I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that once you start taking copywriting clients, it’s not going to somehow get magically easier for you to focus and work.
Sure, sometimes you’ll get right in the flow and feel like you’re plugged into a divine download. And, it’s true that you don’t have to deal with a blank page, and that makes everything easier. But…the urge to watch Netflix instead of doing your work isn’t going to disappear.
Sorry about that.
But, the good news? There are specific tactics you can implement to make it much easier to get focused, get down to work, and get the writing done (so that you can move on to binge-watching TV).
Here are my best tools and tactics for getting your copywriting work done:
1. Set your own (real) deadline. Getting a deadline from your client certainly helps get the work done. But knowing that it needs to be sent to them by end of day Tuesday and knowing that you need to finish it up on Friday to accommodate other work are two very different things. In addition to working with your client’s deadline, you might find success creating a shorter deadline for yourself—and make it one that you can’t miss.
So, instead of just saying, “Okay, self, you really, really have to have this done by 2pm today” make it more real by booking yourself with something else. After all, “This has to be done by 2pm today because I’m leaving for the weekend at 2pm” makes it much more crucial to finish by the deadline, doesn’t it? Or even just “This has to be done by 2pm today because I have to leave the house at 2pm for a doctor’s appointment.” Give yourself a definite deadline and attach it to an external event so you (and your mind) know that you have to enforce it.
2. Set a timer. As soon as you notice your mind start to wander, head over to Google and type “timer” in the search bar. It’ll pull up a free timer for you to use and, believe me, you’ll definitely get plenty of use out of it. This is similar to the “set a deadline” method, but it’s an even shorter deadline.
If you can, set your timer for 25 minutes, close all other tabs, put your phone in another room, and get down to work for 25 dedicated minutes. Does a 25 minute period feel dauntingly long? Try 15. Or 10. Or 5. Heck, there are some days when I’m so scattered that I start myself at two-minute-long timer sessions just to get myself to start working.
3. Work at your peak time. There are some times of the day that you’re naturally fresher and more focused and, when at all possible, try to do your copywriting then. Now, of course, especially if you’re on staff, you may have to work on someone else’s schedule—but you can still try to front-load your writing times for the time when you’re freshest.
Save your administrative tasks (things like replying to emails, researching, etc.) for times of the day when you’re energetically low and unfocused. For me, that time is usually 2pm-4pm. It’s when I cannot write copy to save my life, but when I can make some good progress on the rest of my To Do list.
4. Change your scenery. For whatever reason, some people (like me) can find it hard to be creative and stay focused when they’re staring at the same four walls. If you find your mind wandering, you might benefit from a change of scenery. If you’re freelance, pop into your local coffee shop or library—or even just move to a different room in your house.
If you’re in an office, move from your desk to a conference room or some other communal spot. I’ve found that a change of scenery often offers a fresh perspective. 🙂
5. Set it aside and go for a walk. Unless you’re under a tight deadline, sometimes the best thing you can do for your mind is to step away. But not “step away” as in flip on the tv or listen to a podcast: You need to give your brain a chance to rest and to process. One of the best ways to do this is to get up and go for a short walk.
Just 10 minutes to a half hour will reinvigorate you (forcing yourself to take in oxygen can do that, after all) and taking that time to just observe and let your mind wander helps your brain to rest so that it can be ready to go back to thinking and processing.
Now, of course, there are all kinds of apps to block websites and phone calls and things, and those are certainly useful, but I wanted to give you a few tactics you can use any time or anywhere.
That said, though, did I miss anything? What are your favorite tactics to improve your focus? Let me know in the comments below!