11 Keys to Increasing Your Productivity in Your Freelance Writing Business
Written by Writer and Author, William Ballard
Personal productivity is one of the key differences between people who succeed as a writer and those that don't. Writers at the top of their game have learned how to achieve more and better results in less time than most.
Increasing your productivity is a critical step in achieving your personal and professional goals as a writer and creating the success you envision for writing business. To achieve a higher level of productivity in your writing business, focus on the following elven keys:
1. Develop clear goals and write them down
Because higher productivity begins with clear goals, goal setting is a key element to your success as writer. As you know, a goal must be specific and measurable to be effective in guiding your behavior. It must reflect your beliefs and be within your power to achieve. The goal and your values must align.
Finally, the goal must be defined by a deadline. Moreover, to make it real and concrete, it must be written down. The clearer and more concrete you make your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them in a shorter period.
2. Write a clear plan of action
Next, if you want to turbocharge your productivity, make sure you have a clear, written plan of action. Every minute you spend in careful planning will save you as many as ten minutes in execution.
Create a list of every step or task necessary to achieve your goals. Every morning, write down the tasks you need to complete before the day is over. Always work from a list! Think on paper! This will keep you on track and give you a visual record of accomplishment. You will see extraordinary results as soon as you follow this simple step: The very act of writing out a list and referring to it constantly will increase your productivity by 25 percent or more.
3. Work based off your priorities
The third step is to prioritize your list. Analyze your list before you take action. Identify and start with the high-value tasks on your list. “High Value” is identified by the potential consequences attached to doing or failing to do a task. High-value tasks have significant consequences; low-value tasks have few or no consequences at all.
4. Concentrate and demolish all distractions
In this step, choose a high-value activity or task, start on it immediately, and stay with it until it is done. Focusing single-minded attention on one task allows you to complete it far more quickly than starting and stopping. When you apply this concentrated attention on a major task, you can reduce the amount of time spent on it by as much as 80 percent.
5. Stretch out your workday but increase your time off
By starting your workday a little earlier, working through lunchtime, and staying a little later, you can become one of the most productive people in this business or in the writing industry.
The early start and late finish to your workday will allow you to beat the traffic of other high performing writers. This can add two or three hours to your productive working day without really affecting your lifestyle. You will derive enormous benefits from these extra hours, which make a relatively small change to your overall schedule.
Simultaneously, be vigilant about scheduling regular time off, perhaps starting with weekends. Once you have integrated this practice into your routine, start planning other short vacation breaks of two or three days. Work up to longer vacations. When you are away from work, clear your mind completely of job concerns and engage fully with the other parts of your life. This will clear your mind and restore your energy. You will be amazed at the dramatic increase in productivity you will experience when you are back to work.
6. Focus on your work when you are at work
When you are at work, concentrate on work all the time you are there. Don’t misuse your time or fall into the habit of treating the workplace as a community or educational environment, where socializing is an accepted element of the mix. Rather, at the office (or your desk), put your head down and work full blast as long as you are there.
Many people who have followed this simple rule and have doubled their productivity and reached their goals faster than they thought possible.
7. Build momentum
At work, develop a sense of urgency and maintain a quicker tempo in all your activities. Get on with the job. Dedicate yourself to moving quickly from task to task. You’ll get substantially more done just by deciding to pick up the pace in everything you do.
8. Work smarter and not harder
Focus on the value of the tasks you complete. While the number of hours you put in is important, what matters most is the quality and quantity of results you achieve. Again, the more time you spend on those higher-value tasks with greater potential consequences, the greater the results you will obtain from every hour you put in.
9. Make sure your work is within your skills
Skill and experience count. You achieve more in less time when you work on tasks at which you are especially skilled and experienced. Always strive to become more effective at the most important things you do. Achieving consistent excellence at the most critical things you do is the fastest, most efficient route to achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
10. Group your tasks
Group similar activities and do them all at the same time. Making all your calls, completing all your assignments, or preparing all your presentation slides (or sales letters) at the same time allows you to develop speed and skill at each activity. You simply get better at making each call, writing each assignment, or designing the next slide.
Cut your performance time by as much as 80 percent by doing several similar tasks in sequence.
11. Do away with unnecessary steps
Pull several parts of the job together into a single task and eliminate several steps. Where you can, cut out lower-value activities completely.
Consider the example of Northwest Mutual Life Assurance Company. Several years ago, their system for approving new policies consisted of twenty-four steps conducted by twenty-four different people and, on average, lasted six weeks.
Companies with a faster approval time were seriously threatening their position in the marketplace. The company consolidated twenty-three of the twenty-four steps into a single job for a single person, who checked every detail of the policy before sending it to a supervisor. In the second step, the supervisor simply checked the analysis of the first person and gave an approval or disapproval.
Reducing twenty-four steps to two enabled the company to get the answer back to the field within twenty-four hours, usually error-free. Because of the speed of this new processing system, Northwestern Mutual was able to write many hundreds of millions of dollars of additional insurance every year.
The Game is On
Make a game of it: Challenge your record daily to see how many high-value tasks you can complete each day. Set a schedule and a deadline for yourself and try to beat your deadline. See just how much more you can get done in less time.
Exercise your imaginative faculties to guide your performance. Envision yourself as an exceptionally productive person. For a moment, visualize those times in your life when you were at your peak of effectiveness and productivity. You were doing all the right things in the right way and accomplishing a lot in a short period. You felt strong and confident about your performance. You felt stimulated, exhilarated, and in that spirit of excellence or “flow” that most people experience all too infrequently.
Imagine yourself five years from now as one of the most productive and successful people in your field. What’s in this picture? Visualize your appearance, the way you will be working, the projects you will be engaged in, and the principles that will guide your personal performance.
How will your colleagues describe you and your way of working to others? Let these images guide your present performance. With this vision firmly in your mind, answer the following questions:
Look for ways to increase your productivity every day. The payoff will be phenomenal.
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