Did 2020 change your life?
I bet, there are very few people who’d answer “no” to that…
COVID-triggered lock-downs have sent hundreds of thousands of people to work from home, whether they had planned that or not.
And let me tell you from personal experience: Working from home is not for all types of personalities. Not many people find it easy (or even possible) to remain productive in the comfort of their homes.
On top of the usual daily tasks and duties, suddenly a mountain of work and home chores commingled, especially if your kids are being taught from home as well. To say we are more frazzled than ever is an understatement.
And it is probably as hard on us writers as most.
Writing is a pretty vague task in itself. It is hard to get organized because writers are usually governed by “The more we write, the better” rule. Writing is a task that’s never really completed, and it is also too easy to keep pushing back.
If you are one of many content creators who were sent to work from home (either as a remote worker or as a new freelancer after a lay-off), you are probably struggling right now, and struggling a lot. And if you’ve recently decided to embark on a writing career, that also takes a special kind of discipline that may not be easy to come by.
What’s also not helping is a flood of alarming news and stories from all the corners. How can we stay focused on writing, if we are doing our best to cope with mounting anxiety?
While we can’t do anything to change things beyond our control, it’s important to find a balance between work and life while maintaining mental harmony. Here’s how you can get on a more even keel during these uncertain times.
Create a Devoted Workspace
Once upon a time, you had a corner office. Now, you’ve got gummy bears in your hair and kids playing underfoot while you try to tackle deadlines.
Even if you don’t have an extra room to set up shop in, set up a space that’s yours for working and add personal touches to it to make it more appealing.
You may think this situation is temporary. Nevertheless, setting up a workspace is a must. This is the spot where you will develop a habit of working. This is where your mind will set itself in the working mood.
Curatti has an awesome store to help you set up your home office the way it boosts your productivity. From standing desks to ergonomic chairs, the store is full of great ideas on how to make your home workplace both effective and healthy:
To go directly to the Curatti Amazon Store, click here
Build Your Digital Workplace
While setting up your home office is fundamental to your productivity, nothing has helped me to survive any lifestyle changes more than my digital workplace.
I have started working on my tool collection years ago, and only a few tools have remained since I started but my tool collection is what has helped through so much that it is unbelievable, including job changes, traveling, moving, and yes, the most recent lockdown that keeps me working from home for almost a year now.
Here are those tools that keep me writing and help me remain productive whatever happens:
I admit: Aimlessly scrolling through social media feeds is my guilty pleasure. Sometimes I login to Facebook to message a client and find myself reading through feeds 20 minutes later. It’s distracting beyond measure.
So, the StayFocusd extension has been a big help in reminding me to keep myself off social media feeds for some time and keep focused:
2. Text Optimizer
Constantly coming up with ideas and finding unique angles no one has covered yet – these two tasks are the constant struggle for an active writer. Luckily I have the tool that never ceases to help: Text Optimizer. The tool clusters your target topic into subtopics and related concepts helping you on many fronts:
- You can find more specific content ideas to cover
- You can identify subtopics to cover in your article (to make it more comprehensive)
- And you can optimize your content for what Google knows about your chosen topic. (Text Optimizer uses Google as the source of its analysis)
3. Google Docs
I keep all my drafts here, all my ideas, all the articles I ever wrote. The database is searchable, so it is a matter of seconds to find anything I need. I can take it with me anywhere I go (even if I leave my laptop at home, I can pull it up from my phone or anyone’s computer).
You can sort your articles in folders, create templates, and upload images to keep all your work in one digital space. It’s a real lifesaver!
Google Docs also easily integrates into your WordPress blog helping me keep things even better organized. I even use Google Docs to manage my schedule (to keep everything under one roof). Best of all it’s free until you run out of space (which I did) but even after that, it’s a couple of bucks a month.
I am not just a writer. I am a digital marketer who does the whole package for clients including monitoring my content success and constantly trying for it to do better in attracting traffic. Keyword research (which I use for both ideation and optimization) and web analytics are two big parts of my job.
While I don’t have one single keyword research tool to recommend (I switch from tool to tool on a random basis as none of them seems to be as all-encompassing as my job requires), I do have one web analytics platform I am sticking to.
I know most people use Google Analytics (and many of my clients have it) and I get it: It’s free and looks serious. But I have also found it a major time waster. It’s huge, cumbersome, and in most cases, not really helpful. I like Finteza much more as it provides very action-oriented insights and never takes more than a few minutes of my time. Set it up once. Set your priorities and it will generate sleek reports every day for when you need to check your most recent content or go back to older articles, It’s really very efficient:
Finally, I like supplementing my text articles with some video content. This is one of the reasons why my clients love my work . I have tried a few video editing solutions but find InVideo the most productive: It has a very handy editor that takes me minutes to create a quick video version of my article.
The best part, it’s web-based: Nothing to download which, again, gives me the flexibility of being able to access my past videos (and create new ones) from anywhere in the world using just about any device.
Do That Routine Thing
You might not need to make a major commute to get to work anymore, but don’t let that stop you from starting a modified routine.
While you don’t need to wear business attire, you should put on clothes that make you feel good. Sticking closely to a routine that’s similar to the one in the ‘before’ time will help set the work mood.
Additionally, you may like the idea of “Fake commute” interesting as well (I certainly did). This is when you add commuting to your daily routine even if you don’t have to go anywhere. Use that time for mandatory walking outside or grocery shopping.
Finally, Take Time For Yourself
At the office, you likely didn’t sit there all day at your desk until it was time to go home. Working from home, it’s important to take those little breaks to let your mind function at its best.
When you sit back down for work again, you’ll be more refreshed and calm, which makes for better productivity.
Your kids need you, your spouse needs you, your job needs you, and YOU need you. Don’t forget to prioritize self-care during these times.
Take a walk by yourself, soak in the tub, FaceTime your parents or your best friend. Find something that is just for yourself for at least 10 minutes a day so you can replenish. To help you out, here are few ideas I’ve stumbled upon recently:
- Pick up a new book to read (I prefer audiobooks to let my eye relax)
- Subscribe to new adventure bloggers and channels (my recent favorites are The O’Kelly’s and As We Go Places if you are looking for some suggestions)
- Start a hobby site of your own or launch a podcast to switch your mind to something new.
My favorite way of relaxation is changing an activity, so those three are perfect for me!
None of this is easy for any of us, especially freelancing moms who are forced to juggle so much. How do we do it?
Dads are working from home too but they still tend to let the brunt of the housework and parenting fall onto our laps. Don’t expect him to read your mind and let him know exactly what you need.
There’s Hope For Writers and Content Marketers
The forced self-isolation to prevent the spread of coronavirus has provoked rapid changes in consumer behaviors. The most obvious result of this is the increase in online content and consumption.
The whopping 50% increase in internet use in some areas of the world is so significant that many have speculated about the possibility of the increased demand, breaking the internet (don’t worry, experts are saying that we are fine – for now).
What does this mean?
There’s an increased demand for digital writing and content marketing services. And that is unlikely to go away soon. If we keep working, we are likely to boost our businesses (and careers). So just breathe and keep working!
While optimism is key, when you let your own glass start to go empty, you won’t be able to manage work and life balance. Fill up your cup to make a change for the better!