Since writing my last day in the life of a ProBlogger post my daily rhythm has changed a bit since I wrote it in November 2004 (and updated it in April 2005). As a result I thought I’d describe my daily workflow again.
It’s worth noting that this is a fairly ‘typical’ day, not so much because I follow this same set routine every day as it’s set out here, but because I generally do most of what I describe here on an average day (in addition to many other things that pop up as I wander through this crazy life of mine).
7.15am – V’s alarm goes off, she gets up and gets ready for work. I fall back to sleep (ok, some things haven’t changed – except that I’ve trained her not to hit snooze. Plus we now have a bigger bathroom so the hairdrying happens there meaning extra sleep for me!).
8.15am – V wakes me up and I drag myself from bed, get dressed and drive her to the train station. On the way home I grab a large takeaway latte from a local cafe.
8.30am – I return home, latte in hand and sit down at my PowerMac to begin my day’s blogging activities (I often grab a bowl of muesli to keep me going also). The morning generally looks like this:
8.31am – Check Email (I use Entourage at present) from the night . There are usually around 300 – 400 emails in my inbox from the previous night, including comments from blogs for moderation and a small handful of spam. The rest are largely emails from readers. I deal with my email in a Triage-like method as outlined here.
9.15am – I’m rarely fully finished checking email by this time (in fact the emails come in all day so it’s a day long task) but sometime towards the end of clearing the inbox I begin the task of seeing what is going on in my virtual world. I look at this process as like doing my rounds and it involves opening my ‘start up Folder’.
Start Up Folder – in Firefox I have a folder of bookmarks called ‘Start Up’ which contains about 40 web pages that give me a very quick overview of how my online business is going at any point in time. I open this folder in tabbed browsing all at once and quickly flick through each page (not spending too long in any one place). My Start Up folder contains:
- Blog Stats – I have a sitemeter stats package running on each of my blogs – each of which is opened at the summary page in the Start Up folder. This gives me all the vital signs for each blog including it’s total visitors and page views for the day so far and the last hour’s figures. In most blogs that’s all I want to know at this point. I know approximately what is ‘normal’ for each blog so it’s only when I see something abnormal that I investigate further. ie if I see the last hour has seen more than normal activity I’ll check out where the visitors are coming from and what the entry pages are that they are looking for.
- Earnings Stats – I have quite a few income streams running on my blogs, many of which don’t earn much per day, so I only have the larger income earners in my start up process. These are AdSense, Chitika, Amazon, ClickBank, Fastclick and a couple of other affiliate programs. As with blog stats I know what is ‘normal’ and don’t spend long analyzing these figures unless something it wrong…. or very right.
- Other Stats – I have an assortment of other metrics programs that I take a glance at in this process. These include a number of watch-lists at Technorati, BlogPulse and MyBlogLog. It also includes Digital Point’s Keyword Tracker, My Feedburner RSS stats and Google Analytics (which is in my start up folder but probably shouldn’t be because I’m not using it much these days as it takes too long to check).
- b5media – I also have a growing list of b5media links in the start up folder including some stats pages, earnings pages and our internal communications blog.
- Bloglines – The last thing in my Start Up folder is Bloglines which is not really part of the starting up process but leads onto the next part of my day.
My Start Up Folder process usually takes 15 or so minutes (unless there is something abnormal to follow up on.
10.00am – Most days i pause at this time for a shower, coffee and to check on my vegetable patch.
I have my Bloglines arranged into folders that line up pretty closely with my blogs. You’ll see in the screen cap one called ‘photography’ which contains a number of sources that I track daily for my. Under it is my ‘Blogging’ folder which is full of sources for ProBlogger. The ‘A List’ is my Problogging must reads which I have in a separate folder because they reliably break news that I want to be aware of extra quick. My folder lists are about 30 in number and I track just over 500 feeds in total.
These 500+ feeds are on a variety of topics obviously but are also of a variety of types. Most are feeds from blogs, but others are from Google News, Topix, News Papers etc.
I also watch a number of Bloglines keyword searches that correspond with keywords that I want to be aware of others writing on the topic of.
My process for working through Bloglines is pretty simple. I tackle it one folder at a time. I open a folder and then click feeds with unread items one at a time (i.e. some of my folders are watching 100+ feeds so I don’t want to open the whole folder at once – I am for bite sized tasks that I can knock off one at a time).
As I open feeds I scroll through them pretty quickly looking for items that might be useful. If I find one I do one of two things.
- If it looks like I can deal with it quickly I open the item in a new tab of firefox.
- If it is just a ‘maybe later’ type item I tick the ‘Keep New’ box in Bloglines to remind me of it for later.
In the majority of cases I open items straight away in a new tab.
I generally wait for at least 5 or so tabs to be open (or try to get to the end of a folder if it’s a smaller one) before I begin the process of sorting through them. If it’s an item that I can use I generally blog about it then and there.
My posts are generally fairly short and I can knock them off pretty quickly using ecto which means I don’t actually have to log into the back end of my blogs to post a new story but can post to all of my blogs from the one tool. If the item turns out to be something I can’t use I close the tab.
If the item is something I want to write about but it’s a longer piece that will interrupt my workflow I generally write a few notes in ecto and include a link to the site and post it to my blogs as a draft for me to come to later in the day when I write my longer posts.
Once I’ve dealt with a folder I move onto the next one.
Some folders I work through every day (or several time per day) because they are blogs that I have a higher posting frequency to – whereas other folders I will only clear every day or three (as a result they are less frequently updated blogs).
As I say – this process generally lasts all day (as does that of checking email).
The only folder that I have that is not specifically tied to one of my blogs is my ‘Vanity Folder‘. This folder contains a number feeds that are specifically watching for mentions in blogs and other news sources that use keywords that are pertinent to me. ie if someone is talking about me or one of my blogs/ventures it helps me know about it. These feeds are largely bloglines keyword searches but include a technorati watch-list or two also.
12.30pm – the theory is that at around this time I have lunch. The practice is that you can probably safely assume that most days I don’t notice I’m hungry until 2.30pm.
Usually at about lunch time I’ll open my Instant Messaging clients (Skype and Adium (Adium is a client that manages multiple clients like MSN, AIM, Yahoo and Google Talk). I am not on IM as much these days simply because I found it interrupted my workflow too much. At it’s height I was getting well over 10 IM message conversation initiations per hour (and getting very little done).
1.00pm – The afternoon routine tends to be a mixture of:
- Email (see above)
- Bloglines Blogging (see above)
- b5media – our little blog network now has 80 or so blogs in it. As you would expect – this means a lot of work. While our team of bloggers help out with the load there is a lot of work to be done. I try to review a blog each day and give feedback to bloggers, interact with channel editors and bloggers, help out where I can with admin, add to the conversation on the internal communications blog and interact all day with the other directors.
- Networking – I attempt to connect with other bloggers each day. This isn’t hard with the levels of bloggers pinging me via IM but I also attempt to seek out other bloggers who I am wanting to develop working relationships with. Some of these I am working on joint projects with, others we have more of an informal/supportive/peer coaching relationship with and others I’m trying to learn as much as I can off. I do a lot of my networking via IM, VOIP (skype) and email. Occasionally it even heads into real life when people are in Melbourne. Every week or so I catch up with other local bloggers for coffee (it’s nice to actually have face to face conversations with people when you do so much in a virtual space).
1.00pm – Alternate 1 – There is another type of afternoon that I do from time to time (often on Mondays when the rest of the world is still having it’s Sunday and there are less emails and IMs). On these days I take my laptop and head to a local cafe to attempt to clear my email inbox or do some writing on projects I’ve been putting off.
I really enjoy these times of being offline (I go to a cafe with no WiFi) and find I am often very productive (it could be the coffee).
1.00pm – Alternate 2 – There is one last type of afternoon that I find myself doing which revolves around consulting. From time to time I am approached by companies or individuals who want to engage my services in some consulting work (generally blogging related). In most cases these are not consulting on specific blogs (I unfortunately have to say no these days to most requests along the lines of ‘can you look over my blog’ due to time constraints) and are more along the lines of helping companies think about strategy as they develop products. These have included some interaction with a few Web 2.0 type companies and others (big and small) who are developing products and services for bloggers. I don’t get into the technical side of consulting but rather it’s more around conceptual/vision/features etc. To this point I’ve not written about these interactions here at ProBlogger due to NDAs. All I will say is that there are some very creative people out there who are developing some great products. I enjoy this work and am finding the requests are coming a little more frequently. It’s definitely another income stream for bloggers who build a profile in their industry.
3.30pm – Break Time. My worst time of the day for thinking clearly about anything at all is mid afternoon and so unless I’m very busy I tend to take this time off. I put my computer to sleep and generally either have a sleep myself, do some gardening, get out with my camera and do some photography, take a walk or catch up with a friend.
5.00pm – I like at this time to do a bit of a check up on how the blogs are going and generally use my start up folder again. Once again it’s brief.
Also at this time I often do some less hands on work (ie not actual blogging – but planning or reviewing). I often brainstorm new original posts for ProBlogger at this time or look over one or more of my blogs to see how they are going with SEO etc.
6.00pm – V calls to let me know she’s almost at the train station and I need to go pick her up. For the next few hours I rarely blog or am online. Occasionally if we’re just watching TV I’ll pull out my laptop and do a little surfing around at this time of the day, perhaps clear a small bloglines folder or two – but generally this is a time I stay away from blogging.
9.00pm til Late – V generally heads to bed (pregnant women do tend to like to sleep a lot I’m told) and I generally settle in for my ‘night shift’ as I like to think of it.
Night times for me resemble day times in that I do the normal tasks, but they are also a time that I write a lot of my original content, especially for ProBlogger. I like to have a a longer post ready to publish on ProBlogger by the time I head to bed (usually 1am-ish) and it’s usually in the evenings that I put these posts together.
The reason I like to publish this last post for the day is because I like it to to go live on the blog around the time that my North American readers are getting up and to the office. While I don’t generally pander to any one group of readers I do this because North America is where most of my traffic comes from and yet when they are up is when I’m generally asleep. During my day time I generally post throughout the day so to have post set to go off while I sleep makes sense (in my mind at least).
Also in the evenings I often write non blogging material. For instance when I was running the six figure blogging course the evenings were for preparing for this. Other writing can include answering questions for email interviews that people do with me.
Lastly, late at night is also a time when I can connect with other bloggers via IM as they wake up in their part of the world. One has to make the most of those windows of opportunity to connect when we’re all awake.
1.00am – I generally do a last quick check of the stats of my key blogs just to make sure everything is running smoothly and head to bed. Most nights by this stage I’ve cleared the majority of emails and quite a bit of my bloglines. Of course when it all begins again in a few hours time the inbox is full and there are a few thousand unread items in bloglines!
I generally sleep VERY well. I go to bed tired and sleep deeply.
Weekends – these days I blog a lot less than I used to on weekends. I do tend to find an hour or two here and there but it’s mainly monitoring and brief posts.
Occasionally if I find myself with an hour or two to spare on the weekend I like to do some outside the box, creative work (dreaming up a Meme, thinking up a new blog topic etc). I also occasionally get a good idea for a series of posts while I’m out and about on the weekend and generally write it in my notebook (usually with me) to be acted upon later.
A few final reflections:
The above sounds a lot more structured and well thought out than the reality is. While I generally do cover most of the things I’ve mentioned above in a day, the reality is that my days are often very unstructured and somewhat chaotic.
That is partly my personality type (I’m a fairly flexible and relaxed person) but also partly the nature of the job where often stories break unexpectedly or situations arise that need to be dealt with quickly.
The other thing that is worth mentioning is that every day is different from every other day. I’m amazed by the variety of opportunities that arise to break up this routine. For example earlier in the week I was interviewed by a writer (face to face) who is writing a book on media, a couple of weeks ago I took the day off and went to the Australian Open tennis, yesterday I was asked to speak at a conference on blogging and tomorrow I’m helping a friend set up a blog. Sometimes the unexpected happens and other days I go seeking it – attempting to break up the routine (I need variety).
Some of you will have read this and will be going out of your minds with the idea of spending most of the day alone with a computer. I’m very aware that this daily rhythm is not for everyone’s personality type. I have studied personality types quite a bit and know that I’m an introvert (I get energy from being alone). As a result this style of work is ideal for me. I do get time with others (virtual and real) but a lot of my time is alone, working at my own pace. I go out of my way to balance this with as much real life interactions with people as I can outside of blogging hours (weekends and evenings). I’m also involved in the running of a small church which fills in the gaps during the days and evenings and puts me in face to face relationships each day which is great also.