This is the first of a two-part post, looking at a few key things to help you create content. In the next one I’ll be talking about effective ways to post and schedule that content.

If you’re reading this, you know you should be creating content, and you know you need to be sharing it online, but you’re probably also liable to being sucked into a black hole of links, tabs and videos of cute animals (just check out these penguins). Before long, you’ve forgotten what you were researching, lost track of time, and your cup of tea’s gone cold.

So, what to do?

Separate generation from implementation

Set aside regular time (weekly or monthly) to jot down any ideas you have. Use good old fashioned pen and paper, or grab a whiteboard and a bunch of coloured markers. Whatever you use, try and stay offline for this step. If you need some inspiration, I’ve put together a quick guide to idea generation that you can download here.

The next day, give yourself a set amount of time to investigate these ideas a little bit further. Set a timer and use a programme like Evernote’s Webclipper to clip, bookmark and annotate useful sites.

When your weekly content creation slot rolls around (don’t have one yet? we’ll get to that next), pick something from your list of investigated ideas and get writing. Separating the idea generation from content creation gives you space to think and should help reduce that I’ve-been-putting-this-off-all-week-and-just-need-to-get-something-online-now stress.

Use a calendar

A calendar will help you plan the content you want to create but how about using it to give you the time to create that content in the first place? Chances are if you don’t schedule time to create content then it’s not going to happen.

Open up the calendar that you use to manage your day to day and schedule in slots for

  • Idea generation
  • Idea investigation
  • Content creation

calendar screenshot

Treat these like you would a client meeting – set a duration and enable reminders so you can’t skip them.

The frequency of each will depend on your needs but generally speaking try to schedule each of the above at least fortnightly, and between 30mins to an hour to start with.

Once you get going, you’ll get a better idea of the time that you need and can adjust each slot accordingly.

Now, when the content creation slot rolls around you can look at your calendar and know exactly what needs to be done. Which leads me onto…

Turning off distractions

It’s hard to focus when notifications keep popping up so, turn them off. I said to treat the slots above as if they were client meetings and that means giving them your full attention.

Turn off email notifications, log out of your social media accounts, put your phone in a drawer; whatever it is you find yourself drifting towards, temporarily get rid of it.

If that sounds like too much effort, and you’re likely to get distracted while looking for the ‘disable notifications’ option, then there are some tools to help you. Cold Turkey is one of the most effective, just tell it the sites you want to block, set a timer and it will do the rest.

Another tool that I turn to time and time again is Coffitivity. This one’s more about protecting yourself from the distractions of an open office environment than turning off online distractions but I think it’s just as valuable. Slip into a virtual coffeeshop, block out the office chatter and keystrokes, and get your focus back.

So, three simple things to help you create content effectively. Let me know if you have found other ways that work for you.

 

In the second part of this blog I’ll be looking at ways to schedule and post that content online. Coming soon…