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Less Is More: 10 Writing Tips To Help You Develop Your Writing

Less Is More: 10 Writing Tips To Help You Develop Your Writing

You should always write with your reader in mind. And if you don’t waste words then you won’t waste their time. Make your points quickly and with thought so that whether your reader is an employer, hiring manager or blog reader they get to see the best of you.

Following these ten writing tips will help you write fewer words whilst still packing a punch.

1. Have a Point

Have something to say and a point to your writing. Whatever you write will then come more easily and you’ll avoid writing something about nothing.

2. Get to the Point

Read any newspaper and almost every article will have the facts first, followed by increasing amounts of context and detail. This grabs the reader’s attention and ensures that if they don’t get to the end of a story they still get the message.

Unless it is your intention to write a ‘whodunnit,’ start with your conclusion and then add the context.

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3. Keep it Simple

Don’t fall into the trap of writing long words to try and make yourself sound important. Keep your language simple and straightforward so that you do not alienate put anyone off.

4. Write Short Sentences

Shorter sentences are easier to read. Readers enjoy them and are more likely to continue reading.

Got that?

5. Keep Paragraphs Short

Paragraphs don’t have to be long, dense blocks of text, they can be a single sentence — which may consist of only a few words and sometimes only one.

By keeping your paragraphs short, your text will look more inviting to your reader and provide them with places to pause and think about what you’ve written.

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6. Choose Your Voice

Where practical write in the active voice to keep things engaging. You do this by constructing your sentences using the Subject, Verb, Object model:

The dog bit the postman.

If you reverse your sentence structure you will still have the same meaning but it has less oomph:

The postman was bitten by the dog.

Different language examples can be found on Wikipedia.

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7. Use Punctuation

Use punctuation to help you cram more meaning into fewer words. Semi-colon and bullet point lists can help keep things short and make your writing easier to consume. If you are not sure how to use the dreaded semi-colon, then have a read through this site.

8. Avoid Repetition

Unless you are writing a political speech, avoid repetition at all costs. It will bore your reader and seem as though you only have a few things to say.

9. Cut the fluff

Words such as nice, rather and very add no impact and just make sentences longer — see point 4. Either choose a substantial replacement or remove them altogether. For instance:

She had a very nice day.

becomes:

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She had a marvelous day.

Mark Twain suggested that you should “Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Not a bad writing tip.

10. Edit like you mean it

If you want to write a laser-guided message then you need to check every word is on point. Remove sections that meander, as your reader will prefer your writing if they don’t have to wade through off-topic content.

Mark Twain once wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Don’t let your readers think you’ve been lazy and written the ‘long letter.’

Any more writing tips?

Do you have anything to add to my top ten writing tips? Have I missed something important? If so, please leave a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks

Featured photo credit: http://szolkin.blogspot.com/ via s3.amazonaws.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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