Deadlines are the bane of a content writer’s existence.
OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but we can all agree they can be pretty damn inconvenient - especially when the clock’s ticking but the motivation’s lacking.
In these dreaded instances, it can be tempting to push back your deadline. After all, a couple of extra days can’t hurt - right?
But much like a time traveller stepping on a butterfly may drastically change the future, a content writer ignoring their deadlines may drastically impact the success of their content strategy.
At best, getting into the habit of pushing back your deadlines can slow down your content production. At worst, it can breed a culture of disorganisation and aimlessness that ultimately impacts your ability to achieve your content goals.
Doesn’t sound great, does it?
Luckily, the content superheroes at Paragraft are back to save the day once again, offering up our best tips and tricks on avoiding the temptation to push back deadlines - even on those mornings when you really, really want to.
Set regular progress check-ins
If you have a deadline that’s a few weeks away, it’s easy for that task to quickly make its way onto the backburner.
And of course, with a plateful of content tasks at any one time, this is often the right call to ensure sufficient time management.
But when you push these tasks to the back of your mind, it’s not uncommon for them to stay there. The result? Remembering about the task a couple of days before it’s due to be completed - enter panic mode.
Setting task milestones with regular progress check-ins is an effective way of preventing this.
Rather than pushing the content task back in its entirety, consider which elements can be started sooner. Not only does this help keep the deadline in mind, but it also helps to lighten the workload when the time comes to complete the chunk of the task at hand.
For example, if you’re writing a blog post due in three weeks' time, why not conduct the research in week one and skeleton the article in week two?
Break down each task into manageable, bite-sized chunks to be completed at regular, achievable intervals. This will help you maintain visibility of whether you’re on track.
Weigh up the impact
If the devil of temptation is sitting on your shoulder and whispering in your ear, don’t give in just yet.
Instead, evaluate how pushing back your deadline may impact others within your team.
Is someone down to edit your piece? Pushing your deadline back will mean they have to rework their weekly plans. Is the social media team waiting on some content?
They’re going to need to come up with a new post on the spot to meet their publication schedule.
Content is rarely a one-man show, so ensure you’re adopting a team-first mentality by placing the requirements of your colleagues and projects before your own preferences.
This domino effect carries further than just your timelines, though.
In some cases, it’ll actually impact the success of your content strategy, too. This is, of course, the worst-case scenario.
Consistency is an integral part of any content marketing strategy, meaning most marketing departments will have a writing and publication schedule tailored to their content goals and wider business objectives.
Failing to meet these deadlines, then, can undermine your strategy to the detriment of all involved. This is particularly true for time-sensitive pieces or content based on trending topics.
Every day your content rolls is another day your competitors can beat you to the punch, leading to a wave of lost traffic and opportunity.
If that isn’t motivation enough to meet that deadline, we don’t know what is!
Learn how to motivate yourself
On the topic of motivation, knowing how to motivate yourself is also invaluable when the deadline’s looming but inspiration is hard to come by.
The exact tricks and tips you use to motivate yourself into a creative mindset will ultimately depend on the type of person you are, but some common techniques include:
Switching up your environment
Eating and drinking healthily
Bribing yourself with rewards (this is our favourite!)
Using writing prompts
A clear workspace (we’re willing to admit that we find this one particularly challenging…messy desk owners unite!)
Learning your writing habits and behaviours is key to understanding how to effectively manage your time and workload.
So, experiment with a few of the above ideas to learn what works best for you and inspires you to be more productive and motivated in your creative output.
Introduce an emergency process
We understand that sometimes the deadline has to be pushed back, and in some cases, even the advice above won’t cut the mustard.
In these unique instances, it’s best to have an emergency process.
This can take the form of either an agreed internal process where tasks can be delegated and reassigned to ensure the work is done or, if resources are tight, a backup content plan.
This backup content plan should swap out the idea you had planned for a quick and easy alternative that can be produced within the deadline.
Ideally, this can be pulled straight from a bank of pre-written or pre-planned content ready and waiting in reserve. If you don’t have a backup bank, though, there’s no need to fret - the ideas in our emergency content kit have you covered.
To unlock the full potential of content marketing, businesses should ensure a consistent and purpose-driven approach where strategies and schedules are adhered to.
Luckily, if you’re struggling to meet deadlines or lacking the time, manpower and resources to create content, this doesn’t mean your strategy has to be thrown out of the window.
Instead, we’d recommend you get in touch with the content experts at Paragraft - drop us a line today to learn more about what we can do for your brand.