Being a modern freelancer, copywriter or editor means spending days writing articles, drafts, notes. It also means spending hours organizing your workflow, cooperating with clients in different time zones, completing paperwork, reading articles and news, and going hand in hand with modern tools. In addition, a writer should be able to shift between a working process and spending time with people s/he cares about.
If you want to stay competitive, not to sacrifice your personal life, and enjoy this ruthless freelance lifestyle, you need to learn the art of being productive. That means writing better words in less time.
Here at Cops’n Writers, we often write under the gun. And here’s what we’ve learned, whom we’ve learned from, and what we want to share to help you become PRODUCTIVE.
Hacks for Daily Use
The below list comes from productivity experts and consists of simple hacks you can use daily. When you hear gurus talks about productivity, you listen.
Manage your workload.
Work on a peak. Being focused helps to achieve better results. It is high time to start writing when your brain’s functions are boosted.
Work offline. Emails, social media, and news distract you from a writing process. Try to set a time for email checking. For example, don’t check it before 12 pm.
Practice patience. There are many factors that can annoy you daily. Don’t let them reduce your productivity.
Ask for help. Every writer needs a piece of advice: ask somebody to proofread your texts. An editor can see mistakes you’ve missed and provide a fair review of your works.
- Wake up earlier. Scholars claim that productivity is higher in the morning. The most successful people start their working day at 6 AM.
- Start it right now. Don’t shelve the business: start your work now. It will be easier to finish it. Just take the first step.
- Write down your goals and tasks. Keep an organizer or a notebook with these tasks next to you. It can help to remember every detail you need to complete.
- Use different tools. Here are the best apps and tools selected by Lifehacker’s staff:
Workplace impacts you a lot. It can help you stay motivated, inspired, and concentrated:
Change your working place.
Forget about perfection. Once Neil Gaiman said, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.” If you still think that you need to achieve perfection, read this first.
Reward yourself. Sophisticated writers know that they deserve getting a small reward: a chocolate, cinema tickets, or an hour for reading their favorite book.
Take a break. Don’t forget to pause every hour, as it will help you stay focused.
Many scholars dedicate their works to the problem of productivity. Some research results may sound weird, but it is quite interesting to check and try them.
Noise boosts creativity. Journal of Consumer Research has found that 70 dB ambient noise can help you become more creative and, therefore, more productive. Wondering what sounds make 70 dB? Check comparative examples of noise levels. Of course, it is up to you whether to work under the noise or not.
Caffeine increases energy. Dr. Glade M. J. claims that caffeine can have a positive effect on your productivity. There are many sources where to get caffeine except coffee:
Alcohol’s unexpected effect. Gregory J.H. Colflesh and Jennifer Wiley from the University of Illinois have made a conclusion: inebriation increases creativity. Of course, it doesn’t mean you need to be drunk, but a small glass of beer or malt liquor (up to 7% alcohol) might help you. Sounds weird, but that is the result of the research.
Schedule enhances productivity. Robert Boice has done a research that claims: scheduled writing can make a huge result; writers can create around 157 pages a year in comparison with a binge writing that leads to 17 pages a year. In short, follow your schedule to be more productive.
Monitor your output. Susan R. Johnson suggests writers to pay attention to the quantity. That means to control your daily output: it can help you understand your average workflow and encourage a productivity growth. The scheme is quite easy:
- dark chocolate – 20 mg/1 oz;
- brewed tea – 7.5 mg/1 oz;
- ice cream – 5 mg/1 oz.
- plan your daily goal;
- write down your results;
- monitor the output and make conclusions.
You can always increase your productivity, but avoid making less than you can. In short, quality shouldn’t suffer, too.
Put time limits. Scholars affirm that limited time for completing a task forces people to make it better and faster. It is called Zeigarnik Effect.
How a writer can use this method:
- write down all tasks for a week;
- make an everyday plan;
- determine an approximate time for one task;
- set a timer and start working on a task;
- if you complete a task in time, treat yourself.
There are several techniques for your productivity growth.
The Pomodoro Technique. This is a popular time management lifehack suggested by Francesco Cirillo and based on shifts.
Eisenhower Matrix. Eisenhower claims that all tasks can be divided into four major groups, and it can help you manage your time.
- it makes your project more approachable by breaking it down into 25-minute chunks called Pomodoro sessions, and it enables you to pick a focus for each session;
- it helps you manage distractions effectively: work will look less daunting, you’ll likely procrastinate less, and you’ll not have to pull an all-nighter to catch up;
- it encourages you to move around, taking a break from what you are doing. It helps you remain fresh throughout the day, encouraging creativity and quick thinking;
- use it with caution: what if your task needs more than 25 minutes to complete, you’re in the flow, and then the bell rings?
Big Rocks First. A one-week plan for productivity boost from Leo Babauta is based on the principle of making harder tasks first.
- to manage your tasks, group them using a paper and a pen;
- create a list that consists of four columns:
- urgent and important tasks;
- important but not urgent tasks;
- urgent but not important tasks;
- neither urgent nor important tasks.
- start to fill columns with the most important tasks;
- this method helps you analyze your workflow and determine unimportant tasks you might skip.
have a dip in your organizer. Determine the hardest task for you to complete and start working on it;
don’t allocate attention across different tasks at the same time;
put deadlines for every task and keep them.
Productivity Tips from Famous People
Who are the best people to tell about writing productivity? Writers, of course! Every famous writer has their approach to becoming more productive, and their experience can inspire you to become a more productive writer.
“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King
“Never use a long word where a short one will do.” – George Orwell
“I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all.” – E. B. White
“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” – Will Self
“I write when I have to because the pressure builds up and I feel enough confidence that something has matured in my head and I can write it down.” – Susan Sontag
“Like stretching before exercise, I start my writing day with a heavy edit and rewrite of my previous day’s work. That seamlessly catapults me into today’s writing.” – Jerry Jenkins
If you want to know a more modern approach to the problem of productivity, pay attention to the list below. Here you can find different tips from famous bloggers and copywriters:
“I now block out Monday mornings (and sometimes Wednesday mornings) for writing. I do this offline and away from the house so there are no distractions.” – Darren Rowse, ProBlogger.net
“Don’t check anything before the afternoon — That means no Twitter, Facebook or email. Trust me: you’ll miss out on a grand total of zero opportunities and get a hell of a lot more accomplished before lunch.” – Brian Dean, Backlinko.com
“If you have certain tasks you need to accomplish, put them on a to-do list. It’s a great way to be more productive. The best approach, says PickCrew, is to keep your list clear and realistic.” – Neil Patel, Kissmetrics.com
“I’m currently looking into project management tools to keep track of my contacts and my tasks, but so far I haven’t found one that does everything I need it to quite yet.” – Kristi Hines, KristiHines.com
Successful people are eager to share their experience, too. The below list depicts the best tips from rich and wealthy experts:
“On my desk I have three screens, synchronized to form a single desktop. I can drag items from one screen to the next. Once you have that large display area, you’ll never go back because it has a direct impact on productivity.” – Bill Gates
“You really can prepare documents much faster and at a higher quality level, and you can do many things to increase office productivity. A computer frees people from much of the menial work. Besides that, you are giving them a tool that encourages them to be creative. Remember, computers are tools. Tools help us do our work better.” – Steve Jobs
“I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.” – Mark Zuckerberg
“Engage your emotions at work. Your instincts and emotions are there to help you.” – Richard Branson
Useful Tools for Writers
Nowadays we can make our lives better and easier with the help of modern technologies. There are so many useful tools for writers to create a paper, edit it, proofread, share it with other people, and enhance a vocabulary. Cops’nWriters staff collected the most effective ones for you:
Apps for self-organization
Workflow. Divide tasks, manage time, and customize your work.
Trello. Put tasks, make different checklists, divide tasks into several steps, mark the importance, etc.
30/30. Set a time for completing a task and start working on it. The timer will tell you when to move to the next task.
Google Calendar. Make plans in advance: write down tasks, birthdays, events, etc. Choose a new schedule view, mark events, find the best way to view the calendar.
Apps for keeping all ideas together
Dropbox. Save your documents, photos, videos, and other files here. You can share an access with other people, watch files from your phone or computer. Create and edit files with your phone.
Voice Texting Pro. Use your voice to make some notes. Speak into the microphone to convert the speech into texts.
Simplenote. Make some useful notes, write down ideas, create lists. Synchronize your notes with all devices.
Google Docs. Keep all your documents in one place (doc, ppt, pdf, xlsx, etc.). Create, edit, and share docs.
Evernote. Save your papers here to work on them later.
Apps for improving your writing skills
Hemingway. See the readability of your text. You can easily edit the text here.
Grammarly. Find grammar mistakes. You can accept suggested variants or just skip them.
Title Generator. Create a big variety of headlines according to your keywords.
AutoCrit. Strengthen your writing and control the editing process.
IA Writer. Create and edit your papers here.
Copyscape. Check and detect your papers for plagiarism.
Words U. Enhance your vocabulary with the help of this app.
ProWritingAid. Eliminate errors and improve readability.
WriterKata. Develop your writing skills by completing tasks.
Do you prefer working with iOS? Here’s the complete list of productivity tools for Apple users.
Do you have your own tricks on productivity growth? Did we leave anything off the list? Please, write us to share your thoughts, ideas, and impressions. Be productive and write better!