Copywriters’ Ultimate Game-Changing Productivity Guide: Optimize Your Life in Just 18 Hours a Day

by Lorraine Thompson

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Freelance copywriters, we live in a Golden Age. Never before in history has the freelance solopreneur been so blessed with opportunity.

Every day our email inboxes and Tweetdeck columns flood with a wealth of career-changing, life-enhancing posts, tweets and links.

With this deluge of digitally curated data at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for professional or personal failure.

That’s why I feel confident making you an irresistible offer.

Give me 18 hours a day and I’ll optimize your life

Write faster. Earn more. Build meaningful relationships. Parent more patiently, cook from scratch, run a 10K race and achieve spiritual nirvana.

How? It’s easy with your favorite blogger’s Simple Steps, No-Fail Fundamentals and Game-Changing Challenges.

Just add these helpful hints, habits and how-tos to your schedule.

Every single day.

And watch the transformation.

Skeptical? Let’s see how I “walk my talk.”

20 Essential Life-Changing Daily Tasks

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step—and your Life-Optimizing Journey begins with 20 Essential Life-Changing Daily Tasks (ELCDT).

Simply carve out a few minutes each and every day to…

  1. Create a to-do list first thing in the morning. Productivity gurus advise you to “capture” and list all tasks and goals that lie ahead in the day. Choose the three most-urgent items—your “Big Rocks”—and make sure you move them off your list before day’s end.

    Time: 15 minutes.

  2. Write “Morning Pages.” To become a better writer you must learn to “bleed your truth onto paper” says motivational speaker, Nametag Scott. He suggests “Morning Pages,” a method for writing “first thing in the morning. Three pages. Non-stop. No editing. No deleting. Every single day.”

    Time: 15-45 minutes.

  3. Exercise: Physical exercise is crucial for flabby, sedentary writers. Make it a daily habit with help from Zen Habits archives. Do Leo’s mental exercises, then, yeah—you have to do the physical exercise, too.

    Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

  4. Meditate or pray. Want to relax, center, think with clarity, organize complex ideas, unleash creativity, eliminate writer’s block and develop spiritual discipline? Take up a daily prayer or meditation practice.

    Time: 20 minute.

  5. Write your blog post. Regular posting is crucial to blogging success. And don’t phone it in: Posts must add value, comprise your best, most polished writing and include plenty of pillar material. Optimally, post daily.

    Time: 1-4 hours.

  6. Take time for creative writing. Don’t let your creative dreams die just because you’re busy with client work and blog content. Carve out time to write poetry, pen that play or finish your novel.

    Time: 30-60 minutes.

  7. Read copywriting blogs. Stay on top of the latest trends in your niche and keep an eye on competition by reading top copywriting blogs daily.

    Time: 30 minutes.

  8. Visit blogs outside your niche. Let’s face it, after Ogilvy, Caples and Hopkins, no one’s said anything new about copywriting. Put a fresh twist on your tired content by reading blogs outside copywriting niches.

    Time: 30 minutes.

  9. Comment on blogs. Showcase thought leadership and build links by commenting on other blogs. And none of those cop-out “Great post” or “Wow, you nailed it!” comments. Add to the conversation with relevant, insightful comments. Link-building experts suggest 10 comments daily. Let’s see, 10 posts times 10 minutes…

    Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

  10. Read serious literature. After nibbling blogospehric fast food, your mind craves substantial fare. Feed it with poetry, plays, novels and other serious literature, suggests Jeff Sexton in one of my favorite posts.

    Time: 20-30 minutes.

  11. Join the social media conversation to build community, promote your work, generate leads and cultivate prospects. Again, “provide value”: Tweet with an 8:1 helpful-to-self-serving tweet ratio.

    Time: 20 minutes-4 hours.

  12. Take breaks from work. Your muscles and brain atrophy glued to your computer. Take a five-minute break—to stand up, stretch or walk around—for every 55 minutes you work.

    Time: 40-60 minutes.

  13. Get outside. You need sunlight and fresh air to recharge your batteries. Make sure you get outdoors—even for a few minutes—each day.

    Time: 5 minutes.

  14. Self-marketing. Avoid freelancer feast-or-famine cycles by maintaining disciplined self-marketing efforts—newsletter, email, direct mail and face-to-face networking—even when your docket is full.

    Time: 30 minutes.

  15. Join membership sites to rub shoulders with industry rock stars and listen-in on behind-the-blog gossip. User-generated gold lies buried in them there forums: Roll up your sleeves and start drilling down for diamonds-in-the-rough hidden in those thousand and one forum threads.

    Time: 30 minutes-2 hours.

  16. Brainstorm entrepreneurial ideas. Wise freelancers develop multiple income streams. Need ideas? According to one marketing adviser, it takes just 10 minutes a day to “sketch out” viable business models from things you see in everyday life. Who knew it was so easy?

    Time: 10 minutes.

  17. Make time for family. Unplug and “be here now” for your spouse, partner and kids. Check your children’s homework. Attend their Lacrosse games, violin recitals and show jumping events. Read bedtime stories. And, of course, share family dinners.

    Time: 3 hours.

  18. Cook from scratch and eat healthy meals. It only takes a few minutes to put together a home-cooked meal made with wholesome ingredients. My cooking blog can help. Just do it.

    Time: 30 minutes.

  19. Keep a journal. Capture concepts, daydreams, images—and blog fodder—with a journal, the writer’s “best friend.” Keep a notebook with you at all times: Jot impressions during the day and pen a daily review before you nod off—if sleep is included in your schedule.

    Time: 20 minutes-2 hours.

  20. Fit in client work. Oh, yeah. That. Incidental expenses like food, mortgage, rent and kids’ tuition make this daily “to-do” a high priority.

    Time: 6-8 hours.

Okay, let’s add up the hours.

At-a-glance life optimization: Your ELCDT total

Minimum ELCDT time: 18.3 hours
Maximum ELCDT time: 32 hours

Clearly, you need to make choices.

Limit—or eliminate—time wasters. Like sleep.

Unfortunately, the ELCDT total doesn’t include incidentals. Like bathing, grocery shopping and dog-walking. Or errands, medical appointments, family emergencies and social time.

Then there’s sleep.

How to make lemonade out of your time-deficit lemons

Strongly feel you need to sleep, shower and see friends? Here are some options:

  • “Batch” tasks. Try to tick off all ELCDT items between Monday and Friday. Then catch up on sleep Saturday and Sunday with a 48-hour nap. Have young children? Think about weekend childcare.
  • Outsource selected tasks. Check eLance or Guru.com for a world of resources. Thousands of English-speaking VAs are dieing to shower, shop and sleep for you—at very reasonable fees.

What are your Essential Life-Changing Daily Tasks?

Truth? The above ELCDT optimizes my life. But they’re not for everyone.

For Life Optimization that works for you, customize your own ELCDT list.

What can you add—or subtract—for increased awesome? Got additional time-management tips? Please share!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugo Moolenaar March 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

Wow!

Thanks Lorraine, for this ultra clear list and great reminder.

I got so busy with all the other stuff (like work) that I started dropping some of the essentials, in the past few months!

Didn’t do any morning pages, since I went skiing in Austria two weeks ago. That’s a serious sinn!!

Thanks for the wake up call!

Hugo Moolenaar

Lorraine Thompson March 1, 2010 at 11:09 am

Hi Hugo:

Thanks for commenting. Skiing sounds wonderful–not a sin at all, but much needed respite, I’m sure.

This post was meant as a joke–my way of poking fun at productivity experts who make it sound easy to fit an insane number of tasks into our lives.

While all of the above “ELCDTs” are great, it’s not possible to accomplish all of them.

Coincidentally, Terry Starbucker posted a related–and far more realistic–post today. It gives tips on developing a “focused brain” that helps you choose priorities. A must-read http://www.terrystarbucker.com/2010/02/28/the-secret-to-a-lifetime-of-productivity-and-five-ways-to-find-it/

Hugo Moolenaar March 1, 2010 at 11:52 am

Hi Lorraine,

Great jokes, but… why does it all look so much like my regular working schedule?

Skiing was great! I could easily be an ambassador of Austrian wines, too… They sell stuff like ‘Grüner Veltliner’ in the States?

Amity Hook-Sopko March 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Great post! Wow! You nailed it! ;-)

Now that you add up the time involved, I’m pretty sure these ELCDT’s and all the streamlined processes are to blame every time I’ve missed a deadline.

Jen March 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm

This is great! You had me smiling at my computer screen, especially the middle part about writing blog posts, commenting on other people’s blogs, and reading blogs in and outside of your niche. I get so overwhelmed with this sometimes, and that’s before I even factor in my freelancing projects! So thank you, this was fun to read.

Matthew Stibbe (Bad Language blog) March 2, 2010 at 1:53 am

Just what the Onion would have written about all the ‘self-help’ advice for writers on the blogosphere. Very funny and to the point.

The secret is to figure out the answer to the question “if everything’s possible, what’s important?” and do that. Easier said than done, of course.

Lorraine Thompson March 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

@Amity: Yes, I’m sure your client won’t mind getting projects a few days late–as long as the lapse allows you to meditate, write in your journal, cultivate marketing thought-leadership and make homemade jam! ; >

@Jen: I know. It’s comforting to actually see a tally of hours–and realize the impossibility of doing it all.

@Matthew: Wise words, sir. Thanks for comparing my attempt at irony with the mighty Onion–a notion I’ll long cherish!

Peter Bowerman March 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Love it, Lorraine!

How true. You can’t spit these days without hitting an article or ten on boosting productivity, time management, achieving goals, etc, and if you followed ALL their advice…well, you’d have what you so creatively outlined above. A very funny, but at the same time, serious reminder that you can’t do it all, and if you try to do it all, you’ll defeat your original purpose of trying to do it all in the first place (presumably to have some sort of peace of mind). Thanks for brightening my day…

PB

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