I started a series on blogging in February and am finally wrapping it up today by talking about how to manage your time. This is actually the most difficult post I’ve written in this series because I often feel this is an area I lack in.
That being said, today I’d like to discuss some of the ways blogging can eat your time and what you can do about it. I would also love to open up the comment thread to hear from you.
Where did my time go?
Some people suppose that blogging is nothing more than finding a deal, slapping it up, and calling it a day. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here is a list of activities I’ve done related to my blog in the past two weeks:
- Coordinated details for a giveaway.
- Had an interview for a local online magazine.
- Scheduled a meeting with representatives from a local business.
- Encouraged fellow bloggers who received negative comments.
- Chatted with a friend about the possibility of helping me with my site.
- Negotiated vendor space for an upcoming event.
- Emailed the food bank to schedule more coupon classes.
- Held a live webcast.
- Filed my taxes.
- Participated in a bloggers’ Twitter party.
- Brainstormed a few ideas for upcoming post series (yes, more are coming).
- Met with PR to discuss possible collaborative projects.
- Emailed one of my affiliates about a possible issue with links not working.
- Read and commented on a number of posts across a number of niches.
- Set up my LinkedIn profile and began making connections.
- Oh yeah, and found deals and posted about them.
The above list isn’t comprehensive, either. I am not sharing this to have you feel sorry for me. I’m sharing this because I want to illustrate how all-consuming a blog can become. I fully understand that your list may vary greatly depending on your niche, the size of your traffic, your purpose in blogging, and other factors.
What Can be Done?
I believe it’s important to take a proactive approach to managing your time online. Here are my best thoughts for you on this topic.
#1. Set up a routine. Savvy Blogging had a post a few months back called “the Daily 7.” The idea is that every day you approach your blog, email, and social media sites in a systematic way. In this regard you tackle one thing at a time, and in order. Depending on your blog, you may have a daily 4, a daily 8, or a daily 5.
#2. Set up work hours. This is actually something my doctor suggested to me after I had my brief meltdown a couple weeks ago. When you work from home, particularly if you are a work-at-home parent, the lines between work and home can really blur. This has been true for me. My work never leaves me. This means I have to make a conscious effort to leave it.
#3. Enlist help. I realized a few weeks ago I can’t do this alone anymore. My traffic has just about doubled since last year and with that, more emails, more opportunities, and more stuff that just has to get done. If you find you get there, too, consider who you might ask to help. A loyal reader? A friend? A former colleague? A virtual assistant? Or perhaps you could team up with another blogger in some capacity?
#4. Figure out what can go. One of my favorite quotes is this ancient Chinese proverb: “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in eliminating the nonessentials.” I have lots of good ideas and lots of good intentions, but at the end of the day, I can’t act on them all. I’ve eliminated some of my weekly features here in order to keep up with the coupon matchups. I’ve paired down my twice-monthly webcasts to once-monthly. I’ve stopped actively seeking writing clientele (yeah…I actually own a copywriting business in addition to this blog). Determine what you can let go.
#5. Be careful to not overcommit. Speaking from experience, you don’t want to promise more than you can deliver to your readers. Don’t tell them every Monday you’ll have some funny story, every Tuesday a killer post on photography, every Wednesday a giveaway, etc etc. Even if these things seem like small posts on the offset, you’d be surprised at the amount of pressure they can add to your life. Be selective in what you promise.
#6. Make time offline. You’ve probably noticed from time to time I take breaks. I aim to have at least one day a week I do something special with my kids, even if it’s just taking them out to lunch and to the library. At least a few times a week, I make an effort to shut down the laptop and just sit with my husband and watch a movie or read a book. If you’re like me, you might find it helpful to schedule time off the computer like this.
A word about Smartphones
Before I end this post, I thought I’d share that I don’t own a Smartphone. I have a basic cell phone with a phone plan that’s super cheap (check out PureTalk if you’re looking for a great deal by the way). I know some of you might laugh, but I know something about me. I know that I can really, really struggle with knowing when to walk away from the computer and this blog. I am afraid having a Smartphone will mean having that world constantly accesible to me, and I am unsure how I could handle that temptation. So for right now, no Smartphone for me.
Now that might not be a temptation at all for you, but if you struggle in this area, I challenge you to turn the phone off when you don’t need it, turn the laptop off when you aren’t using it, or close out of the social media sites when you really need to dig in and get some work done. Find ways to eliminate temptations to sap your time.
As for me? I’m off to turn off my computer and hang with my kids.
Do you struggle with managing your time? Please share what’s helped you, too!
Thanks for joining me for this blogging series. I hope it has been useful to you. Here are the other posts, in case you’ve missed any:
- Five questions you should ask before starting a blog
- Seven qualities of winning blogs
- Creating a mission statement and values for your blog
- Making inroads with other bloggers
- Growing your blog
- Be Nice (Blogger etiquette)
- 6 ways to improve your posts
- The emotional cost of blogging
Photo credit Graham Biggs