The Day I Survived Without My Laptop

If you were ever a ‘Sex and the City’ fan, you’ll no doubt remember when Carrie’s computer went to heaven and she spectacularly lost everything. Those were pre-cloud days, and she lived life on the edge, without backing up. Now, that was a huge technological fail. So, mine? Not in this league, but still enough to throw a spanner in the works.

I didn’t need to log on to Xero on Tuesday last week and, thankfully, I’m not an accountant. Xero - my reliable, trusty accounting software - was down for the day. Eeep! But just the following day, I went into panic mode as I realised with horror that my laptop had gone into work with my husband. I had inadvertently left it in the boot while doing childcare pick up and general toddler wrangling. After letting out plenty of initial frustration, I took stock.

I had three precious work hours ahead of me, courtesy of my little one’s grandma and grandpa, and I was not going to waste them. Here’s what I did, and what I suggest you try if ever you find yourself in the same boat.

1. Go old-school!

I put pen to paper, the old-fashioned way. With a newsletter due in the next 24 hours, I had no choice but to go old school. What did I discover? How much I love the feeling of my pen running along the page. The break from staring at a screen was also pretty refreshing. Sure, I had to skip formatting, links and image placement for now. But, I quickly finished a draft that would take very little time to type up later. Dare I say, perhaps the copy flowed even quicker by hand?!

2. Prioritise

I went in to my Trello app via my phone and got my priorities in order. Yes, it meant juggling a few things around, but it also meant I used my time productively. Funnily enough, it also gave me time to focus on the tasks I’d been avoiding…

3. Go big

...Such as big picture dreaming. I’ve long had ideas brewing that I rarely make time to ‘work on’, such is the daily grind. Today, rather than see them as big day-long tasks, I spent some bite-size chunks on the big picture and goal stuff. And, you know what? It didn’t take long to get some serious clarity.

So, am I glad I left my laptop in the boot of the car? Would I do it again? Not purposefully of course, but it’s great to know there are ways I can be productive without it.

Obviously, I'm back online now! So, if you've been meaning to get in touch, you can do that here. I'd love to see if we're a good fit.

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7 Surefire Ways to Beat Writer's Block

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of staring at a blank screen, willing the words to come.

We’ve all been there, whether we write for a living, or it’s just one aspect of our work. Just because you may enjoy writing, that’s no guarantee it comes easy all the time. The ideas or the flow can’t just be turned on like a tap.

The good news is, though, that there are strategies that give writer’s block a good 1-2 punch. So, don’t just sit there and take it - fight your way back into the writing groove.

1. Take a walk

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. Even if you’ve got a deadline looming, take 5 or 10 minutes to get out into the fresh air and change your view. Avoid headphones and just be open to observing what’s around you - sights, sounds and smells. Inspiration can be found anywhere, and you may find just the thing to move you beyond your roadblock.

2. Read something

If you’re under pressure you might not have much time. If you’ve got longer to ruminate, you may be able to switch your focus for a little while. Whatever the case may be, you need to do some reading of writing that’s not yours. That may be a book, an article, blog post or simply a twitter feed. If you’ve been sitting with your own writing for some time, you may need to interrupt the pattern as a way of creatively resetting yourself.

3. Take yourself on a creative date

This one is my personal favourite strategy, because I find it really opens up my creativity if I’ve been feeling flat. Some suggestions for creative dates are the museum, a public transport adventure (even better if the final destination is unknown), fabric shopping, $2 shop wandering with a $10 budget, or wandering through some beautiful gardens. You can be as cheap a date as you like!

4. Change your writing mode

If you’ve been committed to your keyboard, opt for journal handwriting with a pen. If you can’t bear to put your computer down, change the font size and style, or move from Google Docs into Word or Notes. It may just be the tweak you need to get the ideas flowing again.

5. Write at a different time

There’s nothing like a time zone change to reset your system, so if you’re a morning writer, try the night shift. If your tap, tapping happens into the night, try the day shift. Routine can breed predictability, so don’t be surprised if you create some great new stuff.

6. Write what has to be written first

By that, I don’t mean the item on deadline, but the stuff that is standing in the way of your creativity - the story/poem/post that simply must be gotten ‘off your chest’. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece, as a blurt will suffice. Once this writing is done, the rest has a chance to step forward out of the wings, where it has been waiting patiently.

7. Start anywhere

Whether you’re working on an article, story, blog post or novel, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must write chronologically. Write wherever the inspiration strikes you, worrying about how it will all fall into place later.

Rather outsource instead? Be in touch to handball your writing task my way. I look forward to helping you out!

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