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7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

Progressions in technology and global inter-connectivity have made writing more desirable today than ever before. Personal virtual notebooks, massive audiences and the increasing ease in which they can be reached – a few strokes of the keyboard and our opinions can traverse the world, gathering momentum and unifying voices from all corners of the globe.

However, while it may be more convenient to get started on your next piece (blogs and websites are revolutionizing the game), it has become more difficult to experience the essence of the activity itself. As much as we’re currently writing to influence others – to give advice or express opinion – we risk losing sight of the serenity that can accompany the activity. All in all, if you truly want to start writing, follow the tips listed below .

1. Write for Yourself

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” –Robert A. Heinlein

Figure out what it is that you want to gain out of writing. Do you want to shoot for the stars and make a career out of it? Or do you want to formulate a hobby around writing, embark on personal poetic endeavors and journal your way through life? If you’re interested in the latter, keep reading, otherwise skip to the next point if you’re looking to profit off of your pieces. Learn to rely on writing as a tool at your disposal. Journal your thoughts and ambitions, record your to-do’s and achievements. Not only does it help you to organize yourself and your thoughts, but it prompts you to actually sit down for several moments a day and have your time with the keyboard or pen.

2. Don’t Expect to Make a Living

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” – Robert Benchley

If you happen to decide that you want to begin a career as an author, find out first how you can live without paying any bills for several years. Unless you have the means at your disposal and some phenomenal luck, don’t expect to profit off of writing at the snap of a finger. Thankfully, the world in which we live today is so connected that there are a number of paid gigs available for freelance writers. However, even these require a reputable portfolio blooming with published articles. It’s not impossible, nor is it even that difficult – it just requires a ton of effort and even more time. If you don’t want to set yourself up for failure, treat it as a hobby at first and then see where it may take you.

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3. Write, Write, Write

Writing is its own reward” – Henry Miller

If all you do is write, then you’re never doing it wrong. If you’re truly passionate about writing, let it infect your mind to the point that you always find your fingers typing away at something. Essays, blogs, short stories – there are so many ways in which you can let yourself become addicted. The number one piece of advice that is circulating from mouth to ear all over the world is that you have to start with a blog. Everyone’s doing it. Start one for yourself and commit to it. One of the hardest things to do is to find time. If you work full-time and run a family, it’s very difficult to seclude yourself and fire off a few paragraphs or pages. Many authors convey the notion of waking up two hours before starting their day jobs just to write. If you don’t have the time, make the time; writing is a costly investment that can offer ample rewards – mostly intangible in nature.

4. Learn to Share Your Work and Absorb Opinion

Beware of advice—even this.” – Carl Sandburg

It may be one of the most terrifying things you can ever do: to show someone a piece of writing that you’ve poured your efforts into. Aside from the A+ essay you bring home to mom or the proposal you’ve stitched together at work, it can take a lot of courage to put yourself out there and expose yourself to potentially critical feedback, which leads to the next point of adequately absorbing opinion. If you can’t take the criticism, don’t play the game of writing before the public eye. Writing is an immensely subjective activity – be prepared for objective perspectives that can shatter your confidence. In contrast, don’t become over-reliant on praise either. Take all positive feedback with a grain of salt, especially if the source is from a friend or someone who just wants to be supportive. On the other hand, don’t be devastated from negative opinion – it can be a necessary voice that you ought to hear, a vessel through which progress can be made.

5. Finish Your Work

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth

Any writer will agree that it’s an extremely difficult thing to do – to wrap up certain pieces. You’re probably not a born writer if you have a closet (or desktop folder) filled with story after uncompleted story. This more so applies to those who dare to delve into the imaginative world of fiction writing. Deadlines can help you wrap things up and keep an end in sight, as it’s easy to get carried away. Find a way to stay inspired and committed to whatever it is you’re writing. At any rate, ensure that once you commit to something, you never let the flame dim and die – fiction or non.

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6. Let Your Pen/Keyboard Guide You

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way” – E. L. Doctorow

Don’t expect to plan every chapter of your next book, or every topic of your next string of blogs. You discover so much more than you’d ever be able to brainstorm halfway through writing any given piece. In reference to the aforesaid point, this is one reason why a piece may remain unfinished; it can certainly be overwhelming. The magic that sprouts from writing is in its ability to captivate not only the readers reading but the writers themselves.

7. Connect

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to the increasing inter-connectivity of the world, it’s so easy to write before a world-wide audience, to gain experience and the know-how’s to be great author – you’re doing it right now. Take it a step further and reach out to a published author, someone who’s been there and done it (and even made it), and ask them for their number one piece of advice. I did, several years ago, and in response I was told to write and never stop writing, prompting me to convey it as the third point listed in this article. Beyond the actual tip, it sticks in your mind every time you think about writing, fuels the fire that serves to inspire you.

Subsequently, if you want to start writing with the intention of turning it into a profitable talent, expect to be on the road towards success for quite a while. The best you can do is to immerse yourself in the experience, let it better your day-to-day life and see where it ultimately takes you. 

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Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself 4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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