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Sharon Short
Author, workshop director, columnist, speaker.
Author, workshop director, columnist, speaker.

Sharon's posts

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Excited that Antioch Writers' Workshop, where I'm Executive Director and Cyndi Pauwels is Assistant Director, was featured in Writer's Digest's Conference Scene section!

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Need some spring cleaning tips? A fun read? Well, the publisher temporarily dropped the #ebook price of my first Josie novel to .99 cents. A thrifty way to try the series!

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Some mornings are just too challenging for writers...

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Something fun for tomorrow, 3/14/15...

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Here's something fun I just learned about: a shout out to "My One Square Inch of Alaska" included in this USA Today piece on novels set in Alaska.

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Now available via Audible, Amazon and iTunes as an audiobook.

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Productivity Apps/Hacks I use
I've noticed a lot of people over the last week bemoaning a lack of time/energy for doing their creative projects, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite tips. Some of you may or may not know that I am a recovering internet addict. As such, I have a BUNCH of safety measures in place to ensure I don't drop back into the black hole and never get out.

Time Limiters
First, I have two separate apps to limit my time on various websites (social media mostly). 

1. StayFocusd
This chrome extension is ANNOYING, to say the least. With it, I'm limited to 20 minutes a day across all social media. Yes, 20 minutes. Obviously, I have some ways around it when it comes to community moderation, and there are days when I turn it off. But for the most part, I have 20 minutes a day to spend in the black hole. I'm really good at getting on for 30-second check-ins. I craft almost all my posts offline, unless they're reshares.

2. Strict Workflow
This one was recommended to me from someone who had used and hated StayFocusd. It can be wonderfully annoying as well. I fully blame this extension for making it possible for me to finish writing my book last September when I was getting close to deadline. It's your basic Pomodoro timer. It blocks websites during the time you're supposed to be working and then lets you access them when you're on a break. I have it set to 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes off, but I only use it when I'm actually working on a project.

Rewards Systems
Because I am a rewards junkie, I make sure I get stuff for being a good girl.

3. HabitRPG
HabitRPG is one of my favorite websites for productivity. Why? Because the entire thing is a game. You plug in your own habits and to-do lists, and doing those things lets you buy armor, grow pets into steeds, and have weapons. I'm in a party with my family, and together, we have fought dragons and defeated the Laundromancer, which at times was close to killing all of us. I have two creativity-related daily habits on there (among others). If you don't do your dailies, you take damage. One of my dailies is to stay offline until after breakfast. The other is to work on my book (whichever book I'm working on at the moment). If I don't want my character to get damaged, I have to be very careful about those things.

Phone Hacks
Most of the above are on my computer. I can easily get around the StayFocusd thing by just accessing all my social media on my cell phone. So I've made that incredibly difficult as well.

4. Turn Notifications Off
This sounds scary. How will you know that someone has commented on your post??? Unfortunately, I found that having notifications turned on on my phone just meant I was spending all day long on there. Once that phone makes a happy sound and you pick it up, you're back online. No, thank you. I only receive notifications for emails that hit my personal inbox and for text messages. For everything else, you have to wait until I'm back online.

5. Uninstall the apps
I used to be so addicted to Facebook. I don't even want to tell you how addicted. Let's just say that on my worst days, I might sit on the computer or on my phone and actually refresh the screen every few minutes to see if there's something new. It's sick. (Ignore the fact that I do this on G+ at least once a week, okay?) So I quit cold turkey. I do not have a Facebook app on my phone. I don't have Messenger. I can sometimes get on there from the browser, but the mobile interface sucks enough that it's not worth the energy. I'm >this close< to uninstalling my G+ app, but I still have several wonderful communities to manage, so that one stays for now. My G+ app doesn't have easy access, though. I've never put it on my phone's home screen. So I have to actively search for it in all my installed apps. That extra annoyance makes it a little tougher for me to get on and makes me think, "Is this what I should be doing with my time right now?"

I know for some of you, this all sounds a little too strict. But for those addictive personalities out there that might be like me, I hope these tips help you manage your time a little better this year. The great thing about restricting your online time is that you get bored! Then you have to create stuff! And you can think about stuff! It's amazing!

What kind of apps, extensions, or hacks do you use to increase your productivity? I'd love to hear new tips and tricks I could use. Mine still aren't foolproof, and I still fall deep into the black hole of the internet far too often.
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