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Do you find yourself wishing you had more time and space to create your content? That things didn’t sneak up on you. Like, have you ever flipped through your diary only to realise that “Oh crap, that thing is due NEXT week, but I also have 50 other things to do between now and then!”.

In this blog post I’m going to share with you the 5 step system that I use to stay on track with content creation. Deadlines are important to set and hold sacred, but doing the work just before the deadline is stressful and can more often than not, result in less than ideal conditions – like trying to get a million things done.

So here we go.

Determine your due date

Step 1 is to work out when something is “due”.

For example, when a piece of content has to be published. Mark that date in your calendar, diary, wherever. We’re going to use that date to work backwards and plan out a creation schedule that isn’t hectic.

Figure out a comfortable finishing date

Step 2 is to work backwards to figure out your actual, comfortable finishing date.

So, let’s say for example you have a blog post to publish on the 1st of March. Ideally, we’re going to want to have it in a reasonably finished state before then. Whether that’s a week or two weeks. Then we mark that in our diary or calendar as the date to finish it.

If you want to batch your content, this is going to look a little bit different. Say you want to write all your blog content for March in a couple of sessions. You’ll want to work out when the first blog is due and work backwards from that. So if you’re publishing the first post on the 1st of March, but you want to have it pretty much ready to go 2 weeks ahead of that, so the middle of February, that’s when all of your posts for that month would be due.

Create a warning system

Step 3 is to create a “warning” system. Do you ever flick through your diary and realise that “Oh crap, that thing is due TODAY?”

And suddenly your whole day is thrown out of what as you frantically scramble to get that thing done? Yup. I know that feel too. And, I have a system for that.

When I was at University I was so freaked out about the possibility of missing a deadline, or having to rush, that I’d set up a warning system. So, for each assignment, depending on its length, I’d put in my calendar a series of “warnings”.

So, for example, six weeks before the due date, I’d write something like “Persian War Essay Due 6 Weeks”. At 5 weeks before, I’d write “Persian War Essay Due 5 Weeks”, and so on. The length of time depended entirely on how long and how important something was. So for most pieces of content, unless it’s an important huge project, 6 week warnings are probably not necessary.

So, for blogs that need to be batched by the middle of February, for example, we mark out the “warnings” ahead of time. So, in the middle of January, we write “4 weeks until the March blog posts are due”. And then “3 weeks” and so on.

This let’s us be a bit flexible with our time, but keeps us well and truly aware of “what’s coming up” on the horizon so you don’t get a nasty shock.

Carve out the time

Step 4 is carving out the time.

Now that we have our warning system in place, we can better balance all the things we’ve got going on. And that let’s us better manage when to slot in our content creation times. Say you want to batch all of your blogs for March and the due date to have those done and dusted is mid February.

You might have the first drafting phase for all four blog posts (assuming you publish once a week) on Monday morning. The following week you go back with fresh eyes, tidying up any loose ends and then finally schedule them all well ahead of the “actual” due date.

Make sure you stick to your creation schedule

Step 5 is creating during the timeslots you’ve allocated. While it’s one thing to schedule a time to do something, for a lot of people, myself included, it’s another thing to actually sit down and get it done.

So, if you find yourself staring at your calendar thinking “I have a serious case of the CBF’s right now,” (which can strike anyone at any time), I highly recommend chunking the time down into more manageable bits.

One of the beloved techniques of the internet is the Pomodoro technique. Where you do something for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break and then repeat 3 more times before taking a longer break. You can do just about anything for 25 minutes, even if it feels hard.

The easiest way to get into a creative flow isn’t to wait until the muses visit. That almost never happens. The easiest way to get into a creation flow is to sit down and go through the motions until you find the flow state. The Pomodoro technique is great for helping you get over those initial hurdles and get into the flow and rhythm of creating. When you’re in a flow state, you can of course drop the 25 minute intervals, and just keep going.

So there you have it, my 5 step process to making sure you get your content done ahead of time. Just to recap:

Step 1 is to work out when something is “due”.
Step 2 is to work backwards to figure out your actual creation dates.
Step 3 is to create a “warning” system.
Step 4 is carving out the time.
Step 5 is creating during the timeslots you’ve allocated.

Have you tried this? Or something similar? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below.