Dave’s been gossiping by the water cooler for twenty-five minutes. Ryan’s spilt his brew on your desk. Sandra’s tuna sandwich is stinking the place out. Isn’t it great to be back?
Over recent weeks and months, many employees have returned back to the office after an unpreceden - no, no - eventful 18 months working from home.
Whether you’re operating full-time from the office or observing a hybrid approach, many of us are finding the adjustment back to ‘normal’ a little difficult.
For some of us, it’s wearing jeans instead of joggers and not being able to sing along to the office tunes with the same vigour as we’ve become accustomed to at home. For others, it’s having to concentrate amidst a flurry of office distractions - especially when the novelty of returning to office-based working is yet to wear off.
And as any of our fellow content creators will know, the latter can be especially difficult when tasked with the job of writing (although we’ll admit that we’ve struggled to put the hairbrush microphone down, too).
So, today, we thought we’d run a little refresher course on how to create content in busy environments, minimising distractions to ensure your content remains high-quality, high-value and error-free.
Optimise your workspace
Now, first things first: optimising your workspace and keeping your desk nice and clean aren’t the same thing.
We sure aren’t going to tell you off for a few tea stains or coffee marks - you think Hemingway’s desk wasn’t covered in whiskey every now and then?!
That being said, if a clean desk helps to put you in a clear and productive mindset, get scrubbing! Optimising your workspace is all about creating the environment where you work best.
Of course, this was far easier to pull off in our work-from-home spaces (where we had more freedom to customise). However, whatever size desk or space you’re working with, there are some simple ways you can optimise for efficiency, productivity and creativity in the office, too.
For example, decluttering is always a good place to start for those prone to procrastination or those who need clear environments to be creative. However, this doesn’t mean you should be swiping everything from your desk in one fell swoop.
On the contrary, ‘clutter’ such as sticky note pads can be invaluable for brainstorming angles and ideas, while classic distractions like desk games can be a great tool for breaking through writer’s block. It’s all about filling your workspace with the tools you need (and only the tools you need).
Get in the zone
With your workspace optimised, it’s time to get into a creative, motivated and productive headspace. It’s time to get in - *cue our best X Factor voiceover impression* - the writer’s zone.
This will vary from writer to writer, so look to identify the triggers of your optimal state.
Writing at the right time plays a big role in finding your zone. Inspiration, creativity and motivation all tend to naturally come and go throughout the day, so look for any patterns in your working behaviour. For this writer, it probably has more to do with my blood-caffeine levels than I’d care to admit.
Whether it’s first thing in the morning or the last job of the day, identify when you find content creation easiest and when you create your highest quality content. Plan your working days around this peak period, writing during your most creative and motivated state whenever possible.
Seize the day; write when you want to write (wasn’t that pretty much the plot to Dead Poets Society?).
Another tool to get some writers into the zone is music. Music boasts numerous psychological perks for content writers, including improved motivation, focus and even information retention.
We’ve found classical or ambient music to be the most effective here. While some writers can work well while blasting the Top 40 or throwing it back with some classics, others can find it too distracting.
When listening actively to music with lyrics, it’s not uncommon for some of the lyrics to subconsciously sneak into your content by mistake, either. So, always be cautious of accuracy and coherence if I guess that’s why they call it the blues you choose to work this way.
Trial different approaches
Every content creator will have their own preferred writing approach, but the one you’ve favoured when working at home may not necessarily be the most effective back in the office.
Allow us to explain…
Peace and quiet. The space to step away to process thoughts and ideas. A space tailored to your every preference. A coffee without having to make 10 more for the rest of ‘em. For many content writers, working from home was something of a luxury - with fewer distractions and a writer-friendly environment, content creators working from home were able to implement their usual writing approach with minimal fuss.
(We can hear the content writers with kids cursing us from here!)
But how do you plan on remembering all of that research when Jane’s showing everyone pictures of the new baby? How will you sufficiently explore every nook and cranny of a topic when Steve’s moaning about someone stealing his crisps?
Varying up your writing approaches when first landing back in the office will allow you to establish what works best where. This will help you become more versatile as a writer and more flexible in instances when you have to write outside of your ‘peak period’.
So, trial mixing up your usual formula. Conduct research right before you start writing? Try completing your research in the morning and not writing until the afternoon. Put pen to paper (or, more fittingly, finger to key) and see where your ideas take you. Trial drafting a skeleton outline of your piece and working to a preplanned structure.
You’d be surprised at how some little tweaks to your writing approach can go a long way in helping you create the most high-value, high-quality content in every environment and circumstance.
Self-edit (at a later time)
Regardless of your approach, workspace or zone, one rule rings true for all content creators working back in the office: self edit - and self edit at a later time.
No matter if you’re a black belt in writing in busy environments, the fact remains that the office is full of bustling activity and distractions. This means minor errors, typos and inconsistencies and bound to pop up once in a while.
So, embrace the self-edit after every piece of content you create (yes, even if it’s being edited by someone else anyway).
We don’t recommend you do this the moment you’ve finished your conclusion, though. Instead, step away from the content - check your emails, take lunch, tell Jane her baby looks cute.
Coming back to self-edit your content at a later point in the day (or even the next day if timelines allow) enables you to proof your work with a fresh pair of eyes. This will help you spot typos and grammatical errors more easily (and save you a slap on the wrist from your editor in the process).
It will also allow you to question your phrasing, informational value and overall angle with more objectivity - you’re less invested in the content at this stage than you were moments after writing. This isn’t a bad thing - on the contrary, it ensures you’re providing the highest value content possible.
There are many perks to getting back to office life, so don’t let it get in the way of your content creation. Instead, ensure you’re motivated, focused and creatively inspired to write purpose-driven, informationally rich and super-engaging content in every type of working environment.
Still need a helping hand? Not to worry - leave it to Paragraft. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our hassle-free content subscription packages can work for your brand.