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3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Writing Speed

3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Writing Speed

Does this situation sound familiar? You sit in front of the computer with the full intention to write a blog post, paper, or article, but the moment your fingers touch the keyboard, you can’t bring yourself to type up anything decent. Your muse or source of inspiration is nowhere to be found and you’re easily distracted (*cough* Facebook!) Before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re still staring at a blank page.

Slow writing days aren’t pretty. They kill your productivity and leave you feeling like you just wasted a lot of time. And if you’re trying to make a living doing it, then you know that not being able to write fast enough can also kill your earnings.

Fortunately though, slow writing days don’t have to be the norm. As you’ll find out below, developing the right habits when it comes to writing and idea generation will save you lots of time and make the writing process smoother and easier.

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1. Always have your ideas handy

A lot of writers get stuck at the very beginning. They sit in front of the screen without having a clue as to what to write about, so they end up wasting time racking their brains for something to clever to put on paper.

Don’t make the same mistake. Avoid taking on a writing task empty-handed (or should we say “empty-minded”). It’s a one-way street to Writer’s Block Lane or Distraction Boulevard. Instead, develop the habit of always keeping your eyes and mind open for ideas.

If you’re reading a blog post and see something that you can write about in the future, take note of it immediately. Write it down or use a note taking app such as Evernote to do it. Hear an inspirational quote that you could possibly use? Make a note of it so you won’t forget.

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By doing so, you’ll always have a trusty note pad (or note app) filled with ideas, lines, or notions that you can draw inspiration from. Have your notes with you at all times and whip them out when you need to come up with content. Do this, and you’ll find it easier to begin writing.

2. Create an outline

Before proceeding to write a witty introduction or type up lengthy paragraphs, plan out your post by creating an outline. Jot down a quick line or two about what you need to say at the beginning, write down the main points that you want to discuss in the body, and then move on to the conclusion.

Having an outline gives you a plan. It gives your writing some direction, organizes your thoughts, and helps you flesh out your ideas quickly and more effectively. It also keeps you from being distracted. An outline enables you to stay on point and prevents you from wasting time writing things that are irrelevant or unimportant.

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3. Don’t mix research and editing with writing

Once you have an outline, do your research and look up all the things that you need before you begin writing. Get the research task out of the way so that you can just focus on finishing that article. Don’t do your research and writing simultaneously–this will only lead to distraction and it will slow you down.

Avoid looking up words or synonyms while you’re in the middle of writing. Doing so can curtail your thought process. If you think that there’s a better word than the one you just typed, highlight it, then keep writing. You can go back to it later when you’re polishing the piece.

The same goes for fact checking or ensuring that you spelled names or took down numbers correctly. One minute you’re looking up stats to make sure that you wrote them down, then, before you know it, you’re clicking through blogs or checking your Twitter feed.

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Just take note of these little things and deal with them once you’re done with the entire first daft.

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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