5 Hottest Productivity Tips from 5 Famous Freelance Writers

pomodoro technique for writing productivityImagine yourself waking up early in the morning to fuel up your writing motivation. Piles of writing assignments, unfinished drafts and scheduled appointments all fighting for your attention.

Overwhelmed, you decided to check your Facebook account and RSS feeds for new updates. You told yourself it will only take a couple of minutes before you get back on track.

But minutes became hours and for the nth time, your writing productivity nosedived and met it’s painful death.

Does this story sounds familiar?

With all forms of distractions flying in every corner, it’s easy to be outsmarted by that evil voice in your head–the one who loves to delay tasks and procrastinate all day. It could be your body’s way of reminding you to unwind and de-stress every couple of hours. But if you’re a freelance writer, succumbing to senseless time-wasters can harm your business–and even your sanity.

So how do you deal with temptations and get things done?

Do you constantly find yourself struggling to put words on the blank screen?

Are you having a hard time establishing good writing habits and muster self-discipline whenever you need it?

Time is money and for writers who make a living out of words, effective time management is one of the keys to success. To help you out, I’ve searched for the best productivity tips from some of the most famous online writers alive today. Here are the results for your own enjoyment:

Carol Tice: “One day, one client.”

Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing is one of the most proficient freelance writers I look up to. So it comes with no explanation that I follow every single advice she gives on her blog. She’s been in the business for years now so if you want proven productivity tips, you better stick to what she says.

For Carol, dedicating a day for only one specific task is more efficient than sprinkling random assignments all throughout the week. I tried to follow her advice and it works like a charm–I feel more organized and experience a sense of completion at the end of each day. The thrilling emotion will then motivate you to accomplish more for the following day and boost your writing productivity in the process.

Photo credit: twitter.com

Photo credit: twitter.com

Bamidele Onibalusi: “Don’t Multitask”

I admit this is a no-brainer as you won’t get anything done if you focus on too many responsibilities at the same time. But multitasking is also about overcoming temptation. And this temptation may come in the form of social media, family duties and a host of other productivity-killers who can strike you any time of the day.

The solution? Learn how to let go and focus on the current task at hand.

Expert blogger Oni has this to say:

“The more focused you are on a task, the easier it is to get it done and work on other tasks, but the moment you start working on 2 or 3 things at the same time, you find it difficult to get things done, and you also find it easier to procrastinate.”

Enlightening words from the master blogger himself!

John Soares: “Write Faster”

With a tagline “Work Less, Earn More, Live More”, you can easily assume that Productive Writers  is all about using your writing time well. True enough, it’s founder, John Soares, is a freelance writer who lives and breathes “writing productivity” since ’94.

And his first step for getting more things done? Write FASTER.

On one of his articles, John gave out 12 tips on how to improve your writing speed. I cringed when he included the “touch-type” method in his list although that works for most writers. It’s just that I’m not used to it and when I attempted to change my typing style, I only got tired fingers as a consolation.

On a lighter note, the best takeaways I got from John is the importance of writing outlines, doing enough research, getting enough sleep and avoiding perfectionism in revving up one’s writing speed.

Jeff Goins: “Stay on top of your inbox”

Checking your emails too many times a day can probably give you a clear inbox but in terms of productivity, e-mails are notorious time-killers. So if you always get that urgent need to check your inbox, learn self-control and read Jeff Goin’s productivity tips.

Jeff is one of my new favorites but that doesn’t mean I don’t take his advice seriously. In fact, I’m already using the “Do it, Delegate, Defer, Delete, File” approach to get my inbox zero everyday. Read his advice and you’ll find some terrific insights and few reminders on good email etiquette to boot.

Lexi Rodrigo: “Use Interruptions to Your Advantage”

This is especially true when you have small kids competing for your attention 24/7. So if you decided to work from home to have more time with your kids, you’ll surely love Lexi Rodrigo‘s advice on how to juggle freelancing with your parental obligations.

The idea of wearing different hats all at once can be daunting for any parent but if you set your expectations beforehand, you’ll always stay on target.

Biggest takeaway? Instead of letting small interruptions stress you out, why not focus on how to complete more tasks within a shorter time frame–taking every interruption as a time to de-stress yourself.

Working as a freelance writer holds with it few challenges in time management. But with the right strategies and a healthy mindset, you can get more things done without falling into the traps of homebound laziness.

Your Turn

There’s no one-size-fits-all technique that can guarantee writers of a more productive and successful writing career.

In your case, what strategies have helped you overcome procrastination all these years? What tips help you accomplish more in less time?

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The One Writing Roadblock that Always Holds Me Back

self2I have a confession to make.

When I started this small blog on writing productivity, helping other people wasn’t one of my intentions. Truth be told, this website is all about myself–how I struggle as a writer and the strategies I use to beat my writing enemies.

But the harder I try, the more I realize I’m lacking something REALLY important.

I love writing BUT….

..there’s one demon that keeps on holding me back.

At first, I thought it was  just simple procrastination or lack of proper time management skills. But after I tried every possible way to kick my bad habits away — from Pomodoro technique to Dark Room software — I realized that my efforts were bearing no fruits.

End result? A faceless online business and a meager income that’s not even enough to cover my health insurance.

So I started to ask myself:

What’s the missing link?

It’s not long before I finally discovered the culprit behind my unproductive freelance career. Painful as it may seem, I have to admit it’s ME and only ME all along. My lack of ‘writing confidence’ should be blamed why I have failed to raise my income from zero to hero.

But as I began to reflect on this, I found out a few alibis why I’m still stuck in the rut:

  • I never took writing-related course in college.
  • I’m not a native English speaker.
  • I’m a slow writer.
  • I was not the best English student back in high school.
  • I have tons of online business ideas but too afraid to put my thoughts to writing.

Combine all the factors listed above and you’ll get a writer who can’t muster the courage to grab bigger opportunities. And although I consider myself a self-taught writer and a passionate human being, my experience is clearly not enough. I want to earn something that will tell my prospects–and myself–that what I offer is not a flash in the pan….

Something that will help me sell health supplements and build a solid copywriting business from scratch.

Something that will give me the confidence of a native writer and help me to get my words out there.

Something that Damn Fine Words can deliver 100%.

So do I deserve to win?

Not if I don’t care about my ‘calling’. But I do.

Besides, a writing course as prestigious as DFW will serve as a first aid kit for my dwindling confidence in writing. I believe in the power of my craft but having someone to help you break through all the clutter makes this pen-less journey even more worthwhile.

I know, I know.

Writing this piece also means taking a risk. But I believe in my profession and there’s no other way to move forward but to get better. Every. Freakin’. Day.

Writing is non-stop learning and I hope to find my teacher soon.

Photo credit: wansherliza.blogspot.com

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How to Earn More as a Freelance Writer in 2013

check-listAs it turned out, the world didn’t end in 2012.

And thanks to holiday merriment, the worldwide hysteria is officially over. Now, it’s business as usual.

Everybody is now back on track and ready to put the nightmares of 2012 behind. And  for freelance writers who are yet to launch a consistent cash flow, 2013 is said to be the perfect time to start anew.

Online start-ups are estimated to increase in unprecedented numbers this year as mobile browsing continues to expand it’s influence. And then we  also have e-commerce websites, business blogs, and internet marketing campaigns that are always on the lookout for talented copywriters.

Content is king, they always say.

But 2013 is about to put a different twist to this old adage. To put it simply, more contents means more opportunities for freelance writers. And if you want to boost your freelance income this year either on a full-time or part-time basis, you must be willing to step up your game.

So be ready to beat the procrastinator in you and follow these productivity tips to earn more in 2013:

Set goals

Goal-setting is not a sure-fire way to succeed but an indispensable business tool nonetheless.

So whether your goal is to build multiple income stream or generate a six-figure writing business this year, make sure to write it down. To achieve a life-work balance, you can also create specific goals for family, health, spiritual, social life and so on.

Writing goals is not the be-all and end-all of successful freelance career but in order to take action, you need a guide to tell you where you need to go. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bounded goals can set the mood for a more productive and fruitful career in 2013.

So write your goals and act on them.

Network like crazy

Freelance writing is business. Sadly, most writers are stuck in a state of inertia due to the wrong notion that their profession is solitary in nature.

This is now 2013, not 18th century for crying out loud. There’s now truth in the saying that it’s not what you now but who you know that determines if you’ll make the cut or not.

Accept the reality that freelance writing is not just about writing.

You can start building your network within your blog by responding to reader’s comments and setting-up an e-mail newsletter. To gain a stronger online presence, you can also participate in various forums specific to your niche, give expert answers in Quora or start a guest blogging  campaign that will establish your business brand.

Ditch the bad habits

2013 is the year of active writers, not procrastinating freelancers. 

In other words, you will always get what you’ve been getting if you keep doing what you’ve been doing. Try to eliminate your bad habits starting today and replace them with more productive ways to relaunch your writing business. For example, instead of stifling your creativity with Facebook and other time-wasters, why not perform 30-minute workouts everyday to keep your brain more active?

Habits are your foundation for a more successful writing career. Be master of your habits or they’ll master you.

Write everyday

Writing is a chore for those who look at it as a boring, mechanical activity.

But it can be as enjoyable as long as you write with the right motives. If you want to get better at this craft, you must establish a healthy writing habit everyday. You read that right. Every. Freaking. Day.

It might be tortuous at first but just like in any exercise, your writing juice will start to flow spontaneously once you build a good habit. And habit forms after you do the same thing everyday for 21 days.

So start writing at least 500 words a day and I promise you, that writing voice you’ve been searching for will come to you in shining, shimmering coat.

Just do it

I have a lot of regrets for 2012. One of them is my failure to take actions.

Like most newbie writers, I was inundated with tons of free eBooks, online courses and white papers that seemed to provide me only one thing: INFORMATION OVERLOAD.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that the internet has changed the landscape for information sharing dramatically–the things you buy yesterday are now offered online for FREE. But that was the problem for me. With all the contents I have devoured and still waiting to be read in my eBook library, it became harder to get started.

I was overwhelmed. Confused. Frightened. Fucked up.

And there goes the story why most writers remains stuck in the rut.

So how can you achieve real success in 2013? Simple: Act NOW.

Don’t wait until you’re ready to face the challenges.

Time is running out.

Competition is getting stiffer.

So if you don’t start taking risks today, chances are you’ll remain a procrastinator and information junkie all year round.

Choose what you read and have a bias for action.

Are you ready to wear your writing hat in 2013?

Happy new year everyone!

Photo credit:customfitonline.com

Posted in Business, Freelancing, Productivity, Tips & Tricks, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Your Writing Habit?

Lets-write-something-writing-4545938-1024-768You can’t call your self a writer unless you write. And to ‘write’ means to dabble with words every single day of your life. Non-stop.

Now that’s when building a “positive habit” creeps in.

Success, as they always say, is not an act but a habit. We are what we repeatedly do and as a writer, that means beating procrastination and the notorious “writer’s block” to give the world something to read.

If you’re an outsider to the writing profession, you might assume that what writers do everyday is just sit in front of their computers and spit out words spontaneously. Some of you might even think that freelance writing is the easiest job in the world—thanks to the biased media who portray writers as lazy, lifeless hermits.

How I wish writing life can be that carefree. But it’s not.

Writing requires a truckload of self-discipline

I write for a living.

So unlike other casual writers, I don’t have any choice but to hone my craft day after day.

At first, the passionate writer in me welcomed the idea of churning out at least 500 words a day as an exhilarating experience. And who am I to complain if I’m getting paid to do what I really love?

But as months went by, I found myself falling to the ground, face first. As a newcomer, I never thought that becoming a writer-entrepreneur also entails intense battle between good and evil–between my productive side and a lazier ‘me’ who always settles for less.

There are some days when I’m too passionate that I can easily write a thousand words within a few minutes. But more often than not, I just find myself daydreaming—wishing that one day, I can quickly turn into a best-selling author without all the years of struggling and writing under the cloak of obscurity.

But then reality always sets in.

There is no shortcut to success. And as a writer, I have to follow the same principle that Stephen King and other word magicians stick with to get better in what they do:

Have a writing habit!

Write when you feel like writing. Write even when you feel like crap. WRITE EVERYDAY.

One of the best inspirational books I have read is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. But it’s neither about rags-to-riches stories nor dramatic fairy tales; it’s all about facts–what is success, the factors behind it and how ordinary people transform to become one of the world’s greatest.

Probably the best takeaway I got from the book is the “10,000 hour rule”. Simply put, in order for one to be prolific at anything, he should dedicate at least 10,000 hours of his life doing it. And this is true especially for athletes, musicians, scientists and, of course, writers.

So that means I have yet to reach an expert level. And that also entails more work from my part.

But the 10,000 hour rule also teaches us one valuable lesson in business: You won’t last for 10,000 hours if you don’t love what you do in the first place.

So  whether you have reached your first 1,000 hours or not, what’s important is you love what you do and the journey is always more important than the destination itself.

Writing is hard. Writing requires sacrifices. Writing can  beat you up.

But if you love what you do, polishing your  craft day in and day out can be the most fulfilling experience of all.

Your Turn

What’s your writing habit and how do you keep your writing motivation intact?

Do you use a journal to kick start your writing muse?

Fell free to share your thoughts on the comment section below!

Photo credit: fanpop.com

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How to Stop Working for Money (And Live Life with a Purpose)

stop working for money

Stop working for money or spend your life in misery…

Seriously, I have never given this advice that much thought until recently.

Just like everybody else, I was consumed by floods of financial obligations. From monthly bills that need urgent attention to target weekly income that I have set for myself, it seems that my search for money won’t just end with a single paycheck.

But it took it’s toll on my mental and spiritual well-being. Not only did I start working for money, but I also let it become then captain of my ship.

I suddenly turned into a zombie–always thirsty, lonely and restless. I traded time  for money and easily got depressed when I fail to work well within my targets.

Business had become a money-making agenda for me. My visionary side who once dreamed of creating a better world suddenly lost his vigor. I was then left with only two choices…

To work for money or to let money work for me

I decided to turn my life around.

I made a decision that perhaps turned Bill Gates and Warren into who they are today.

I’m now working with a fresh new perspective and motivation in life.

I stopped working for money and focused on what I can do to make every business transaction more unforgettable. I searched for my inner fulfillment and found out that helping businesses get out of the rut gives my existence a divine purpose.

I’m now using my copywriting skills to inspire and make a difference. And lucky for me, the money just keep on flowing.

Money is the root of all evil….

..but only if you let it grab you by the tail and throw you into the pits of emptiness.

We all need money to pay the bills and keep our family under one roof. But there’s more to life than dollar signs and fat bank accounts.

Just like the old hermit man found dead with $7 million worth of gold coins inside his Nevada home, you can never take the money away with you.

If you forget to breathe and savor the little pleasures in life, chances are you might get trapped within a cycle of empty money-making endeavors.

You create your own experiences so if you let money drive your life, expert a hard crash anytime soon.

Find you passion today

I thank God for giving me enough time to discover my passion. Although I long for financial freedom, sudden turn of events always zap me back to the reality that money, indeed, doesn’t provide everything.

Have you found your passion?

Are you happy doing what you’re doing even for free?

If yes, then you’re one of the lucky few.

If you really hate your job and left with no alternatives, start changing your perspective today.

Instead of putting blame on external factors, why not start finding reasons why you should love your job. Make a list of the things that make your position special and helpful for the company. You may not have a perfect job but if you stop working for money and start making a difference, happiness will find it’s way to you.

Your Turn

Do you think money should be a person’s sole motivation to work? What are your strategies to keep things in the right perspective?

Don’t forget to leave your thoughts on the comment section below!

Photo credit: open.salon.com

 

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How to Stop Procrastination Without Procrastinating

procrastination

Note: Reading this post is not procrastinating. Call it “productive” time-killing.

Here I go again.

Ranting about procrastination seems to be an old-fashioned way to declare that I lack self-discipline. It sucks to see how time flies while you’re left in the corner sulking in regrets. Mr. Procrastination is such a time-waster but what he usually brings is more than just unfinished projects and half-baked articles.

In my case, seeing stacks of incomplete tasks in my folder also hurts my ego.

As a freelance copywriter, I always remind myself that time is money so I can’t afford spending the whole day slacking off in the sofa. Yet, when my lazy side rears its ugly head, I just end up leaving everything behind for the sake of temporary pleasures.

At this point, the “one-hour” break I impose to myself suddenly extends into a lifetime of procrastinating. Yes, I have the freedom to do anything I want and set my own working hours but when temptation creeps in, my ideal job turns into a nightmare.

I hate to admit it but YES, I sometimes lack self-discipline. But will I stay this way? I guess not.

I’m a work in progress, not a LOSER.

Procrastination is an ordinary pet peeve especially if you’re a writing entrepreneur. And if you also manage a freelance business like me, I bet you can agree that getting out of the corporate rat-race doesn’t mean you can now spend your entire day enjoying movies and Facebook.

Procrastination can hurt both your business and sanity. If you lack self-control, chances are your health and relationships will be affected as well. Delaying work because “there’s always tomorrow” is a terrible strategy; after a while, you might find that you have tons of unfinished business ready to fill your weekends with misery.

So how should you beat procrastination and start building your “ideal self”? Believe me, it’s not an easy feat. But if you don’t act as the master of your habits, they will end up mastering you.

Here are bite-sized lessons I have learned from years of dealing with procrastination:

1. Keep the fire burning.

I’m the breadwinner in my family so slacking off means no food on our table. Although I get distracted sometimes, I always see to it that  I set my priorities straight. Fear of inadequacy and a crying bank account motivate me on a daily basis. But mind you, MONEY is not enough to keep you going.

If you run a business, remember that the success of your endeavor lies in your hands; you can’t afford to delay important tasks because doing so will put your team in the brink of failure. Find something to lift you up in your bed and inspire you to work day in and day out. Love what you do and you’ll enjoy your work without thinking about Mr. Procrastination  anymore.

2. Reward yourself.

Never forget to pamper yourself for a job well-done. Spending your entire day working without giving yourself a pat in the back will not only turn you into a dull baby; it will also drain yourself of the creative energy you need the next day. From a simple ice cream to movie-watching, any reward close to your heart is enough to make your hard work even more worthwhile.

3. Manage your time.

If it’s possible, make it a habit to wake up early and divide your working hours proportionately. Being an early bird will help you set aside an extra time for exercise and meditation. You need these to survive the entire day. Setting specific time, say four hours, for each of task will help you see clearly if you’re spending your day wisely or not. You can also use specific tools to ramp up your time management skills like Remember the Milk and Google Calendar.

4. Be patient with yourself.

Turning a bad habit into a good one really takes time and effort. And truth be told, you can still fail along the way no matter how determined you are to kick procrastination out of your life. Learn how to forgive yourself and move on. Keep trying and finding the right strategy that suits you. In time, you can discover that giving yourself a chance to fail will also open yourself to a wider door of opportunities.

Your Turn

Have you found the remedy for procrastination? How do you keep yourself productive and motivated?

I want to know your strategy so share your thoughts on the comment section below!

Photo credit: articles.mercola.com

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Comparing Yourself to Others: Strategy or Tragedy?

comparing yourself to othersI feel great, special and unique.

In  fact, I really think I now have what it takes to be Amazon’s next best-selling author and the world’s highest-paid blogger.

But I’m not like this before.

For almost a year, I struggled with self-esteem issues that are rooted from deep-seated insecurities. Every little achievement I got sinks to an all-time low when I compare myself to others.

I knew something was wrong because you’re supposed to draw inspiration from someone more successful than you. Instead, I let myself wallow in self-pity. Looking at the achievement of other writers–some of which are even younger than me–turned my writing journey into a piece of crap. And to make things worse, I also compared myself to other employees who enjoy income stability and endless social contacts within a corporate setting.

For a while, I hated who I am and why I chose a freelance career.

I  felt alone, useless and lethargic. My first year as a freelance writer failed terribly not because I lack skills and experience; I failed because I let negative thoughts overpower my real potential. In other words, comparing myself to others didn’t work as a strategy for me but turned out into an utter, senseless tragedy.

And then a lightning bolt struck me. Not literally, of course. I believe it’s more like an epiphany–a divine awakening, I must say. After almost one year of comparing, I’m now trying to save my dwindling self-esteem. My freelance writing career never took off and I’m the one to blame. Tired and lonely, I know it’s time to give my life what it really deserves: A taste of first-class success.

I know that whatever I do, there are some things in life that I just have to face squarely. I may not be the greatest writer or the sexiest in the world but God has given me a talent that I can use to spark something greater than I am. All I have to do is to keep trying and striving to get what I want in life.

Are you also a victim of the “I’m no better than anyone else” syndrome? Are you one of those who can’t resist comparing apples with oranges? Perhaps your attitude also needs some overhaul. Here are some insights I have gained from this tragic but enlightening period of my life:

1. Know the real story. 

Okay. You feel miserable every time you meet someone prettier or more intelligent than you. But do you know the whole story? The most successful person you know might have been  abused as a child and have struggled for years just to get where he is today. Or maybe the prettiest girl in town is a product of a broken family and have never met a man who can take her seriously. Each of us has a story and we all feel like crap sometimes. Life is unfair but it’s up to you if you keep petty insecurities block your road to success.

2. Focus on your own story.

One crucial lesson I learned from this experience is to focus on my inner gifts. I may not be the best today but with perseverance and patience, I know success will meet me one day. So what if I’m an introvert writer who spends most of my day crafting stories and writing web contents? These are the things that make me happy and fulfilled. Just because somebody’s doing great in one field doesn’t mean you can’t do the same in your chosen career. We all have different roads to take but only one God to guide us on our journey.

Use other’s achievement as a challenge or inspiration. You might not be as privileged but you can think of better and creative ways to level up your own ball game. Life is short to spend it in regrets and self-pity. Start following your dreams today unhampered by other people’s achievements and misery. Keep you eyes on the goal and don’t let anything distract you.

Let us be greater than who we were yesterday and write our own, unique life story.

Your Turn

Do you compare yourself to others? Is it pure strategy or a plain tragedy?

Share your thoughts on the comment section below!

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