4 Productivity Tips to Keep You Successful and Sane

It’s great to see you back here!

Over the past three days, I’ve really enjoyed sharing with you three of the blog posts I write for Circle of Success members.

I chose these posts because they cover what Mark Ford and all top copywriters and freelancers know is the single most important secret for writing success.

That secret? Getting to know your prospect (the person you’re writing to) deeply, so you can develop empathy for her and fulfill her needs. Do that, and you’re on your way to a successful writing career.

Today I’m going to shift gears.

There are two core secrets to success in any career, but they’re crucial in writing.

First: continuously improve your skills. Second: Improve your productivity, so you get more work done and earn more money.

Simply put, the better your productivity – the faster you get high-quality copy to clients – the faster you’ll achieve success.

Two of the four personal strategies I’m going to share relate directly to your writing. And two relate to your life in general … because we don’t spend our entire life in our home offices.

1. The “Jerry Rice System for Success”

Jerry Rice, former wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, is the best receiver in football history. During his entire career – even at the very peak – Rice took extra practice sessions by himself.

He practiced this much so everything he did on the field became second nature.

Do the same. The best way to learn how to write productively is to write. And write some more. Even if you don’t have a client, write letters to friends … reviews of restaurants or movies … newsletters for your church or service club. But write every day.

Practicing the Jerry Rice way, you increase your writing skills. Writing becomes easier. You’re able to write more efficiently, productively … and more profitably.

2. Organize for Success

Productivity drops drastically when you spend time looking for “stuff.” You know the feeling. “I know it’s here. Where is it?”

When you have an assignment, have all relevant information organized, so you can get your hands on what you need quickly.

Develop an organizational system that makes sense to you.

Here’s a warning. Being too organized will zap your productivity. I used to insist all my folder labels were computer printed. And color-coded. My file cabinets looked great. But I was wasting time.

A special note about computer files: If you save everything to “My Documents” or the desktop without organizing them, it won’t be long before you can’t find anything.

Instead, make a folder in “My Documents” called “Freelance Writing” (or similar). Inside that folder, make individual folders for each of your clients and for your writing training.

3. Reduce Piles of “Stuff”

Papers, promos to be read, work-related items, and other “stuff” piles up everywhere if you let them. Eventually they reduce productivity.

Keep your work area and your life free of distractions that these piles bring with them. Get control of them and improve your productivity with these tests:

Test A: Does this require action? (If so, act on it now.)

Test B: Can I identify a specific use for it in the next two months that benefits me? (“Someday” doesn’t count.)

Test C: If I toss this now but need it later, can I get it easily? (Keep it, but only if it passes test B.)

Test D: Are there tax or legal implications?

Test F: What’s the worst possible thing that would happen I did not have this?

Anything that doesn’t pass these tests gets dumped.

4. Perfection Hinders Productivity

Yes, you want your writing to be “perfect.” But, you’ll never get there if you insist on perfection as you write. Strong, compelling copy comes from numerous revisions … never in the first draft.

Insisting on writing perfection keeps you running in place in your career. “I’ll send this AWAI exercise when it’s perfect,” is likely to lead to your never sending it.

So, if you don’t take that first, less-than-perfect step, you won’t get valuable feedback on your copy that makes you better at what you’re doing.

Strive for perfection in everything you do. But admit that we humans aren’t perfect. Abandon the need for perfection. Work to your highest capabilities and constantly work to improve.

The COS Blog article I included today was one of the best received of all blogs I’ve written, so I thought you’d enjoy it, too.

Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about the one person who’ll have the biggest impact on your success.

Until then, I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments in the appropriate place below. And, thank you so much for taking the time.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: July 30, 2015

15 Responses to “4 Productivity Tips to Keep You Successful and Sane”

  1. Thank you for this great insight! Really like it!
    I'm already waiting for the next text tomorrow!

    Regards, Helena

    Guest (Helena de Guide)July 30, 2015 at 12:38 pm

  2. Loved your tips about how to organize and get rid of what is not pertinent to our tasks. Too often I find myself saving because "sometime I might need it.!" Guess I am not alone but neither do I want to be bogged down in trivia that doesn't help me.
    Thanks again for your clarity. Positively, Pauline

    Positively PaulineJuly 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm

  3. Thank you for the 4 Productivity Tips to Keep You Successful and Sane. I am just starting in the business and have found these useful in life as well. I have found it to be comfortability organized is better. I enjoy your other tips and am excited that you want us to succeed as your are doing. Keep writing and I will keep absorbing. Once again thanks Brian

    Guest (Brian H)July 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm

  4. Hi Will,

    Have really enjoyed your tips this week! I also liken this kind of getting organized to cleaning out your closet. "This will fit again some day" (throw it out or donate it) or "It might come back in style (again, dump it if you won't use it! Thanks, I look forward to seeing what you have for us tomorrow!

    Diane BJuly 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm

  5. Hi, I am trying to take in all these tips (taking notes). I'm very grateful for all the help.

    I nothing yet to reference possible clients to, to show my abilities. Should I start a blog or something and just write?

    Guest (Sarah F)July 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm

  6. A self-serving either/or we need to get over if we're ever to be both organized and productive is that focus not only has two different manifestations but that both are required if any semblance of organized productivity is to prevail. For w/o the passiveness (or yin) of strategy's forged posterity, neither can the activity (or yang) of reactions perpetuate the now. Otherwise, never can the vessels of either hour ever merge by but a common sand. Better to dumbbell the moment as if but a beach.

    Guest (Chris Morris)July 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm

  7. Awesome tips and you hit a couple of things I need to work on! Looking forward to meeting you at boot camp Mr. Newman!

    Guest (Jane)July 30, 2015 at 7:52 pm

  8. WOW! Your “4 Productivity Tips to Keep You Successful and Sane” are spot on. I learned these the hard way when I wrote my first book.

    I especially agree with your comments on perfection and organization.

    My first draft was 112 pages. After many revisions to make it perfect, 112 pages became 368 pages! I finally had enough. I could just write a sequel.

    Organization? I was a perfectionist there too. But, also a packrat. Nothing's worse than a perfectionist packrat! Talk about a living oxymoron

    Rick-International Travel ReviewsJuly 30, 2015 at 8:23 pm

  9. thanks for taking the time to write these helpful tips.

    Guest (Joseph Mulhern)July 31, 2015 at 12:05 am

  10. Dear Will,

    I enjoyed your blog. However, I have to ask. Was the "prefect" in this sentence a typo or Freudian slip? It was definitely in the right place for that. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

    "But admit that we humans aren't prefect."

    DJacksonJuly 31, 2015 at 1:14 am

  11. Hey Will!
    Thank you for this great advice. I appreciate people who care and share in order to help another. I am just getting started in my writing career so "Yes" I am a new born baby! My head is constantly buzzing with thoughts and your advice definitely helps me. I am looking forword to more good "food" from you.
    Alan L VonLoh

    alvpackmanJuly 31, 2015 at 10:04 am

  12. Thank you so much for these wonderful tips. I have begun some voluntary writing for my church and another non-profit organization. I enjoy writing and would like to perfect the art. Being organized is so important. I tend to save everything, thinking and hoping that there will be some need of it in the future. I have to start to delete/destroy/donate some more ---taking that mindset to closet organization and indeed, to organization of my entire home.

    Looking forward to more of your great tips! Hopefully, I'll be able to launch out in a brave way!

    Thanks, again!
    Guest (Florida) - July 31, 2015

    Guest (Interested OnlookerSoon-to-be-Writer)July 31, 2015 at 10:52 am

  13. Thanks Will for this systems for success article. For me this is great foundation for my just getting started in this field. I love the field and your shared guidelines are appreciated.
    Looking forward to more words of wisdom from you.


    Guest (Myla)July 31, 2015 at 10:59 am

  14. You wrote: The COS Blog article I included today was one of the best received of all blogs I've written, so I thought you'd enjoy it, too.

    I haven't read all of your Blogs nor all commentary regarding how well received. Given that disclaimer, I agree with your statement wholeheartedly. I found this info wicked applicable, seriously spot on, sweetly succinct & a compassionate reminder of principles I already employ [except when I don't]. Thank you.

    Guest (An Explorer)August 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

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