Five Ways to Make Space in Your Head

Perhaps it’s because I recently attended the AWAI B2B Copywriting Intensive in Denver, lately I’ve been thinking about the process of becoming a copywriter.

In Denver, I was surrounded by people becoming copywriters. AWAI’s event was helping them to become copywriters. And very few people immediately become copywriters. Usually there’s a gap between decision and action.

I took years to act. And as I’ve talked with folks here at the event this week, I hear a wide range of explanations for the gap …

“My job is too demanding.”

“I don’t have enough time.”

“My husband won’t let me.”

Over the years, working with sales teams, I learned something fundamental. The average salesperson takes full credit for exceeding his sales quota. But when he misses his quota, he points a finger at the marketing campaign, or a broken sales tool, or a customer issue. This seems to be a basic psychological fact:

We pretend that success is a part of us, and failure is a function of external circumstances.

To grow and progress, we have to break out of that mind-set. Success is within us, and so is failure.

Whether or not we want to admit it, if we make a decision and fail to act, that’s our failure. We failed to act. We missed opportunities because we failed to act.

I’m not here to judge myself or others. I’m instead wondering why we fail to act. I think there are many reasons, but here’s one I think is overlooked but essential to understand.

I think we fail to act because we filled our heads with other stuff.

We rarely think of it, but our heads have finite capacity for thought — limited by time and energy.

We’re conscious around 16 hours a day and we have to spend much of that time thinking and acting.

We’re living in a world of sensory overload and multiple responsibilities. So many of us are ultra-busy. If you’re ultra-busy, you’re often spending your time barely thinking, just reacting to stimuli. If you’re in that mind-set, you’re going to struggle to become a copywriter because, to become a copywriter, there’s so much to learn. You have to think, plan, absorb new information, and act.

So if you want to become a copywriter, but don’t have headspace, here are five ideas for clearing your mind and finding room to learn copywriting:

  1. Write madly to find mental breathing room. I use this technique frequently. Jot down what you’re thinking about and work out a plan for acting on your thoughts.
  2. Draw a mind map of all your responsibilities. Mind mapping is one of the strongest techniques for graphically representing everything about a situation. Use a mind-mapping tool or a piece of paper to sketch out what’s on your mind.
  3. Delegate. There are all kinds of tasks you can delegate — to a spouse, to a colleague, to a hired hand. Virtual assistants are a strongly compelling trend because they can help, for a nominal fee, with a wide range of time-consuming tasks. I’m trying to hire one now.
  4. Take a nap. Highly successful people, including Winston Churchill, have used naps to extract an extra hour or two of productive thinking out of each day.
  5. Take advantage of ‘downtime.’ I’ve started reading AWAI articles on my smartphone when I’m standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for my dry cleaner to return my clothes. I sneak in learning opportunities whenever I can.

AWAI has the resources to fill your head with what you need to become a first-rate copywriter. But if your head doesn’t have room for the information — you’ll never use it. And people who choose to be ultra-busy, reacting all the time, will struggle to take in and act upon what AWAI’s trying to relay.

It’s time to make space in your head. Can you do it?

My experience so far is that it’s really worth it.

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Published: July 12, 2012

3 Responses to “Five Ways to Make Space in Your Head”

  1. You need to be proactive rather than reactive.

    If you are sick, for example, you visit your doctor and pop pills and take injections and are hospitalized.

    But symptoms do not reveal nor treat the underlying cause of your problems.

    Conversely, proactive people try to get to the root of the problem.

    In this case it could be a combination of diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, etc.

    After all, prevention is better than cure, so why should you fall sick in the first place?

    This holds many lessons for copywriters as well.

    Thanks for this timely reminder, friend.

    Archan Mehta

  2. It is interesting how we label events.

    Thus, X is an "obstacle" that has to be "overcome."

    It is almost as if X is the end of our world if we fail to achieve that goal.

    In other words, perception creates reality.

    You do not have to deal with the nature of reality in that way at all.

    We all have a personal choice.

    For example, swimming is neither an obstacle nor do I have to overcome any hurdles.

    I can choose to just enjoy the experience of swimming.

    Life is a learning experience.

    Archan Mehta

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