Imageimage credit: graeme weatherstone/

There’s just no escaping the fact that digital publishing is really time consuming, if you’re doing it right. You can’t scale or automate the effort that goes in creating original blog/magazine articles or eBooks, and there’s no room at the top of Google for content that doesn’t add value to its niche. The experts at Content Marketing Institute have found that quality “takes elbow grease, experimentation, and perseverance.” Given that 64% of marketers struggle to produce enough content, time management is key. We’ve compiled insights from our own experience producing a steady stream of fresh content to help you kick up your production, without losing sight of excellence:

1. Have an Editorial Calendar in Place

You can’t improve a process which isn’t clearly defined, and even a minimal system should include a content calendar. Keep in mind that relevance is critical to quality online publications, and you should always leave time in your schedule for newsjacking, planning ahead will save time in the long haul. As Content Strategist Erin Kissane puts it, “plan for a marathon, not a sprint.” Know what you’ll be writing about far more than a week in advance.

Add customer questions to your content calendar, as you’re asked via email or social media. While they may seem basic, remember that if a prospect took the time to email you, they likely couldn’t find the answer on Google.

2. Think Like a Project Manager

If you’re feeling a sense of never getting it all done, that’s probably normal. However, that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of room for improvement. There’s a time and place for productivity apps and project management software; but it’s probably wise to really evaluate your process first. B2B Marketer Dianna Huff advises the following 3-step analysis:

  • Keep Track of Your Workflow: Spend several days developing a baseline measurement of your content process, tracking time in a simple app like Toggl. Additionally, take note of whether you’re frequently interrupted, or spend time looking for lost items.
  • Determine Your Bottlenecks: Evaluate whether you’re losing any precious time to frequent email checking, interruptions from colleagues, your Twitter interactions, or poor organization.
  • Improve Your System or Process: It’s much harder to break a bad habit than identify one, and it’s not easy to retrain yourself. Put into place systems that support your need for efficiency, which could include centralized document storage, or a “do not interrupt me” policy.

3. Invest in Technology

We get it, not everyone is gaga over adopting new tools. There are some writers who prefer to begin each day with a simple word document, and nothing else. However, technology can be a vital tool for managing the digital publication process, particularly if you’re working with a team of multiple writers. Invest in a project management software, like Brightpod or TeamworkPM, which support organized file sharing and collaboration. Use Evernote as a shared repository for inspirational links, or references. Set Google alerts to keep informed of industry trends. If you’re struggling to quell your Facebook addiction, use ColdTurkey to keep yourself from checking your notifications throughout the day. Use FlippingBook for free, easy and beautiful digital publications.

4. Block Your Time

The world’s most productive people recognize that time is a non-renewable resource, and zealously defend their hours. One tactic that many swear by is time blocking, the concept of dedicating several hours toward a single task, to improve focus. Citing the fact that switching focus between tasks can reduce the overall velocity of work, Gary Keller believes time blocking helped him build on of the largest real estate businesses in the US. Schedule your week around the 40-25-35 formula, based on McLuhan and Davies’ research that the most effective publishers spend:

  • 40% of their time researching.
  • 25% of their time writing.
  • 35% of their time revising and editing.

5. Schedule Time for Self-Improvement

If your schedule demands 40 hours each week of copywriting, publishing, and social media distribution, that’s fine. You’ll probably get a massive amount of content marketing done, but you’ll never become a better marketer. It’s critical for any professional to invest in continuing education, and it’s all the more important for those of us working in rapidly-changing industries.

Read blogs, network with other bloggers, attend a webinar, or take the plunge into freewriting. Using a tool like the Write or Die app, try your hand at developing a document without the use of the “backspace” key, or a minimum word count per minute. While there’s little chance your product will be blog-worthy, you could benefit from practicing writing without opportunity for procrastination.

6. Ignore Your Colleagues and Friends

Researchers have found that the average American worker is interrupted around 8 times an hour. Even worse, it takes the typical person 20-25 minutes to recover focus after an interruption. When your friend pops up on Google talk, their well-meaning interruption can devastate your digital publishing strategy. Be vigilant about protecting yourself from interruption while writing, which likely means turning off your phone, closing your email inbox, and shutting the door to your office. It’s not mean, it’s good time management.

7. Stop Multi-Tasking

Imageimage credit: pong/

Your tendency to juggle social media distribution, writing, and editing tasks at the same time may feel natural, but it’s not productive. Studies have shown that multi-tasking doesn’t result in more getting done, but lower quality work. Your short term memory can only contain 5 to 9 things at one time, meaning your mental energy is quickly sapped by multiple tasks. While the average millennial tends to switch screens 27 times per hour, these habits should actively be mitigated.

While there’s no escaping the fact that quality digital publication takes time, you can ensure each minute of your workday is optimized. Kick your multi-tasking habit, plan your publication calendar far in advance, and continually evaluate your process.

How do you balance time management and the creative process?