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8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Blogging Time

Today’s episode is about how to make the most of the time you have. Juggling time to blog with other things in your life is one of the most common challenges that bloggers experience, including me. I recently got together with 5 other bloggers where we talked about this, and I’ve spent a lot of effort myself in trying to get better at managing my time. In today’s episode, I share eight tips and strategies you can use to make fitting blogging into your life less stressful.

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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). In today’s episode:

  • How to work out what your life priorities are
  • How to work out how you’re currently spending your time
  • How to work out what your blogging priorities are (and the 4 priorities I focus on for my blogs)
  • How to change your schedule to increase blogging effectiveness
  • Why batching your tasks is so important
  • How ‘mental blogging’ can save you time
  • Why setting aside time for idea generation can save you time
  • How to break down big jobs into small bites
  • How to embrace slow blogging – why less can be more
  • Why putting time into preparing for the next week can save you time
  • Why setting aside time for rest, inspiration, and well being should be a regular part of your blog schedule
  • Why NOW is the perfect time to review your priorities and redesign your blog and life schedule

Further Reading and Resources for 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Blogging Time

Tools I use to save time: 

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there. My name’s Darren Rowse. Welcome to episode 82 of the ProBlogger Podcast. Today, I want to take a break from the shorter podcast that I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks and talk about something that I think is particularly relevant for this time of the year. That is juggling the time that you have from blogging. I want to give you eight tips today for busy bloggers on how to make the most of the time that you have. You can find today’s show notes at 

I had a recent coffee with five other bloggers. It’s kind of an end of year breakup of sorts for those of us who have small businesses and don’t get a chance to have a big Christmas party. As we’re having our coffee, we went around the circle, and we talked about our biggest successes over the last year but then talked about our biggest challenges for the year ahead. Every single one of us as we went around and talked about challenges for next year, mentioned that we were struggling with time in one way or another.

Most of us had busy lives not just with our blogging but many of us had families, some of us had other commitments to churches, community groups, sporting groups, and other priorities. Most of us have friends as well. This juggle of how to fit blogging into the rest of our lives was a common thing that many of us faced as we went around. Our conversation then moved to what tips could we give to one another to juggle our time better. 

What I want to do today is to share some of the tips that came to mind from me as I spoke into that conversation but also some of the things that others suggested as well. I’m someone who periodically does struggle with being productive in my own blogging and in my own life. Over the last 10 or so years, I have settled into a bit of a workflow and a bit of a routine. Some of what I’m going to share today comes out of that as well. Let’s get into some of the tips that I’ve got. I’ve got eight for you today. I hope you’ll find some of them helpful to you.

The first thing I want to talk about is not blogging at all. It’s about your life and your life priorities. Now, I do feel a little bit like a parent saying this, but the truth is time management has a lot to do with priorities. It’s important to take a little bit of a step back from your blogging and to ask yourself what are the priorities that you have in your life at the moment.

I remember as a young adult—I must’ve been in my early 20s—going away and doing a time management course. It was part of the study that I was doing at that time. I remember at that time being challenged to do an exercise where I kept a record of every minute of every day and what I did with that time. It was an incredibly confronting exercise to do. All day, I had to carry a piece of paper with me and just write down what I did every 15 minutes.

I remember getting to the end of that week and telling up the different activities that I’ve done. I was amazed to discover how much time I’ve been spending on things that did not feature in my priority list at all. My priorities at that time in my life were study, career, relationships. But as I looked at the way I was actually using my time at that point in my life, my time was dominated by things like television, computer games (I was a young man), and time in the pub. I was a university student at that time. 

The way I was spending my time did not reflect my priorities at all. Of course, at that time I was young, I was reckless, I was a young adult living life and having a good time. I think there’s a point in your life where that’s probably not a bad thing to do, but I realized that that time, there was a real disconnect between my priorities and how I was spending my time. I think if I was to do that same exercise today, I’m sure I’d be confronted in different ways.

That may be an exercise that you actually want to do, is to actually think about how you spend your time day-to-day. I’m sure most of us could find a few activities that we do that maybe don’t reflect the priorities that we have. I’ve talked in a previous podcast about how I’ve used the tool RescueTime which is a tool that you can install on your computer to watch how you spend your time when you’re on your computer. That will give you a bit of feedback on how you’re spending your time. Again, that’s a good one to balance through the priorities that you have.

So, number one is to work out what your priorities are and then ask yourself, am I spending my time in a way that reflects those priorities?

The second thing I want to talk about is your blogging priorities. Previously to this, I’ve just been talking about your life priorities, and I think it’s really important to take that big picture look. I think it’s also really important to look at the priorities that you have for your blog and to really hone in on that, particularly. Actually ask yourself, what do I need to be focusing upon in my blogging right now?

Now, it’s very easy to get quite overwhelmed by blogging. There’s a lot to do. You’ve got to write blog posts, read the comments that get left, have social media accounts—multiple ones. A lot of people are responding to comments. There’s reading other blogs. There’s design. There’s monetizing your blog, finding readers, media kits, all kinds of things that you might want to spend your time on. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by that.

When I get overwhelmed by all of the tasks that there are to do—I regularly get that feeling that I’ve been overwhelmed—I try and strip it right back and ask myself, what are the really core things that I need to do? Start with those things, plug those things in first. These are the big things, the big priorities, that you need to have with your blog.

For me, it really comes down to four main areas: Writing or creating great content. Finding readers, promoting my blog. Number three is building community or deepening engagement with the readers that I have. And then the fourth area is monetization. These are the four pillars that I always talk about in this podcast and on ProBlogger. In fact, we’re in the process (at the moment) of redesigning the ProBlogger blog around those four key areas and a couple of other areas.

These are the four non-negotiable things that I have to do with my blog. I think, sometimes, by simply naming those priorities you have with blogging, that can help you to be more effective in the way that you use your time. For some people, that’s not enough. Some people need to go the next step and actually build those priorities (whatever they might be for you) into the way that you organize your week.

Again, I’ve shared my calendar in the past with you. We can share a link to that in today’s show notes which reflect those priorities—creating content, finding readers for my blog, building engagement with my readers, and monetization. They’re four things that will always be in my weekly calendar. These are the four things that I just have to spend time on. If I don’t spend time on those four key areas, I know I’m not going to be effective in my blogging.

Once you’ve done your life priorities, actually work out what are your blogging priorities. It may actually be those four things. I think most bloggers will probably find those four things but you may have something else that you really want to add to that for the next few months in your blogging, for the next year in your blogging.

For me, it was writing content, finding readers for my blog, building community or deepening engagement with those readers, and monetizing blogs. Actually, build those things into your weekly calendar into the way that you spend your time. I believe if you spend your time focusing upon those four things, then you will begin to grow your blog. You’ll grow a blog that changes your readers’ lives and that continues to grow. 

Work out your priorities as a blogger then work out how you can slide those things into your week. You may not have a lot of time but if you can spend a little bit of time each week on those four things, I think you can really begin to see some progress. 

The third thing that I want to talk about is batch processing. Some of you will be on top of this and already be doing it. Some of you don’t even know that word (batch processing), but you might be doing it. For me, this is something that I’ve discovered pretty early in my own blogging. 

Up until the point I made this discovery, I spent my blogging life sitting down, writing a blog post, getting onto social media, then responding to comments. I’ve flipped between one activity and another, and do five or six different things almost at once. It was almost like multitasking or flipping between activities. I discovered I was much more effective when I focused my sole attention upon one task at a time. I did it for a longer period of time. I did more than I needed to do on it and was then able to use what I did at that time multiple times.

Let me give you an example of this. One of the ways that I batch process is that I write multiple blog posts in a sitting. I will sit down on a Monday morning. I might write three or four blog posts. On a Tuesday morning, I might try to recall two or three podcasts in a sitting. Rather than sitting down and writing a post, publishing it, doing some comments, then 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 doing social media. I do Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, whatever it might be. I try and schedule things ahead of time as well so that the half an hour that I spend on social media actually pays off for the rest of the day. The same thing that I do at the end of the day in social media, I schedule all of the next day’s social media updates at once for the next day. 

Batch processing, I’ll give you some further reading on this on today’s show notes. I found that I’m much more effective rather than flipping between jobs, I’m able to really get a lot done in those particular times. I will share a post that I wrote quite a few years ago when I first discovered this, How Batch Processing Made Me 10 Times More Productive, in today’s show notes.

Another quick tip that I’ll give you—this is tip number four—is to do what I call mental blogging. It may sound like a strange thing to say. In the very early days of my blogging, I had very limited time to actually blog. I was working three part-time jobs in those very early days. I was also studying in the evenings. I was nearly married. We were going out a lot, living close to the downtown area, it was a great place to live so we’re always out. I have a very limited time to blog. As a result, I would often have about half an hour in the morning before I left for work. I would have a bit of a lunch break or I would be blogging late at night. I have very little time to do it.

What I started to do was while I was working in a warehouse, some of the more menial tasks that I was doing in my work, I would blog in my mind. I would write blog posts in my mind so when I did sit down to blog in that lunch break, I actually had my blog post already planned out in my mind. I also used to carry a notebook. As I was working, while my boss wasn’t watching, I would jut down a few words just to remind me what I would want to write about at the end of the shift that I was doing at that time.

There were many times, I remember, I get home from work and I would have this half an hour window before I had to go off and do my studies. I would just bang out a really quiet detailed blog post because I had already outlined it. I already had it in my notebook, the main points that I wanted to make. I’ve already written it in my mind. Today, I would probably not use a notebook. I’ll probably use Evernote. I’ll probably dictate some of the main points that I want to use as well using Evernote, being able to record my voice. I think it’s really a useful thing to do. 

However, you want to capture that on the road, use those sorts of tools. I guess use those times in your life where you might be doing something that you’ve got the mental capacity to be able to work on your blog. I did the same thing. I was working in in-flight catering in a kitchen on a conveyor belt in my early days of blogging. I have one job where I was working in a warehouse. Another one where I was working on a conveyor belt putting orange juice on trays that you eat off on a plane. I was really menial work, but I got the best blogging done while I did that. Every morning tea break, I would be sitting there with my notebook jotting down the ideas that I come up with as I’ve been putting orange juice on trays. There’s my fourth tip, mental blogging.

My fifth tip for you today is to spend time when you batch process and you come up with your calendar. Putting aside time for idea generation. One of the things that I realized fairly early on my blogging, that I was spending a lot of time coming up with ideas for a blog post. I would usually come up with the idea just before I wrote it. I put aside some time to write but I spent half of that time trying to work out what should I write about today. Should I write about this? Then I might start, and then go, “No, that’s no good.” Then, I go back to idea generation again. 

One of the tasks that I began to batch process was putting aside time to come up with ideas with no pressure to write anything. Just brainstorming ideas. When I would sit down to write, the next time, I actually had an idea already waiting for me there. I would use a technique called mind mapping. I use a tool called MindNode. It’s a Mac tool. You can also get in on an iPad or an iPhone. It’s just a mind mapping tool. You can do the same type of thing in a whiteboard or a piece of paper or there are other tools around as well. You can basically brainstorm ideas for content. 

Today, I’ll also use Evernote sometimes for this. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of an Evernote user. I’ve come across a few people recently who use a tool called Trello. Trello is a project management tool that many teams use. I’ve seen a number of bloggers using it for mind mapping as well. You might want to check that one out. The key here is to set aside time to come up with ideas.

You could actually extend this a little bit further, I think, by not only coming up with the idea but actually coming up with the few points that you might make in the post. When you sit down to write, you don’t just have the topic. You actually have the beginnings of the post. Maybe a bit of an outline. What I typically would do is come up with an idea and then try and come up with three bullet points that I want to cover at that point and in that post. 

Even as I’m coming up with bullet points, I might come up with further reading, an example, or something else that I could use to make that post a little bit more interesting. The key’s not to get too far into the creation of that content and just come up with the idea. You could take this a little further by actually sliding your ideas into an editorial calendar.

This is something that we’ve been doing at ProBlogger recently, using CoSchedule. We take our ideas and we actually put them straight into CoSchedule and give them a date. Then, we’ve got a deadline. That, for me, is one of the best things that I can do in terms of getting productive. If I know that I’ve not only got the idea but I’ve got the date it needs to be published and to do the things that I need to achieve to get that post written, I’m much more likely to get that post written or that podcast recorded. That tool, CoSchedule—I’ll have a link in today’s show notes—is really powerful in helping me to get things done and be more effective with my time as well.

Tip number six—we only got three to go—is to break down big jobs into small bites. This is almost the opposite of batch processing in some ways. Batch processing, you put aside a big amount of time to do multiple things on the same type of things. This way is when you’ve got a big job. Say, you want to write an ebook or you want to create a course or you want to do a redesign of your blog, these big tasks can be very overwhelming.

Quite often, when I’m confronted with those big tasks, I get paralyzed. I actually don’t act on them at all because they’re too big. As I’ve shared in the previous podcast, what I tend to do now when I’m confronted with a big task is to break it down. I build a process on what needs to be done to get the big task down. I try and chunk it down into things that can be achieved in 15–30 minutes. When I get up in the morning, even before the kids wake up (sometimes), I can get a little chunk, a little task done that takes me closer to the big task being completed.

If you’re being confronted by something that you’re just not acting on at the moment, then break it down. Break it down into small bite-size tasks that will take you closer to achieving that big task that you need to get done. 

Tip number seven is one that you may not have heard most blogging teachers talk about. I think it’s really something that has helped me a lot. It has taken a bit of the pressure off that some bloggers feel. Tip number seven is to embrace slow blogging. Slow blogging is okay.

Many bloggers have this little voice that is in the back of their minds that says, “I have to post something today. I have to get a post out today. I have to post every day.” It may not be every day for you but it may be, “I have to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” or, “I have to post at certain times.” We have these little voices in our minds that set ourselves these deadlines and set expectations that blogging has to be daily or has to be multiple times a day. Or, “I have to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest. I have to publish on those networks 10 times a day.”

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in posting daily. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being engaged in all of those different social media activities. Sometimes, as bloggers, I think we create monsters for ourselves. We create machines that we have to keep feeding. We do it for no good reason when it comes to frequency. I’m guilty of this. There have been times in my own blogging where I had that voice in my mind putting pressure on myself. It ends up hurting my blog. 

Here on ProBlogger, we’ve actually slowed down in our posting schedule. There was a time a few years ago where I was posting 14 times a week on ProBlogger. That little voice just kept nagging at me saying, “You should be posting more. You should be posting more.” I was seeing sites like Mashable. I’ll see sites like TechCrunch and other tech, webbie, startup-y, type of blogs publishing more, and more, and more content. I was comparing myself to them. I wanted to try and keep up.

I realized that for ProBlogger, that less can be more and slow blogging is okay. We pulled it right back. We actually pulled it back to one state to three posts per week. Since then, we’ve actually increased a bit. We’re at six or seven a week now. We’ve gradually built it up. I’ve only done it as a result of building up my team with the hope that we’re maintaining our quality as well.

Slowing down can be okay. It’s really interesting that voice in the back of my head that said, “You need to post more, more, more.” As I slowed down, it started saying other things like, “You’re going to lose your traffic. You’re going to lose your traffic.” The reality is we actually kept that traffic and grew it as a result of slowing down by putting more time into the creation of our content and being proud of the quality of our work. Also, using some of the time was freed up by posting less. We do other things like working our design which is very close to being released. Now, we’re able to increase the quality of what we’re doing as well.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to slow down but consider it. Are those little voices in your head that are telling you to post more, to do things that other people are doing? Sometimes it can be good things to listen to but they’re sometimes not. They can actually sometimes hurt your blogs. So, slow blogging is okay.

A couple of years ago, I came across an Aussie blogger by the name of Kemi. I’ll give you a link to her blog in today’s show notes. She created this video which I loved. It’s just a few minutes of her talking about her blogging, about her business, and about the way she spends her day. She talked in this video about having preparation days, success days, and inspiration days. I think the idea originally came from someone called Jack Canfield who talked about having creating days, preparation days, success days, and rest days. 

I liked these ideas of having certain days of the week for certain types of things. The way Kemi described it is she has days where she just puts aside time to prepare. She doesn’t actually create anything at all. She spends that time preparing for her success day. Her success day is where she creates and it’s where she completes things. She has other days which are more for inspiration. She just put a whole day aside to get inspiration, to read, to watch, to listen, and to get inspiration. Of course, the cycle continues. Out of that inspiration comes a day for preparation. Out of that preparation comes a day for success and creation. 

I liked these ideas a lot. You will now see this reflected in my own schedule. I don’t put a hole aside a whole day for things like preparation, success, or inspiration, but I do try to put aside time in each day for those things and actually spend time. Each week I’m spending time preparing for the next week. Usually on a Friday, I’ll actually put aside some time to think about how I’m going to spend my time next week. I’ll also have (in my schedule now) time for inspiration. Every day, I try and watch a TED talk, sometimes two, or sometimes three. Every day, I put aside a little bit of time to just read a novel. I put aside time every day to create. 

Whether you take on preparation, creation, and inspiration as your three things, or whether you’ve got other things that you want to build into your day, I think it’s really useful to put aside time in that type of way. The other thing I really liked about Jack Canfield is that he has rest days. I think this is really important if you want to be a productive person, whether it be in your blogging or other aspects of your life. You do need to create time for rest.

There was a time in my own blogging where I was working 60 or 70 hours a week. I’m quite proud of the fact that I was. The reality, though, was while I was able to be productive and sustain that for a period of time, it began to take its toll upon my health, my relationships, and other aspects of my life as well. It actually ended up making me unproductive because I was having to take time off because I was sick. I was having to be distracted because my relationships weren’t as good as they could’ve been. 

By setting aside time to rest, I’ve actually (last time) worked less and more productive in the time that I do work. I’m happy as well. Also those around me. Setting aside time for things like preparation for creation, for inspiration. Setting aside time for rest, while it may seem a little counterintuitive that you’re putting aside time for stuff that’s not actually being productive, actually is. It’s going to make you so much more productive.

The last thing I’d say as part of this is put aside time for your well-being. Rest is part of that but so is exercise, so is healthy food. Many of you know that in 2015, it was a big year of me actually really starting to look after myself for the first time. I actually think that over the last six or seven months, I have increased my productivity tenfold. Maybe not quite tenfold, but at least, I doubled my productivity. I think a large part of that is because I’m setting aside time for me. I’m setting aside time for my health. I’m setting aside time to walk for my social life and also for my learning. My mental capacity as well. Again, we’ll give you some further reading on that in today’s show notes. 

I feel like I’ve scratched the surface today with these tips on how to be more effective with your time, how do you make the most of the time that you have. I hope that somewhere in the midst of these eight tips are a few things you can go away and implement as you’re heading to 2016. This is a great time to step back from life a little bit and hopefully set yourself up. Set yourself up some good habits and routines for the year ahead.

Again, let me just quickly whip through the eight things that I’ve said. Firstly, it starts with life priorities. Secondly, it’s about identifying your blogging priorities. Thirdly, build batch processing, particularly around some of the main tasks of creating content, social media. Number four was to think about mental blogging. Do you have any time in your day where you’re doing menial tasks? You could actually be putting aside time in your mind and using some tools like Evernote, too. Begin to create content. Get the post ready to be written. Number five, put aside time for idea generation. Maybe even develop an editorial calendar system to give yourself some deadlines. Tip number six was to break down the big jobs into small bites. Tip number seven was to consider slow blogging. It might’ve been worthwhile slowing down to increase the quality of what you’re doing. And tip number eight was to create space for preparation, creation, rest, and for you.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I’d love to hear your tips on productivity, what you would add to this, what you agree with, what do you disagree with, over at today’s show notes at If you would like to keep up-to-date with the ProBlogger Podcast, you can (of course) subscribe to us on iTunes or another service like Stitcher. We also do offer a newsletter. 

In all of our show notes, there’s a little yellow button at the bottom of our show notes. It’s yellow today. I don’t know whether it will be in the next 10 years. There’s a button at the bottom of all our show notes that gives you the option to subscribe. This is a once a week newsletter. It’s called ProBlogger PLUS. It just gives you an update once a week. Usually on a Tuesday or a Wednesday of all of the latest blog posts that we have written over the last week as well as our new podcast.

At the moment, we’ve been doing a weekly reading roundup. The reading roundup is a post that Stacy puts together all of the things that we, as a ProBlogger team, are reading on other people’s sites. There are usually about 10 of them on sites like Social Media Examiner or HubSpot, Buffer Blog, all of these great blogs that we read every day. We actually collect their best posts and put them into a post on ProBlogger, and that’s in our ProBlogger PLUS newsletter as well.

Again, you can get it at Scroll to the bottom of the show notes and there is an option there to subscribe to ProBlogger PLUS. I hope that you have found something useful in today’s podcast and I will chat with you in the next couple of days.

How did you go with today’s episode?

What other strategies have worked for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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