For many businesspeople, writing is a necessary and unavoidable part of their job, but it's not a core job function. Instead, it’s a task that they just have to get out of the way so that they can get back to their main work. Indeed, writing tasks can be enormously frustrating if they derail that person's ability to execute their primary job, especially if the act of writing takes too much time, effort, and/or resources.
Thankfully, with a few cleverly applied writing hacks, business writers can increase their writing productivity. These productivity hacks can make the act of writing faster and easier, helping writers produce more content or freeing up time to focus on other productive work.
Here are our eight favorite writing hacks to increase productivity.
One way to minimize productivity is to try to write the same thing multiple times. To avoid that time-wasting outcome, start with a plan. Even better, prewrite. Prewriting can take many different forms: an outline, a list, a mind-map, a stream of consciousness rough draft, etc. The key to prewriting is to have a preliminary sketch that helps you organize your thoughts before you get into actual drafting.
2: Delete the Unnecessary
This may sound like a strange writing hack, but one of the best ways to both speed up the act of writing and streamline the writing process is to be willing to liberally eliminate things that you have written. The act of deleting is not just about producing a better, more concise written document; it's about not wasting time trying to fix something that shouldn't be there in the first place. Be ruthless with your words.
3: Write Every Day
Writing is a skill that must be developed over time. It is also a habit that must be cultivated. By writing every single day, writers strengthen their skills and create momentum that beats back procrastination and distractions. In turn, increasing the writer’s comfort with writing. Thus, daily writing makes this work less intimidating, and that makes it easier and faster to produce new content.
4: Use Writing Tech
While there's no substitute for writers just sitting down and doing the work, many different writing-oriented technologies have emerged that can help writers be more productive. From grammar analysis to productivity managers to online learning and training options, writing technology can handle rote tasks quickly, help motivate and keep writers on track, and improve their writing skills.
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One example of a writing technology that deserves its own mention is dictation software. Microsoft Word has dictation features built in. Professional third-party dictation software can also be helpful if extreme accuracy is required. Overall, dictation can make it easier to get started and get your thoughts into text form faster than would be possible if typing by hand. We wrote the first draft of this article, for example, using our word processor’s built-in dictation feature.
Related to the #5, transcription services and technologies can also help. For example, if your writing project includes content from interviews, record those interviews (with participant permission!) and have them transcribed via a service or automated app. This transcription then gives you a text document from which to work directly, which can dramatically speed up the writing process – and that’s what a good writing hack is all about.
7: Have Someone Set Deadlines for You
A classic research study published in the journal Psychological Science looked at the impact of deadlines on procrastination and writing productivity. They found that the students who were most likely to avoid procrastination and meet their writing goals were those with firm deadlines set by an external authority. Writers who set deadlines for themselves did better than those who set no deadlines at all, but they still didn’t do as well as those whose deadlines were determined by someone else.
8: Print or Read Aloud
Particularly when the writer moves into revisions, it can be helpful to consume what’s been written in a different context from how it was produced. So, if you typed your draft on your computer, print it or read it aloud when editing. This helps the writer experience the document from the reader’s point of view and helps the writer catch errors or language that their eye might easily skip over on a computer screen.
Read your work aloud:
- Writing in the Workplace: Strategies to Plan, Write, and Revise (almost) Any Document. In acclaimed writing instructor Pamela E. Hurley’s most comprehensive book yet, you’ll learn that you, too, can be an effective business writer through tips, tricks, and how-to’s. Download Writing Strategies for Corporate America today!
- Writing Tools and Technologies That Can Help. For a more detailed breakdown of various technological writing aids and assistants, read more.
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