20 Top Copywriting Productivity Tips and Hacks: How to Get Things Done

It has been 22 years since the Australian film director, Baz Luhrmann, released his spoken-word single “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. Since then the track has become a self-help mantra for thousands of people worldwide.

The point being made by bringing up this song in an article about productivity will be clearly evident when you click here and really listen to the song. The most important reasons behind procrastination and productivity lulls come from within. Your own state-of-mind essentially defines how productive you will be. Baz Luhrmann’s advice and the following 20 Top Copywriting Productivity Tips and Hacks can also assist in getting things done when they should be:-

01. Improve Your Health

The CDC has officially stated that healthier employees are more productive. It stands to reason then, that healthier freelancers may be even more productive than their employed counterparts who have a consistent paycheck in their back pockets. The bottom line is that it has been proven that improved health means improved productivity – a point that makes sense. This ties in with the “state-of-mind” point already mentioned too, so let’s just say that, if you’re healthier mentally and physically, you’re more likely to be more productive. Your productivity levels are essentially all up to you though.

“We’ve heard that health can improve a worker’s productivity by improving their physical capacity. But to be more accurate, improved health can improve a worker’s ability to be more productive. Productivity is largely a factor of an employee’s desire to work. Just because they have the physical capacity to do more work doesn’t necessarily mean they will.”Andrew Stephenson

Andrew Stephenson is Vice President of North America for HBD International and a contributing author for Corporate Wellness Magazine.

02. Have a Good Breakfast

The morning favourite, bacon and eggs, is a good example of a great breakfast. The healthy fat and protein that it provides creates a beneficial and enduring energy boost which encourages productivity. Leave the toast out though – carbohydrates increase sugar levels which invariably lead to an initial high followed by a crash later. Statistics show that, beyond the productivity factor, people who don’t eat breakfasts have an 87% greater risk of heart-related death! So wake up and eat healthy fat and protein to increase your productivity and your health.

“The little energy you obtained from your breakfast can ignite your willingness to kick start. Don’t overlook the little energy you have now by fixing eyes on a supposed magical influence farther away!”Israelmore Ayivor

Israelmore Ayivor is an inspirational author, speaker and blogger, and winner of the 2015 Leadership Mind Ambassadors Award.

03. Write Yourself a Daily “To-do” List

Creating a daily “to-do” list gives you the chance to clearly plot out what your responsibilities are for the day. Being able to cross something off the list and move closer to completing your daily tasks adds that little bit of motivation and thus enhances your productivity. An added bonus is that you’re less likely to forget something important.

“I set a schedule where I can work productively (very early morning hours in my case), I have a basic routine in place for regular activities, and I’m very attached to to-do lists. Precious little motivates me to work productively more than being able to check something off my list.”Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer and author who owns All Freelance Writing.

04. Set Yourself Daily Goals

Setting daily goals closely ties in with your “to-do” list but there is a subtle difference between the two. Listing what you want to complete on a given day and what you want to achieve by completing them differ. Understand the benefits of completing your daily tasks and what this will mean to both you and your clients. This provides you with additional incentives to be productive and lessens your chances of procrastination. The relief experienced by finishing your set tasks will be accompanied with a sense of accomplishment prompted by achieving your goals.

“Give yourself a target that you have to meet daily, and make sure it isn’t in any way overwhelming. 1,000 words daily is small and doable but at the end of a year that’s 365,000 words, which is massive!”Bamidele Onibalusi

Bamidele Onibalusi is a freelance writer from Nigeria who runs the Writers in Charge blog.

05. Have Little or No Distractions

Distraction is the arch-nemesis of productivity. Switching between tasks on a regular basis creates disorientation and confusion, which negates productivity. This can be exhausting! It’s like trying to find your place in your book after closing it without your bookmark. Added to this, your brain creates more Cortisol which is your body’s primary stress hormone. Heightened Cortisol levels can lead to irritation, aggression and impulsive behaviour. None of these will assist your productivity.

“I increase my writing productivity tremendously by turning off social media and sometimes shutting down my Internet access all together. I’ll then do a set of noise-cancelling headphones, listen to something meditative and without words, and begin writing.”Therese Walsh

Therese Walsh is the co-founder and Editorial Director of Writer Unboxed, an award-winning website and online writing community.

06. Create an Ambient Working Environment

Music is a fantastic way of setting a workplace’s environment. Whether it creates a productive environment or not depends entirely on you. Some people find music to be a distraction and would prefer to work in silence while others find the right music to be calming. According to research by Dr. Teresa Lesiuk of the University of Miami, those who had music playing at work completed tasks more quickly and were better idea-wise than those who didn’t. It is probably safe to assume that the music playing wasn’t Thrash Metal!

Many people don’t realize that your sense-of-smell can also affect productivity. Aromatherapy can be a powerful tool with the smell of rosemary enhancing memory and alertness, lemon decreasing the chance of errors, citrus shortening response time and jasmine known for its re-energising properties. Read more about the way aromas affect your productivity here.

“Listening to music you like activates the pleasure centre in your brain, and a particular pathway through the limbic system up to the orbital frontal cortex, which is your thinking area, is stimulated. The effect of this stimulation is an improvement in creative problem solving.”Dr. Teresa Lesiuk

Dr. Teresa Lesiuk is associate professor and program director for the Music Therapy program at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, and is a board-certified music therapist.

07. Mass Check Your Communications

While writing you should already have all distracting tabs and windows closed and all of your notifications on silent, along with your ring tone. Make use of any breaks that you have to mass check everything that could distract you during the writing process. Check your emails, your social media tweets, messages and timelines and your phone. Remind yourself of what is important and of the deadlines you have – doing this will help you to discipline yourself to only carry out less important tasks or obligations during your writing “down time”.

“Stay focused, ignore the distractions, and you will accomplish your goals.”Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen is a pastor, televangelist and author of books including “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” and “Think Better, Live Better”.

08. Research in Your Most Productive Way

Researching the subject of your content before beginning to write is an industry standard. It helps to qualify and quantify your upcoming content with facts, quotes, statistics and the latest news and trends. This helps you to plan your content and thus improve your productivity level when writing. There are exceptions to this standard, however.

When writing content in point form, it sometimes can be more productive to research on a point-by-point basis and complete writing that point before researching the and writing the next one. This allows you to consider more well-timed breaks between every three or four points, for example. You can then return to the following point with the fresh focus and vigour afforded you by your break. Researching while writing is also progressive in relation to the addition of newly formed ideas. How you do things is entirely up to you – the important element is to maintain your general productivity in the best way.

“I continue to do research as I’m writing a book, and it all evolves together. I get an idea, and then when I look into it, that gives me other ideas.”Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell is a best-selling crime fiction author and erstwhile technical writer.

09. Plan the Timing of Your Content

Especially for long-form content, planning in shorter stages is beneficial to productivity. Making a point form summary of the stages of your content, with estimated time-frames for completion assists with focused writing. These “mini-deadlines” enable concentration in short spells which bring maximised, targeted writing. Phil James, quoted below, suggests five minute time-frames between points but this is an entirely subjective guideline. Experiment with what time-frames suit you best and adjust accordingly.

“Ask yourself this simple question: Can I complete what I need to complete in the next five minutes? If so, do it; if not, write down step-by-step what you need to do and set a five minute goal for completing every step. After a while, you’ll stop worrying about the bigger picture, and you’ll be successful because you’ll prioritize detail over anything else.”Phil James

Phil James is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Qwiklit

10. Complete Your First Draft Quickly

Writing a first draft should not be time-consuming. It is essentially your outline; your formulation of ideas. Don’t pay that much attention to your spelling and grammar as you’ll correct this later anyway. Get your content down but don’t stress too much about editing as this ultimately wastes time and hinders your productivity. Creating and editing involve different areas of your brain so create first and edit later. Mary Jaksch says it perfectly below.

“When you try to write your first draft well, you are creating and editing at the same time. This is like being in a car and stepping on the accelerator and the brake at the same time. You won’t get anywhere fast!”Mary Jaksch

Mary Jaksch is an authorised Zen master, psychotherapist, author and Editor-in-Chief of Write to Done and Good Life Zen.

11. Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks increases your productivity in numerous ways. A break of 5 to 15 minutes every two to four hours, depending on your task, assists with maintaining focus and concentration. Your creative ability will also be heightened, allowing for the better triggering of new ideas and solutions. Decision-making also improves as working non-stop increases the chances of decision fatigue, a psychological term referring to a diminished ability to make informed decisions and choices. Certain experts even suggest taking 5 minute breaks every 40 minutes, similar to subject schedule times in most schools. Taking breaks is NOT being lazy.

“I used to power through breaks, for whatever reason. My view was that amateurs took breaks and professionals didn’t. That’s just diametrically, 100 percent erroneous. Professionals take breaks, amateurs don’t take breaks. I started thinking about breaks as part of my performance, not as a deviation from my performance, and you should, too.”Dan Pink

Dan Pink is the author of several bestselling books about business, work, creativity, and behaviour, including “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”.

12. Work to Deadlines

Deadlines are huge motivators for productivity. The big negative is when there are long-term deadlines and you think you’ve got plenty of time to complete your projects before the due date. This can lead to procrastination, especially if you only have a few jobs on the go. Before you know it, time has crept up on you and a mad rush ensues to make your deadline. This, in itself, is counter-productive as rushing things doesn’t amount to producing quality content. Creating your own deadlines if the ones given are too long-term, or when none are specified at all, provides extra incentive for you to be more productive.

“When I’m on a very tight deadline, I almost always output a super-human amount of copy in the time given to hit it. So, if you want to get your copy done in the fastest time you know you can do it, send your client a note. Tell them you’re going to get the copy in by a certain day.  And then do everything you can to make that happen.”Roy Furr

Roy Furr is a freelance direct response copywriter and Editor at Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

13. Surround Yourself with Productive People

Productivity encourages productivity. Surrounding yourself with motivated, collaborative people will enhance your own productivity. When any environment is filled with positivity, your own positivity will soar which enables you to function better in general. Employers will know how much better teamwork and morale in the workplace are for productivity. If you are fortunate to exist in this type of environment, your productivity will benefit from it.

“When you surround yourself with people who are really, really energized by the work that they do, that ends up elevating your performance.”Dr. Ron Friedman

Dr. Ron Friedman is an award-winning social psychologist, author of “The Best Place to Work” and founder of ignite80.

14. Read, Watch and Observe

There is nothing better for a copywriter’s creative juices than reading. The more reading you do, the more you encourage your neurological pathways to spark your imagination, and thus your creativity. Being more creative drives productive outcomes, with ideas coming quicker. Watching movies and TV can do the same thing, but to a lesser degree. Observing others can spark ideas and make content far easier to generate.

“The thing young writers should do is read, read, read. Read craft books, blogs, fiction, nonfiction. Watch movies, read articles, inhale miniseries. You are filling your creative well.”Kristen Lamb

Kristin Lamb is a blogger, international speaker and the author of the social media guide book, “Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World”, among others.

15. Sleep

Getting eight hours of sleep daily works wonders for productivity levels. Even if you function on far less during the night, the advantages of even an hour-long “power nap” during your working day can do wonders for your patience, stress-levels, reaction time, learning abilities, efficiency and health. It’s understandable that some of us are unable to do this due to working conditions but, if you can, it might benefit you more than you can imagine. If you can’t, try setting your PRV and climbing into bed earlier. Remember that a sleep deficit can negatively affect your information processing, judgment, short-term memory, vision and, of course, your productivity.

“Most experts agree that the body needs 7-9 hours of sleep per day, depending on personal and genetic factors. Some research shows that 6 hours or less triples your risk of a car accident.”Elizabeth Scott, MS

Elizabeth Scott, MS, is a wellness coach, award-winning blogger and the author of “8 Keys to Stress Management”.

16. Write at Night

Working the night shift is not as uncommon for writers and freelance copywriters as you may believe. There are many benefits for productivity including less distraction, less external noise and a lack of other pressing tasks that need completing. Timing your working day between, say, 10pm and 3am, allows your dinner to digest, time for a shower to freshen up and perhaps a little TV or reading for inspiration. Being on the go again from 9am or so allows for the completion of daily correspondence and other menial tasks before an afternoon nap and possibly a little late afternoon writing.

Acclaimed vampire author, Anne Rice, started writing in the dark hours to experience how her subject matter would feel, and continued doing so because it was more comfortable and productive to do so.

“At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft was an American horror fiction author, with over 60 released works.

17. Assess How You Spend Your Time

Knowing how you spend your time is very helpful from a productivity perspective. Assessing how much time is generally spent researching, how much is spent on other business and how much is actually spent writing will give you the opportunity to fine-tune your processes and decide whether drastic changes to your routine are necessary. Time management is key to productivity and being able to trace and save lost minutes could be invaluable.

“Figure out where the time is going now. Knowing where the time goes means you can make changes based on accurate data. Without accurate data, it’s hard to know if you’re changing the right thing.”Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam is a writer, speaker, blogger and author of several time management and productivity books, including “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done”.

18. Do Something Different… and Expensive!

There are times when you feel like you’re in a rut and, no matter what you do, procrastination rules and productivity is being throttled. It’s at times like these that drastic actions are needed! You desperately need to shake things up and there’s no better way to do this than to spend extra money. When all else fails, hurting your pocket will probably inspire you to drag yourself out of the mire quickly and, subconsciously, the importance of the project will intensify.

Book into a hotel to change the scenery and improve your usual surroundings with a little luxurious splendour. Remind yourself that this extravagance is not actually something you can afford and start writing. The change in your routine environment, coupled with your subconscious motivation, will probably be enough to free your mind in itself, but the additional expense will be an extra motivator.

“The concept is simple. By leveraging a radical change to your normal environment, coupled perhaps with a significant investment of effort or money, all dedicated toward supporting a deep work task, you increase the perceived importance of the task … This boost in importance reduces your mind’s instinct to procrastinate and delivers an injection of motivation and energy.”Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a New York Times best-selling author and a computer science professor. His books include “A World Without Email”, “Digital Minimalism”, and “Deep Work”.

19. Make Use of Writing Aids

The internet provides copywriters with a myriad of writing aids designed to make their lives more productive. Besides the numerous spell checkers and online dictionaries and thesauruses available, there are now AI content generators too. There are good ones and bad ones so investigate a little and find what works best for you. ContentBot is an example of these, using GPT-3 technology, and including upwards of 25 features specially crafted to assist copywriters and marketers. Content blocks for different facets of blogging, a listicle generator, copywriting formula tools, a plagiarism checker and a long-form content generator, among others, make generating copy and content quick and easy.

It is easier to edit than to write and, with the help of AI content generation, every copywriter can put more time into ensuring that the “human element”, that only you can provide, is clearly visible. If utilised correctly, a content generator can drastically improve productivity, while also being able to ward off those unneeded “writer’s block” periods.

“This is awesome! Our team has used it and been amazed at the quality of ideas and writing prompts it comes up with. Even the best copywriters need inspiration at times and know that the best ideas are yet to be discovered. Love this tool!”Ashley Porciuncula (on ContentBot)

Ashley Porciuncula is a fractional CPO, product leader, UX designer, startup consultant and coach, and is the co-founder of OrbitalChat.

20. Maintain Your Self-Discipline

Maintaining your self-discipline will drive your productivity levels more than anything else already mentioned. As humans, we have been blessed with free will, but this can also be a curse if we make the wrong choices. A copywriter needs to be disciplined and motivated in order to complete designated writing tasks on time and well. Being self-disciplined in word and action is the ultimate productivity hack you will receive. It is up to you to do your job and find ways to make sure you do it to the best of your ability.

“Set up the time when you work and when you have breaks, make your own working place at home, avoid distractions that surround you and it will help you to concentrate on your work.”Jessica Millis

Jessica Millis is a blog editor and writing expert at EssayMama.

In Conclusion

There are numerous ways to maintain and increase productivity as a copywriter. Everything essentially comes back to your state-of-mind, with your ability to remain positive and forward-thinking in your working environment, be it at home or in the office. That is how to get things done. If you are able to maintain this first, you will be in a position to apply some of the 20 Top Copywriting Tips and Hacks to assist you further in achieving your maximum productivity level.

Images courtesy of Unsplash

Warren Potter
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