re supposed to be writing.

How to write a novel - RescueTime block screen

To get you started, here are a couple great FocusTime use cases for writers:

4. Get deep insights into when and how much you’ve been writing

Over time, RescueTime can give you deep insights into your writing habits (and what’s getting in the way of hitting your goals!)

RescueTime can go as deep into your personal reports as you’d like. But one I especially like for helping build better writing habits is seeing which documents I spend the most time in.

I spend the majority of my time writing in Google Docs. So, using RescueTime, I can get a ton of insights into my Google Docs time last September, including:

  • What days I wrote the most on
  • When during the day I’m most focused on writing
  • What specific documents I spent time writing on (for example, my outline, character backgrounds, or main novel doc)
  • If my writing time is trending up or down for the month

RescueTime insights

With this info, I can start to build a better routine, focus on writing when I’m most likely to, and see exactly how much time I spent on the documents that I want to be working on.

5. Track your progress and stay motivated when you hit a writing slump

It’s inevitable that you’ll hit at least one slump during NaNoWriMo. Rather than let a few missed writing days knock out your momentum, RescueTime helps remind you of all the hard work you’ve already put in.

As author Jocelyn K. Glei notes:

“Most of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge loss.”

RescueTime is a powerful tool for tracking your progress, especially on a project like NaNoWriMo. On a daily basis, your RescueTime dashboard can tell you how much time you’re spending on writing, while RescueTime Goals and Alerts give you real-time feedback when you hit your goal.

But switch to your month view and you can see how many days over a week or month you’ve hit your writing goal, how your writing time is trending, and how many days you’ve built in a writing streak.

RescueTime monthly goals view
Here’s mine from September (I probably should’ve picked a more flattering month to share!)

RescueTime Premium is free for all NaNoWriMo participants from now until the end of November

NaNoWriMo is no small feat. And with just 15% of participants completing their novel each year, we want to help give you the best possible chance of hitting your writing goals.

Sign up for RescueTime today and get a Premium account for free through the month of November. We’ll have specials for everyone who competed in NaNoWriMo at the end of the month.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Want to learn more about spending your time well and doing more meaningful work? Get our latest blog posts in your inbox every week.

Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer, content marketer, and editor of the RescueTime blog.