Lifehacks for Technical Writers
We think that lifehacks are awesome! So, we’ve prepared a list of them specifically for technical writers. They will help you to stay focused, productive and enjoy what you love doing the most — writing. Without further ado, the 6 lifehacks that’ll revolutionize your work process.
1. Declutter Your Workspace
‘Decluttering’ is a very popular word nowadays. Numerous Youtube videos emerge weekly explaining how to declutter everything. Let’s dip into the trend, too. The first lifehack for productive technical writing will be a clean work desk. But what does this have to do with being efficient at work? Oh, everything.
Turns out that a clean de-cluttered desk can significantly improve your focus. Working at a messy desk will only make you want to procrastinate as every piece of clutter will try to get your attention.
Keep not only your office desk clean, but the virtual one, too. It is much easier to work when your desktop and folders are in order. It doesn’t just look nice when everything is systemized, you will also be able to find the files you need quicker. More convenience equals less stress.
2. Use Other People’s Knowledge
Technical writers are quite often seen by others as some kind of hermits :) They are always quietly writing something, keeping nose to the grindstone. Documentation teams are often the quietest ones. Well, you would appreciate some peace and quiet when you are writing!
But there’s no reason for underappreciating communication. Actually, communication can solve a lot of problems and help overcome major roadblocks. Communication inside a team and with other teams is equally important for a technical writer.
So, if you encounter some kind of a showstopper, and your intuition is telling you that you will lose a lot of time trying to fix it yourself, then don’t be shy — go ask your colleagues from another team. It is a win-win situation — you will get your answer, and you will be able to return the favor when they need help with, say, proofreading or editing!
3. Switch Your Focus
Some help topics are easy, others are not. It is a very common thing to get stuck at some tricky help topic. Instead of spending a ridiculous amount of time on fighting writer’s block just switch your attention.
By the way, if the writer’s block is something you are often facing, you should check out an article called — Writer’s Block: Tips for Technical Writers.
What can you switch your attention to? Well, there are options. You can try doing some completely different type of work, or you can just start working on a different help topic!
4. Use a Technical Writing Tool
This lifehack is sadly still a mystery to some companies although it works like magic for improving a technical writing process. Using a help authoring tool can improve your performance greatly. Modern technical writing tools create a perfect environment for establishing a workflow. So, your teamwork gets an upgrade!
Using such solution as ClickHelp, for example, will allow you to enjoy the benefits of single-sourcing techniques — conditional content, variables, content snippets. This makes it possible to create different versions of the same user manual.
As a rule, such tools for technical writers have a powerful text editor and some ready-to-use elements (like information and warning boxes, navigation elements, etc.). And, documentation will look professional effortlessly — any serious help authoring tool provides a number of pre-made templates for user manuals. This lifehack brings a lot to the table: efficiency, convenience, teamwork and good looks.
5. Reject Perfection
It is easy to fall into the perfectionism trap. Perfectionism is, actually, one of the most counter-productive things there is. You may think that a perfectionist tech writer is someone who produces only the best content, an employee of the month kind of thing.
But, actually, quite often, perfection is just a camouflage for procrastination. Such an employee can easily be spending hours on rewriting one paragraph or re-taking a screenshot. You need to be aware of this widespread disease and manage to stop yourself before falling for this senseless pursuit of perfection. In case you are nothing but a simple procrastinator, here are some tips for you — 5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating.
6. Listen to Music
We listen to different music while performing different tasks. People create playlists for meditation, for jogging, for working out, etc. Good news everyone! There’s music out there that is supposed to help you write. Initially, some researches showed that this music genre can help with coding. Because it has a certain rhythm, very precise and mathematical. Have you guessed already? We are talking about classical music. Mozart would be a perfect example here.
How does this connect to technical writing? Firstly, some technical writers do have to write code when writing user manuals for software. Secondly, writing code and technical documentation is kind of similar. Both these tasks require lots of concentration and are pretty monotonous overall. Try listening to classical music when writing and let us know in the comment section below if this lifehack helps you focus! Never listen to pop music though — you will just start singing along :)
There are many ways to boost your performance. We hope that using the lifehacks we’ve chosen for you will do the trick and help you create the perfect environment for technical writing.
Good Luck with your technical writing career!
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Originally published at https://clickhelp.com.