This post is based on episode 82 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Finding time to blog when you’re already juggling work, family and other commitments is one of the most common challenges bloggers face – including me.
So this week I want to share eight tips and strategies you can use to make the most of your time.
1. Work out your life priorities
Time management has a lot to do with sorting out your priorities. But before you look at your blogging priorities (which I’ll get to in a minute), I think it’s important to look at your life proprieties.
As a young adult I once did a time management course as part of my studies. And one of the exercises we had to complete was to keep a record of what we were doing at every minute of every day for an entire week. Every 15 minutes I‘d take out the piece of paper I was carrying and write down what I was doing at the time.
It was quite confronting
At the end of the week I tallied up the amount of time I’d spent on the various activities I’d done. And I was amazed how little time I spend on things related to my priorities at the time – my studies, my career and my relationships. Instead I was spending most of my time watching television, playing computer games (I was a young man), and drinking at the pub (I was also a university student).
Yes, I was having a great time and enjoying my independence. But I was still amazed at how much of a disconnect there was between what my priorities were and how I was actually spending my time.
I like to think I spend my time far more productively these days. But I’m sure if I completed the same exercise today I’d still find the results a little confronting.
How are you spending your time? If you’re not sure, you might want to try a similar exercise. You could use the pen-and-paper method I used, or install something like the RescueTime tool.
And when you have some results, see how they stack up against your priorities. Are they pretty much in sync, or is there a disconnect? And what can you change?
2. Work out your blogging priorities
Now let’s look at the priorities you have for your blog. Figuring out what you should be doing can be hard because there’s so much you could be doing at any point time, such as:
- writing posts
- reading and responding to comments
- posting on your social media accounts
- tweaking your design
- finding new readers
- monetizing your blog
- creating media kits
- checking your stats in Google Analytics.
Whenever I get overwhelmed by all the tasks I that need doing (yes, it still happens), I try to strip it right back by asking myself, “What are the core things I need to do?”
In other words, what are my blogging priorities?
For me, it comes down to four main areas:
- creating great content
- finding readers and promoting my blog
- building community and engagement with my current readers
These are the four non-negotiable things I have to do with my blog. Chances are your blogging priorities will be similar, depending on what stage you’re at on your blogging journey. But you can’t prioritise them if you don’t know what they are.
For some people, simply knowing what they need to do will be enough. Personally, I create dedicated times in my calendar to focus on each one. That way I know I will always get them done.
What are your blogging priorities? And how are you going to make sure they get done?
3. Embrace ‘batching’
In the early days of my blogging career I’d sit down and write a post. When I was done I’d publish it, and then get on to social media to promote it. After that I’d respond to any comments I’d received. And I’m sure there were a bunch of other tasks I’d complete for that one post.
And for the next post I’d repeat the process all over again. And so on.
At the time it seemed quite logical. But these days we all know that multitasking actually makes us less efficient. So now I focus on one task at time and do everything in batches.
When I sit down to write a blog post, I’ll actually write three or four of them. When I’m doing social media I’ll put aside half an hour to tackle them doing some social media, I try to put aside larger blocks of time to do those activities.
I do the same thing with social media. I’ll sit down for half an hour at the end of my morning. I’ll put half an hour aside scheduling social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
Setting blocks of time aside and doing things in batches like this rather than jumping from job to job has made me much more productive. (I even wrote a post about it.)
So why not give it a try?
4. Try blogging mentally
When I started blogging I didn’t have much time to actually sit down and write. I was working three part-time jobs, and studying in the evenings. I was also newly married and living in a great area, and so we went out a lot and enjoyed ourselves.
So that left me with half an hour before work, my lunch break, and a bit of time late in the evening.
One of those part-time jobs was working in a warehouse, and a lot of the time they had me doing pretty menial tasks. And while I was doing these tasks I’d be planning my next blog post in my mind. (I‘d also jot down a few words in my notebook when my boss wasn’t watching.)
Which meant that in the half hour between finishing work and heading off to my studies I could crank out a pretty decent blog post based on what I’d written in my notebook and composed in my mind.
Of course, these days we can use things like Evernote rather than having to carry around a notebook and pen. You can even say what you’re going to write out loud and record it. But whatever system you have, it’s still a useful thing to do when you have limited time to actually sit down and write.
5. Put time aside for generating ideas
I used to waste a lot of time coming up with ideas for blog posts. I’d put aside time to write, but then spend half of it trying to decide what to write about. And quite often the idea wouldn’t pan out and I’d have to come up with another one.
So these days one of the tasks I ‘batch’ is coming up with ideas for blog posts. I don’t try to write anything. I just spend the time brainstorming as many ideas on what I could write about as I can. Sometimes the idea will be nothing more than a word. Other times it might be a title and a few dot points. But I’m not trying to write a blog post, and so there’s no pressure to come up with one.
And when it is time to come up with one, I can simply choose one of my ideas and run with it.
I use a mind mapping tool called MindNode, which is available on Apple devices. But you can do the same thing on a whiteboard or a piece of paper.
These days I take it one step further and add some of the ideas into our editorial calendar. That means I not only have the idea but also a deadline, which really helps with my productivity.
So free up some time where you brainstorm without the pressure of having to produce a blog post at the same time. Chances are they’ll come a lot more easily.
6. Break down the big jobs
Writing a blog post is a relatively small job. It may take a few hours, or even a few days, but the finish line is never too far away.
But some jobs – writing an eBook, creating a course, redesigning your blog – are quite large. And it can feel like you’re never even going to see the finish line, let alone reach it.
So how can you get these jobs done without being completely overwhelmed? By breaking them down into lots of little jobs, and then tackling them one at a time.
How much you break them down, and how many little jobs you create for yourself, is up to you. Personally, I try and break them down into jobs I can finish in 15–30 minutes. That way I can get them done simply by freeing up a little time in my day, whether it’s by getting up earlier or doing something else.
And every little job I complete takes me one step closer to getting the big one completed.
So if you’ve been putting off a large task because it seems completely overwhelming, see if you can break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
7. Embrace slow blogging
A lot of bloggers feel they have to post a certain number of times each week. It might be every day, every weekday, or perhaps every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They may also feel they have to post something just as often (if not more often) on their social media channels.
I’ve felt the same way at times over the years. At one point we were posting 14 times a week on ProBlogger. I’d see sites such as Mashable and TechCrunch pump out story after story, and feel the need to do the same.
You need to post more.
You’re going to lose your traffic.
But I now realize that less can be more, and that slow blogging is okay. In fact, our traffic has grown because we’re spending the time to create quality content.
I’m not saying you should necessarily drop back to one post a week. But don’t feel you need to be posting more often than you feel comfortable with. Rushing a post just to meet a deadline could do your blog more harm than good in the long run.
8. Put time aside for your own wellbeing
The last thing I want to talk about is looking after yourself. You need to make time to rest, exercise, and eat healthy food. And don’t forget you need to look after your mental health as well as your physical health.
Since I started taking the time to look after myself my productivity has increased dramatically. And I think that’s largely due to the fact I’m setting aside time for my health, my social life, and my learning.
We need to give our bodies and our minds time to relax, recharge, and renew.
What changes will you be making?
Have I given you any ideas about how you can make the most of the time you have? Let us know what you’ll be doing differently in the comments.
Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash