25 ideas to squeeze out more time for content creation

There is no secret button that composes blog posts or shoots videos, and magic wands are very hard to come by. That leaves these tips for generating text and other content for your audience.

Nobody says they have too much time, especially when it comes to creating content.

Successful bloggers, YouTubers and podcasters have the same number of hours in a day as you. Everybody has equal opportunity to create content, but not everybody makes it a priority. The real question isn’t having the time, it’s whether you have the tenacity to do it—and keep doing it.

I can’t bolster your determination, but I can provide 25 ideas and best practices to help you squeeze more content-producing productivity out of every hour:

1. Focus. Don’t try to be everywhere and on every platform. Pick the content type that fits your mission, and stick to it.

2. ABC (always be creating). Story ideas are all around you. Make a habit of writing down every inspiration as it happens so it’s not lost. Be aware of what you see, hear and read every day, and think about how that could become relevant content. If you follow this practice, you will always have a bank of ideas.

3. Make time to create. Block out several undistracted hours each week to create. Schedule this in a disciplined way, just as you would prioritize an important meeting.

4. Add an insight. Let’s say you see a post of five ideas for baking a better cake. For your cooking blog, create a post noting the original post and writer, list the five ideas, and then add two of your own. You’ve just added value for your readers, helped the original author by linking to her or his content, and created a great piece in a fraction of the time.

5. Find a routine. Try to develop content at your most productive time each day, or on the same day each week. By doing this, you’re training your mind to expect that this is the time you’re going to create content. You might even look forward to it.

6. Let it sit. Don’t spin your wheels too long on any one idea. If you’re feeling stuck, move on to another idea to use your time productively. Some of my best posts don’t bloom until weeks after the initial “planting.”

7. Learn to say no. Every minute you spend on tasks not central to your goal is time lost forever. Guard your time carefully.

8. Look ahead. What scheduled interruptions do you have in the upcoming weeks and months? Vacation? Business trips? Family commitments? Prepare for these “outages.” If you try to rush content, quality will suffer. Success requires consistency.

9. Take a break. Studies show that even two-minute breaks can increase productivity by 11 percent.

10. Imperfect is perfect. Many people waste time seeking perfection. You are human. That post or video is probably never going to be perfect; push the publish button anyway.

11. Use the apps. There are apps to help you create free and easy illustrations, infographics and videos. You can create podcasts on your smartphone. Some apps help you find content ideas, edit, guide your SEO or write better headlines.

12. Mix the media. Don’t have time to write a post this week? Well, you can make a three-minute video in—well, three minutes. Embedding a little video in a post is a great time-saver and provides variety for your readers. One blogger posted a photo of his office set-up; it’s so simple, and it probably took him five minutes. Mix it up.

13. Get by with a little help from your friends. In a time crunch? Invite some trusted friends to submit a guest blog post, create a video for your channel or conduct a “takeover” of your Instagram or Snapchat account.

14. Ask, don’t answer. Don’t feel pressure to develop time-intensive advice on every piece of content. Some highly engaging posts are questions, not answers. “This has been bothering me, and I don’t have an answer to it. What do you think about…?”

15. Copy and improve. You consume so much great content every day. Part of the value you can provide to readers is sharing new ideas from others and improving on them. For example, I was reading about the “flow state” of peak performance and wrote down an idea about how that could be applied to content creation.

16. Outsource the admin. Much of the time needed to create content lies in producing, editing and scheduling. Podcasting and video editing can be particularly time-consuming. Try to outsource these activities so you can spend your time on content creation itself.

17. Don’t multitask. Turn off the TV, smartphone, iPad, text messages and alerts. An average knowledge worker wastes 28 percent of his or her time on interruptions and “recovery time.”

18. Prepare a content calendar. Plotting your content plan week by week can help you visualize your commitments and align your content with your work schedule. For example, I don’t schedule content that is going to attract high levels of engagement on days jammed with meetings.

19. Write roundups. Come up with an interesting question or industry problem and ask a group of trusted industry friends to provide a two- to three-sentence answer. Gather them, and you’ve got an interesting post with little original work on your part.

20. Set a deadline. When I was starting out, I would take forever to create content. I fretted over so many details. Once I set time limits—”One more hour on this, and then I publish”—I was much more effective.

21. Don’t overthink it. A great piece of content doesn’t have to be a doctoral thesis or deliver earth-shaking insights. Some of my most popular posts have emerged from a simple observation or a question on my mind. There’s no pressure to be profound.

22. Create a list post. Readers love lists. They’re easy to scan, digest and share. Lists are also quicker and easier to write than longer-form content.

23. Repurpose your content. Transcribe a podcast to create a blog post. Use ideas from a blog post to publish a slide presentation. Base an infographic on your slide presentation. Seeing the potential here? You can make many pieces of content from one core idea.

24. Dictate. Most people can speak three to four times faster than they type. I hire a college student to transcribe audio and video content, saving me a significant amount of time. There are also free or low-cost apps that do a decent job of transcribing. You can spend time editing, instead of writing.

25. Drink a beer. Several research studies showed that slightly elevating the alcohol level in the bloodstream increases creativity levels. (I am not making this up.)

What tips would you add to this list?

A version of this article first appeared on Mark Schaefer’s blog, {grow}.

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