15. Create a master deadlines file. Know where you stand at any time in relation to any project and know when each project is due. The purpose of a deadlines file is to keep you organized and on time, so you meet every deadline successfully. Use your limited time as motivation. With a deadline looming, you’re more likely to get to work and get it done.
16. Capitalize on those valuable resources right in front of you. Your personal contact list of people, experts, colleagues and the like can spare you a lot of needless searching. Librarians can help you find information on anything and most are happy to do so. Online directories and key market web sites can also provide solid background information.
17. Use your computer efficiently. Get in the habit of writing things once and then editing wherever necessary on screen. Avoid preparing long, hand-written notes that later need to be entered into your computer. Why write it twice? Short notes or mind maps can act as strong triggers or idea generators. But you’ll be more productive and organized if you get used to using your computer for more project related tasks.
18. Challenge yourself to finish jobs ahead of schedule. If you typically take 30 minutes to write an article, give yourself 15 minutes to write the next one. Stick to it and you literally drive yourself to a higher level of output. Seek out better, faster, more productive ways of doing things. Then give yourself a reward for your increased productivity.
19. Eliminate any unnecessary travel by taking advantage of time-saving technology. Wherever possible use email to discuss projects with clients and collaborators, but only check your email once or twice per day. This gives you back-up records and clear directions in text format, something you can refer to as needed. It also allows you to deal with the important issues of the day on your schedule, instead of being interrupted by the telephone, fax machine, email notifications, or personal visits.
20. Use deadlines to your advantage. Like them or not, deadlines do increase productivity. The closer we get to an impending deadline, the more pressure we feel to do whatever it takes to complete the task. Implement a series of deadlines — monthly… weekly… daily. As each deadline approaches, the real work begins. Stick to every deadline and get your writing completed on schedule. You’ll give your self-esteem and confidence level a significant boost in the process.
21. Recognize when a shift in direction may be required. If any process, strategy or technique isn’t working for you and you seem to be burning up time but getting nowhere — stop and make a change. Cut your losses. Minimize the damage and redirect your energy and attention toward something else. Modify your approach. Adjust your course. Regroup in a way that works for you so you can get back into a productive flow.
Bonus Tip: Analyze each writing project early in the process. Know when your project is due and what must be done to meet the specific details. Before launching into full-scale action, determine the steps necessary for completion. Create a list and check off each important detail as it’s completed. Periodically assess your progress. Are you on target or off? A quick analysis gives you an accurate picture of the work ahead.
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