Making time for writing can be a challenge. So how do we find it or make it with meetings after meetings, Slack messages piling up, and other interruptions? In this article, I share some of my favorite tips and some of the things that work for me.
Making it a priority
It comes down to making the time, making sure others understand that we are writing, and then sticking to the plan. Of course, I realize that’s easier said than done, so let’s dive into some tips.
But, do keep in mind: You have to decide that writing is a priority or even these steps won’t work.
I’m a big fan of blocking time to make time for writing or any task. So my calendar looks like this:
10:30-11:30 Podcast editing
11:30-12:30 Keyword research
Sometimes, things move ahead, or I skip ahead to a task. For example, if I need a break from writing, I might fiddle with a podcast for a bit next. But in general, blocking off time is helpful.
I also try to batch things as much as possible:
- Writing in one big chunk or maybe even a whole day
- Meetings on another day
Batching by day isn’t always possible for some teams, but the more I can batch related tasks, the more productive I seem to be.
While planning, be realistic about what can get done in a given amount of time. For example, I know roughly how long it will take me to write a decent blog post if I have the source material ready.
Give yourself some cushion. Also, don’t let the calendar put unnecessary pressure on you. For example, I’ve seen people say things like this before:
Let’s work as hard and fast as we can for 90 minutes, and then we are done.
Author Marc Reklau talks about starting small. Do the tasks that can be quick wins first, especially when trying to change a habit. It’s much easier to write 100 words each morning than 1,000, for example, to get started.
Prioritize what works
Some content will perform better than others. And while it can be a guessing game at times, do try to create more of what has been working and less of what isn’t.
For example, I’ve had a ton of success with Amazon product review videos on the video content side of things. My default often is to follow the Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) model, which could mean that I also put these videos on YouTube, Facebook, and maybe even my website. In this case, that’s a total waste of time when compared to Amazon, however, so I stick with Amazon.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t always look for COPE opportunities. I do. But sometimes, the effort isn’t worth it. Or I have to prioritize.
You may find similar higher-value content pieces in your writing or even the type of writing. For example, once I see a trend of something working in an email campaign, I try to follow that style. I’m not investing more time into email now, but I’m going about what I’m creating differently.
Turn notifications off
But they can also stop the flow of our writing. Content creators getting into the flow of creating is a thing. It happens and usually, that’s a good thing. Notifications and unnecessary interruptions can hurt that flow. Every time it’s interrupted, it’ll take a bit to get back into it.
The time block being long enough is also important. For example, let’s say you have a meeting from 9-10 and then again from 10:30-11. While that’s technically 30 minutes in-between meetings, it’s likely not enough to get into deep content creation. Sure, you can probably do a few things, but the flow of content creation will likely not happen then.
Making use of technology
Technology can help us with making time for writing. Our options certainly have exploded over recent years.
- write on a keyboard
- use voice dictation on our computers
- write on our phones – I used to do this all the time and this picture has me filing a blog post while holding my young daughter.
- voice dictate on our phones
Using technology that is easy to use is also a game-changer. For example, I’ve long been a fan and advocate of teams to write directly in their content management system. That way the content creator can see how everything works together, add the correct anchor text and links and we can avoid copying and pasting unnecessary formatting from Word or Google Docs.
When you work on a content performance team, at some point, people will need something from you or need to talk with you. And let’s not forget about the value of interpersonal collaboration.
Make time for that, too. That could be a quick standup meeting, specific time slots for brainstorming, or maybe a weekly touch base. I’m a fan of booking meetings – even short ones – for brainstorming. And as Adam Morgan said: Make sure you tell people what the discussion is about so they can think about the topic at hand.
What about smaller teams?
Interruptions might – in theory – be less when you work on a smaller team or are the sole person in your business. In theory, because chances are there will be different interruptions.
Samantha Story-Camp shared some tips on this podcast livestream on what smaller teams can do to get their story out.
From my perspective, smaller teams – just like larger teams – can share their stories. It’s once again a question of priorities and workflows. For example, how easy do you make it on yourself? What technology do you use? What is the most accessible platform or tech for you, and does that drive results?
I’m not a fan of companies building their content on just one network. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., might work today, but if those are the only places you share content, the results can be disastrous when something changes on that one network.
But, we also have to face the realities of time – especially on smaller teams.
[Tweet “Starting somewhere is better than starting nowhere.”]
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if the team is big or small, making time for writing is a priority question. If it’s not a priority, it won’t get done.