One hat, two hats, red hat… writer hats?
As a freelance writer, there’s a pretty good chance you write for several different brands with different styles, tones, and unique needs. To be an on-point writer, you need to be able to put on the right hat to get the content right.
I’ve written for companies and brands that cross a wide variety of industries, from fintech to industrial manufacturing, cybersecurity to real estate, and lots of the in-between. Switching gears as you move from brand to brand can be mentally exhausting. But it doesn’t have to be.
Let me share some of my favorite tips for effective and rapid task-switching as a freelance copywriter. Put on your learning hat and let’s go!
Set a Timer
I don’t know about you, but I’ve claimed to be an “excellent multitasker” once or twice in my life. It may have been true for things like holding my child on my hip while making dinner, but to be completely honest, I absolutely cannot multitask when it comes to client writing. I need a clear desk and a timer set on my phone to zero in on the job.
This is true for the majority of the population as well – only approximately 2.5% of the population is actually hardwired to juggle parallel tasks. People who have this capability are deemed “supertaskers”.The rest of us are instead, just rapid task-switching. Rapid task switching can also be difficult to effectively execute, solely because your attention is all over the place.
So next time you sit down to get busy on client work set a timer for 10 minutes. Silence your phone, and start training your brain to focus solely on the task and client at hand. It’s hard, but persistence will pay off.
Time for a Character Change
This may sound silly, but bear with me.
Every time I change between clients, I like to pretend that I am physically changing characters and putting on a new hat. I’ll sit tall in my chair and speak out loud about the characteristics I must embody of that particular client. Yes, it looks ridiculous, but it’s wildly effective.
I keep a running document for quick reference that lists my current clients and the key pieces of their tone, style, and voice required. If I ever get distracted and begin to question whether or not the language or style I use is on-brand, I’ll flip to the doc to get me back on track.
Alright, you can stop laughing now.
One of the most effective ways to mark the end of one client's projects and the beginning of another is to mark that time with a physical act. Get up and walk around, shake your arms out, wiggle your toes. It can be a quick 5 minutes of movement, or a brisk walk around the block – do what works for you.
Refresh your body and mind before you brief yourself on your next writing client. This physical break helps your brain disconnect from one client or task, and move on to the next more easily. Again, this takes time but once it becomes a practiced routine you’ll find that it significantly impacts your ability to rapidly task-switch.
Batch your Work
A University of California at Irvine study revealed that it takes approximately 23 minutes to bounce back after being interrupted during a task. That blows my mind!
Reeling back into a task after being interrupted can be difficult. To reduce the amount of time it takes my brain to get back on the train I batch my work based on the client and/or type of task.
For example, if I have 4 blogs to write that week, I’ll dedicate an hour one day (with several brain breaks worked in) to do the framework for them. This puts my brain in research mode on topics that are typically closely related. I find it much easier to return to the task this way if I’ve been interrupted. Once my timer goes off I can move to the next task giving my brain the clear indication that this task is over and it’s time to move on.
Changing Hats on the Fly
Never has “stay in your lane” been more relevant than when it comes to freelance copywriting (aside from driving literally anywhere in California). Take these tips and put them into action – you’ll produce better content and you’re more likely to stay on track.
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