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  • Writer's pictureShellene Drakes

Overwhelmed? Don't stress. Read my tips to help you write

Life is busy. Work is crazy.

And everything is due NOW. You’ve been putting off a bunch of projects because you’ve been overwhelmed with the fires you’ve been fighting…but today is the day.

You need to finish writing that newsletter/press release/case study—whatever you’ve been putting off—because you have no more time.

First, get off the floor and take a deep breath. You can do this.

During my days working nine-to-five, I found that much of the day would get taken up with the meaningless tasks of work. What do I mean? Back-and-forth emails, never-ending meetings, make busy assignments, leadership pet projects—stuff like that. When it was crunch time, it was hard to find real time—not juggling time doing six things at once—but real time to concentrate, focus and complete a task.

People say that multitasking is a skill. I say that you end up doing a lot but doing much of it poorly.

But, my friends, this is how work is much of the time. So, what do you do?

1) Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! Everything can’t be a top priority. If that is the case, you need to have a conversation with your team. It goes back to resources and what makes most sense for your audience. If you are part of a two-person team, you can’t be doing weekly e-newsletters, keeping up with social media, compiling testimonials and everything else because you are doing too much or you don’t have enough people to do the work.

For right now, figure out what needs to get done this minute and start it. If you need help, pull in additional people, if you can. Once you’re out of this crazy time, have a conversation and audit your communications vehicles—what is taking up so much time that you can’t do anything else—so that you are doing your best work, not just the most work.

2) Write short and sweet. Are you getting metrics from your communications?The question really is, what return are you getting for your writing investment? In today’s environment, most people aren’t reading long communications—no matter how great your content is. Don’t waste valuable time creating content that isn’t being consumed by your audience.

For right now, shorten your communication and write concise, clear and crisp content instead of being wordy for the heck of it. Once you’re out of this crazy time, review your metrics and see what is working. Give your clients what they want, not everything under the sun.

3) Schedule yourself time to just write. I found this to be the hardest thing. Everything is fighting for your attention, but creating good copy requires concentration. You can’t concentrate if your email is constantly pinging or your phone is ringing. Writing is something that is hard to do well when you’re rushing.

For right now, tell your team that you’ll be unavailable for a few hours and get to writing. Book a meeting with yourself, head to a coffee shop, go to the library—do whatever you have to do to complete the assignment. Once you’re out of this crazy time, think about ways to repurpose your content. It makes no sense to spend a whack of time creating one-off communications. Writing blogs? Use them as your newsletter content. Creating a video? Make sure you can use it on your website and for your AGM. Don’t spend hours working on something that will die once you hit send.

4) Create a writing team. It’s all fine and dandy for me to say, “Take your time! Write in complete silence!” Yeah, we all know that doesn’t happen often. Creating awesome content is just one of the many things you have to do every day. What I found extremely helpful was a writing team. You have another person who will review your writing—especially when you’re writing under a tight deadline. This person will review your work, looking for glaring errors, ensuring no grammar mistakes and, importantly, commiserate with you (and it’s so important to have a relationship like that in the workplace).

For right now, get anyone who is available to review your content and provide feedback. You just want to make sure that it reads well and is ready to be sent or posted. Once you’re out of this crazy time, find your writing tribe. Whether time is tight or not, another set of eyes will see things in your copy that you are overlooking.

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