One of the challenges that any content creator faces every day is finding the time and space to create content. Whether you are trying to craft the perfect marketing message in 140 characters, determine the most effective image/copy combination for a Facebook post, or working on a longform piece that will add evergreen value to a corporate blog, you need time to create best practice content, and you need space in your day, too. Finding that time and space means getting organized, and unfortunately this is one area where creative types often fall into difficulty.
Here are five ways you can get more out of every day.
1. Start Your Day the Night Before
One of the keys to getting organized today is making sure that you finished the previous day organized, too. It’s a truism of the organized worker that ‘today started last night’, and taking a few minutes to think about the next day of work before it arrives can save you time, energy, and provide you the opportunity to plan further ahead than just the next step in your creative process.
Whether it’s notes on paper or a digital to-do list, planning for the next day is a useful and powerful way of ensuring that you don’t wake up the next morning and start from zero. You will know where you are headed, you will know what is the most important task on your list, and you’ll have an idea of what needs to be done to move your projects forward.
2. Take Advantage of Your Most Productive Hours
We all have parts of the day where almost anything is possible and the words stream onto the laptop screen as if by some magic imbued in our fingers.
We also have times of the day where nothing seems to work and every sentence requires constant taps of the backspace key as you make spelling errors a grammar school student would shake their head at.
By organizing your work to align with your most productive dayparts, you’re moving away from the ‘on paper’ organization that assumes you’ll write 500 words an hour every hour of the day, to ‘real’ organization where you write 1000 words an hour for half a day and then nothing more for the second half of the day. Know your productive hours and organize yourself to work with them, not against them.
3. Set Daily Goals (And Achieve Them)
Setting a daily goal is also an important step in getting organized and, if you keep your daily goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound) you’ll find your level of organization will improve, too.
A daily goal can be as simple as a series of tasks to complete by the end of the day, a word count you need to hit to continue a project on schedule, or some simple metrics from social media interactions. Maybe you want to earn X number of retweets today or gain Y number of followers.
Importantly, though, once you have your goals down on paper or on a screen, commit to achieving them each and every day. Reward yourself with a virtual pat on the back or high five if you get there and take advantage of your progress to set and hit more difficult goals in the future. Organized creatives know where they want to go and use daily goal setting as a means to get there – you should, too.
4. Be a Retro-Planner
Organized people know how to get retro, and I’m not talking about bell bottoms and funky mustache stylings. Retro-planning is the process by which you work backwards from from your established deadline and set intermediate goals to achieve by a certain date.
Retro-planning means you never start a project with an entirely empty slate and nothing more than a far-off deadline you *might* hit if everything goes to plan. Instead, a retro-planner sets sufficient intermediate goals so as to ensure that the final deadline is never a surprise, is never missed, and – if you’re smart – is always beaten. Clients love that, right?
5. Complete Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Reviews
The final thing you can build into your organization routine is a series of regular reviews.
Taking the time to look at what you achieved each day, week, and month helps you to know your work better, helps you to recognize what sort of work you do quickly and what takes more time, and helps you to identify areas where you can improve. You don’t need to go into great detail in these reviews, and a daily review might be as simple as looking over your list of goals for the day and marking off those you achieved.
Weekly reviews might take the form of an hour on a Friday afternoon or even a Sunday morning over coffee where you look at what you set out to achieve during the week, what actually got done, and where you were most productive.
Monthly reviews can be a little bit more in depth again, allowing you to take a broader look at the areas where your content creation is going well and where it can be improved, what areas of your work need attention, and putting in place a plan to provide that attention.
Organization + Creativity = Profit
Putting these five steps into action will allow you to move forward and create in a more organized working environment. Better organization plus more time and space to be creative means more opportunities to turn your ideas into profit, and that means living the sort of life that deserve, not the one that you are forced to live.11