Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How to Become a More Efficient and Productive Blogger

Today’s episode is about how you can create more time to create great blog content by becoming more efficient in the way you manage your blog.

PB040: 7 Productivity Tips For Bloggers

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). Today we talk about:

  • 7 steps to becoming a more productive blogger
  • 3 simple tools I use to manage my time
  • How to analyse how you’re spending your time
  • How to design your ideal schedule and learn how to stick to it

Further Reading and Resources to Become a More Efficient and Productive Blogger

  • The to do list app I mention – wunderlist
  • The calendar I use from my phone, computer and watch – Fantastical 2
  • The tool I use for writing and sorting content – Evernote
  • The tool I use for team communication – Slack
  • The social media management tool I use – Meet Edgar

Also – here is the ‘ideal schedule’ that I developed for my own situation earlier this year. It has already evolved a little since this point but hopefully it’s helpful to see. It was created in a Google Calendar.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.33.13 pm

Lastly – as promised in the episode here is my process for creating podcasts (created in wunderlist)!

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.33.53 pm

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hello. This is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 40 of the ProBlogger Podcast where today, I want to talk to you about productivity and using your time wisely. You can find today’s show notes at

In the last two episodes of the ProBlogger Podcast, I’ve been asking you questions. These questions came from a talk I recently gave at the ProBlogger event here in Australia. The first question was how are you? Behind that question was the idea that if you want your blog to shine, you need to make yourself shine. The well-being of your blog is tied to the well-being of you. I talked a little bit about well-being and as bloggers, if we want to be producing great quality content, we need to be looking after ourselves. 

The second question was in the last episode. That was the simple question, what is your why? It was designed to get you to think about what is your purpose, tap back into why you started blogging, and talk about some benefits of having a why. 

Today, I want to ask you one last question. Again, this was a question I asked at the ProBlogger conference. This one in particular really seemed to get a reaction from attendees. The question is this, how are you using your time? 

Knowing your why, which was what we talked about in the last episode, we’ll definitely get you started. Having a strong purpose gets you going. It motivates you, particularly in the early days of your blogging. How you spend your time in the day to day, that will get you to your destination. Let me say that again. Knowing your why gets you started, but how you spend your time day to day gets you to your destination. 

This is where the rubber hits the road. You can have all the dreams, goals, and purposes in the world, but unless you’re using your time effectively to take you towards those goals, dreams, and your why, then it’s always going to be something that stays in your head and what becomes a reality. One of the things I learned over the last year is that I really need to do some analysis of how I’m spending my time and come up with some proactive ways of using time more effectively.

My personality type, for those of you who are into personality type, particularly if you are into the Myers-Briggs Personality Types, I’m an INFP. We could break each of those parts down but I want to talk about the P part of that. I am a perceiver. I don’t really like that word. On that spectrum, that last spectrum you have Js at one end, the judges, and Ps at the other end, and that’s me.

The Js are the more organized type. They’re the ones who like plans, who like schedules, who like routine, who like to know what’s happening next. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s me. I’m the P. I like flexibility. I like spontaneity. I don’t really need to know what’s going to happen next. In fact, sometimes I work best when I am operating out of that spontaneity and flexibility. But I also learned that if I just stay at that end of the spectrum, then I’m likely to just dream and not get anything done. 

For me, this year, particularly with my personality type, I’ve really worked hard on using my time better. Over the last year, really, I’ve done seven things to help me to do that. I want to run you through seven steps to using your time better. This will hopefully be relevant to everyone, no matter what type of personality you already have but especially those of you who share the characteristics that I do. 

The first step is one which I found quite confronting and that is to analyze how you are currently spending your time. I was at an event earlier this year, it was actually another ProBlogger event we did in Perth. One of our speakers there, Nicole Avery from a blog called the Planning Queen, Planning with Kids, suggested that attendees use the tool RescueTime. It’s a tool that many of you who’ll be familiar with, you install it on your computer, and then it watches how you use your computer. It looks at the apps that you use, the software that you spend most of your time in, and the websites that you go to. It classifies how you spend your time in different categories. 

This was pretty confronting for me to install on my computer. (1) That felt a bit weird. Someone watching over my shoulder or some software watching over my shoulder. (2) It’s quite confronting to see how I was spending my time. The first week that I ran RescueTime on my computer, I found that I was spending over 40% of my time—I think it was actually 44% of my time—on social media.

As a blogger, I’ve got a bit of an excuse to spend time on social media. The bulk of that time was actually spent on Facebook. I do use Facebook quite a bit to drive traffic to my blogs and to build a community with my readers, so there’s some legitimacy to spending that time on Facebook. But immediately, I realized I was spending too much time there. I don’t need to spend 44% of my time on social media. 

The other part of my time which was quite confronting was how much time I was spending in my email account. I think I was over around 15%. Those two together were 60% of my time on social media and in email. Just knowing that motivated me to use my time differently. 

RescueTime will classify things and you can reprioritize them. You can actually say that Facebook is a legitimate app for you. By default, it classifies Facebook as a very distracting time. While I do use it for my work, I would put it in the distracting category, too, because it’s so easy to go into Facebook and end up somewhere down the vortex of watching cat videos. 

The first step is to analyze how you’re using your time, whether you use a tool like RescueTime or whether you just get to track it on a notepad and paper, and then do some analysis at the end of the day. I think this is a really great place to start when you’re thinking about how to be more productive with your time.

The second step is to filter how you are spending your time through your goals, your purpose, and your why. As we talked about in the last episode of this podcast, knowing your why really does help improve your productivity. It helps you to make good decisions about the things that you do. Obviously, as I looked at how much time I was spending in different activities, I immediately began to see that I could use my time more effectively to tap into my why. 

One of the things I realized as I was looking at the results in RescueTime was that I was spending a lot of my time every day responding to other people. 15% of my time I was in email. I wasn’t spending most of my time in email asking questions about the people. I was responding to other people. I was answering emails, answering questions of others. I’m responding to problems that others had. While responding to people is important, particularly in blogging, we want to be responsive; it’s probably not the best use of my time. 

Social media, again, I was being very responsive to my social media. Yes, I was creating some updates that drive traffic to my site, but I was spending a lot of time responding to questions and interacting with my readers. Again, there’s some value in that. As I think about who I am and what I’m trying to do (I’m a blogger), I’m trying to create content that makes the world a better place. I realized that perhaps for me, I become a little more responsive with my time and less constructive with my time. I think you need to do both, but for me, as I filtered how spending my time through my why, through my goals, and through my purpose, I realized that I needed to spend more time creating content rather than just responding to people.

In 10 years’ time, the things that I know I’ll be most proud of, other things that I created, not the emails that I’ve responded to, not the responsiveness of how I spend my time. It’ll be the assets that I’ve built, the things that I’ve created. Again, this doesn’t mean that I can’t respond to people. I just needed to get the balance back in check.

The third step that I did was to design my ideal schedule. If you go to today’s show notes, I’ve actually got a screenshot in there of the schedule that I designed. It’s at You’ll see there a week—an ideal week—of how I wanted to spend my time. It goes from 8:00 AM in the morning to about 8:30 at night. It has time at the start of every day for the family. It has time at the end of every day around dinner time for the family. It is around that other time which has more to do with my work. You’ll see at 12:30 PM every day, I scheduled an hour for lunch and for my walk. That’s an important part coming out of my renewed focus upon my health. 

You’ll see in that that I also scheduled quite a bit of time for creating. I’ve colored those times in yellow. Most of my creating time actually happens during the day time, particularly in the mornings. On Monday and Tuesday mornings, I spend the mornings creating. That’s the time where I write blog posts, I create podcasts like this one, and where I prepare for talks that I’m giving. It’s the creation of new things. In the afternoons, I tend to create but that time’s more dedicated to editing, revising, and completing the things that I’m creating. I find that I’m more creative in the mornings so that’s the time I spend more time creating and in the afternoon, I’m less creative but I still have the capacity to better finish things off and revise them.

You’ll also see in the schedule that during the day, I spend time on social media. I’ve really become quite strict in the amount of time that I’m spending on social and the times that I do it. I dedicate half an hour at the end of every morning, then at every end of the afternoon, and in the evenings to spend on social media. I need to spend that time on social media. By giving it boundaries, it has become a much more effective time. 

You can have a look at how I schedule my week there. I will say that that schedule that I’ve got there is the one that I designed earlier this year in March. Things have changed a little since then. I probably should update it. Today, I actually have a little bit more white space in my schedule. You’ll see in the one that I presented that Monday afternoons, I left white. That’s a time that I actually built into my schedule to be spontaneous. To do what I felt the energy to do or to have time off if I felt I needed to do that as well. Today, my schedule actually has a little bit more white space. I try to build a bit of white space every day because that’s my personality. I actually work best out of spontaneity and out of flexibility. 

By designing my ideal schedule, I feel like I immediately am being more productive. By designing my schedule, I don’t get up anymore and say, “What will I do today?” And spend the next half an hour trying to work out what I’m going to do and try to remember what my priorities are. I just have the day laid out in front of me and take some of that design-making out of my day. 

I love this quote from Stephen Covey, “The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” Out of your goals, out of your dreams, out of your why, design your ideal schedule. 

Step four is to develop workflows, systems, and routines to help you with the different components in your schedule. Within that weekly ideal schedule that I’ve already talked about, I can then draw down even further into different activities that I need to do every day. The social media time that I have in my evenings, for instance, you’ll see in my schedule that I have a little red strip called promote. I have a social strip underneath that and that’s for other social media type activities.

That hour of my time is actually the same every single evening. I sit down and I go through the same process every night. It’s about looking at new posts and scheduling them on Facebook and Twitter for the next day. It’s about identifying all posts in my archives and scheduling them and creating visual graphics that I can use in the social updates. I know exactly what I need to do every night. It’s a little routine that I developed over time. 

The same is true when I create a podcast. Again, on the show notes today at, I will share with you the workflow that I’ve developed for producing a podcast. Now, those of you who’ve been following this podcast for the last 8 or 9 weeks now know that I started this podcast off with 31 episodes in 31 days. What you probably don’t know is that I decided to create those 31 episodes about three weeks before I started.

At that point, three weeks before this podcast went live, I’ve never ever recorded a podcast. I didn’t know how to host a podcast. I didn’t have a blog to host it. I didn’t really know how to edit a podcast either. I felt quite overwhelmed, but I knew I needed to start it because I was on a bit of a deadline because our event was happening later. I decided that the only way I was going to get it done is to do some research and then develop a workflow.

I developed a workflow and you’ll see it if you go to the show notes. I think it has about 20 different steps in it. Basically, to create a podcast episode, I worked my way through these 20 steps. It goes from brainstorming topics right through to getting the post up in my show notes and everything in between. Instead of having this overwhelming task of, “I’ve got to create 31 podcast episodes,” I had broken it down into small achievable steps into a workflow. 

By systemizing it in this way, it decreased that feeling of being overwhelmed by these massive tasks. It also really quickly enabled me to master the skills that I needed to create this podcast by simply following the steps every day as I created those podcasts. I very quickly go to the point where I didn’t need the list anymore because I mastered the skills. It also increased the effectiveness of it. As I began to go through the checklist, I began to realize that some of the things in the checklist I could do at the same time, like a multitask. As one process is happening, I can start the next process. I became more effective. 

It also helped me to develop good habits. It also helped me when it came time to outsource. At episode 15 of the 31, I decided to bring someone in to help me edit my podcast and get show notes ready. I was able to get that person to come into my office and because I had the process already laid out, I was able to pass that onto her. Just simply by having a workflow, by having a system in place, even at that point though it wasn’t particularly written down, it was more in my mind, it certainly helped me to be able to outsource that.

By systematizing things in this way, you also eliminate unnecessary decision-making. I think this is really important. I’ve read a number of studies over the last year or two that talk about how our brains only have the capacity to make a certain amount of decisions every day. I don’t know if there are actual studies and whether that’s actually true or not, but it certainly resonates with me. I know I find making decisions all day that by the end of the day, I’ve got no capacity left to really make decisions. By systematizing things, by creating routines, by making things habits, you just go into the flow of creating that podcast without having to make decisions along the way.

I’ve actually systematized a whole heap of different areas of my life. A lot of them have to do with my work but also have little routines that I do for the rest of my life as well. I ate the same lunch most days. I don’t have to think about what I am going to have for lunch today. I wear the same clothes on most days. I have a uniform, the same type of jeans, the same tops. Unless I’m going out somewhere special, I pretty much wear the same thing every day. I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear. 

I said at our event recently that I’m a fashion blogger’s worst nightmare. I’m a food blogger’s worst nightmare because I systematized these things. It enables me to use my decision-making capacity for other things. The more you systematize, the more effective you get.

I love this quote from Jim Rohn, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.” Workout what you need to achieve, develop a system, develop a workflow, then stick to that, and practice those things every day. 

The fifth step in using your time more effectively is to automate the systems that you build where possible. Some of the things that I do every day, I have to do every day. Some of the things that I do, I don’t need to do myself every day. One of the ways that I can become more effective is to automate some of those systems. 

One of the things that I automated this year is some of my social media broadcasts. Not all of them, just some of them. I’ve been using a tool called MeetEdgar. I know many of you are familiar with it. Some people get put off by MeetEdgar because it is a paid tool. By no means am I affiliated with them or making anything from talking about it today. I’ll be clear on that. It is a paid tool and it is an investment. It’s a monthly fee. What I found is it has helped me automate and to eliminate some of that 44% of the time I spent on social media. 

MeetEdgar is a tool that basically enables you to build a library of tweets and updates for Facebook or even LinkedIn as well. Some of those tweets that you might do over time, again and again. Part of my social media strategy is to highlight the old posts that I have written in the past. A post that I wrote last year that I want to retweet again. I don’t want to retweet it 10 times a day but over time, I want it to come up in my tweet stream every month or two. MeetEdgar enables you to build a library for those types of tweets and to set up a schedule so they will be published at semi-regular intervals. 

Instead of every three months, me going to that post, and setting up the tweet, it just doesn’t for me. It’s a bit of work to set up. It’s actually something quite a bit of work to set up. But over time, it cuts in the amount of time that you’re spending on social media.

Now, I’ll be clear. I do a lot of extra tweeting and Facebook updates that are all manual when they’re more conversational. That’s actually me interacting. Some of those tweets that you see at @problogger Twitter account are things that I’ve set up through MeetEdgar. It saved me a lot of time. It actually made those tweets effective as well because I put a bit of good time in the setting up of them and in creating some good graphics. I actually do get a really great engagement. So, automate systems where possible and where it makes sense to do so. 

The other thing that you can do is to delegate the systems that you build where possible. Outsource them. It might be the other way but you might want to think about that. Over the years, I’ve done this in a variety of ways. I have a team now of probably 10 people who work as part of my team on a regular basis. Some of these people are editors. Some of them are writers. Some of them help us produce our ebooks. Some help me produce this podcast. Some do development work and keep us service running.

Most of them are local people here in Melbourne where I live and a couple overseas. These are people who have taken roles of things that I was previously doing. It enabled me to focus my time on things that I need to do and the things that I’m good at. So, delegating your systems is much easier when you’ve got a system to delegate. 

The last step that I’ll talk briefly about is to find the tools that you need to keep you on track. A lot of productivity talks start with the tools. I actually was at a conference a couple of months ago. It was a session on productivity and they spent almost the whole session talking about tools. It felt a bit backward to me.

I love tools. I love learning about new to-do lists and new productivity tools. The reality is, if you start with the tool and don’t start with your system, start with your why and what you’re trying to achieve, then the tool can actually distract you from your purpose. You can actually spend most of your time researching tools, which ultimately makes you even less productive than ever. I’m a big believer in developing the systems and finding tools that help you to achieve those things. 

I actually use three simple tools in most of what I do. These are things that you probably won’t actually use yourself because you’ve got a different system. I’ll mention them because they may actually connect with what you’ve built in terms of the systems. I use a to-do list called Wunderlist. It’s on my iPhone, it’s on my computer. It’s about a to-do list app. I know there are other to-do list apps that probably have even more features than the Wunderlist but this one is simple and it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere I go.

I use a calendar called Fantastical 2. Again, it’s on my computer, it’s on my phone, and it’s on my watch as well. Then, I use Evernote. This is where I keep all my ideas and I do most of my writing. Increasingly, I’m also spending time interacting with my team on it.

The other tool that we’ve started to use as a team more recently is Slack. I know many of you are familiar with that. This helps us to communicate as a team. They’re the tools I spend most of my time working with. Again, I’ll say, design your systems, design your routine, before you go hunting for the tools.

Let me quickly go through those seven steps to a better use of time. First, analyze how you’re spending your time. Secondly, filter how you’re spending your time through your why, through your goals. Thirdly, design your ideal schedule. Fourthly, develop workflows, systems, and routines. Fifthly, automate those systems where possible. Sixthly, delegate those systems where possible and where you’re able to afford that, I should add. Seventhly, find the tools to keep you on track. 

I will say again that a lot of what I talked about in this podcast is almost painful for me. It comes out of my personality type being quite flexible and wanting to be spontaneous. I have needed to build some time for that personality or characteristic to come out because that’s when I do sometimes operate at my best. I have learned this year that if I don’t develop these systems, if I haven’t developed this routine, as painful as it is and as counterintuitive as it is for me, if I don’t operate in this way, then I’m much less effective with my time. 

I’ll finish with another quote from Jim Rohn. This pretty much sums up the lesson for me. “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” This has been my realization this year. Yes, it’s painful to set up these systems. It doesn’t feel good sometimes to do that. But it doesn’t feel good to get to the end of the year and think I didn’t really achieve anything this year either.

The last thing that I’ll just briefly add (that I skip over) is that in the designing of your ideal schedule—that schedule that I am sharing with you in the show notes today—what I did to help me get in the rhythm of that schedule is to set up alarms. Every time that you see on that schedule there’s a change of color from one task to another task, I’ll actually set up an alarm on my phone to let me know what I needed to be doing at that time. 

I made appointments with myself all day every day to spend time creating, to spend time doing admin, to spend time doing my social, to spend time going for my work. I actually had to make appointments with myself to get this routine into place. That was quite painful particularly in the first couple of weeks. Gradually, over time, it became natural. It became something that I began to anticipate the alarms. After a while, I actually switched them off because I was so into the system and habits began to form.

I hope you found today’s podcast to be helpful for you. I know some of you out there are productivity junkies and you could teach me a thing or two about productivity. I would love to hear your suggestions. I’d love to hear about the systems that you’ve built. I’d love to hear what you have learned on this whole topic of productivity.

You can leave a comment on today’s show notes at or you can shoot me an email at [email protected]. You can connect with me on social media at @problogger on Twitter or on our Facebook page at 

Lastly, I’d love to get your review of today’s show and of this podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you’re listening to us there. I do read all of those reviews and certainly have been featuring a few of them lately. Again, leave your name and your blog’s name on your review and you’ll get a little shout out as well. 

Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast. I look forward to hearing your comments on today’s show. I’ll talk to you in the coming days on episode 41 of the ProBlogger Podcast.

How did you go with today’s challenge?

Have you got a weekly schedule? What systems and tools do you use to increase your productivity? What’s something new you might try?

I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Don’t forget to share a link to your blog.

Pick Up the 31DBBB eBook at 50% Off

Don’t forget, you can also grab the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook with a 50% discount using the coupon code PODCAST50 during the checkout process here.

Finally, if you have a moment we’d love to get your feedback on the ProBlogger Podcast with this short survey which will help us plan future episodes.


Enjoy this podcast? Subscribe to ProBloggerPLUS for free to get free blogging tutorials and podcasts in your inbox each week.