Want to increase your productivity and reduce your stress levels?
A few simple changes in your work habits can make a huge difference!
If you’re a content marketer who can never find enough time in the day to finish everything you want to, this article is for you.
Here are 21 tips to help you save time and make the most of your work hours.
Setting the Stage
- Make a plan before you start creating content. When you jump into content creation without an outline or overview of what you want to achieve, you’ll probably have to do more revisions later, or even re-do some of your work from scratch. Save yourself time in the long run by investing a few minutes in making an outline when you start working. When you know which points you want to cover, you’ll be able to produce the piece more quickly and easily.
- Use to-do lists. To-do lists are a great productivity tool – they let you organize your priorities and see at a glance what you still have to finish. Be realistic with your to-do lists, though. If you try to cram a week’s worth of work into one day, you probably won’t get half of it done, and you might end up discouraged to boot. Focus on finishing two or three main tasks every day.
- Set clear goals. Goals give you a road map to follow, meaning you’ll spend a lot less time fiddling around with unimportant work. Set weekly, monthly, and yearly goals for your content marketing, and make a step-by-step plan for achieving them. If a job on your to-do list doesn’t help move you toward your goals, rethink whether you really need to be doing it.
- Know who your audience is. You can save yourself time and revisions by knowing who you’re creating content for in the first place. Make some audience personas, if you haven’t already, and keep them in mind as you work. Think about what kind of tone and approach will be most effective with your future readers.
- Work when you feel alert and creative. Know what kind of worker you are, and take advantage of it. If you’re a morning person, for instance, tackle your tough jobs as early in the day as possible. If you work best around other people, team up with a co-worker or go to a coffee shop when you’ve got a big deadline coming up.
- Do similar tasks in groups. Try to do similar tasks all at once, instead of spreading them out over the day or week. Once you hit your groove with the first task, all the rest of them will be easier. For instance, if you need to make several phone calls, block off half an hour to get them all done.
- Do one thing at a time. Multitasking might make you feel productive, but according to neuroscientists, it actually just distracts you from both of the things you’re trying to do. It also saps your energy, leaving you with less willpower and motivation for later. No matter how full your to-do list is, don’t be tempted to multitask. Knock out one task at a time.
- Reuse your content. Great content is hard to create, so why not get all the use you can out of it? Look for ways to repurpose your best pieces so they’ll keep on working for you. For instance, turn a how-to blog post into a SlideShare presentation, or turn the information from a chapter of your e-book into an infographic for your website.
- Take breaks. Pushing yourself too hard is counterproductive – you’ll get mentally fatigued, make more mistakes, and need longer to recover afterward. Keep your energy levels up by pacing yourself. Take a few minutes every hour or two to get up and stretch, make a cup of tea, or read a few pages of a book. If you tend to forget to take breaks, remind yourself by using a timer.
Using Time Wisely
- Find productivity tools that work for you. There are tons of productivity tools and apps that will help you stay on task and work more efficiently. Content-gathering tools like Trendspottr can help you stay on top of breaking news in your field, while apps like StayFocusd and RescueTime help you track your work hours and avoid distractions.
- Automate chores. Hate spending time on repetitive or monotonous tasks? There’s probably an app out there that can make your job simpler. For instance, HootSuite and Buffer are two popular tools that can help you streamline and automate your social media accounts. Another great automation tool is IFTTT, which stands for If This, Then That. It lets you create “applets” that automate tasks you specify, like sending emails. IFTTT offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to automation.
- Delegate when it’s appropriate. Know which jobs you need to do yourself and which ones you could outsource to somebody else. When you have a task that falls into the latter category, don’t feel guilty about passing it along, especially if you’ve got a lot of other things on your plate.
- Prioritize tasks that give you the most ROI. Not all the things on your to-do list are equally important, so weight them accordingly. If you’re not sure what to prioritize, look at your data. Notice which types of content drive the most traffic and conversions, and put most of your energy into those. Delegate the less important jobs or do them after the bigger tasks are finished.
- Drop unnecessary tasks. If you aren’t getting any results from something you do on a regular basis, stop doing it. Put that time towards something more useful instead.
- Create evergreen content. Evergreen content is a long-term asset, so creating it is a smart investment of your time. It’s still fine to create some seasonal or time-bound content, of course, but make sure some of your content will stay fresh and useful for months or years to come.
- Spend time on the right social media channels. Social media is a crucial part of content marketing, so make sure you’re using it well. Focus your efforts on platforms you know your target audience uses. Don’t waste your time on platforms that aren’t relevant; it’s too much work for too little return. For instance, there’s no point in carefully crafting your tweets every week if your target audience is mostly on Pinterest and Instagram.
- Curate content. Need an idea for a quick blog post or email newsletter? Pull together some of the week’s best content in your field, and publish the collection of links (with your commentary) for your readers to enjoy. This is a good way to fill a gap in your posting schedule, and it’s also an easy way to network with your peers and thought leaders in your field – everybody appreciates a good inbound link and a shout-out.
Keeping the Wheels Turning
- Make an idea bank. Creative blocks can be a real time-waster. To prevent your mind from going blank when you need a good idea, keep a small notebook with you all the time. Write down all the ideas that cross your mind, big and small. You never know which one will be just what you need later.
- Have a backlog of content. Keep your stress levels down by staying ahead of your content posting schedule. If you’ve got an emergency content stash, you’ll be covered if something urgent comes up the day before your next blog post is due, and you won’t have to pull an all-nighter to get everything done.
- Listen to your audience. Often, finding good ideas for content is as simple as checking in with your audience. Poll your readers on which topics they’d like you to cover, or pay attention to what your audience is talking about amongst themselves. Use that as your jumping-off point for your next email or blog post.
- Stay on the same page as the rest of your team. If you work with others, make sure you have a clearly defined schedule and everyone knows what’s expected of them. Communicate often, so that you don’t hit any unexpected snags or get held up waiting for someone else’s feedback or edits.
Content marketing is a busy and often stressful job. If you aren’t careful, your work can eat up all your time and still leave you feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Good time management can go a long way towards fixing this problem and improving your work-life balance. Use these tips as a starting point and see what works for you.
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