Ross founded Copylab in 2005 and is now leading the team in the UK and leading the company’s charge into new markets.More articles from Ross Hunter
The modern ofﬁce environment isn’t set up with writers in mind.
You want your writers to produce more content. Your writers want an atmosphere that allows them to do that.
The issue is that the modern office setting with an open-plan layout is the worst environment possible for writers. Meetings, calls and ‘have you got a minute’ requests are a staple of corporate life, but each one interrupts the flow of the would-be creator.
And while wifi and social media help writers to quickly research topics, they’re also a distraction more potent than a tray of freshly baked donuts.
At Copylab, we’ve developed a way of helping our writers stay focused on what they’re best at. Each writer on our team has an average writing time of 90% and above.
We’d like to share with you what we’ve done. These ideas should help your writers create fund commentaries faster, publish your factsheets ahead of your peers, and help you to meet your clients’ service level agreements.
As writers, we find it often takes 20 to 30 minutes to get into the Zone – the place where time flies, thoughts become clear and the words jump onto the page. Every distraction interrupts that flow.
The writer has a role to play here. They should switch off their phones, close down their social media platforms and mute their email. As a CMO, you can help too.
Set up a quiet zone – or a closed-off writing room – where interruptions are banned. Provide ‘do not disturb’ flags for your team. Or consider productivity technology like the Stayfocusd Chrome extension.
Look at your writers’ calendars. How much time is taken up by daily huddles, weekly 1-2-1s and monthly team meetings?
Remember, these are only the scheduled interruptions. They also have to contend with ad-hoc requests, phone calls and the dreaded ‘desk drive-by’. And let’s not get started on emails.
Encourage your writers to eliminate the unnecessary meetings from their calendar. Give them permission to say no to meeting requests if it compromises their writing priorities.
And help them manage their email mailbox. There are dozens of mailbox management blogs out there that can help.
The time cost of switching between tasks is significant.
Every time we move from email to writing task 1, to meeting, to writing task 2, to email (and so on) there is a time cost that adds up.
This is especially the case when it comes to getting back into the Zone for writing.
The solution is to batch time for tasks.
Yes, your company offers flexible working. But you can take this to the next level to get the most from your writers.
Writers have different preferences for when they’re at their best for writing. Some are early birds. Others are night owls. Few of us love to write between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. Inspiration comes at strange times…
…and in strange places. In addition to ‘whenever’, consider allowing your writers to work ‘wherever’ they can get the job done best. Our team have done great work for clients in some of the oddest places, including a caravan in the wilds of Scotland, an apartment in Barcelona and a coffee shop in Sydney. Allowing this flexibility will help your writers find settings that are more conducive to creativity and productivity.
Pair up your writers. Encourage them to be accountable to each other and set daily or weekly targets for word counts or completing articles. Put into place a small reward system, such as finishing early on a Friday or a grabbing an after-work drink.
Encourage your writing pairs to set a timer for their writing hours and measure their progress – for example by looking at wordcount.
This won’t work for all writing tasks. And writing certainly shouldn’t be turned into a numbers game. But a little gentle gamification may motivate some of your writers.
Humans can read around 200 words per minute. We speak at 100 words per minute. But few of us can write faster than 50 words per minute.
Consider dictation software that converts spoken to written word. This software continues to advance and it learns and improves the more you use it.
Offer training to help your writers type faster. Touch typing is a lost art, but it might help some of your team convert those thoughts to words more productively.