My biggest problem as a writer has always been to finish things in time. I struggled with this problem for a long time and I’m sure 99% writers have the same story to tell.
Some of them face it occasionally, others struggle with it frequently.
I don’t quite know the underlying reasons why I’m unable to start things and finish them in time. How have I achieved remarkable successes/feats that I am unable to duplicate every time?
For me, time management is not a set of rules. It’s an approach, a thought process and a behavior pattern. If you wish to train your mind to think in terms of time-management, you will have to change your habits. You will also have to change the way you approach things.
Here are a few tips to cultivate a time-conscious mindset. These steps can be a game changer in your career as a writer and will help you to become a better writer. You will also get the best time management tips to increase productivity.
The author, Nashaat Quadri, is a content marketing professional and co-founder of ContentVersity.
1. Make a to do list first and estimate the time needed for each task
Before you start working on a task or an activity, estimate how much time it mIght take — and make it a habit. Filter things that are going to consume a lot of writing time; replace them with time saving techniques. Increase productivity and make it your top priority.
Remember, time is money. Save time.
You can use excel-sheets and mind-maps to save time wasted in planning, organizing, tracking and writing. Speech-to-text software and tools like Trello also boost your speed.
Tweet: #writefaster #timemanagement Be proactive. Think before you start a task. Think deeper – how can I be more productive in it?
2. Stop at the crossroads and choose the activity to focus on
With too much distraction and noise in the information age, we are asked to consume more than we can digest. It’s imperative therefore to choose things we should focus our attention to.
From advertisers, government, entertainers, TV channels, newspapers, to social media, friends and acquaintances, bloggers, promoters, event organizers, shopping malls, restaurants, social and religious bodies, MLMs and politicians, everybody is craving for your attention these days.
Time is precious and you shouldn’t waste it on things that add no value to your life.
Think twice whether the task you are going to do is going to help you in some way or not. Are you going to waste the most precious minutes of your life in an activity that will give you nothing? Stay away from cheap entertainment, jokes, videos, posts, candy crush sagas, arguments, and criticism of individuals or government. In short stay away from time wasters, whether it’s social media or anything else.
3. Think of ways, technology, partnerships that can minimize your time
Think of ways and steps that can minimize your time to accomplish imortant tasks. It can be a strategy such as delegation, technology such as software, hardware or AI, or partnerships. For example, the following apps are quite useful for writers.
- Dragon Naturallyspeaking (speech to text)
- Speechnote (free Android app for speech to text to write first drafts)
- Trello (project management tool)
- Kanban Tool (project management tool)
- Toggl or Waste No Time (the time tracking apps)
- MindMeister(the mind mapping app)
“Chrome extensions” such as Grammarly, Awesome Screenshot, and Read Aloud, are also very useful. I’ll write a separate article on apps that are highly useful for writers.
4. Keep a record of all your activities
Keep record of all the task vs timesheets ready with you. In the next two columns, mention what helped you and what obstructed you and delayed things. So the next time you are going to do that task, you must be aware of the potential speed breakers. You must know what helps you and what impedes you while performing that task. Develop a habit of maintaining a journal to make notes and jot down ideas from everyday events and content you consume. Good ideas make your content more engaging and speed up the writing process.
Productivity tips: Use pomodoro technique to maximize your productivity.
For “visual” writers: Use Slideshare and infographics to get ideas for your content
Secret whispers: Tracking and keeping records always increases your productivity in unimaginable ways. Maintain excel sheets and track time and activities. Use Toggl as your Chrome extension.
5. Discover the best habits and learning you need
Certain habits and learning can change the game for you and help you accomplish your tasks faster than you can imagine. Writing fast is also a habit and it comes through practicing and training your muscle for that. So, find out such things to polish your skills and improve your efficiency. But, make sure that it can go simultaneously and doesn’t require you to take a break from work. Online courses, podcasts, and videos are the best for learning.
Capsule courses and packaged products are always expensive and not necessarily effective. Follow the most successful people in your niche and subscribe to their blogs and vlogs. To learn digital marketing and SEO, follow the blogs of the experts like Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, and Gary Vaynerchuk, etc. You can also subscribe to their YouTube channels HubSpot and CMI also have very informative blogs. Most of the times, blogs and YouTube videos are way more economic than buying a course on UDemy or Coursera. Many people, who have paid for these courses, don’t recommend buying online courses to learn digital marketing.
6. Minimize distractions
It’s extremely important to minimize distractions, when you sit down to do things. The less distractions you have, the greater your productivity. Try Q10, FocusWriter or Ommwriter for distraction free writing. If you are using a dictation software or app, focus on producing the content and not on editing while speaking. You can edit much faster later on.
The mantra is: Write faster, edit faster.
Writing involves many layers and steps. The quality and value offered by your content is directly proportional to the time spent in editing. Investing that time is a must for good writers. Don’t be embarrassed if editing is consuming too much of your time – remember, you are producing high quality content. Don’t make or pick up phone calls during your writing sprint.
7. Learn from your past mistakes and practices
Always learn from your previous mistakes. Keep track of the mistakes that you made that actually resulted in loss of productivity or reputation. Also try to find out your mistakes that resulted in your content being ignored or not getting any noticeable response.
8. Avoid perfectionism
The next biggest enemy of a writer is their drive for perfection. We understand that you are working hard to write better and produce extraordinary content to get noticed. Naturally, the tsunami of content being uploaded every hour on the Internet can be worrying. We understand how important it is for you to improve your writing skills to get noticed and receive better paychecks. These things are extremely important for you to succeed as a writer. However, you can’t achieve perfection in a month. It might take years.
Don’t think extra hard to improve your skills. You can’t achieve it within a day or two on in your very next post. It is impossible to achieve and you might be hurting yourself in the process. Writing with this mindset will force you to think constantly in a self critical mode. It is not good for a writer.
9. Recite a positive mental script
Run a positive script on your mind and that script should be like –
- “I am an awesome writer ”
- “Writing comes naturally to me”
- “People love and share what I write.”Your mental script dominates your mind.
Setting a negative script of any kind e.g. – “I’m not a native English speaker” will not help you achieve anything. As a matter of fact, some leading writers in the world are non-native writers. Do you know Paulo Coelho?
So even if your intention is to improve yourself, getting into self-critical mode is not going to help.
Stop this temptation and be realistic. Nothing happens overnight and it can take years to improve your writing. When you write naturally and feel that the quality is also improving, you are on the right track. Do it daily and you will be surprised at your own quality after six months of consistent practice.
10. When in doubt, curate
Curating content with the right mindset is an excellent way to produce quality content. It consumes less time and fulfills your need to feed the content beast. Shifting your strategy from being a content creator to content curator can be revolutionary for your writing. Just keep on citing the original source, mention your own views and add your commentary and whoa! Your news story is ready. Don’t forget to add an enticing introduction and valuable takeaway. If there is a shortcut to write better and faster, it’s curation. As a small business, you need to create more and more content.
11. Install apps for reading
Install apps such as Forbes(partially free, magazine is paid), Business Insider and Knowledge (Insead), Audible (paid), and Mentorbox (paid). You can also download books from Amazon Kindle to enhance your reading. Read a lot. Read at least two to three articles daily before you begin writing. This advice is extremely helpful for non-native writers to learn the writing process.
12. Use Mind Maps
Mind maps are said to be great for learning. Ask any psychologist or productivity counselor or trainer, he will advise you to use mind maps. It’s a wonderful strategy practiced by learners and researchers in the 21st century. It helps you to write on complex topics with ease and in the shortest time possible. You can use apps like Mindmap maker, MindMeister, or Coggle. All these three apps are good. It depends on which one you like most, in terms of appearance and ease of working. I highly recommend using mind maps to streamline your writing.
13. Use SEO Writing Assistant tool
SEMrush has analyzed more than 6,000 articles using the SEO Writing Assistant tool to determine the preferences of content gurus. The SEO Writing Assistant Tool is a “Google Docs add-on”. It’s also a WordPress extension that can quickly analyze any text online.
It gives you information about:
- Keywords to be targeted
- How well the post is optimized for the keywords
- Word count
- Readability score
- Plagiarism hints
- Title suggestion
- Meta description
- How to writer better and faster and increase productivity as a writer. The best time management practices and tips to become a better writer.
- Downloadable SEO template for content
The tool does it by providing recommendations for content optimization. It is based on best-performing articles in Google’s top-10 for given keywords in a given location.
How to become a better writer?
You can’t expect any improvement until you sit down and attempt to actually write something. Stephen King wrote piles and piles of content before he could become a globally renowned writer. If you do not do anything, you will not move ahead even by an inch. Writing is a challenging profession and it has its own pros and cons. Making a living through writing may seem easy at the outset, but involves a heavy workout in your “neurogym”. There is no shortcut to it.
Tweet: #writefaster #timemanagement Write every day. Write whatever comes to your mind and let the words flow.