Want to get more done? Productivity has never been more important for writers. You have clients who want Web content, ebooks, and copywriting tasks done yesterday. Wonderful as the flood of income may be, you actually need to do the writing. Success can be stressful. At a time you should be super-efficient, you’re suddenly less efficient.
This was brought home to me last week, when Sally, one of my students, rang me in tears. Even though she’s a full-time writer, she’s missed three deadlines. Instead of working she’s playing around on Facebook, and watching movies. “I need to get so much done,” she said. “I know that, but why aren’t I working? I sit down at the computer, open a file, then before I know it, I’m updating Facebook, or Pinterest.”
Pete, another student, used the income from a sudden rush of projects to take his wife away on a break for a week. He’s now frantically trying to pacify his clients, and rearrange his deadlines.
Sally and Pete are sabotaging their success. It happens. If you’re wondering whether you might be doing the same thing, these quick tips will help.
A digression. You’re a professional writer. You need processes in place, which not only help you to get writing jobs, but also complete them easily well before deadlines. If you’re writing ebooks, you need to be able to produce, and publish, on a schedule. I created the Productivity Package to help. It contains three of my most popular programs. They work together to ensure that you can not only write more, but also sell more. Most importantly of all, you’ll do it without procrastinating, and with confidence.
Let’s look at the productivity tips.
1. Give Yourself LESS Time Than You Think You Need.
Most professional writers can write a fully researched article in a couple of hours. It might take them another hour to revise the article. However, they don’t write the article from go to whoa, all in one day. They outline, and write a draft. Then they send research queries to sources. Then they write. (See Tip 3, on chunking.)
Short story writers who are publishing their fiction on Amazon might need five hours to write a story. However, as with writing articles, they don’t write from go to whoa.
Work out how much time it takes you to write something, then CUT the time in half. Yes, in half. See SPEED below. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done.
2. SPEED. Just Get It Done. Fix What Needs Fixing Later.
You can be overwhelmed when you get an influx of writing jobs because you’re not thinking clearly. When I asked Sally how long it takes her to write an article, she over-estimated the time. It was no wonder that she panicked and escaped to Facebook. The crushing weight of everything she needed to do hit her. It all seemed too much.
Do one task at a time. FAST. Keep thinking “speed.” Instead of rereading paragraphs, force yourself to just write. Use Chunking (below), and give yourself less time that you think you need. Write SPEED on a sticky note, where you’ll see it.
Sally created a large “speed” image – a racing car, and now uses it as her desktop wallpaper. When you decide that you can move faster, you will.
3. Chunk Everything Right Down. Use Sticky Notes for Checklists.
Sticky notes are your friend. When someone gives you a writing job, chunk it down immediately.
Let’s say that you’ve accepted $2,500 to write a Web sales page. You send the client your quote, your Terms of Service, and an invoice for a retainer of 50 per cent. The PayPal payment of $1,250 arrives.
You grab a sticky note, and chunk the project:
- Collection of headlines
- Quick draft
You can chunk all of these activities down even more, and you will. Can you see that your initial chunking makes the project seem less intimidating, and much easier to handle?
Chunk everything, and then chunk again. For example, I’m writing a series of short stories for a client. I’ve outlined and chunked it all, so that I can complete a story within a couple of hours.
4. Turn Documents Into Templates, and Keep Them Organized.
I’ve got dozens of templates in Word, Scrivener, Photoshop, Curio, and the other apps I use. Each time I complete a task, I think about whether I can turn it into a template to save time when I need to do a similar task. Of course, I’ve been doing this for years so I have lots of templates. They save me time every day.
From now on, think SPEED and start building your own collections of templates. When you use a template, check to see whether it needs revamping. You’ll need to change the year on templates with copyright information yearly, for example.
In summary: you can do much more than you think you can, when you think SPEED. Try these productivity tips. Each tip can increase your writing income, and your confidence.
You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.