Your Productivity Determines Your Success, So Work Wisely.
So, you’re sitting at your computer, ready to crank out a new blog post and just as your fingers begin to grace the keyboard, you realize:
You have absolutely no idea what (or how) you’re going to write.
This sudden halt of inspiration happens to even the most seasoned writer–to anyone, really, and it can feel pretty intimidating. Efficiency is a huge factor in producing quality content that delivers results, so we can’t really afford to have these sudden lapses of productivity. The longer you take to create content for your website, the more chances you’re losing to increase your website’s traffic and attract potential clients. However, taking a breather every now and again is just as conducive to maintaining that efficiency–plus it’s downright necessary, otherwise we’d just burn out.
Before you wave the white flag on your less-than-productive writing session, know that there are ways to get past this. Here are some things you can do to help you over the writing ‘slump’ and improve your productivity when writing content.
Rid yourself of tempting distractions.
Procrastination is the arch nemesis of productivity. These distractions are normal and happen to even the most focused people, but they can seriously backfire on you if you let them take over your productivity. Smartphones, for instance, play a leading role in our lack of productivity. Earlier this year, Smartphone app Listen polled over 1,200 Americans across several industries to reveal the truth about current productivity trends among smartphone users. The poll revealed that 68% of participants admit to checking their phones during work hours to chat with family and friends.
To rid yourself of the temptation to pick up your smartphone mid-writing session, you can try:
- Uninstalling social media apps (this may sound a bit tedious, but those suffering from more severe productivity woes can reap the benefits of doing this)
- Keeping your phone out of reach. Store it in a drawer or a bag. Out of sight, (hopefully) out of mind.
- Disabling sounds on your phone by putting it on vibrate. If you’re not comfortable silencing your phone completely, most smart phones allow you to control notifications for each function, such as text messages, email, etc.
Outline your ideas.
Staring at a blank screen is pretty scary and does little to boost your creative juice flow.
Before diving into your post, jot down all of the key points you want to mention. Outlining your ideas is a great first step towards improving productivity when writing. It helps to look at it from a psychological standpoint. If you sketch out your post, sleep on it and come back to it in the morning, you:
- Won’t be staring at an empty screen.
- Eliminating the intimidation of starting from scratch and, most importantly,
- Increase your motivation to finish your post since you’ve already laid out the groundwork.
Evernote is a useful organizational tool that lets you collect notes and ideas and gather research. Plus, you can sync your notes across several devices, so they’re always accessible to you should you have a sudden flash of inspiration. It’s easy to use and keeps your notes tagged for quick access.
Keep it informal.
I know this sounds a bit counterproductive, but don’t focus too much on being grammatically correct while writing content–that’s what editing is for.
Putting too much focus on piecing sentences together perfectly (via grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc) will take time away from improving your productivity when writing your content. Your first draft should be just that–a draft. It helps to pretend like you’re writing to a friend to help ease the pressure of using proper punctuation and grammar. Once you’ve completed your first draft, you can go back and clean up your post for any errors and ensure that your content is free of any –but, fortunately, the legwork has already been done. Practicing an informal writing style is also a key element of many content writing strategies. Of course, this depends on the audience that you’re writing for (legal content doesn’t carry the same breezy tone as, say, a movie review).
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Take breaks (at the right times).
While the human mind can be a machine of never ending thoughts and functionalities, we are not robots. We’re just not built to spend countless hours completely focused on one task without burning ourselves out. When writing content, taking breaks is just as conducive as the writing itself. Every writer has their own schedule; some like to commit to 90 minutes of writing and then squeeze in a break in between to collect their thoughts. Sure, once you come back to your post you’ll have to re-read what you’ve written to get back into the swing of it. However, you’ve given your brain some time to rejuvenate itself and maybe you’ve even come up with a few fresh ideas that didn’t come to you while you were working. Try taking a walk, or you can even allocate your break time to other tasks, such as engaging on social media or reading an interesting article. I recently discovered a tool called Brainscape, which is great for keeping your brain engaged in between breaks. This tool allows you to learn about a variety of subjects–from vocabulary to learning Mandarin Chinese and brushing up on your history (I may or may not have learned a few words in Mandarin mid-writing break. Liáng!)
Also, be mindful of when you take these breaks. For instance, it would be more productive to take a break in the middle of your writing rather than the end, since you’ll have to review your content when you refocus. If you’re at the home stretch, it would be best to finish your post and then take a break once you’ve moved on to another one. Health and wellness site Health Decide posted an infographic that pretty much sums up why we need breaks in between working hours–and this can easily be applied to writing content.
Stuck on one post? Move on to another one.
I often find myself working on multiple blog posts, simply because there’s always that one topic that seems to halt my thought process and cause me to reach a frustrating standstill when writing. Instead of staring at my screen in disdain, I simply move on to another blog topic for a little while. This strategy may not work for everyone, but I like to think of it as taking a break (which we’ve already established is crucial). The only difference is that, essentially,you’re still writing. For those who set aside a specific block of time to write, this approach won’t affect your objective and you’ll be giving your mind a break from stressing over one particular blog topic.
Feeling productive yet? Now, Write Away!
Writing content takes discipline. While the process is not always sunshine and rainbows, managing your productivity when writing content is a sure way to keep that ship sailing smoothly. Keep in mind that writing content is only a fraction of your content marketing efforts. Want to learn more about content marketing and how to improve your content writing process? Sign up for our newsletter below for more free how-to’s.