At Freedom, we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, best-selling authors, editors, designers, star TV actors and writers, academic researchers, explorers, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and efficient go-getters. We love to share their stories and advice, because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?
Meet Sandhya Menon.
Sandhya Menon is the New York Times best-selling author of When Dimple Met Rishi (S&S, 2017) and From Twinkle, With Love (S&S, 2018). She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri.
Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her family to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.
This week we sat down with her to learn more about how she finds the focus to write NY Times best-sellers.
How did you know that you wanted to be a writer and what were your first steps in making this your career – essentially, how did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I remember drawing on my mom’s kitchen cabinets, my legs, clothes, etc. until my parents finally gave in and bought me my own “story notebook.” I haven’t looked back since!
As a writer, how do you stay productive, motivated, and focused?
A writer’s biggest enemy is distraction. Arguing with that idiot on Twitter can seem so very important, and before we know it, we’ve lost hours of time. That’s why I was overjoyed when I discovered Freedom four or five years ago. It’s a brutal, efficient taskmaster and I love it so much I want to marry it.
When/where are you most/least productive, and how does this shape your daily working routine?
I am most productive in the mornings and early afternoons. I like to sit down at my computer as soon as my kids leave for school, and keep going until I’ve hit my word goal for the day. I love that I can customize Freedom according to how much time I want to spend on each writing sprint!
At what point did you realize that tech/apps/sites were taking a toll on your productivity and time? Or, when did you know that you had to do something about it?
A few years ago, I remember hopping over to Pinterest to research something for one of my scenes. When I looked at the clock again, it was nearly time for me to go get my kids from school. I hadn’t written anything. It was really crushing at the time, and that’s when I realized I needed, er, professional help.
What resources or tools do you use daily and have found most beneficial to your productivity and/or writing/working process?
Freedom is my number one tool to keep me focused. I love that it forces me to leave the internet alone and just work. I’d say I write about 3-4 times the amount of words using Freedom than I do when it’s just me trying to keep my (kicking, screaming, resistant) self off the internet!
What project are you currently most excited about?
I am currently very thrilled to be gearing up for the release of my next book, From Twinkle, With Love, which is a young adult romantic comedy that follows an aspiring teen filmmaker!
What are your biggest distractors?
Twitter, Instagram, and the general internet at large. Uggghhh. Oh, also my puppy, but he’s adorable and beyond reproach.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self in regard to writing or staying focused?
Get Freedom! Do it! Do it now!
How do you find a balance between being connected and overwhelmed?
I listen to my inner voice pretty closely. If I’m feeling tired and emotionally exhausted, I know it’s time to step away from those things that require me to dip into my well.
What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay productive and focused on the things that matter most to you?
Family time is a must! I also love going on walks when the weather’s nice, and playing with my puppy, the ultimate walking, talking antidepressant pill.