15 productivity tips when using WordPress

WordPress itself is a great time-saver: long gone are the days when you needed to write your content directly in HTML!

That being said, there are still aspects of using a WordPress site to create content that could be speeded up and improved to help boost productivity.

You can take advantage of numerous WordPress plugins that can help you, as well as various changes to your work flow.

Here are my top 15 tips for boosting your productivity.

1) Brainstorm in bulk

Finding topics to write about or produce content for is often a sticking point for many WordPress users. The thing is though is that there are often thousands of topics you can talk about, regardless of your niche.

Producing a long list of content ideas, will mean that you will rarely be stuck for something to write about – check your list pick a subject and away you go.

Everyone’s methods for this will be different, but what I tend to do is to use a mind map.

Start by writing down the core aspects of your niche, then branch from each core idea. Then take each branch in turn and expand that as well. An example from WordPress would be Themes:

Mind maps are awesome for topic brainstorming

Mind maps are awesome for topic brainstorming

As you can see from the quick example above, I’ve already generated a couple of ideas: reviewing a Themify theme and writing an article on Child Themes.

You can keep going like this for quite some time, generating dozens of topic ideas, often which will generate even more as you start to think about them in depth and compare them next to each other (what about an article on a child them for a specific Themify theme?).

A couple of hours doing this and you can easily have enough topics for the next year!

2) Write your content early and schedule it

Often, getting into the writing zone can be hard, but once you are it’s usually easy to plough through several articles in one sitting.

Of course it’s unlikely that you will want to publish all of that fine writing in one sitting, especially as Google et al appreciate regular content rather than burst content.

Luckily WordPress makes it ridiculously easy to schedule those posts.

15 productivity tips when using WordPress schedule posts

Instead of clicking the publish button, click the edit link next to the Publish immediately text just above the publish button.

This will change to allow you to edit the date. Do so and click OK. Then the Publish button will change to a Schedule button. Click that and your post will then be scheduled and automatically publish on the schedule date.

3) Eliminate distractions

Procrastination and distractions go hand in hand. Even if you are not inclined to procrastinate, outside distractions can impair your writing and work flow.

There are several things you can do to prevent this:

Close your email program – checking email is pointless if you are trying to work

Turn off your phone – if you get constant messages from friends or Facebook notifications, turn off the phone to avoid them for a while. We coped as a species without phones for a long time, a couple of hours won’t kill you!

Eat and drink – make sure you have eaten before you start working, and have a drink close by that way your natural urges won’t interfere with your content masterpiece.

Use the WordPress distraction free writing mode – this can help you to subconsciously focus by getting rid of the screen clutter.

15 productivity tips when using WordPress distraction free

One click for distraction free writing. Shame it doesn’t work on the kids!

Find a quiet time and space –  especially if you work from home, finding a point in the day and the house where everyone will leave you alone is vitally important. Tell your kids to go play and only disturb you if it’s vitally important and go hole yourself up in the quietest room of the house.

Ignore spelling errors – rather than stopping every 2 minutes to fix spelling and grammar errors, keep writing! You can fix the errors in the article once you have finished writing it. This will keep you focused on the core message of the content without losing your train of though due to a typo.

4) Streamline your writing/content generation process

Whether you write articles for your WordPress website or make videos, infographs etc, you will likely have a process in place.

Most probably you could streamline that process to help speed up the generation of the content.

With writing for example you can use the following process:

Research

Take your initial idea and see what information is already out their. This can spark ideas for the content piece or even for future content.

Outline

Make a rough outline of what the final article or whatever will be like. Note down what you will start with, what will follow and how you will end it. This outline can then be referred to while you produce the draft in order to keep you from going off on tangents.

Draft

As Nike says, Just Do It! Get the article written, get the video recorded, read the text for the podcast. If you make an error, just write/act/read it again. The errors can all be sorted in the next stage.

Edit and Finalize

At this point you need to go through your content, make sure that the outline was followed and fix any errors.

Add media and links

Only at this stage should you start looking at adding appropriate media such as images and links, or overlays and text bubbles.

Tweak the SEO

Even if you are using an SEO plugin, it makes sense to make sure the SEO aspect is correct and individual to the content.

Publish

Finally, you need to do the hardest bit: press the publish button and let the world see your creation!

All that might seem like more work, but once you have the process in place, it can actually speed up your writing, because you are not trying to do everything all at once and can instead focus on just one aspect.

As mentioned above, focusing on just one aspect is better than trying to do a bunch of things at once.

While a lot of managers and ladies might say that you can multi-task, the reality is that the human brain is really not suited to doing multiple things at once. However, it is ideal for focusing on one thing at a time.

By keeping that focus to a singular action, you can do that one thing to the best of your ability. This will show in the final produced content.

5) Speed up image sourcing

Finding the right images or your article or infograph is actually harder than it sounds to most people. Images convey a lot of meaning and feeling and can even change the message in your content – as the say, an image speaks louder than a thousand words.

Having some good sources for images you can use is vital. I often switch between using Pixabay, Flickr’s Creative Commons and premium sources like DepositPhotos and CanStock.

Of course if you are using an image that requires attribution like a creative commons image, you need to make sure you add that in too.

Speed up image sourcing

Pixabay might be free, but it can still be a source of good images

There are several plugins that can help speed up this process:

Flickr – pick a picture: This plugin lets you select an image from Flickr and add it into your content, it will even add attribution as a caption text.

ImageInject: Searches images on Flickr and Pixabay and automatically adds attribution when required.

Pixabay Images: If you dislike having to attribute and link back, then just use images from Pixabay as no attribution is required.

Getty Images: Getty are a commercial supplier of images and damn expensive too, but they recently changed their policy to allow images to be used on any NON-COMMERCIAL site. The problem is that the images are only linked to your site and not actually on it, and again, it cannot be used for commercial websites.

6) Automate some of your SEO

With the quality of SEO Plugins put there, there is no reason to not be using one for the majority of your SEO needs. Personally I like WordPress SEO by Yoast but there is also All in One SEO. Both allow you to set up the plugins so that the majority of your SEO needs are covered.

It’s still advisable to tweak individual posts and pages SEO though. Luckily, both plugin add meta boxes into your posts/pages to make this a breeze.

Image SEO isn’t handled by either of these plugins, so you will still need to do that when uploading images to your site (title tag and ALT tag). I also recommend making sure the image file name is SEO friendly: a-picture-of-a-dog.jpg, makes more sense than DSC9128337.jpg and search engines do use file names in their algorithms.

7) Learn WordPress keyboard shortcuts

Have you ever noticed the question mark icon in your WordPress editor bar above each post?

If not then you need to click it!

This will show you the various keyboard shortcodes that are available to style your article. Very handy for adding in a quick style as you go without having to find the right icon (I constantly use ctrl-shift 2 to mark a title when writing very long posts).

Some of the basic commands (use Control or Command plus the letter listed below):

1Heading 12Heading 2
3Heading 34Heading 4
5Heading 56Heading 6
nCheck SpellinglAlign Left
jJustify TextcAlign Center
dStrikethroughrAlign Right
u ListaInsert/edit link
o1. ListsRemove link
qQuotemInsert Image
wDistraction-free writing modetInsert More Tag
pInsert Page Break taghHelp
xAdd/remove code tag

 

8) Learn markdown

If you’re keen on formatting text as you write, then you should consider learning markdown.

Markdown is similar in some ways to HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), but is quite simple to use:

Titles are easy:

#this will make a header 1

##this will make a header two

So is highlighting words:

**need something bolding?**

*or in italics?*

What about a list?

* this

* will

* become

* a list

Markdown isn’t supported in WordPress, so you will need a plugin to enable it. Two popular plugins for markdown are Wp-Markdown and the markdown module in Jetpack.

9) Take advantage of editorial calendars

Editorial calendars are plugins and services that you can use to plan out your content strategy. They help productivity by giving you an see overview of your content. This allows you to view previously published content and enables you to plan out when content should be published (combined with the scheduling of course!).

If you have a multi author website, these calendars also allow for users to see each others content plans to avoid duplication and to control content waves (especially when you have serialised content).

wordpress notes

10) Take note of your thoughts and ideas

Keeping track of your content ideas, both on a broad scale and for individual articles or content peieces, can become complicated.

If you have ever waded through piles of sticky notes and reams of notepads to try and track down an idea you had you know exactly how difficult it can be.

Luckily there are ways you can keep this under control.

WP Dashboard notes: This plugin allows you to add notes to the WordPress dashboard, and is a great way to keep a note of general things.

WP Sticky Notes: Add notes anywhere! This plugin allows you to add notes to pretty much anywhere on your site, and the notes can also be specific to users as well. Great for solo and multi author sites alike.

Peter’s Post Notes: A simple plugin allowing you to have post and page specific notes.

Workflowy: One of my favourite sites, Workflowy allows you to keep track of information and displays it in a way that you can see all of it or just sections that you are currently focused on.

Evernote: One of the most famous note services, you can’t go wrong with this fully featured service.

11) Manage all your sites quickly

Managing multiple WordPress installations is a pain. The constant logging in and logging out alone is annoying, but then needing to update all the plugins and themes, quickly becomes tiresome.

Services such as ManageWP, InfiniteWP and CMS Commander can quickly come to your aid, freeing up a bunch of time by updating all plugins, themes across multiple sites with one click.

12) Do not multi-task!

As mentioned earlier, multi-tasking is a big no-no. While many companies and such shout out that multi-tasking is the way forward, it is in fact worse to both productivity and your health to multi-task rather than focus on one thing at a time.

Multi-tasking itself is actually quite rare: rub your tummy and pat your head – that’s multitasking. Doing one thing and then swapping to another mid way through and then back again: that’s task switching not multitasking.

Reasons not to multi-task:

Loss of focus – being able to concentrate on one thing at a time and do that thing well is impossible if you have to keep switching focus to something different.

Brain Drain – it’s more tiring to constantly switch your brains focus from one thing to another especially if they are vastly different tasks.

Error prone – swapping between tasks increases the likelihood that both tasks will have more errors in them, simply because you’re not giving a single task your complete focus,

13) Track your time and computer usage

Your productivity would be boosted if you stopped doing things like checking your emails every five minutes, seeing what your friends are doing via Facebook, checking the news reports for your teams latest scores and so on.

If you were to actively track your computer usage it would become quite clear which areas are taking up your time.

Software such as RescueTime can easily pinpoint these areas for you as well. Another great option is ClockSpot, which although it’s a premium option, it contains a lot of features.

Even if you’re not too fussed by how long you’re spending a day looking at pictures of cats, it’s still a good idea to track how long your particular jobs are taking you.

Programs like Toggl can help with this. Knowing how long it takes you to write that article, add that CSS or create that infograph can help you to find ways to streamline your processes and help you get things done faster.

IFTTT - IF This Then That

14) Automate all the things!

Computers are designed to help alleviate mind-numbing repetitive tasks, yet we still find ourselves faced with these on a daily basis.

You can leverage the power of computers and the internet to at least automate some of your tasks.

IFTTT (IF This Then That) is an awesome website that allows you to automate app to app functions. It uses so called recipes to do this, you can either design one (it’s not hard) or make use of the thousands generated by the community.

For example, I use a recipe that checks my RSS feed, and when a new item is added, it sends a tweet out. You can set the wording of the tweet, so it’s like an automated tweet as soon as you hit the publish button.

I also use one that sends me a text message once a month reminding me to pay a bill.

There is a lot of apps available to be used such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, Dropbox, Fiverr, Github, LinkedIn, Reddit, SMS, and so many more!

Best of all, it’s free!

An alternative to IFTT that is very similar is Zapier.

15) Delegate and outsource

The one thing that most entrepreneurs eventually learn and yet is still hard to stop from doing is that you cannot do everything yourself!

If you already have staff in your business, then make sure that you are delegating to them. This is especially so, if they are better than you at something. I suck at art, so if I had an artist on staff, they would get a lot of that work delegated their way.

Of course, theirs a fine balance to be had and you shouldn’t overburden your staff, but having them twiddling their thumbs is a waste as well!

If you don’t have any staff of if you and your staff don’t have time or the skill set to get a job done, then look to outsource it. There’s no point strugglign with something, or doing something half-assed because you don’t have the time or knowledge. Just pay someone to get it done right the first time and fast.

There are plenty of freelance job sites out there: Upwork (the new combined Elance and Odesk site), Fiverr.com, WordPress Jobs, and many more.

It does take some time, patience and skill to find reliable and skilled outsources, but it shouldn’t stop you from taking the time to find them: in the end it will save you time and energy!

Conclusion

There are many different ways that you can boost your productivity, the above list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but each item listed can help you if you let it.

More productivity will mean not only getting more stuff done, but freeing up your time to focus on new projects, and important things like family and friends.

Do you have any tips or know any services that can help with productivity? If so, let me know in the comments!