Writer’s block: it’s happened to everybody. You sit and stare at a blank page and wait for ideas to come, but nothing comes. Or, worse yet, you get halfway through a piece of content and suddenly inspiration disappears and leaves you holding a half-finished eBook and an empty bag.

When the clock is ticking toward the end of the week and you need to come up with something fast, it’s easy to panic over a lack of inspiration. Fortunately, a little work and planning before you hit the panic phase can save your bacon and improve your productivity.

Here are our five top tactics for saving time on content generation:

1. Get Ahead of the Game

Don’t wait for a deadline to try harnessing your brain. Keep a notebook or a digital file for ideas and whenever one comes to you, write it down before you lose it. Did you see an interesting article? Copy and paste the URL now, along with a sentence or two about why it caught your fancy. Think of a catchy title for a white paper? Into the notebook it goes. As you collect these, set a weekly calendar appointment with yourself to transfer them into your editorial calendar so that you’re always working ahead on ideas.

2. Map Your Mind

It’s a pretty safe bet that some kind of mind mapping has been around for as long as people have been trying to organize their thoughts. A mind map is a visual diagram of your thoughts. When everything is in a jumble and you just can’t decide what to say or think about next, take a minute to make a mind map. By breaking your topic down into bite-size, easily manipulated pieces, you can re-set and re-organize your thinking and create a roadmap for moving quickly ahead at the same time.

3. Take Dictation

How much time do you spend in the car, on a train or bus, walking, or at the gym? You can take advantage of what would otherwise by non-productive time (and also get out of the office) by downloading a voice recording app (or buying a standalone voice recorder) and dictating your content. Speaking can even engage different areas of your brain and spur you on to new levels of creativity. Later, you can transcribe and edit the recording. To save even more time, you can use a voice-to-text transcription program instead of a simple recorder.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sometimes your best content is the content you’ve already got. When you’re really down to the wire and you need to produce something now, take a look at your existing library to see if you can repurpose content. Blog posts and emails can often serve as the basis for a new kit, eBook, or white paper. Conversely, premium content like eBooks and white papers can be edited and simplified into blogs and emails. Take a little time to edit, clip, and prune and you can have new content from old before you know it.

5. Phone a Friend

Whether you’re working a month ahead and need to brainstorm blog titles, or it’s Friday afternoon and you have to outline an infographic before you can go home and put your weekend clothes on, collaboration is key. Find a buddy who can help you bounce your ideas around. Their thoughts and questions will help you clarify what you want to say and may even give you completely new ideas.

With a little organization and planning, you can turn yourself into a well-oiled content creation machine.

What are your favorite tactics for saving time on content creation? Leave a comment below and let us know!