A Productivity System for Full-Time Writers: How My Team Stays on Track

Can you hack writing productivity on a whim? Not really, but you could create a system to fight the blank page syndrome and keep the writer’s block far, far away.

Every day, my team shoulders the pressure of creating good content within tight deadlines. And while they match the expectations on most days, some days the output quality is (truthfully) lacklustre.

It happens. And it happens to the best of content writers, and especially to those working full-time. After a good run, our imagination dries out, words stop flowing, and tasks take longer to finish.

As full-time writers though, we have to keep our creativity engines well-oiled and functioning consistently.

This is a writing productivity system my team lives and breathes to keep the content going.

What is a Writing Productivity System?

A productivity system is a set of proven practices, methods, and tools to help you make optimal use of your time and achieve the desired outcomes. In the case of a “writing” productivity system, the outcome is meeting the deadlines well on time, so you’re not constantly breaking out in cold sweats — or worse, taking on undue stress and anxiety while writing content.

This system, engineered for your productivity cycle, helps you train your brain for peak performance – while providing routine and rituals for disciplined creativity. So, rather than waiting for the inspiration to strike, you’re channelling your creative juices at the right time.

It is also time-bound, so you become more intentional with how you spend your time on particular tasks.

You give proper time to writing, but also to wandering thoughts, distractions, social media, and other things we like to demonize as a “waste of time.” This way, you never get stuck in a rut nor do you overwork to the point of creative exhaustion.

This system is sometimes self-imposing. For example, I will not step away from my desk before I write at least 500 words of meaningful content. Or it’s sustained at the organizational level. For example, at Ukti, writers usually get a day’s time to turn in the first drafts of content pieces under 1000 words.

But most importantly, it’s designed to get you to do the work. Let me show you how!

How to Build a Productivity System for Full-Time Writers

I’m going to keep this really, really simple, and only focus on two major aspects of writing productivity: Mindset and Method. To me, these make all the difference to your content quality and output. Let’s see how.

Mindset Change

“Done is better than good”

If you’re struggling to write persuasive content, you’re probably suffering from a mindset problem.

You’re either in the ‘perfectionist’ camp or the ‘Why is my writing not as good as hers?’ camp — both of which are equally paralyzing states for the insecure writer, sucking the life and soul out of the work you’re creating.

Instead, try asking yourself the following questions.

Are my feelings toward the writing task positive or negative? Purdue OWL’s brilliant publication, Staying Productive for Long Writing Tasks, has a unique take on the struggling writer’s situation —and it’s nothing short of eye-opening.

It talks about how having negative feelings towards a writing job can lead to procrastination and cause blockage of ideas. Put simply, if you start dreading a writing task the moment it’s assigned, you’re going to have a dreadful time working on it.

On the flip side, if you approach a task with a smile on, ready to take it step by step, you’ll be better equipped (mentally, at least) to tackle it despite the length or difficulty of the project.

But the best way to overcome such negative feelings isn’t suppression — it’s becoming more emotionally aware. You could be feeling negative for any number of reasons: it’s a big project, working on similar topics, or a complex topic. Whatever it is, address the core of the feelings and you’ll be better off writing that first draft without a shred of doubt or worry.

👀 Do check out Purdue OWL’s The Writing Lab for a series of helpful, concise articles. It’s a treasure trove of practical writing advice you can implement right away.

Am I estimating the time I need to write correctly? Writing isn’t just about drafting. It also involves a fair amount of research, outreach (in some cases), editing, proofreading, and revisions. Yet, most writers hardly account for the additional hours of creative labour. And end up feeling incompetent over not hitting the expected word quota.

And this is a problem because it can leave you feeling anxious and second-guessing your skills for the 100th time.

But don’t be fooled by your brain. Consider all the pre and post-writing stages when estimating to value your total writing time properly.

Do you feel confident about your writing skills? Most writers have a harsh inner critic. We’re much more brutal on our craft, and that’s a problem. Before we even finish writing the draft, we’re taking it apart, critiquing every single line and letting the imposter take the driver’s seat.

No! You’re not a bad writer. You just set unrealistically high expectations that don’t match your CURRENT skillset. Good writers aren’t born overnight. They are the results of hours and hours of practice.

If you want to see your inner artist thrive, you’ve got to be generous with your praise and stingy with your critique. Remember, charity begins at home.

👀 This brilliant video by Big Think and narrated by Ethan Kross is a brilliant primer for anyone learning to calm their internal chaos.

Method Change

At what time do you feel the most productive? Not everyone is productive during the wee hours. Some of us are night owls, preferring to type away our assignments while burning the midnight oil.

And that’s the fact. Different people are productive at different times of the day. That’s why, at Ukti, we extend flexible working hours to all our writers, allowing them to work at their peak instead of crushing the traditional 9 to 5.

But how do you know when you’re the most productive? This Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (AutoMEQ) is a good resource to understand your peaks and troughs throughout the day. Or your “chronotype” to be exact.

You can learn about your circadian rhythm and when you’re the most alert and ready to work at your full capacity.

Do you seek help when you’re struggling with the task? Most writers SUCK at asking for help. Sorry folks, but the truth is, you’d rather waste two hours surfing the Internet trying to find the right angle for the story than drop a message to your editor/peers for help.

This has got to change.

Borrowing ideas or taking help from your editors or colleagues doesn’t imply you’re any less of a writer. Asking for help is also a great way to start conversations and build relationships. 

Don’t let the fear of judgement keep you from collaborating with others. This is lesson #1 for all new hires at Ukti.

Are you using the right tools to support your writing? I prefer drafting on Notion instead of Google Docs or Ms Word. For some reason, my writing just flows better and faster.

This made me wonder: Isn’t it strange how technology influences the work we do every day?

It could be the same for you. From what browser you use to surf the Internet to the music app you use while drafting and what thesaurus you refer to for synonyms. All these tools play an important role in your writing process.

So, try and test how different tools affect the quality of not just your work, but also the way you gather information, bookmark articles for your reading list, your mood, sleep cycle, etc.

Here are some of my favourite (and free!) tools and how I use them:

  • Notion for knowledge management and personal wiki.
  • Promodoro Timer to keep better track of my time.
  • Trello to create Kanban lists and monitor daily tasks.
  • Google Calendar to block time for deep work and important schedules.
  • Evernote for taking notes I can tag and look up quickly.
  • Refocus! to set time limits on my social media usage.
  • Pocket for bookmarking articles and maintaining a TBR list for the weekend.
  • Atom to recentre my wandering mind with guided meditations.

Do you monitor your progress? After a while, writing becomes second nature to us writers. If we’re not getting any negative critique for our work, we’re usually not thinking about levelling up our craft.

And good writers are always “in progress.” They’re always cooking up ways to take a good-enough copy to high-quality execution. But what does progress even look like?

  • Like reduced red marks in your marked-up copy.
  • Like getting streaks of positive feedback from clients.
  • Like scoring a featured snippet on Google.
  • Like finishing a draft one day before the deadline.

Your writing progress is unique to you. Define it however you want, but keep track of such “milestones” as reminders of your achievements and keep going.

Writing Productivity Tips from Ukti’s Team of Content Writers

At last, sharing some nuggets of wisdom from my team of incredible writers.  

  1. Jishnu Chakraborty 

“As a content writer, maintaining productivity is more important than it sounds. On days when the words are not coming to me as naturally as they should, I try to stimulate my brain with some light music. I avoid anything lyrical and stick to instrumentals or maybe even movie soundtracks.

PS: Interstellar soundtrack by Hans Zimmer works like a charm!”

  1. Taniya Saini

“What really works for me is breaking the topic into bite-sized chunks and rewarding each completed section with a break. It helps me get in the zone without distractions. And if I get stuck with a section, I either skip it or jot down some ideas without following a structure and refine it later.”

  1. Ridvika Arora 

“Staying productive and consistent as a content writer can be a lot harder than it seems. But when I have deadlines to meet, I plan my time and try my best to write as much as I can during my most “creative hours”, typically early in the morning. 

Another thing that works well for me is taking short breaks frequently, just a few minutes away from the screen to relax and clear my mind.”

  1. Palak Agarwal 

“I start my day early. I plan out things and prepare a to-do list for what needs to be done by EOD. When I feel like I can’t write, I take a 5-minute walk or do breathing exercises. It helps calm my nerves and relieve stress and anxiety.”

  1. Gaurav Saraswat 

“For me, it is a challenging game to keep switching my role between a writer, editor, and manager. At times, it happens that due to multiple deadlines coinciding, I feel overwhelmed. The only immediate solution I look for is giving my work a 5-10-minute pause and doing absolutely nothing. I close my eyes and give my brain a breather. 

Then, I check my To-do list and prioritize the tasks again. I make sure to discuss with my senior if things look beyond my control. It helps me understand what I can reschedule and what has to be done without extending the deadline. Eventually, things get sorted out. 

Taking a break and clear communication is the key to going ahead.”

  1. Akshada Scott 

“Timing yourself can be a great way to stick to your schedule. Do a quick rundown on what your piece requires, also consider research, writing and editing and then section your piece off on the basis of word count. 

I always like to start with the shorter parts to build momentum, but if you find tackling the meatier parts first, that’s s a great way too! The idea behind this is to start, which is often the most difficult part!”

Ready to Adopt Our Writing Productivity System?

You don’t have to work like your hair is always on fire. This productivity system helps you build the discipline and stability you need to keep your creative juices flowing on paper.

You know the A to Zs now. Go ahead and give it a try.

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