Saturday, April 29, 2023

Increase Your Writing Productivity With This New Habit

by Ginny Cruz, MPA, PT

I love to-do lists, calendars, and fresh paper. My affection for productivity began in elementary school. When the crisp fall air arrived, I couldn’t wait to buy school supplies. My heart adored selecting new spiral-bound notebooks and yellow pencils. Unfortunately, few friends shared my enthusiasm. Even now, when back-to-school time arrives, I consider buying some lined paper.

Today, my colleagues chuckle that I have lists of lists. My desk is scattered with hastily written notes of things to remember, such as books to buy, items to write down on my calendar for another day, and random thoughts that may end up in a blog or article. But many of those notes end up being reorganized over and over or tossed aside in frustration.

The New Habit
In my lifelong effort to gain control over my daily projects, I recently stumbled across a new habit of using my phone’s electronic calendar to keep my activities organized. I use my smartphone frequently and do my best to keep up with the latest technology. Of course, having young adult children who prefer texting to phone calls helps. While I’ve switched some things from my old way of doing it to using my phone, I’ve resisted using my electronic calendar, preferring my trusty day planner. My physical planner allows me to see the entire week or month at a glance, a feature my visual self loves. Plus, I adore the feeling of writing on paper. Pecking away on a phone keyboard, even using fun emoji shortcuts, doesn’t give me the same thrill.

My new habit started during the infamous COVID lockdown because my work shifted to remote. Our team was on video calls throughout the day, and my calendar dinged, notifying me what meeting was next. I grew to enjoy the notifications and began to trust that my phone would keep me on track without anxiously checking my physical calendar and wristwatch, as was my prior habit. 

How Writers Can Use an Electronic Calendar 
One morning as I cried out to God for help completing my book before the rapidly-approaching deadline, he gently reminded me about my calendar notification feature. So, I scheduled my writing time on my smartphone’s calendar. Each day I planned a few hours to write. The calendar’s ding notified me when to begin and when to end. When it was time to stop, I'd quickly finish and wait to write again until the next scheduled time. I found this habit relaxed my mind knowing my calendar would "tell me" when the time was up. Following this new method improved my writing because my thoughts didn’t wander off to check on the time. 

My mind often becomes anxious when big projects loom, such as completing a book by the deadline. Using my electronic calendar decreased my sense of feeling overwhelmed. Writing a little bit each day helped me finish my book, including the first edits, two weeks before the deadline. Plus, I never felt overwhelmed. I trusted my calendar would tell me when to begin and when to end each day, and it worked.

After my assigned writing time, I programmed other items into my calendar, such as house cleaning or errands. While I had to discipline myself to complete each task when my calendar “told” me it was time, this new habit worked. I admit, there are days my mind falls back into old ways of keeping up with handwritten notes on scraps of paper because old habits are slow to die. Using this new calendar notification feature is a work in progress, but one I know works for me. 

While I still use my old-fashioned (as the kids call it) day planner and will continue to do so, I’ve grown to love and use my electronic calendar more each day. Those notification dings gently remind me what’s next without my remembering to look at the calendar or keeping up with sticky notes. 

Bottom Line
If you’re facing a big deadline or struggle to sit in the chair and write each day, consider a trial period of using your electronic calendar that can notify you when to begin and end. Then, pray for strength and discipline to keep up with what your "to-do" list says to do.

What methods have you found that increase your writing productivity? 


Ginny Cruz, MPA, PT is a pediatric physical therapist, early intervention specialist, and award-winning author. Her writing encourages and teaches moms simple and effective ways to help their baby meet developmental milestones. In addition to writing, she enjoys hiking, reading, and camping with her husband. Find out more at, Instagram, or Facebook.


  1. Ginny, I really relate to this. I can't give up my day planner completely, so I use both. And doing double entries helps cement it in my mind, which seems to be a sieve these days.

  2. Good morning! Yes, I often do both because writing builds a stronger memory for me than typing.

  3. This sounds like such a simple habit, but it seems to make such a huge difference. I'm going to give it a try! Thanks, Ginny.

  4. Beth, you are welcome! Sometimes the simple things DO work. Lol

  5. Ginny,

    Thank you for these great ideas about using our phones to improve how we handle and meet deadlines. It was several years ago I made the switch to handling these matters on my phone. I use the reminders section of my phone with all sorts of personal and professional deadlines. My wife is still using her paper calendar for such things. Each of us have to find what works for our life but you've provided lots of valuable insights here.

    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition) [Follow this link to get a FREE copy]

    1. Thanks, Terry! I'm a hybrid user because I will always prefer to write and organize on a paper calendar. But, my trusty e-calendar is my new friend.