Time seems to be a Goliath that many of us David writers wrestle with. This is evidenced by your response to my last article, “Time is NOT on Your Side.”
I have a confession. I regularly struggle with my time—especially when writing white papers.
I look at my “to do” list and freak out. I’m guessing I’m not alone.
Despite the challenges we face, there are proven tactics that can really help us sit down and write.
What follows are my top tips to tackling time:
#1 – Identify Your Productivity Zone
Figure out when you are most able to write. For me, it’s between 9am and 11am. You know you’re in the zone when you can crank out writing. When in the zone, I can easily write a few well-written pages of copy. When I’m out of the zone, I’m lucky to write a single paragraph all day. Find the zone and you’re on your way to more productive writing.
#2 – When in the Zone, ONLY Write
If you’re like me, you would rather respond to email or make phone calls when in the zone. Get in the habit of only writing when in your zone. I tell my clients that I write in the morning and take calls in the afternoon. They know not to call when I’m writing. Controlling the zone is a key to success.
#3 – How to Stay Focused on Writing
Despite your best efforts, you’ll get dragged out of the writing zone—often. To prevent this, you need a defensive plan. Here are some tactics:
- Shut down your email. I often don’t read my email until the afternoon. Email is disruptive technology. By its very nature, email takes you off track.
- Turn off your phones. If you sit at a desk with a business phone, press the “Do not disturb button.” Unplug the phone from the wall. Turn off your mobile phone while you’re at it.
- Shut down the Internet. Quit your instant messenger application and your web browser. Better yet, do what I do. Go to the hub in your office and unplug your network connection. By eliminating the temptation to surf the web, you will be forced to write.
- Shut the door. If you can, shut the door to your office and hang out a “Do not disturb” sign. If you work in a cubicle, have a neighbor deflect visitors to your space.
- Use music. Put some classical or ambient music on. Not only does this help you focus, it also drowns out background noise. I have heard that some classical music actually stimulates creative brainwaves. I like Bach on my iPod.
#4 – How to Accomplish More Writing
I have two tips to share here:
- Write free flow. This means just get the words down and worry about how they sound later. A great trick for me is to write with a pen and clipboard. You cannot erase ink. The result is you don’t worry about spelling and grammar, you just write.
- Set easy to accomplish writing tasks. Make a goal of writing one page while in your productivity zone, or some other easy objective. If you’re writing a white paper, you could have it done in slightly more than a week by simply writing a page a day. It is much easier to write when you have a clear daily deliverable.
#5 – Reward Yourself for Getting Writing Done
When you meet your goals, reward yourself. A movie from Blockbuster, a new song from iTunes, a Starbucks drink or some other indulgence can help you feel good about getting writing done. Give yourself an incentive to write and you will write more.
Now go forward and write!
What other tactics have you used to gain writing time?
About the author: Michael Stelzner helps businesses write white papers AND in his spare time writes daily articles at his blog, Writing White Papers.
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