FREELANCING

April 5, 2022

Joy Youell

Joy Youell is an expert copywriter and content strategist.

Copywriter Organization (and General Efficiency Tips for Work)

It blows my mind how many freelance copywriters have no plan. No organization. No structure to their work life. This is a quick way to make a small living. If you want to be a professional copywriter, you need to have a professionally structured work life. This means getting faster and better at what you do. As someone who works very very fast, here are some of my best tips for getting more done in less time.

Resources for Organizing Your Work Life

There are any number of books you can use for methods to organize your professional life and work tasks. Two I’d recommend right off the bat:

Atomic Habits, by James Clear. He touches on things like habit bundling, which you should know about, but also makes a sub point that I actually think is the best point: very very small changes (virtually unnoticeable in the moment) are the real key to long-term success. I like to picture it as two parallel lines. Shift one even one single degree. You won’t notice it for possibly a very long time, but those two points will end up in totally different directions. It’s fundamentally why big giant life changes (“I’m going to write 80,000 words this week!” “I’m going to give my kids chores!” “I’m going to lose 65 pounds!”) don’t work. But little mindset changes and little habit changes do. This makes it more reasonable, and makes change possible. Highly recommend.

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown. This is a book to read. Then read again. Then write all of the quotes on post its and paper your office. If you don’t get to the core of why chaos exists in your life (ie, a plethora of competing priorities), you’ll never have ano rendered work life. None of the copywriter organization tips I share below will make a dent, because you are operating without a clear line of sight. Read it.

Okay, that was my attempt to direct you to people far smarter than I am who will give you great advice. It’s not my smarts so much as my practical mind that forced me to create the following organizational tactics, which I’ll now share with you.

Use a 0 Sum Scheduling Technique

I made this into a reel on my IG, in case you want to see the immensely satisfying list → no list process of my 0 sum scheduling technique. It’s very simple, actually, and works exactly like a 0 sum budget.

  1. You create a list of all of the tasks you have to do in a day, scheduled out in order by time.
  2. As you complete each task, you wipe it off the board.

By doing this, each day ends with a clean slate. It’s been a hugely beneficial process for me, mostly for psychological reasons. Giant unending to-do lists are a reality of entrepreneurial life. But they aren’t the only way to live. You can order your work life by giving yourself clearly defined, timed tasks, then working through them systematically. The empty board is just a feel good moment.

So, that’s good for a daily workflow. But one of the biggest culprits of time waste isn’t the big, clearly defined tasks: it’s all of the little things.

Organizing 10-15 Minute Tasks

In some organizational constructs, you order things by rocks, pebbles and sand. Each item’s category indicates its level of importance, and often indicates the amount of time it will take to complete (i.e. the nature of the task). If you use that organizational framework, then you would call what I’m about to describe “sand.” It’s the little stuff. It plays a supporting role in your larger task, but as your copywriting business grows, these tasks can literally overtake your life.

I’m talking stuff that takes 10-15 minutes, and here are some examples:

  • Writing an email reply
  • Sending a contract
  • Giving a project update
  • Creating a single social media post
  • Checking on the status of something

These things should only take a few minutes, but if you don’t plan to do them sometime, you’ll end up in one of two positions: spending the final hour of everyday (an extra hour) doing them or not doing them at all (and feeling super guilty).

Here’s my solution:

  1. On the side of my whiteboard, I have a column (about a 3 - 2 split on my board) marked “Anytime.” This column is where I fill in all of those little tasks. List them out. I do it everyday. 
  2. Then, whenever I have 10-15 minutes, I do them. 

These little bits of time are available often: a meeting goes short, I finish writing a blog early, SEO research doesn’t take the full allotted time. That’s when, instead of browsing LinkedIn or something, I do my “Anytime” tasks. 

These aren’t a brain break, but they do reduce your cognitive load. I don’t know about you, but I’m after excellence in productivity. So, when I have “free time,” I can panic a little, getting decision paralysis about all of the many things I could use it for. If I write it down, I’m simply deciding between 5-6 items. So much simpler.

Copywriter: Organize Your Life (Just Do It)

If you want to make a little money copywriting, fine. Be a freelancer. Be transient. Do some stuff here and there. But if you want copywriting to be your career, you’ve got to get your act together. You’ve got to get faster. You’ve got to get more professional. And you’ve got to make processes that support your goals. These are just a couple of my methods (and I have a bunch more). 

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