Posted on Sun 01 March 2015

Finding time

This article first appeared in an issue of The List, my short-lived premium newsletter for content marketers.

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How do you find time to keep up with your writing schedule? You've got a million other things to do, and writing is so easy to push aside until later... only later never comes, and suddenly you're struggling to publish regularly.

It's tough. Creating a publishing schedule is the first step, because it will give you a goal to strive for and keep you accountable. But you also have to carve out time to get the writing done.

Here are the pockets of time I've found to fit my writing in.

Early in the morning

I used to scoff at the idea of getting up early. But then I tried it. My writing output has increased just from an extra 45 minutes every morning to the point that I can publish a new post on my blog weekly and create a new issue of The List every month, without cutting back on my daytime writing commitments.

I get up at 6am, make a coffee or tea, and write until 7. I only do this on weekdays, so it's about 3.5 extra writing hours per week. It doesn't sound like much, but the focus I can achieve when it's still dark and quiet, and I'm all alone at my desk, is unparalleled during the day.

Try getting up just half an hour earlier than usual. Make your coffee, and write until you'd normally get up. By the time you start your day, you'll already have a spring in your step from getting some early morning productivity.

I tend to focus on writing first drafts during this morning time, and leave editing for working hours during the day. This works especially well with my next point.

(If you want to read more about my experience with getting up early to write, I wrote up the whole story for the Crew blog.)

While travelling

When I'm on (or waiting for) a train or tram, I often whip up a quick draft of an idea on my phone. Getting an idea on the page and fleshed out while it's still fresh in my mind is the best way to take advantage of it before that inspiration disappears. Writing while I'm on public transport is also a clever way to squeeze in a short, focused burst of work. I know I don't have much time, so I have to focus on getting the idea out before I arrive at my destination.

I also use this time for jotting down quick ideas to flesh out later, or for tidying up rough drafts I'd written earlier. Using a Dropbox-powered text editor on your phone means you can pick up your writing anytime, anywhere.

While waiting

I recently wrote about my real life Pomodoro method: using real life events as timers for focused blocks of work. This is especially helpful for getting started on a writing piece I'm avoiding, or stuck on. If I'm waiting for a Skype call to start, or killing time before I need to leave for a meeting, I can dig into my writing with no pressure, just for a few minutes.

When I come back to that piece later, I'll be glad I made a start so I don't have to face the blank page.

Make it a priority

Although these three approaches all help me to keep on top of my writing schedule, they wouldn't be enough on their own. If you want to use content to build an audience, it has to be a priority. You need to carve out time for it during your workday, or it'll never get done.

Commit to a publishing schedule you can handle, and carve out time to write during your workweek. This is the only way you'll build a solid foundation of content that your audience will come to know and trust you for.

Recap

To keep up with your content schedule, make writing time a priority. Then try these ideas for finding extra pockets of time to write:

  • Get up half an hour earlier
  • Jot down ideas or drafts while travelling
  • Write while you're waiting or use real life events as timers for focused blocks of writing time

P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.

Image credit: Fré Sonneveld

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