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I write three product guides per week, each 2,000 to 4,000 words.

This forms the foundation of my monthly income, and it also takes up more time than just about anything else I do project wise.

1,000 words generally takes me an hour, so simple math says the articles should take me about nine hours per week.

But I’m also responsible for creating graphics, finding YouTube videos, editing, formatting, embedding the media, and creating social media posts for each guide. It’s fair to say this takes at least an additional 90 minutes each. That means the three guides take an average of 13.5 hours per week liberally speaking. 15 hours is probably closer to the mark.

I Thought I Was Optimized to the Hilt Already

I’ve maintained a similar schedule for a long time. In fact, with all my other projects, 5,000-word days are often the norm.

So, I’ve had a lot of time to experiment and look at this problem from different angles. There are many known and predictable factors with something like a product guide (more on this in a moment), and it’s gotten to the point where it’s less of a creative challenge and more a matter of just putting the hours in.

I’d looked at all the angles, spent time outlining, created templates, batch processed, and experimented with other tricks and hacks. So, despite the desire to get this work done more efficiently in my weekly schedule, I was already optimized to the hilt.

Or so I thought.

Here’s What I Realized Today…

An article is made up of different parts. It seems kind of obvious, but how often do you think about it?

A product guide is essentially made up of:

  • Introduction
  • List of individual products (usually five to 15)
  • Shopping tips / FAQ
  • Conclusion

The parts that tend to move rather quickly are the introduction, shopping tips and FAQs section, and conclusion. In other words, everything other than the list of products, which is the most research and labor intensive, time-consuming part.

So, the Weird Mental Hack I Discovered Was This:

I started telling myself that I was just writing product descriptions. And if I dedicated myself to that task, for all three guides, without worrying about the other parts, I would have 80% of the work done. The remaining 20% of the articles would basically take care of themselves.

So, that’s what I did today. I focused on writing product descriptions, which basically amounts to summarizing what the developer says about them and inserting some personal thoughts into the equation.

Today, in the time that it usually takes me to barely write one full guide (in other words, about 3,000 words), I was able to write nearly 5,000 words. As result, one guide is nearly 80% complete. Another is about 70% complete. The third is started.

Because, as I said, 80% is not about the word count, but rather a matter of whether the product list has been developed in full. The other 20% takes less time and is much easier to write – so, this part is better left to later, when my creative energies are waning, as opposed to when they’re at their height.

Here’s Your Takeaway:

If you live in a create on demand world like I do, then doing your work more efficiently is the difference between finishing your weekly to-do list and not. It’s the difference between earning an extra $200 to $500 per week and not. It’s the difference between falling behind on your tasks and having a head start on next week.

The takeaway, then, is to identify the different parts of an article and to understand which sections take the greatest effort. These are the parts that you want to tackle first. And, if you can look at them through a new lens, it could boost your productivity too.

Identify the different parts of an article and understand which sections take the greatest effort. These are the parts that to tackle first. Click To Tweet

In my case, instead of looking at each product guide as a self-contained article, I identified the commonalities and began work on the most challenging parts before worrying about the rest. My lens was transformed from “a list of individual products” to “product descriptions.” That changed the way I thought about the guides.

Basically, the top-down approach to writing articles might not be the most efficient method. We know that we’ll need an introduction of some kind. We know that we’ll need a conclusion too. But starting at A and ending at Z might stifle your creativity instead of unleashing it.

The top-down approach to writing articles might not be the most efficient method. Click To Tweet

And it’s the same thing with any other type of project you might be working on. Anything you do for a long time, even things you enjoy, can become familiar, and as they say, familiarity breeds contempt. You may be at the point where you’re working on the same things you’ve worked on for years, and you might think there’s no room left for optimization.

If you can reframe how you think about it, though, you might be able to squeeze enough efficiency out of your new approach for it to be worthwhile.

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