Productivity issues are not exclusive to writers. But this niche seems to have more than its fair share of distractions and reasons to procrastinate.
Perhaps it’s because writers often work in isolation, if they are in an office environment, or from home, in their own office or nook. And if they are social beings or hooked into news and events, there is a huge temptation to make those calls or texts, to get on social media, or to check news events.
But certainly, in the case of freelance writers, productivity is critical to income. When they are unproductive, it can be financially devastating.
So, how do you maintain your productivity as a content writer? Here are 11 tips that may help.
Have More Than One Computer
This may seem like somewhat of an unusual tip but consider this: If you have one laptop that you use only for writing, not for accessing the Internet, you will be focused on writing when you need to get it done. Do not enable the Internet on your writing computer.
Use another laptop or PC for your research. Conduct the research, save it as a word document and copy it to your writing computer. You then won’t have any options – you can only write.
Do Not Get Comfortable
It’s relaxing to stay in your sweats or pajamas and sit down in your comfortable chair with your coffee. And when you have that comfort, you are easily lulled into a sense of well-being rather than any sense of urgency. This is not a good place to be. It fosters daydreaming and other such distracting activities.
Make yourself less comfortable. Consider a standing desk for your work hours. After all, sitting for long periods of time is not healthy, so the research says. If not a standing desk, then choose a hard-backed chair that forces you to sit up straight.
If you must check your emails, the news, social media, etc., do it first thing in the morning. If you get it out of the way, the temptation to move to these things later on will be reduced. Get on Facebook and message your friends; answer those emails and texts; check the latest news events. Once you get through all of that, your mind will not be wandering, and you can focus.
Multi-Tasking is Not Good for Writers
In a recent survey of writers for three writing services, Crowd Content, FlyWriting, and TheEssayTyper, this issue of trying to multi-task came up as one of the top “killers” of productivity. Many said they work from home, and that trying to do things like laundry, cooking, etc. while they write really prolongs their completion rate. Better to have your writing “space” and pretend you are at work outside of home. If this doesn’t work, several writers said, go to the library or a coffee shop.
Sleep and Exercise are Not Optional
Arianna Huffington, the publisher of The Huffington Post, collapsed from exhaustion in 2007. Since that time, she has been on a crusade to teach us how important sleep is. In her book, The Sleep Revolution, she states, “The irony is that a lot of people forego sleep in the name of productivity, but in fact, our productivity is reduced substantially when we’re sleep deprived.”
A Recipe For Productivity Breakdown: Poor Sleep HealthWe're all striving to find new ways to become more productive but it's important that we don't miss one of the fundamental aspects of general well being, mental health and productivity - sleep. In this guest post Sarah Jones takes a look the signs
And every health guru speaks to the importance of exercise. If you can get in just 10 minutes a day, during a break, you really will clear your mind and be ready to focus again.
Lighting is Important
There have been multiple studies conducted about the relationship between light and mental well-being and moods. People who work in dark spaces without good light, or in climates where winter means very few hours of daylight suffer from moodiness and even depression.
A well-lighted writing space, preferably with daylight, is best. If that is not possible, explore lighting options that mimic daylight a much as possible.
Research Comes First
A lot of writing requires research – essays, papers, blog articles, etc. When you have a topic that you know will require research, do that research in the beginning, not as you move through the writing piece. By conducting the research first, you will gain more than just an understanding of the topic. You will get ideas about the points to be made and how you might structure your piece. You will then be able to construct an outline of how you will proceed.
The other plus is that you can place your links to research at the top of your page with notes about where you want to place those links. You save yourself the time of having to go back and find those links later.
Find Your Most Productive Writing Schedule
It’s an individual thing. Some writers work best with long stretches of writing, and others prefer to write in shorter spurts. You have to find your most productive mode and stick with it. But, most writers agree that, once you begin a piece, you should stick with it until finished, no matter how long that may take. “I find that if I take breaks in the middle of a writing project, it just prolongs the time that it takes me,” states Hannah Robinson, a writer for BestUKWriters agency.
Proofread at the End, Not during
All writers have typos and other small errors as they craft their pieces. Many stop after each sentence, to correct those red and green underlines. This disrupts the writing flow and is a distraction that requires re-focusing. Instead, get the entire piece written and then go back for your proofreading and corrections. It will actually save time.
At Least One Day Off
While some writers work seven days a week, this may actually lower productivity. Again, you have to find your rhythm and most productive schedule. You may be fine with seven days if you work shorter hours each day. “On the other hand, taking a full day off can give you the respite you need to re-energize for the work week ahead,” shares 99homeworkhelp.com editor Kara Pierce.
Set Clear Goals for Each Day
Successful writers prioritize. They also set goals at the beginning of each workday, so they have a measure of what they have accomplished at the end of that day. If you can set those goals and then check off each task as it is completed, you will have a sense of satisfaction that will motivate you to continue.
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These are tips that work for me and for many other writers I know well. By no means is this meant to be a comprehensive list. You may have many other tips that you want to share. Please do so in the comment section below!