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Keep Yourself Organized with a Blog Binder

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of June 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Blog-Binder-2This post on creating a Blog Binder to help you keep organized has been submitted by Julie Bonner from declutter it. I first heard Julie speak about her Blog Binder in passing in a b5media forum discussion and thought it might be something others might find helpful. I asked her if she’d write it up and here it is:

Ever since I started blogging, my mind is always going a mile a minute. I find myself constantly thinking about new article ideas, new monetization models or tips I had heard that I knew would add value to my blog.

Before I knew, it my desk was cluttered sky high with scribble notes and articles I had printed out. I also could not sleep! It was driving me crazy. My mind was so full of ideas that when I would lay down at night, the wheels would keep turning, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel.

It’s ironic that I let my desk and my mind get to this point because I used to help people get organized for a living. That means I’m supposed to be perfect right? Well, I have my weaknesses too, and getting my online businesses “organized” was turning into a real problem for me. I knew I needed a system and quick!

That’s when I came up with what I call My Blog Binder. It’s not a clever title, but hey, it works! Here’s a basic description of what I keep in it and how it helps keep me on track and focused.

My Work Schedule

At the beginning of my binder, I have my work schedule written out. Now for me, this schedule has no times on it, but only subjects. I dedicate each weekday to one subject. For example: Mondays I focus on SEO, Tuesdays I visit new blogs, Wednesdays I focus on building traffic, etc.

These subjects are all separate from the actual blogging. I try to blog everyday.

Staying Organized with More Than One Blog

Instead of having separate binders for each blog I have, I decided to condense them into one. It just makes it that much more simple and easy to use.

Blog-Binder-1-1

I have labeled dividers with the title of blog on it. Behind each divider I have several sheets of blank paper. On each piece of paper I have 1 title:

Article Ideas – This is where I write anything and everything that comes to my mind for an article idea. I am never short of ideas, and if I am having one of those days where I don’t know what to write, I go back to this page. This has helped me through many days of writer’s block.

Must-Do List – This is a list of to-do’s that I need to implement within the next few days. These are things that I do not want to forget about and remember weeks down the road.

For example, let’s say you are browsing through a blog and you notice an “Add This to Your Technorati Favorites” link. You then tell yourself, “I really need to add this to my blog!” So, instead of making a mental note that never seems to stick around, you write it on your Must-Do list. The next time you are working on your blog, you check your list and add that link.

Running-to Do List – This is a list of things you want to implement at some point, but it’s not necessarily time sensitive. For example: playing around with your blog’s colors or possibly looking for a new template.

Blogs to Visit – Within each of my niches, there are a number of blogs that I like to visit. Instead of trying to remember which ones they are, I write them down here and this is usually one of the first things I do in the morning. Be careful to keep this list short. You don’t want your browsing time to take away from your productive work. It is so easy to get sucked into blogland and see 3 hours of your day pass by.

Another option is to add these sites to your favorites folder on your computer. It’s all a matter of preference and what works best for you.

Are you still with me? Good.

Organizing the Great Articles I Read

Have you ever been on someone’s blog, read an amazing article and you said to yourself, “Wow, that was good!”? You then continue browsing, telling yourself you won’t forget that tip? Most of the time that tip has left your brain within 5 minutes and you are irritated that you can’t remember it.

What’s the solution? Print out the article and file it in your binder! I have an excellent selection of articles that I refer back to time and time again. After I print out the article, I hole punch it and put it behind the correct divider. Here are the sections I have:

  • SEO
  • Design
  • Monetization
  • Traffic

This has worked wonders for me and I have even referred back to these articles when helping other people with their blogging woes. When the sections start to get too thick, I will weed out the articles that are outdated.

Keep it Simple

If you decide to create a Blog Binder, I have a few words of advice:

  • Don’t create too many categories. Keep the categories very general at first and as you use it more, you may find more specific subjects to add.
  • Actually use the binder. You may be thinking, “Well, duh!”, but I have been in the organizing business long enough to know that we all have good intentions that slip through the cracks. I leave my binder at my desk at all times. It is usually open and ready for me to flip through or take notes on.
  • Don’t become an insomniac because of your blogging. If you are like me and you find yourself laying in bed thinking of these wonderful, life-changing articles you want to write; get out of bed, open up your binder and write it down. Then proceed to get a restful night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

These tips are obviously for those who still know what paper is. If you are not paper- oriented, but prefer to do everything on your laptop, you can take all this information and apply it electronically as well. Just be sure and keep your computer files well organized and easy to retrieve.

I hope this has helped you in some way on your path to becoming a more focused and productive blogger.

Blog-Binder-1

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Do u think this tool is good for few visits blogs or only for very visited blogs?

  2. For people that want an online solution for this “Blog Binder”, I’d highly recommend using Basecamp. Their free solution I find ideal for managing my ideas.

  3. That’s a great idea. I’ve been having to use a notebook so I don’t go crazy, but it’s pretty disorganized. I like the ideas of the running-to-do-list and must-do-list. I’ll definitely break my little filing cabinet out and start an organized group of folders.

  4. Great idea! I have binders for everything else in my life, why not my blog? The blogosphere is so big and daunting at times – this would really help me organize it all neatly. Thanks for laying out such an easy way to put it all together.

  5. I keep a condensed version of this. I have a hardback book full of blank lined pages. As I progress through the book I keep pages dedicated to topics. (i.e. upcoming blog topics, June Updates, planned blog updates) The monthly updates are to help me remember what changes I made in that month. The planned blog updates are things that I want to do to the blog, like add a particular plugin or widget.

  6. I keep one binder by my desk, one by my bed, and I have a little notebook thing I carry around in my pocket when I go out. Actually physically writing little notes definitely makes stuff stick a lot better than say writing a note on a PDA.

    Never thought of actually organizing the notebooks and binders though… then again I’m pretty disorganized…

    Thanks for the tips!

  7. As I write this, I’m staring at my notebook that is full of ideas, things to do, blogs to visit, etc. It’s complete chaos – no wonder why I feel so overwhelmed! I absolutely love this idea!

  8. Awesome post – I am soooo disorganized sometimes too and will create a binder tonight. Great to see you post something on the operational part of blogging as well as the marketing/monetizing/design part!

  9. This is great. I forever find myself jumping from one task to the next, not really finishing one task with any realy quality. I know this will help me to build better pillar content. Cool, thanks.

  10. Love the idea. I have a spreadsheet that keeps me on track of all my blogs, where I need to post, etc. I never thought of a binder.

    There goes another post it note! One to remind me to pick up a binder the next time I’m at Office Depot.

    Great tip!

  11. Great idea. I need a place to consolidate all of the ideas I have and the plans I’m making.

  12. Another winning idea!!

  13. Great tips–kind of makes me think of my “electronic blog binder” that I have and use just about all day long. Along with the To Do list I keep and the list of blogs that I have to read every day, I have everything organized in an “electronic format” rather than on paper like you’re suggesting. I try to update it all fairly often and archive it as a backup in a plain old MS Word file. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t print it out and keep a hard copy so I can scribble notes on it.

    At this point, I prefer to type my notes, so I tend to do the same types of things in my “electronic blog binder”. Maybe it’s just because I’m a neat freak and don’t like a lot of messy paper on my desk?

  14. This is a great topic Darren. I’ve found that by chunking my days I can get a lot more done. For example, on Mondays I do all the updating on my site from links, media, etc. Tuesday I focus on new projects. Wednesday is my marketing day, etc. I find that it really helps my productivity.

    Another useful tool I use is Google Reader. I subscribe to various feeds based on keywords that relate to my blogs and site. When there is an article I want to write about I save and star it so I can come back to it.

    One more suggestion – if you use WordPress you can post the article and not have it publish until later so you can write 5 posts at once and have them go online throughout the week. Blogger isn’t as flexible but you can save it as a draft and login and publish later on. By chunking your posts you can also get more out of your day to focus on the other issues with your blog (design, SEO, media, new idea generation, etc).

    Hope this helps!

  15. awesome idea… thanks.

    I was using sheets of paper.

  16. I use google notebook along with google notebook firefox extension for this, it’s FTW!

  17. This is a pretty neat idea, but is the “blogs to visit” section really necessary? Isn’t that what feed readers are for?

    Personally, I think it would be much easier to just add the blog feeds your reader. I suppose having a paper list of blogs that you visit regularly would be useful in case something happens and your feeds are deleted from your reader some how.

  18. I recommend http://AZZcardfile.com .. over any binder and I always have at least 1 of 3 AZZCardfile data open .. (it stays in resident memory)

    1) for all general phone numbers clients and information about meetings etc it’s great for memos, emails, URLs, addresses etc
    2) FTP Logins for all my domains and other server stuff and passwords
    3) Online earnings, advertising affiliation url’s for each domain and similar stuff like that.

    This sure beats any BINDER or spreadsheet or notebook .. although, you can print out any individual card or page out of AZZcardfile.

  19. Oooh, good idea.

  20. I’m not so happy about the idea of printing out stuff and writing down URLs to visit. That won’t work for me – but the general idea is good, I’ll just have to find a digital way (or “digital ways”) to do this…

  21. Very well organized post. I have had a binder sitting in my truck for over a week. Now I have the motive to actually use it. Thanks for the word and visual kick in the pants.

  22. This binder will really be a great tool for those like me who don’t have a laptop or a PDA.

    With powerblockouts quite frequent and ink cartridges quite expensive here in the Philippines, this old-school solution will work like a charm!

  23. Sounds good. I have to start doing that. Thanks

  24. Printing out all the web articles you like is NOT a good idea. Julie should read (but not print) Stop trying to print out the Internet.

  25. I’m one of those people who gets easily distracted — ooh, shiny baubles! — as I surf through the day so a Blog Binder like this might be just what the professional organizer ordered!

  26. I was just getting griped at from my husband because I’m on the computer nonstop trying to come up with ideas, tips, trying to increase my traffic, …the list goes on and on.

    I think these ideas are wonderful. The pictures are a nice touch..you can visualize it and that helps so you’re not completely clueless.

    Great Post. I’m headin’ to work on it right now!!

  27. I have a system very similar to this, but it’s all on my hard drive. I find computer files easier for me to access, since I am already on the computer while blogging. Any notes I jot down are generally right there in my computer file. What can I say?…. I am apart of gen-Y … we are glued to anything that even resembles a computer. *=)

  28. This is just what I needed! My desk is so cluttered with post it notes everywhere, the first thing on my Must Do list is to find my desk again. Thanks for the great idea!

  29. Thanks for the comments everyone! I am glad it has helped some of you. Like I said at the end of the post, this is definitely a system for those who are paper-oriented. I LOVE my computer, but when it comes to scheduling, taking notes, jotting down ideas…I need my paper!! :)

    I am feeling very unorganized today because we just moved from Georgia to Texas and got here yesterday. I couldn’t even find my blog binder for the longest time, but we have reunited and all is well.

    Thanks Darren for the guest blogging opportunity!

  30. This post makes me feel so unorganised. Thank you :P

  31. I use Note Tab Lite from Fookes Software — free. Just keep a single alphebetized textfile open whenever I am online. It has everything related to my recurrent needs in order. Actually the rest of my organizing is simply up there in terms of the relationships between my blogs. Whatever you do check out Note Tab. I think it is the best text utility bar none.

  32. Thnx darren! Just yesterday I started writing in a diary all the stuffs you have mentioned above. At first i was confused, but your post once again came at the right time.

  33. Hey, that’s a great idea! The only thing I’ll add is instead of printing out articles and blog posts (wastes a lot of paper) copy them over to Google Notebook. There, you can categorize and organize them any way you want and you can access them from any computer with an internet connection.

  34. I don’t have a binder perse, but I do keep notes on my desktop. It’s just as useful. For articles I want to write, I keep a little notebook, and for links I want to remember, I keep a highly organized bookmarking system on firefox.

  35. Another great post.

    Personally I’m still working on getting organized – I can never settle on a system or format – but I feel a bit more like I’m in control every day.

    I’ve read and highly recommend for all those working on getting organized David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. The book is a quick and easy read and there are a host of websites dedicated to it. Interestingly enough the whole system is based on lists.

  36. Great article, I’m exactly like that I wake up in middle of night with ideas for blogging.

  37. I’ve always had a notebook with hundreds of thoughts, ideas, and to-do’s. Thanks to your 4 sections, I will go out and buy 5 highlighter of different colors, and sort them out! Too bad they weren’t in a PDA and sort them by category!

  38. it’s a great idea, I use it myself. Instead of a binder I have little exercise books, one for each “section”. When I’ve done something in it, I’ll cross it out so I know where I’m up to. I have a book for “reviews” (my website has a lot of reviews) one for the education part of my website, and then a general one for things to do on my website, articles to write, and more. It’s fantastic, and I couldn’t do with out them.

    Oh, and i find using little exercise books easier than a binder because I can carry one book around with me if I need to etc.

  39. That’s a great idea, but I’m more keen on the electronic idea of this as well. I have spreadsheets that keep lists of social sites, etc. for getting the word out. I have everything organized in a folder by blog and function such as TO-DO, Blog Ideas, etc.

  40. It’s freaky seeing ‘sqidoo’ written down! aah!

  41. I may incorporate something like this but organise it online. I am pretty new to wordpress blogging and I must admit I struggle for things to blog about. I do tend to use my blog as an online diary, although I do have two other wordpress blogs for specific interests.

  42. Great tips but indeed, less paper. Google notebook for great articles and Google reader for the blogs I like to read (this one for example). I type down great titles, make notes about what to write and save them as concept in my blog. I took one of Darren’s tips to heart and write series almost completely before I start publishing the first one. It works great for me.

  43. Great tips. I use Google Notebook to jot down article ideas and even flesh them out straight there until they are ready to post via copy paste.

    For blogs I really want to read I use Google Reader. I even subscribe to my own blog so that I don’t need to spend too much time looking for comments on my posts. When I get some reading time, logging into Google reader will show me how many comments I have unread as well as if my favourite blogs have posted new entries. All there on one easy to read screen.

    I posted about google the other day here, http://www.jmrpub.com/blog/2007/06/09/google-fanatic/

    I love technology :-)

    I am JMR from JMRPub.com

  44. Great tip. The human mind, while being a powerful tool can be a terrible categorizer of ideas.
    I always keep a notebook in my pocket, to take down notes for my blog and article ideas. You never know when inspiration is going to strike

  45. A blog binder is a pretty smart idea. I keep a small posting schedule next to my computer monitor that has all of my sites listed. It would be nice to take that one step further.

  46. Thank you for this article because it gave me the kick in the pants I need to REALLY get organized. I have a notebook that I use to jot down to-do’s but it’s not organized. Long term to-do’s are mixed in with the urgent to-do’s. I think it’s also really important to stay focused on writing things down and doing them because I get so distracted with new emails.

  47. Sorry, typo in my emailadress, so my reply is still waiting for moderation. About being organized :-)

  48. I love this idea – thanks for sharing it.

  49. Julie,
    I must say I am coming over at your blog, I had the impression that Darren wrote this article. I just went over to read it one more time and saw your name mentioned.
    All these tips and guidance are allowing me to learn how to organize myself.

    Vijay

  50. Haha awsome idea :) I never use “real paper” to keep organized but wicked idea.

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