As a content marketer do you ever feel like you are clinging onto the idea of being struck by the moment of inspiration? Waiting to relieve yourself from the writer’s block you are stuck in?
This way of thinking isn’t going to get you very far in the world of content marketing, where you often need to deliver quality daily.
Waiting for the inspiration Muse to present herself may seem much cozier than the realization of what creative flow truly is – discipline and hard work – especially as a content marketer.
The Science Behind It
According to Steven Kotler, the co-founder of the Flow Genome Project, and one of the leading researchers in this area, flow moves in cycles. Before and after the actual desired state there are three more phases we can, as a matter of fact, learn how to control.
- At the very beginning of the cycle there is a very unpleasant and exhausting struggle phase. During this phase we do planning and research. In this phase we get overloaded with information and ideas that need to be translated into words and put in structures.
- The second phase is the release phase. Your burdened mind seeks rest from all the overwhelming information as well as disengagement from any tiring activity.
- After this, the recovery phase comes. Kotler claims it’s of crucial importance to learn how to handle this new low we have fallen into. It’s when our mind learns from the whole process.
So, if we can’t control the flow phase, what are the things that we can do to gain better control of the other three phases?
Struggle hard to stay focused
In order to hit the flow and enter your creative zone as a content marketer, that is feel and do your best, you need to put in a lot of effort.
Instead of invoking Calliope, what you should do is gather enough informative material.
In other words, you have to:
- Choose the right place. For all the reading and research you will need a place where you can focus on your work and cut distractions. But not all distractions are the same. For example, I’m far more distracted by the sound of the dishwasher at home than by a lively conversation of strangers at the next table in a nearby cafe. You may feel that constant social media notifications are killing your focus, so make sure to turn them off while you’re working.
- Choose the right moment. If you’ve got a very important task ahead of you, choose the time when your energy levels are peaking for the very beginning of the struggle. You may have heard of the biological prime time concept, so use it wisely. If you’re like most people and if your energy peaks somewhere around 11 AM, don’t torture yourself by waking up at 5 a.m. to do any serious work.
- Organize. This means setting your priorities and scheduling your activities so that you can be truly effective. If you know it’s going to take you a while to get into the subject and gather enough data for your brain so that it gets loaded, organize your time accordingly. You can use some of many time management techniques to be more productive. The Timeflow technique, for example, blocks specific periods of time from 10 to 90 minutes for the desired activity. Later, you’ll see whether you need to make a break to regain your focus.
- Beat the procrastination. Whatever the cause of your procrastination is, there is only one solution – you need to set the ball rolling and move to another phase. If you suspect that procrastination might be the culprit behind your writer’s block, look for the most complicated, unpleasant or boring task you’ve been avoiding, and try doing it first.
If you haven’t moved onto another phase after all the hard work, that just means you haven’t worked hard enough. Once you have, you will know, because your mind will crave relaxation.
You can easily kill the flow by turning on the TV or grabbing your phone to read the news. Or even by ignoring much-needed breaks and continuing your work.
This way you’re headed towards stress and burnout.
When your mind needs rest, the best way to relax is by engaging in some light physical activity. Go for a walk or a swim, do yoga, or any other thing that lets your subconscious mind take over. Push the stress hormones out of your body and boost your energy.
This post-flow phase is as important as all the others. During this phase we need to consolidate what we experienced during the flow. Learn from this experience, and regain our physical and mental energy.
If you have another urgent but not that important writing project ahead, sometimes it’s better to delegate it. There are excellent content marketers you can find on various freelance jobs websites.
Trying to move to another flow cycle before you recover your full potential can do more harm than good. That’s why it’s important to take care of your body and mind by sleeping, hydrating and eating well, giving it enough oxygen, space, and time.
As a content marketer next time you find yourself staring into a blank page and dreading the deadline ahead, don’t despair. Try to determine which phase you are in and what to do to make the flow come easier and faster. By realizing that it’s within your own power to get the cycle of flow going, you can boost your efficiency and raise your odds of success in the world of content marketing.
Marko Maric is a marketer and a blogger. He frequently covers topics on business, marketing, and productivity. Marko currently works at Clockify where he’s trying to make the world a more productive place. You can follow him on Twitter @mmmaric for more tips and ramblings.