This guest post is by Timo Kiander of Productivesuperdad.com.
I know a blogger who tries to do everything he can to make his writing career successful. He posts multiple times a week on his own blog, writes guest posts for others and spends a lot of time researching affiliate marketing. On top of all this, he is creating his first info product.
Of course, there’s social media too: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn… he feels obligated to be everywhere, on every platform.
As if this wasn’t enough, his email inbox is full of compelling info product offers and they all claim they will change his life if he acts on them now.
My blogger friend works so hard, but when he looks at his blog stats, he collapses completely. Hard work has yielded barely any new visitors and only a couple of measly subscribers to his list.
Is it any wonder he’s ready to quit blogging?
Filling the glass with too much water
Do you see what’s going on here? I bet that, as an observer of this scenario, it’s very easy for you to see the problem: the blogger I just described is trying to do too much at once.
But let me ask you: is this blogger anything like you? Because we are often so blind to our own situation that we fail to recognize the entire picture.
Just like a glass will overflow as you try to fill it up with too much water, the same will happen to you, my blogger friend. The difference is that in your case the overflow means burning out—and as a result your productivity will decrease dramatically.
With too much to handle at once, there’s another negative side effect: you lose your focus completely.
Even if you think you’re getting the right results and you think you’re moving in the right direction, you’re going to be shocked. Most of the hours you’ve spent on your blog have been a waste of time.
Being afraid of the unfair advantage
There is something that has been sold to most of us and the marketers have done a good job at making us believe it: the unfair advantage (and fear as a bonus).
How many times has a marketer or another blogger told you that you have to do a specific thing or buy a certain product to succeed? And if you don’t do as you’re told, then those who do buy the product or implement “blogging tactic X” will have an unfair advantage.
It’s quite natural to want to avoid being the outsider. Have you ever thought to yourself, “No way am I going to give others this advantage and struggle myself—I’d better join the tribe or I’ll be doomed with the rest of the average Joes.”
I know that I recognize it myself when I look at the statement above. That’s the main reason why I have spent thousands on info products and blogging tactics that I didn’t use and which were actually steering me off course.
There is actually a term for these kinds of thoughts. It’s The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). You are afraid to be an outsider because you think you might be missing out on something very important.
When you take the concept of FOMO and apply it to blogging, the scenario described near the beginning of this article starts to make sense; you want to do everything because:
- someone told you to (“I have to be part of this group, otherwise…”)
- you are afraid to let go of something (“If I let go now, I will never become successful.”)
- you’re afraid to be an outsider (“I don’t want to be an ‘average person’ while others are successful.”).
It’s no wonder you’re stressed out and overwhelmed: you’re trying to move forward on too many fronts, yet your blog is not getting any more popular.
Pressing the reset button
To move from chaos to clarity, you should start limiting both your mind and your actions.
“Limiting?” you ask.
Yes, limiting. The problem with your current overwhelming and stressful situation (and lack of results) is that you’re trying to do too many things at the same time because you are afraid that you will miss out.
But if you limit your mind and your actions, you will exclude the unnecessary stuff, thus seeing your destination again. In the process, looking at those stats is not very scary anymore, because the figures have improved. In fact, you will begin to look forward to checking the stats!
When you decide to let go of the unnecessary, you are kicking your FOMO’s butt. The feeling of liberation as you sit back and let others rush to buy that $1000 course is unbelievable.
Reclaim your enthusiasm and clarity
If you’re overwhelmed and confused, it’s time to put yourself back on track. Try these steps to get rid of FOMO:
To decrease the amount of “shiny object syndrome” exposure you get through email (and to clean your inbox at the same time), use online application called UnRoll.me (please check out their FAQ page before you join).
UnRoll.me lets you unsubscribe from multiple email lists at once—it’s a great way to prevent your inbox from filling with clutter. Unsubscribing from multiple lists is very easy and you can feel the relief as soon as you do it. Just stay with those subscriptions that you truly like to follow.
2. Take a critical look at your goals
Cut down the number of big goals to a minimum. For example, trying to be a social media maven and PPC wizard at the same time may not be the best strategy.
Instead, choose the one thing you would like to be spectacular at, roll up your sleeves and start working. That old pearl of wisdom is still true: the more you do something, the better you become at it.
3. Take a critical look at your current projects
Look your project list. How does it look? Do your current projects truly support your big goals?
For example, I mentioned already that I dropped my plans to build niche websites. Instead, I’m focusing on guest posting to grow the audience of my blog.
While I’m concentrating on building my audience, I’m not going to be creating products or developing services. Although they have their place, they are not important right now—I want to have the right audience first.
This is exactly what you should do too: if you have even a bit of hesitation about whether a project should be on your task list, then consider freezing that project until a later date.
4. Apply the 80/20 rule
Everyone seems to be talking about the 80/20 rule at the moment. They’re asking what it is and why it’s a great way to increase your productivity.
The main principle behind 80/20 is that focusing on 20% of something brings 80% of your results. A classic example of this is that 20% of your clients bring you 80% of your sales.
So how do you apply 80/20 to blogging? Well, since you’ve now got your big goal in mind and decided which important projects contribute to that goal, it’s easier to see the tasks that will help you complete those important projects.
In my situation, I’m focusing on guest posting, building my email list and interviewing people in my niche. That’s my 20%. I feel super-focused since I can concentrate on a few choice activities and I don’t have to hustle around doing too many things at once.
5. Neglect the fear
Make a bold decision to let go of everything that becomes a burden. Once you have defined your goals, projects and your 20% actions, you are on a road to becoming a happy and successful blogger.
Whatever you do, ask these questions: “Should I be doing this?” or, “Is this action contributing to my goals?”
Whether it is spending time on Pinterest, buying yet another ebook on Google domination or trying to create a logo for your blog, keep asking yourself these questions. If you answered “no” in your mind, then listen to your inner voice and let go of them.
Finally, dare to be different and stop following the herd. For example, I decided to stop doing SEO on my blog almost completely. I’m also spending much less time on social media in order to focus on my 20% activities.
Getting over the fear is not easy, since you will feel that you are going against the flow. But doing certain blogging-related activities differently is also very liberating. It also cuts down stress and leaves you with more time to spend on the important things.
6. Outsource the small but important
Outsourcing may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
First of all, you don’t necessarily have to hire a full-time virtual assistant, but you can still get certain time-consuming tasks done very easily.
I regularly use Fiverr, whether to hire proofreaders, designers, or voice-over artists for my videos. Although I haven’t been happy with the results all of the time, I still think it’s a great resource for getting small tasks done.
Another way to outsource is to ask your family members to help you. For instance, my wife does some of my proofreading work and this has the benefit of not having a fee. You also have the advantage of knowing the person you work with very well. These two methods can help you reduce your workload quite a bit.
Do you limit your blog for success?
Over to you: what limitations do you use to improve your blogging productivity? How are you handling this overwhelmin situation? Do you feel your limitations have brought you blogging success?
Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.
Wow that’s great, and nice post thanks for sharing with us……..
Thank you :)
Great to hear this post was helpful.
The more we focus on the core thing we are doing, and the less distracted we are from the bells and whistles of what doesn’t matter, the higher quality our actual work is.
I don’t necessarily set limitations. I make sure the first thing I do in the morning is creative and the most important thing I can do for my business that day. It’s hard to call it a limitation when I am merely stripping it to the core elements and only focusing on that, but it is a kind of limitation. A good one.
My main point was that one should get rid of all the non-essential and give more room for the core tasks. That ensures that they get done.
Great advice you have. I think I’m in the same position as your blogger friend so I will need to go work to “Unclutter” my blogging life and hopefully increase traffic and make my life a lot easier. Thanks for the post.
Thank you Cameron!
Sure, take some time to do the “uncluttering” and your blogging will be more fun again :)
Great post. In getting a new blog fired up recently, I’ve found myself in the same position as your blogger friend, especially in regards to the social media. I was going to do the whole twitter/G+/LinkedIn thing, and then I realized something: I don’t have a presence on those platforms now, so why start just for my new blog?
Limiting your social media usage is a great way to have more time to do other blogging stuff instead … and when it comes to blogging, there are lots of things that you have to do as a blogger.
The more time you have for important things the better.
I like the 80/20 rule you have posted here in the article.
I was struggling at a certain point be not getting the right results. If you don’t have real human interaction on your site, you are just wasting your time with the majority of bloggers out there.
Thank you Samuel!
I agree … blogging is all about human interaction.
Also, with 80/20, you can truly focus on the things that matter and move forward with those tasks.
One of the biggest problems writers have is that’s easy to spend too much time on social media and have it cut into the writing time. Most of the social media advice starts out with something like, “Get on a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Linked in …” and whatever else happens to be hot. But if you stretch yourself too thin, then no book or story, and no book or story means no reason to promote yourself.
Even blogging can turn into a time-suck — managing time is very important. I was in a blogging class for writers. Everyone jumped on and started writing blogs three times a week. A few months later, they were sending out tweets that they were going on blogging hiatus to write again! A lot of people wait until the day they’re supposed to post and then write the blog, rather than planning for a specific day to get advance posts taken care of.
I limit my social media usage to 15 minutes per day and I’m only operating on Twitter. This amount of time is enough for me.
You mentioned also planning … it’s great that you did that.
Planning goes a long way and the more proactive you are with writing your blog posts the better.
You know, I just started seriously limiting everything related to my blog last month. I was trying to do WAY too much, and I wasn’t enjoying blogging even a little bit. I cut back on everything, including my posting schedule, and I’ve seen the quality of my work go up. My traffic has gone up since I’ve been posting less, which I’m sure is because the quality is so much better.
“Finally, dare to be different and stop following the herd.” I don’t know why I was so scared to do things differently than “everyone” else. The decisions that have made me happiest in life are the ones that I had to swim upstream for. This has absolutely proven to be true in my blogging as well! Focusing on blogging from my heart more and ignoring what other niche blogs are doing has made blogging fulfilling for me.
We are on the same boat :) I limited my blogging too (two posts, bi-weekly) and it was one of the best decisions I have made.
I guess it all comes down to fear … you are afraid that if you are not doing the same thing as others, you’ll never reach success. Of course, this is not true.
Only you know the right way to do things (especially with the posting frequency).
Do you know me? This post was really hitting me . You have truly motivated me to stay focuse. Indeed this medicine is bitter but I guess I need it.
Thank you Cudjoe, great to hear I was able to be helpful!
Awesome post Timo,
That is something which was happening with me. I was trying to fill the glass with too much water and that was the reason my productivity was decreasing. It was really difficult for me to handle everything at same time.
As a newbie, I was trying to take my blog to the next level in less time because I didn’t know that it takes a lot of time, effort, energy and hard work. I must say that was adorable post buddy.
I will surely follow your tips to reclaim my enthusiasm.
Yes, blogging takes a lot of effort and this is something I realized myself. Luckily, you can limit your actions and your stress levels decrease while you do that.
i have a doubt not related to this topic. How much blog post should I need to accept google adsense account
Hmmm… I don’t know that … maybe someone else on the ProBlogger or on ProBlogger forum would know that?
Ah this post describes me. I’ve become involved in so many blog-related things and OVER marketing myself that I scarcely have time for anything else…and it’s not really bringing that much more traffic to my blog. I’m tired!
I can understand you as I was in the same position as you.
It comes down to really knowing your “why” – what are you trying to reach and then cut down activies that don’t support your goals accordingly.
Sure, it’s scary at times, but that’s the only way to get rid of overwhelm.
That was me and sometimes I still stray. Your post re-enforces in me the instinctive feeling I had not to fill up the glass too much. Glad to hear I am on the right track.
Great to hear that you are following the right path :)
So true Timo. The first year of my blog I was doing everything and saying yes to everything that came my way. I had to change my approach to blogging which I did beginning in 2012. I do way less now and I earn way more. It’s weird how life works that way.
Thank you Justin :)
Yep, sometimes this blogging stuff can be counterintuitive for sure :)
Excellent post. Each and every word is portraying my present situation.
Thank you Punit!
Great to hear that :)
The only problem I seem to have is that I am a student, and I cannot give lots of time to my blog. I feel I do have a great blog, and good articles for a everyday reader, but I need to write more. I will be focusing from next year.
Btw this was an awesome post. Thanks!!
You are not alone. There are a lot of bloggers with day jobs and families, who are struggling with limited time.
However, I feel that when you take a critical look at what you do and just get rid of the tasks that are not bringing you any results, you can spend less time on secondary stuff, while focusing on valuable stuff instead.
This is really a no brainer. Make a bold decision to let go of everything that becomes a burden. I can’t agree more. Please thanks for sharing this awesome post with us.
That’s what my message was in essence :)
This is like gospel. I think that as bloggers, we try to squeeze every second of every day into creating content and driving people to our blog. I can attest to the power of taking a break every now and then.
I actually deactivated my blog for about a month, (I thought I was going to quit it altogether), but once I decided to open my blog up again, I found a second wind of energy and passion that was missing before. The saying “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing” definitely holds true with blogging just like everything else.
GREAT article. Thanks!
Great to hear that you are now full of energy!
Sure, blogging can burn you out very fast and you feel like quitting if you are trying to do too much.
With a little bit of strategy and some fearless action (cutting the tasks that don’t serve you) takes a long way.
I outsource a lot these days when it comes to traffic. I go for Fiverrs that have lots of Twitter followers for example. As for emails though, I have a TON of email addresses for various websites and businesses, so I get thousands of emails every day. I have a good system in place though…and if I ever take a vacation I will be doomed!
I would sure like to hear more about your system!
But yeah … I also try to outsource as much as possible. It’s useless to try to do everything by yourself.
Great post Timo, I specially like two points ‘Apply the 80/20 rule’ and ‘Neglect the fear’. Thumbs up to your practice, perfect example for ‘lead by example’:
“Finally, dare to be different and stop following the herd. For example, I decided to stop doing SEO on my blog almost completely. I’m also spending much less time on social media in order to focus on my 20% activities.”
Thank you Shell!
Glad to hear I was able to be helpful.
Hi, I agree that I over~ subscribed newsletter but I never read them. Everyday my inbox is overflowed with e~mails. The 80/20 rule is very helpful in increasing our efficiency and productivity as it leads us to focus on what is crucial.
Yes, 80/20 is important.
That way you know the tasks to focus on and you are able to make progress with those tasks.
Well, that 80/20 rule is surely refreshing. Never heard of it before until now. I can apply it to my other hobbies as well aside from blogging and IM.
Thanks for your post. Great read.
Sure, 80/20 rule is very powerful and it can be applied to every aspect of your life.
Great to hear that you learned something new!
Certainly doing one thing at one time is really important and you can’t be master of all the things and I believe if you work on one thing to master it and if you do than the benefit for that would be countless.
Yes, focusing on thing makes you a very good at it. It’s a completely different strategy than trying to master everything (and being a generalist).
Also, mastering one thing good makes you an expert on it – if you focus on it long enough.
Yes, it’s so easy to try and do everything and burn out as a result. Slowly and steadily can be the only way if you are a solo blogger – and focus, as you say. Anyhow, blogs that take a while to grow are built on firm ground and are likely to stand the test of time. Forget about people who tell you how quickly your blog should grow. I think it’s better to be a tortoise than a hare.
I also believe that building a successful blog takes time.
Once you know the core elements to focus on, you are able to build a successful blog and even become a go-to person on the topic you are blogging about.
Success in inevitable – you’ll just have to give it enough time :)
I know the feeling…it is so easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus. Excellent reminder to concentrate on the 20 percent that matters. The 20 percent that will produce 80 percent of your results. It is one thing to believe you are working smart, you must work smart on the right things. I just changed my mission for the day!
Jerry, great to hear that!
Yes, it’s important to work smart on the right things. That way you are not overwhelming yourself and you are getting results, which motivate you to keep on working.
You always have a sensible approach to things – and the situation you painted also describes me to a T! I’ve been stressing over doing too much at once – promoting the scrapbook merchandise I sell, AND developing classes and products, AND promoting the blog, AND making YouTube videos…
Time to focus!
Thanks for the refreshing insight!
Thank you Carol!
Yep … there is so much stuff that you have to take care of. The more you have on your plate, the bigger risk there is for burnout.
Once you cut out all the unessential and focus on the core elements, the days of stress and overwhelm are behind you :)
I have so been this person and I’ve spent hundreds on ebooks and programs to help me with my blogging, because of the fear of the unfair advantage. I hit the reset button when I started my latest site. I decided to stop listening to what others tell me to do – that’s wrong – I listen, because the advice is always helpful, but I don’t feel obligated to follow the advice.
I do what’s fun and once I stopped focusing on building traffic and started focusing on the readers I do have and the fun I was having – everything else seemed to fall into place.
I still fall into the blogger that you described every now and then; when this happens. I leash up our dogs and head out for a long walk – that’s my reset.
Thanks for a well thought out post!
Thank you Kimberly!
Yep .. sometimes you just have to listen to your own voice and do things your way. It may be scary at times, but that’s what you need if you want to cut the overwhelm and frustrations.
Also, I think that what you are doing is great: going outside with your dogs. Some fresh air will give you additional perspectives to the experiences you are going through and is a great way to get back on the track :)
A great post.. blogging needs a lot of hard work and consistency. The 80/20 percent formula given by you seems to be a great idea. And as one has mentioned above even i feel this formula should be applied in every aspect of the life.
Thank you Stanley!
Yes, it can be applied to every aspect of your life.
Ok. This sounds like you were speaking to me directly! Geez! Come over and slap me in the face too while you are at it!
The wake-up call I needed right now! Your on fire SuperDad! Thank you
Great to hear that :)
Maybe you just have to work hard until you get lucky. And the harder you work, the luckier you get.
True. But don’t forget to work hard on right things, since it matters the most.
I agree with your last point. Outsouring to small things get done helps me a lot and I never forget that small things leads me to great success!