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Write More In Less Time: Batch Process Your Articles
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You can batch process articles (or donuts!)

You can batch process articles (or donuts!)

Without realizing it, I have been ‘batch processing’ for years, a concept that I learned from David Allen (author of the book “Getting Things Done”).

I’ve been doing this with great success on my email–instead of checking it a gazillion times a day (or letting that “incoming mail” chime drag me away from what I’m trying to concentrate on every time a new message hits the inbox), I designated scheduled email checking times.

I check it in the morning and in the afternoon. Each time I check I deal with all the emails in there. I turned off the “incoming mail” notification thingy to eliminate distractions. I started batch processing emails–doing bunches at one sitting instead of one here and one there.

Email used to take over my life–it just took forever and I felt like as soon as I got the box cleared out more came pouring in. I’m sure you can relate!

But I’m telling you, when I started batch processing emails, everything changed.

What Is Batch Processing?

It’s sort of like putting a task on a conveyor belt–like in the photo above, instead of dipping donuts in the glaze one at a time, it’s much more efficient just to line them up and pour the glaze over a bunch of donuts all at once.

You can do it with email, and you can do it with articles too!

A More Productive Way To Write

It didn’t really occur to me to transfer this productivity method to writing articles until I saw Darren Rowse at Problogger talking about how he batch processes blog posts.

The ‘batch processing’ method is simple:

Batch processing articles involves writing several articles in one day.

Instead of eking out one article here and another there, you have designated days of the week that are “writing days”.

I can write 4+ articles a day now (about 2500 words), and I find that writing successive articles helps me get into a writing groove that enables me to write faster.

How To Batch Process Articles

1. Pick your day(s) to write.

Now, if you’re writing 8 articles a month, then you only need to have these writing days a few days a month–imagine getting all of your writing done for the month in a couple days!

2. Set aside a block of time that is just for writing–try 4 or 5 hours.

3. Write offline–the idea is to give your full concentration to your writing. Writing offline will keep you away from email, Twitter, IMs and the like.

4. Pre-determine your article topics.

Just sit down before your writing session (or at the beginning of the month, or whenever), and start brainstorming article topics. Choose topics from that list for your articles. This saves bunches of time, since one of the hardest things is coming up with ideas of what to write about.

5. I always come up with an informal outline before I really start writing–I think that makes things progress faster.

6. Keep snacks handy.

We are all capable of sitting for 4-5 hours and working on a project, but I know that if I start to get hungry, I need to eat. And if I get up to go to the kitchen to get something to eat, then it may be a while before I get myself back to my desk. The solution for me staying focused on the task at hand is to keep snacks within reach–coffee on the desk, pretzels, anything that I can quickly pick up and eat/drink.

7. Have word count limits/goals.

This helps considerably, as if you don’t have a limit on how long your article will be, you can write and write and write and take up all 5 hours just on one article!

Here are some word count goals for you to try:

400-600 word articles

600-800 word articles

If you like, you can try out that short & snappy article method I told you about recently.

You Can Expect These Benefits

*Writing for an extended period of time gives you the chance to get on a roll–one article may spawn another article idea, or you may realize that one idea is too big to cover in just one article and you can neatly transition into your next article continuing the thoughts of the previous one.

Writing “on a roll” can help give your articles a sense of cohesion–one builds on the next, rather than just being a series of one-offs.

*You will be working more efficiently if you “batch process” things.

You aren’t constantly being pulled away to do other things, so that helps you get whatever activity you’re working on done more quickly. When you hop from activity to activity, it is very hard to complete anything. This batching method is really geared toward completion of tasks.

*It is just plain satisfying to crank out several articles in a day. What a feeling of accomplishment!

*You can relax more. When you know you will be writing 4 or so articles on your designated day, it frees you to relax the rest of the month.

Your Homework

  • Experiment with batch processing your articles this month.
  • Aim to get 4 articles done in one writing session.

Then, let me know how it goes…

Photo: pochacco20


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22 Responses to “Write More In Less Time: Batch Process Your Articles”

  1. Hey! This sounds like an article marketing marathon! I just wrote about the concept last month on one of my blogs. It really is a great idea and, as a long-time writer, I can attest that this is a great way to “get into the zone” and increase your productivity.

  2. Thanks, that’s a brilliant idea. I’ve worked in a way which resembles this, but not done it full out, so to speak.
    I’ll definitely put this into practice – checking emails I already do twice a day only.

  3. Elmien says:

    Bravo! I’m a big fan of David Allen – and this
    makes perfect sense. E-mails : This major
    time-stealer is out of my way now. Atricle writing
    is next thanks to your good tips. Will give some
    feedback later. More internet courses should
    focus on “how to get things done” with practical
    tips as a guideline.

  4. Thanks for the great article!

    Batch Processing your tasks is something that I have found to be very effective.

    It allows me to concentrate on one task till it is finished and I, definitely, get the satisfaction of getting one work out of the way.

    This is the same principle used by the “List Of Six” software. It’s concept is “Getting Many Things Done By Doing Them One At A Time”. This software is an extension of Batch Processing.

  5. Greetings Steve and everybody,

    Great idea to block of your time away from the Emails and online distractions. Not only that but
    my boss (i.e) my wife thinks I spend too much time
    on the internet researching topics.

    Time Management is critical component to your success.

    Thanks for you article

  6. Doug says:

    That’s a great idea – I always have to “force” myself to try and write, sometimes it is just not a good time. Setting aside a few days specifically will make it easier to plan ahead for those days.

    Thanks!

  7. Checking emails only twice a day, that sounds like rehab.

    Thanks for the great idea about writing though.

  8. Norman Macey says:

    Great idea Steve must try it out, not into Pretzels though I am a Peanut man myself, a large bowl on the desk at all times.

  9. I agree. I have have just done exactly that just before the article arrived. I got into the groove so to speak. I am a new subscriber ro Submit Your Article and was a bit down and wondering how I could produce 8 articles within a month. Suddenly I had done all of them

    I check my voice mails in the morning while walking the dog.
    With regard to emails and texts, you really need to get a Blackberry and then you are always on message.

  10. Steve,

    I think batch-processing works but not for everything. It works really well for emails, but again I am not really sure if I can devote couple of hours a day exclusively to deal with emails and do nothing else during that time. But it can be done.
    I really dn’t think this method will produce great quality articles. If you write 4 articles in one sitting, you will definitely sound monotonous and end up using same kind of ideas/concepts in all those. May be you’d need to set ‘revision’ days so that each article then can be reviewed on different days to provide fresh perspective.
    what say?

  11. Zotrim says:

    I tend to have article writing sessions like that when I am in the ‘groove’ and I can churn out a number of high quality articles.Then my creative juices seem to dry up and I don’t do it again for some weeks. If only I could find out why.

  12. I provide an article writing service for my clients and during the last few years have created literally thousands of articles. You are right Steve, this is definitely the most efficient way of writing.
    In addition to the benefits you have already pointed out, you will also find that doing one batch of research on one topic can provide enough raw material for 3-5 articles. This can then be used as a 3-5 part article series, each article 500-800 words long.
    Try this ‘article series’ method and see how time-efficient it is!

  13. nice productivity technique and time saving tip … thanks for sharing

  14. Great idea! I’m a kid person, and new at all this computer stuff, so I appreciate the information and suggestions. Thanks!

  15. David says:

    Great article. Liked the idea of doing several articles at one time. Hope it works!

  16. Dave Robus says:

    Batch processing sounds great to me, especially when it comes to emails that always seem to cause a distraction to whatever I happen to be doing. As for writing I always find it better and much less likely to be interrupted if I write manually onto paper as I can scribble away and worry about the format of the content afterwards. It get much more writing done quickly and easily.
    Thanks for the info, Dave Robus

  17. Cheryl says:

    This is exactly what I have been looking for. Great article and I am starting to apply your concept today!
    Thanks Cheryl

  18. denny hagel says:

    Thanks for sharing this great idea! I totally get the idea of once in the writing zone…keep the juices flowing! Sometimes it takes me awhile to get it flowing…this way, I can avoid the amount of time spent on the warm up period. Just get it going and keep going!

  19. Ina Stanley says:

    This is something that I’ve been doing for a long time without really putting a name to it, but I can definitely say that it is a very successful method. It allows you to get so much done, and to train your brain at the same time. I currently have about 6 retainer clients that we handle ghostwriting for (including blog posts, articles, forum posts, newsletters etc.) and between them we have about 80 hours or so of writing per month. So I take it a step further and designate certain writing days for each client and keep it marked on the calendar. I also use social media ot let friends and other clients know what my day will entail so that I don’t get constantly interrupted. I try to think up about 10 article topics per client in advance so that I know what I’m doing months out,and I just make a day of it. I pick the most comfortable and quiet spot in the house (usually the front porch), get a cup of tea and go to work. I don’t usually finish until late in the evening, but it’s so fulfilling once I’d one and I know that I can sleep in the next day!

    I’m not so good with batch processing my emails as we offer emergency tech support for websites etc., but I am able to batch process a lot of other things that make our work days much smoother. We only accept phone calls or make return calls during certain times of day, and I have my business partner batch all of the blog commenting we do. It really does help in terms of efficiency, and as a result we bring in around $2000 a month consistently just from our retainer clients. And because we can work efficiently, we don’t have to worry about limiting ourselves in terms of how many clients we can service at a time! Great post!

  20. Eugenia Wood says:

    I really like the way the simplified the task of writing articles. I know I will try to do the same.
    Thanks

  21. Steve Shaw says:

    Thanks to all the wonderful comments so far-thanks to those who are already using this technique for chiming in and sharing your results. And for those who have never tried this, yes, please give it a go and let us know how it worked for you.

    Just a few questions/comments I wanted to respond to:

    @Doug:

    “I always have to “force” myself to try and write…”

    Yes, I know how you feel! But you’re right, scheduling the writing days really helps with procrastination. Also writing several articles at once helps–getting yourself to your desk one time to write 4 articles is a lot easier than getting yourself to your desk 4 different times to write one article each.

    @Michael Ogden: So good to hear that this technique helped you write 8 articles in no time–that is a huge accomplishment!

    @Hersh Bhardwaj: About article quality–every writer is different and it may not work for every person to batch process, but there is no reason why writing in batches would automatically produce low quality articles. I usually write my articles in batches, then wait a few days to submit them. Upon submitting, I do a review to see if I missed any errors. I don’t usually do major changes or anything, but just to do minor edits and proofread before submitting.

    It may just be personal taste–some folks enjoy learning to writing several articles at once and some don’t. I think it’s just a matter of learning how to write like this and also perhaps differences in temperament/writing style, etc.

    But yes, some people do better writing one article at a time though. Others do well writing in batches.

    @Martin Miller:

    “doing one batch of research on one topic can provide enough raw material for 3-5 articles. This can then be used as a 3-5 part article series, each article 500-800 words long.”

    Very good point about maximizing the effects of research. If you do research one time, you can get multiple articles out of it, using your imagination to take different angles, writing for newbies and also more advanced folks.

    For everyone, really the more you write the easier it is to get creative and really come up with different articles for your topic.

    @Denny Hagel:

    “I can avoid the amount of time spent on the warm up period.”

    Exactly–each time you sit down to write there is a warm up period, but writing in batches lets you get the most out of each writing session, because there are fewer warm up periods. Good point.

  22. [...] => Write several articles at one writing session, and schedule one or two writing sessions a month. You may be able to accomplish all of your writing within a few days if you batch process your article writing. [...]

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