The blogging life is a chaotic one.
With the ability to work for yourself, set your own hours, and make your own deadlines, it’s easy to get off track.
The goals of this article are to help you be smart, mindful, and productive with your blogging life
1. All the tasks that need to be completed
2. How long it will take to do each one
3. Their level of urgency
4. Their deadlines
5. Anything else you can think of (word counts, etc.)
The idea of this is for you to be able to visualize which task are your priorities. If you can’t fit all the tasks into one day, move them to the next. As long as you are completing the most important tasks first, you are using your time wisely!
2. Make a schedule
Bloggers generally work from home where there are millions of distractions hanging around.
Have you ever told yourself: “Oh I need to clean my bedroom first” or “Wait...I’m hungry again.”
Remedy procrastination by making a schedule.
Think about the kind of schedule that works best for you:
a) Fixed Schedule:
This type of schedule is designed for you to complete a certain amount of tasks within a certain time.
Just start with the first task and work your way down to the last.
Once 5 o’clock hits…just stop!
How this helps with time management:
- Creates a deadline: Having a deadline produces a sense of urgency to complete a task
- Limits your choices: Without a schedule, we tend to overwhelm ourselves with tasks that become impossible to finish between 9-5. With a fixed schedule, we limit the tasks that we can assign ourselves.
- Abandons unnecessary tasks: Since a fixed schedule forces you to stop at 5 pm, you will limit yourself to completing the most important tasks.
b) Flexible Schedule:
This type of schedule is designed around ‘attention management’ versus ‘time management.’
If you feel the most productive at 8am, then make sure you’re working at that time.
Starting to feel cloudy around 12pm? Take a break for as long as you need, come back and start at your next peak productive time.
How this helps with time management:
- Makes good use of your energy: You can make your schedule so that it revolves around your "peak" productive times.
- You don't have to force yourself: If you don't work well within constraints and find deadlines counter-productive, a flexible schedule will give you more freedom.
Try writing your schedule down on a whiteboard, use an agenda, or try apps like 24me: a virtual personal assistant that organizes your calendar, to-do lists, and notes.
Click here to see a schedule that successful people follow everyday.
3. Keep a notebook (or something like it) around
Don’t lose your great ideas! Inspiration (at least for me) comes from hours outside the 9-5, while I’m just living my life.
Keep a notebook, post-its, lipstick, or anything you can write with around you at all times!
Check out this hilarious article about taking notes…wait for it…in the shower!
4. Don't waste your time on emails or easy-peasy tasks
When I realized, after many unproductive afternoon hours, that writing in the mornings was the best time for me, I started going to work an hour earlier (It’s 8.15am as I write this article).
I also save my email and Facebook checks for when my productivity burst ends. This way I don’t waste precious brain cells learning about what Joe ate for dinner last night.
Just turn off all distractions and get to writing!
Useful Tools for When You Get Distracted
Install Kill News Feed: a Google Chrome extension that blocks you from seeing your Facebook Newsfeed.
It even includes a reminder when your instinct to go on Facebook kicks in!
Make a voicemail that explains your working hours and then disown your phone for that time!
Turn off all notifications. You don’t need to know that Jane liked your picture on Instagram while you’re working!
5. Create an outline of your task
Like making a schedule for your day, making a schedule for your tasks will help you to visualize what you need to do for the day.
For example, when I’m writing a new article my outline looks something like this:
- Introduction: Why do my readers want to read this article?
- First Tip: Prioritizing - Why its important
- Second Tip: Scheduling - Why its important
- Third Tip: Notebooks - Why they're important
- Conclusion: What the readers learned from this article
I can play around the order of my tips, add in more parts, etc. but at least I have a general idea of the direction of my article.
Remember, writing an outline will take a smaller amount of time than changing your entire article.
It’s worth it!
6. Focus on one task at a time
It can be difficult to brush your teeth and cook dinner at the same time, right? You might accidentally add toothpaste to your steak (Yuck!).
It’s the same for doing two tasks at once!
Instead of putting half the amount of effort on two tasks, put 100% of your effort into one.
You and your readers will notice the difference in the quality of your work.
7. Take breaks
Scientific studies have proven that taking breaks helps with productivity.
- The more we repeat a task over and over, the less our brain registers that it's important.
- Taking breaks helps with creativity. Watching a video or conversing with a friend can inspire new ideas.
- Physically moving your body around has also been proven to freshen up the mind as it gets our blood flowing and produces more oxygen to the brain. Try working out over your lunch break or just taking a five-minute walk around the block.
Types of Breaks you should schedule:
- Schedule in breaks after tasks: Taking a break after you finish a task is not only a great reward, but also will help with productivity
- Schedule longer breaks for your less productive times
- Some bloggers recommend scheduling an hour of "unscheduled time" during your day. Use this time to reset your brain or to just think deeply about the vision of your blog
Here is a twist:
Try BEING productive on your break:
- Read relevant blog posts from other bloggers.
- Check out your favourite YouTube channel.
- Experiment with your favourite cheese and crackers snack for your next food blog post.
- The possibilities are endless!
*Remember not to overwhelm yourself with content. If you’re doing a lot of reading that day, maybe try listening to podcast instead (see below for examples of time management podcasts).
8. Prep your meals
Now, if you’re living in Thailand like I am, kitchens are rarely found in apartments and getting food from around the corner is a lot faster, cheaper and healthier.
But for all you other unlucky souls, take the time to prep healthy meals.
Also make sure not to get into the habit of eating at your desk. The change of scenery and the walk back to the office will help with your productivity and digestion!
9. Organize your life
If your life is messy then your brain will be too!
Take the time to organize everything around you, including your workspace, your emails, and your social life!
Tips to help with organization
It’s important to start practicing Inbox Zero. Don’t let your inbox become cluttered with thousands of useless emails.
For emails that must be kept, use SaneBox: An app that helps to organize your mailbox. It filters what’s important for you to see and what is not.
10. Don't spend too much time promoting yourself on social media
We all know that having a blog isn’t just about the writing.
You have to promote, promote, promote.
However, make sure not to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of social media.
Creating quality content that will be promoted by others is just as good as (or even better than) promoting your content yourself.
11. On that note...take the time to promote other bloggers
The blogging community stretches far and wide and taking the time to promote others is not only a great way to learn more about your field, but also to take advantage of reciprocity.
In fact, I highly encourage you to tweet this article out right now!
12. Check your stats once a month (and no more)
No seriously, regarding the last step - did you send out that tweet yet? If you did, thank you - if you didn't, you should really stop procrastinating!
As a new blogger, it’s easy to become obsessed with your stats.
“How well is my page ranking?”
“How many people clicked on my blog today?”
“Where are my readers coming from?”
Although it’s important to take a look at your stats every once in a while, make it a monthly thing so you don’t waste too much time on it.
13. Take time to reflect
Start your day off with taking at least 5 minutes to think about your day; ask yourself:
· What is my goal for the day?
· Will my tasks that I’ve outlined help me reach my goal?
Then, set your phone to beep every hour to remind yourself to stand up and move around; ask yourself:
· Am I being productive?
· Did I stick to my schedule?
End your day like you started it and reflect on what you did; ask yourself:
· Did I accomplish what I set out to do?
· If not: Think about what you can do differently for tomorrow
· If yes: Great job! Rinse and repeat for tomorrow
Time Saving Tips for Writing
1. Set Writing Goals
If you’re a photography blogger and notice that you need to improve your writing skills, spend less time on Instagram and more time writing!
Set achievable goals like writing for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening or spend some time reading content on other photography blogs to get inspired.
2. You WILL have more than one draft
A great tip:
Just keep writing. Even if you’re not happy with what you’re producing, remind yourself that you will go back to fix it up later.
In the end, you’ll save time by reducing the chance of getting writers block.
3. Don't force yourself to write
Work around small intervals of writing (again, something like 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening).
If you’re feeling inspired, just keep going.
Otherwise, take a break or focus on another task.
At least this way you’re being productive!
4. Say yes to guests!
Guest bloggers are a great way to improve your blog, create more content and get more followers.
Let people know that you’re looking for posts by asking for contributions.
Other Useful Tips
It has been proven that just a ten-minute workout in the morning can boost your productivity and ability to stay focused (not to mention boosting your metabolism, helping with sleep, and bettering your mood).
Try it for just 5 minutes and you will feel a world of a difference.
Benefits of Meditation for Time Management:
· Improves concentration.
· Increases memory retention.
· Increases your cognitive and creative abilities.
· Allows for better decision-making and problem solving.
· Helps to manage ADHD.
3. Drink Tea
How is drinking tea related to time management? Well...
1. The act of making tea is a great, meditative break to take between tasks. While you’re waiting for your tea to steep, take the time to think about how your day is going.
2. Drinking tea is less of a shock to your nervous system than coffee. Feeling fewer jitters will help you stay focused for longer.
3. Besides helping you stay focused, tea has numerous health benefits.
Apps to Help with Time Management
EverNote: Great for researching, organizing, list-making, and keeping track of your blog ideas.
Tweetily: A WordPress plug-in that randomly selects old posts to keep your readers engaged and drive traffic to your blog.
Later allows you to sleep soundly while photos are uploaded for your followers across the world.
WordPress App: Inspiration is sporadic so make sure you can access your blog at anytime with this WordPress app for your phone or tablet.
Pixir: A quick and easy editing app so you can create beautiful photos in no time.
Canva: Helps you to create beautiful blog post images quickly and easily.
Bloglovin’: Remember we talked about how important it is to stay active in the blogger community? Use this app to keep up-to-date with your favorite bloggers right on your phone or tablet.
Pocket (formerly known as Read It Later): lets you save articles that you’re interested in reading later by storing them in your ‘pocket’.
Boomerang: This app lets you schedule time-sensitive emails for later. So you don’t have to wake up at 2am to send an email to that Japanese blogger that you want collaborate with.
IFTTT (If this, then that): This app lets you create formulas across different social media platforms. For example, if you post a photo on Instagram, then Pinterest will post that same photo.
IFTTT also have time saving solutions to help you be more productive. For example:
Affiliate WP: This WordPress plug-in tracks your all your affiliate visits, earnings, and registrations in real-time.
HTML Cheat Sheet: Written by The Blog Stylists, this HTML cheat sheet will save you loads of time (and headaches).
5 Time Management Blogs that Every Blogger Should Read:
1) Pajama Productivity: Annie, who loves fuzzy slippers and yoga pants, focuses her blog on teaching small businesses and individuals how to get more done and make more money!
2) Pick the Brain is a website entirely dedicated to self-improvement through being more productive, motivated, healthy and self-educated.
3) Productivityist: Productivityist = a productivity enthusiast and that is just what the author, Mike Vardy is.
4) The Time Management Ninja: Written by Craig Jarrow, this blog focuses on time management, productivity and goal setting to help individuals and companies manage their time better.
5) Time Management Chef: Where Tor Refsland number one tip is: to increase your productivity you don’t need to put in more hours!
5 Time Management Podcasts that Every Blogger Should Listen To
1) 5By5 – Back to Work: Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talk about productivity, communication, barriers, etc. on this award-winning blog.
2) Beyond the To-do-List: The host of the show, Erik Fisher, speaks with people who implement productivity into every aspect of their professional and personal life.
3) Getting Things Done: On this podcast, you hear stories from all different types of people and how the GTD (get things done)
4) This Is Your Life: This weekly podcast by Michael Hyatt is dedicated to intentional leadership.
5) Habit Chef: Kendra Kinnison focuses her podcasts on habits and productivity and how they are connected.
The Last Step
You’ve read through this article, organized your desk, made your schedule, and maybe listened to a few podcasts.
Now it’s time to take a seat and get to blogging!