Are you looking for ways to make your work day more productive?
I see it everywhere – Internet marketers and bloggers alike struggling to find efficiency in their work day.
It’s something that I still continue to struggle with from time to time.
In order to make sure that my readers learn how to prioritize their day effectively, I took some time to interview some trustworthy experts who are incredibly efficient.
I wanted to learn specifically which tools and strategies that actually work for them – along with some practical tips to make your blogging efforts efficient as possible.
For example, did you know that coffee of all things can make you more productive? I’m not talking about the fancy Starbucks brews packed with sugar and sweets, I’m talking about a classic cup of Joe with a little bit of cream and sugar if you prefer.
This miracle liquid can make you more alert, keep your stress at bay, and even provide long-term health benefits! Honestly, they should have just named it “liquid gold” but the color is all wrong.
Check out the infographic below for tons of info on why coffee is essential to your blog, and how it benefits your mind and body!
Want to embed this bad boy?
<a href="https://www.onblastblog.com/make-your-day-more-prductive/"><img src="https://www.onblastblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Coffee-infographic.jpg" alt="Boosting Productivity with Coffee" width="1000px" border="0" /></a> Credit: <a href="https://www.onblastblog.com/make-your-day-more-prductive/" target="_blank">On Blast Blog</a>
How do you juggle blogging and your personal life to make your day more efficient
and prolific as a blogger?
This can be a huge challenge but focus is key.
It’s super important to keep the perfect balance of business and personal life – I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to block out my time in a calendar.
I love blogging and working on my business so it can be pretty easy for me to just throw myself into business. Now that I’ve got time blocked out for personal stuff it makes it so easy to keep the perfect balance between the two.
Another big part of this is a focus on managing my time as effectively as possible.
This means effectively prioritizing tasks, focusing on the right things and making
my business as process driven as possible.
For managing my time better, I’ve gone back to my calendar and made sure I’m
doing the right things at the right time.
Typically, we’re most productive just after we wake up so I block out time for writing and other cognitively challenging tasks in the mornings.
Emails are a huge time drain too, so I block out an hour each day for checking
emails and try to only check my emails during that hour. Although there are
some urgent emails which makes this difficult but it definitely helps.
I also block out some time on Friday’s for emails and other admin stuff so
I have a clean slate for the weekend. By doing this I’m less compelled
to work on weekends.
The more digitally connected our society gets, the busier we seem to become.
On the positive side of all these amazing technological advancements and tools we now have access to, we have the ability to organize and prioritize our daily tasks quite efficiently to help keep our lives on track.
Here are some of my tips that I use to organize my day:
We all have a to do list. Some people choose to write it down and others try and manage it all in their head.
Take 15 minutes the night before to ensure you have a productive plan for the next day. I don’t call this my “to-do list” but rather my priority list.
I use an app called easilydo to help keep track and prioritize my time. I always ask myself when entering something into my priority list: “is this item taking me closer to achieving my daily, weekly, monthly or yearly goals?”
Try and wake up about 20 minutes earlier than you usually do. I take about 5 to 10 minutes per morning to open up one of my favorite mindfulness apps (either headspace or Calm) and I select one of the options which really helps to start the day off right.
I try and stick to my schedule and I utilize my assistant as much as possible for the things that I know she can help with. This always ensures I stay on point with my priorities.
I still struggle with hitting that elusive work/life balance. I think most freelancers and bloggers do, since we have to wear so many hats at one time.
But by planning ahead and using some really useful tools, I make sure that I don’t ever get overwhelmed (and that I get to spend some time OFF my computer every day, too).
For my blog, having an editorial calendar is a must so I can plan (and usually write) posts ahead of time.
I try to have posts written at least a couple days before I want to publish them, and then I use tools like CoSchedule, Edgar, and Tailwind to schedule out updates on social media so that I don’t have to spend time every day writing updates for Facebook and Twitter or pinning a lot on Pinterest.
Integrating my editorial calendar with my social media plan frees up time for real-time social posting and interacting directly with my fans and followers. And then, sometimes, you just have to close the computer and call it a day.
It’s easy to get caught up in blogging and social media – because there’s ALWAYS something else that can be done. But you have to set limits – either time limits, or maybe work space limits (i.e. never work in bed) – and then stick to them so you can have a life off the Internet, too.
Two very basic tools are my first saving grace: lists and my calendar. I schedule my day to keep the best balance possible between my personal life and my writing life.
I keep lists to keep me sane and on top of the big and minute tasks. There’s also a high level of satisfaction and measurable progress in crossing items off my to-do lists!
To start, though, it pays to have a clear idea of what your goals are and what an ideal work-life balance is for you. Take the time to define this. Post a reminder of your goals where you can clearly see them each morning.
If you find that your ideal begins to change, simply re-write your goals. The key is to stay in tune with what is important to you and to gift yourself reminders to stay focused.
Learning to dismiss activities that are not bringing you closer to your goals is key, too. I continuously have new ideas and insights or find great tips and advice I wish to implement.
If something winds up draining too much of my time or does not support my end goal adequately, I’ve learned to let go. To help get a handle on this, take a hard look at your daily activities and where you are investing your time and energy.
If it is not contributing to your success or isn’t in alignment with your personal or professional goals, it’s time to take it off your to-do list.
For the prolific side of the coin-read, observe, participate and listen, listen, listen! Open your mind daily to new and fresh ideas. Be mindful of the world around you and be actively present in it.
[Tweet “In every moment, ideas, creativity and information await our embrace.”]
The universe is an amazing guide when we simply stop long enough to listen.
Without question blogging is one of the most important aspects of my real estate business.
[Tweet “Blogging is a powerful tool for not only sharing my expertise but capturing business.”]
In order to make sure I put a set amount of time into my blogging efforts, I plan ahead and block out hours on a particular day to do my writing. This is generally on weekends when I have more free time.
The creation of great content of course is paramount to being successful. What many bloggers overlook however is making sure the content is seen by the most people possible. This is done by having a well planned social media marketing strategy.
For example, last week I created a community page covering Mendon Real Estate. This type of local marketing is one of the best forms of content for a real estate agent. From experience you can have the best content going but if nobody can find it your efforts will be wasted.
I obviously don’t want this to happen! The day my blog goes live I work on using the major social channels including Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Linkedin, and Facebook to have my work get noticed. It is important to note that just dropping links into these channels will get you nowhere.
You need to interact with people! Many people don’t understand that social media is about being social!
While most people use at least some of these channels, clearly not everyone knows about some of the other ways to get great content noticed. Two other lesser known channels that are super for content marketing include Storify.
You can see an example here of a post at Storify about how to remove ice dams at your home. My original article is shared here along with other excellent sources of content, including a Youtube video creating a terrific presentation.
Storify allows you to do just that – create a story surround your subject matter.
Another terrific site is Scoop.it. You can see here how I use my real estate channel to curate not only my content but others who have done a great job as well.
Keep in mind that blogging is only going to work for you if you get both your SEO and social media marketing down to a science. This is where most strike out!
I believe the key aspect here is to write about something that you are passionate about.
If you do, you’ll notice that topics for new articles come naturally to you, sometimes when you doing something completely unrelated.
For example, I often get ideas for articles I want to write when I am out and about.
Another day I was at a coffee house when I noticed a curious promotion the owner of the place was running, and I decided to write a post about the business and marketing aspects behind that idea.
Another exercise you can do is to adapt topics. That is, think about the lessons one could learn from a personal activity you like, say playing basketball or fishing, and write about how one can apply those lessons to your business segment.
If you blog about finance and like fishing, you could write about the qualities of expert fishermen that could be useful to personal finance.
It can be difficult balancing life and travel blogging, especially when you are on the road a lot.
We’ve been traveling and blogging full time for six years and we’ve managed to create a few strategies to enjoy life while keeping up to date with all the work.
The best piece of advice we can give is to schedule your posts and social media. We sit down at the beginning of the day and schedule our tweets and Facebook updates all at once.
That way we can concentrate on our work the rest of the day and simply pop into social media quickly to see what it going on. We also schedule our articles ahead of time. We don’t want to come back from a day of amazing travels and have to rush out an article that night.
We usually have 1 to 2 weeks of blogs written in advance, that way we can take our time editing photos and crafting stories about our travels and not feel pressured to write on demand.
We also follow a schedule. It’s important to decide what workload you can handle. We post 5 days a week, but you may find 1-3 times a week is all you can do. That is fine, just be consistent. Stick to that schedule.
When you are writing, don’t let anything distract you. Close other windows and don’t answer emails. You’ll find that you are more productive if you stay away from multitasking. When we work, we do everything in an orderly fashion.
We answer emails in the morning, move onto social media shares and then start our work of either writing, editing photos and videos, or planning campaigns. When we stick to our daily schedule, we find that we get a lot accomplished and still manage to have a life.
It can be daunting, but you can do it!
It’s really a challenge sometimes to stay current on my blog. I own my own real estate brokerage, have a one-year-old, 3 agents that work for me, and I try to put out a fair amount of content out each week.
What I have found that works best for me is a checklist. Every Monday morning I print out a daily and weekly checklist. (I really find it helps to cross out tasks in pen)
Usually on my weekly list I will make sure to post 4 times on social media, build out two neighborhood pages and then try to write one article that I think readers might find useful. Lately however I have started doing larger posts once a month or so and I seem to be achieving better results.
Anyway, I would just make sure to make some amount of time each day or week to blog. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained, so the more you do it the better you will get at it.
The most important thing is that being efficient and prolific as a blogger are not important goals for me. My big goals are to have a great family life and a successful business.
Blogging supports that but I don’t feel the need to be super prolific. That makes aligning blogging with my personal life rather easier
The key for me that makes everything work is weekly planning. On Monday I head off to a coffee shop in a relaxing atmosphere to write down my most important tasks for the week (based on the big projects and goals I have).
I then schedule time for them in my calendar – booking “meetings with myself” to block out the time. I then print out that calendar and have it highly visible to keep me focused. I also make sure I leave plenty of gaps in the calendar to handle the inevitable ad hoc tasks that come up.
I use Sunrise as my calendar on Mac/iPad/iPhone (screenshot attached), but any calendar app will do.
The other key is to be realistic and not take on too much. I’ve found that there’s a fine line between being busy and being overworked. Once you cross that line you end up stressed and worried about being able to manage everything.
As a result you get less efficient and end up going round in circles. So I say no a lot to remain on the right side of the line.
Since my wife also has her own business, we try to live “off peak”. So we’ll schedule time together during the day when everyone else is working. It takes a while after you’ve left employment to stop feeling guilty for heading off to the cinema or going for a walk in the middle of the day.
But once you’re over that you find it’s rather more pleasant to do things when there are no queues!
At the end of the day, I think it comes down to realizing what’s really important to you. When you run your own business you sometimes have to work really hard and don’t have time for family things for a while.
But you have to make sure that the odd peak doesn’t turn into a habit and you put your family first whenever you can. I’d rather have a brilliant family life and slower business growth than be a super rich divorcee.
I juggle blogging with personal activities on a daily basis by not separating them as “business” and “personal”.
That’s the most important thing – the mindset that says that what you do for “business”/blogging IS your life, and that it is something you enjoy and are passionate about.
A lot of what goes into articles and content I write come from my own personal experience, as well as of that working with the Asian Efficiency team and our clients and customers.
For example, at Asian Efficiency we teach and talk about effective morning rituals, or about how to sit down and focus and write or work for an extended period of time – these are things that I do myself, and that other Asian Efficiency team members do as well.
In this regard we’re a little lucky – we get to try out cool experiments our own lives efficient and then pass on the streamlined results to our readers.
On a more tactical level, I use a combination of project management tools (like JIRA), personal information management tools (like OmniFocus and Evernote) as well as a productivity framework called Structural Productivity (see here) to prioritize and work out what to do next.
I don’t blog for the sake of blogging anymore because if the posts are crap, readers know. I try not to write unless I’m really excited about the idea. That makes all the difference.
I’ve spent too many late nights and early mornings slogging through a post, wishing and hoping and praying the torture would end.
I’ve also starting using more guest blog posts at The Publicity Hound Blog but I’m becoming increasingly picky about whose writing I’ll accept. I can end up spending more time on a post from a mediocre writer than I would write my own article.
Here are four of my best tips:
1. When you can’t think of anything to write about, use the TweakYourBiz Title Generator. Type your topic into the window and, within seconds, you’ll get hundreds of ideas for blog posts.
2. I’m a frequent guest on podcasts and, in the past, haven’t done anything with the recording other than share it with my readers.
Finally, the light went on. I took a recent 40-minute interview I did with ghostwriter Julie Anne Eason, had it transcribed at Fiverr.com, and I’ll publish it in three parts later this week on my blog and link to the podcast.
Each post will be more than 1,000 words and include keywords galore! The Fiverr transcript cost me about $35.
3. Posts about my personal life get the biggest response like the one titled “With apologies to Betty Boop, I’m finding my voice.” It detailed the struggle for more than a decade with a rare voice disorder and the unusual treatment that has made my voice beautiful again.
This past Christmas, I wrote about a long-lost photo of my two sisters and me when we were little, and how I turned it into a keepsake Christmas gift. One summer, I offered step-by-step directions on how to make beautiful flower plate garden art.
I’m a former newspaper editor and I even recycled an old newspaper column I wrote years ago about how burying a St. Joseph statue upside down in my backyard helped my husband and me get three offer in one day.
4. If you accept guest posts, write a set of guidelines that writers must follow when pitching and writing. This saves a lot of time answering email pitches. It also lets writers know they’re going to have to work hard to pitch a killer idea that makes me say yes.
Being a full-time blogger, especially when you work from home and make up your own schedule, can be a challenge sometimes, but here are the core strategies that make it possible (and keep me sane):
– Have a dedicated schedule – have a pre-determined writing schedule and stick with it.
Treat it like you would if you go to a “regular job”. Don’t give into the tempting idea that since you are your own boss you can wait for motivation to hit you before you start writing. Schedule your motivation.
– Eliminate all distractions – if you are writing, you are writing, nothing else. Put your phone on vibrate, leave it in the next room under a pile of pillows so you don’t even hear when it vibrates. Log out from all social media sites.
Close all programs that you don’t need. Put your word processor in full-screen mode for an extra kick of focus. It also helps to put on a pair of noise-cancellation headphones and listen to some focus-enhancing music such as Focus@will.
– Take breaks – work for 50 minutes without any distractions and follow it with a mandatory 10-minute break. You cannot focus for great periods of time so you need to take a break to renew your mental and physical energy.
Get up, walk around, stretch and even go outside for some fresh air. As the shampoo bottles say “rinse and repeat”: 50 minutes of work, 10 minutes of rest, 50 minutes of work, 10 minutes of rest, etc.
The combination of these 3 strategies allow me to get the job done in the least amount of time possible and stay efficient throughout the day. They also allow for you not to be completely wiped out at the end of a long day of work.
First and foremost, thank you for including me Matt in your expert round up.
Sometimes the hardest part of being an active blogger is finding the time while trying to balance blogging and personal life events.
Creating epic content is not something that can be done in a short 10-15 minute time frame. It takes several hours and even days sometimes to put together a well thought out and detailed blog.
If you have ever checked out my real estate blog, you know that I don’t write content just for the sake of writing content.
So, how do I juggle my real estate blogging efforts and personal life? One of the biggest suggestions I can make to ensure you still have a high quality of personal life is making sure you take time away from blogging.
If it means taking a day away from the office and disconnecting from your “technology” tools, such as phone and e-mail, that’s what you need to do.
As for increasing the efficiency of making sure my blogging efforts are not being wasted because of personal life “getting in the way,” I use several tools and websites to help me spread my content. The first tool that I use to ensure my blogging efforts and content is being noticed is Buffer.
Buffer allows me to plan out up to 100 tweets and LinkedIN posts in advanced.
This allows my Twitter and LinkedIN accounts to stay active while not having to push the share button myself. One key to using an automated tool, such as Buffer, is you cannot forget to interact with your followers. If someone asks you a question, you should respond in a timely manner.
Another excellent website to help grow the visibility of your blogging efforts is Viral Content Buzz, also known as VCB.
VCB allows other members to share your content in exchange for “credits.” VCB is a great tool to extend the reach of your blogging efforts while saving time to designate to enjoying personal life.
The key for me is to spend more time doing the tasks that I have to do and less time on other, not so important things.
Let’s say a have to write a new blog post.
For the purpose of me writing a new post, it doesn’t make sense for me to watch television, or to continuously refresh Twitter feeds, or to get email notifications, or to have a look at my Google Analytics live stats.
I completely focus on the writing and remove all of these time wasters (if you want a longer list of time wasters take a look at my article). This focus makes you work so much more efficient, than if you constantly and continuously get distracted by unrelated things.
You will be surprised by how quickly you can actually finish a quality piece of work if you work focused like this. Then you will have more time to do other things that you enjoy too and you won’t always need to complain about not having enough time.
If you need a bit more productivity advice have a look at the infographic here .
I’ve always found that the best way to keep your business blogging on track *without* having to sacrifice your personal life (or your sanity) is to do as much as you can in advance.
When you try to do everything right at the moment you need it, like uploading a blog post or promoting it on social media, those things start dictating your daily schedule – doing things in advance and scheduling them is how I keep my schedule in my own hands.
For starters, I always plan and write blog posts a few weeks ahead of time.
This means I’m never scrambling for things to write about the day I need to post something, plus it gives me a little wiggle room in case I have other things to take care of (I can put off writing a new post by a day or two if something more urgent comes up).
I get it loaded into WordPress, and I schedule it to be automatically posted, so I know it’ll go live on my site when I need it to. Once I do that, I can also write social media updates promoting the post and upload them into Edgar, a social media management tool I created.
Edgar allows me to schedule social updates in advance, and also posts them again and again over time, so I know that after my blog post goes live, it’s going to get promoted on social without me ever going near a computer.
By doing everything in advance and scheduling/automating as much as I can for the future, I can clear all kinds of time-specific tasks off my schedule and use that time however I want!
I no longer think of blogging and podcasting as separate from my personal life. I consider it to be an extension of who I am.
When I create content for my blog, it’s done with enthusiasm and joy for what I love to do. The process then becomes how to set myself up for success each day so I can be most productive.
I understand blogging and content creation in general, can be a time-consuming activity.
These tools are invaluable for when it’s time to buckle down, get focused, and avoid distractions. It’s also good practice to schedule blocks of time only for blogging and content creation each week.
Managing all areas of your business and life is also part of the process.
I recommend to look at all areas of your life and determine which are those activities you consider to be a time suck.
For example, I am subscribed to a fair amount of email subscriptions. One tool that I no longer can live without is Unroll.Me.
This powerful tool allows me to manage my email by combining all email subscriptions into one summary email.
Now instead of getting the usual 50-100 emails on a daily basis, I get one.
The end result? More time for my business and personal life activities!
I’m not too big on juggling, so I try to theme my days so that my mind has a general sense of what it needs to work on during any given day. For example.
Mondays are administrative days for me, so most of the work I do that day (the heavy lifting for the day, that is), revolves around administrative tasks.
Tuesday is a creative day, so I do a lot of my work with that in mind. And so it goes.
Every day of the week has a theme so that when I wake up I can know before I even look at my task list that the general work for that day will revolve around that day’s theme.
By shifting my mindset in that fashion rather than trying to move from task to task on varying themes, I can get a lot more focused work done every single day.
Read this post on Workshifting that explains it in more detail.
As I’ve just had a baby, juggling my personal life and blogging is very important to me. I find writing batches of blog posts to be the most efficient way of blogging.
When I’m in the right mood I will write 5-6 blog posts in one go and schedule them out for the week. Being ‘in the mood’ to blog is really important because I work so much faster and more efficiently.
I set aside a designated blogging time and do most of my work when I know I’ll be most efficient. I work best first thing in the morning so I do my important jobs then. I’m useless in the afternoon and I’m easily distracted so I rarely work in the afternoon.
I use this time to be with my friends and family and then I’ll often get back to work after dinner. Working 9-5 just doesn’t work for me so I’m glad I can chose my most efficient hours.
Being organized with my photos is a great way to be more efficient. Once I’ve taken my photos I immediately organize them on my laptop. They edited, labeled and put into folders so when I need them I can find them easily. This takes some time initially but in the long run it saves a lot of time.
I schedule a lot of my social media. This keeps my Twitter and Facebook feed fresh without me getting sucked into the black hole of social media. I can get lost of Facebook for hours!
I also make the most of canned responses in Gmail. Canned responses are a life saver! They save so much time, particularly for bloggers who repeatedly receive similar enquiries or questions.
You don’t have time to do everything, only time to do what matters.
Does your blog matter?
If so, make it a priority in your day, your week or your month.
Blogging is a vital strategy to share your thought leadership with the world.
Want to prioritize blogging as something that matters in your world? Here are three strategies to help you do that
Schedule time – make an appointment with yourself several times a week to create a blog. Don’t overthink it. Schedule time and honor the appointment to make it happen.
Create a mind map – map out your ideas on paper but allowing yourself to brainstorm everything you know about the topic or blog you are writing. Capture all that you know and then prioritize your ideas so you can write them up in sequence.
Set the timer on your phone – play a game with time. Give yourself an allocated timeframe to finish the blog and work furiously to make it happen.
If blogging really matters to you, you will prioritize it in your daily or weekly schedule.
Blogging regularly and having a life mean being flexible in how you think about both.
I’m always on the lookout for topics, ideas, and angles. That’s never ending. It has to be, if you’re going to fill your blog twice a week all year long.
That’s over a hundred 500+-word essays — well, you do the math. It’s a lot of words. The good news is that we live in an always-connected era, so I’m constantly being bombarded with new ideas and capturing them is easy.
It also means having an understanding family and circle of friends who both feed me stuff and tolerate me diving for the iPad when I have an idea.
Underneath it all, the most important thing is that you have to be absolutely passionate about your topic. I’m that way about communications, so it’s not really work for me, in the sense of having to do something painful or hard. It’s a joy, and the sense of discovery is what feeds me.
We live in an era of almost constant new discoveries in the field of neuroscience, and that supplies my field, communications, with a steady diet of insights. Without the passion, it would be work. With passion, it’s fun.
Nobody should blog — or try to blog — if they’re not passionate about an idea or a topic or a field. But if you are, the joy and privilege of being able to share what you’re discovering with the world — that’s incredible.
Now, what was the other part? Oh yeah, the life thing. Who has a life apart from passion?
I spend the first hour of my day working on my mindset. Really, all issues with juggling, or trying to balance things out, are simply the product of a worried, frenzied mind.
If you do the inner clearing you’ll feel better, more at peace, clearer thinking and you’ll naturally schedule your day so it works out perfectly.
Here in Bali I begin each day with 30 minutes of meditating and 30 minutes of subliminal hypnotherapy, listening to an audio file
. After the Power Hour session I do my offline stuff – taking the dogs for a walk in the jungles here, feeding cats, eating breakfast – to adopt a calm, detached vibe from my work for the day. I don’t rush into getting online after waking; this only creates the mental frenzy most bloggers suffer from.
After the offline bit I do 2 things: I write, and I network through commenting. Oh yes, I also share posts on twitter primarily, but this takes seconds to do, after reading every blog post.
So I write blog posts, articles for clients and my Blogging from Paradise Kindle eBooks and then, I comment on blogs.
Doing 2 things helps me do them well and also frees up all types of time during my day, so I can enjoy paradise, and exercise, and also, walk more effectively – which is different than efficiently – and just plain live the internet lifestyle as a world traveling blogger.
I know why I’m blogging; to free me and to free you.
Holding that intent, I do the online and offline stuff I need to do to free me – being away from the computer, working effectively, etc – and to free you in the process because the more frequently I revisit my intent the more easily I act being aligned with the intent and the more easily I maintain balance in my life.
I gotta say though that power hour is where it’s at; if you’re willing to work on your mind for 1 hour or more before starting your work day you’ll achieve balance, and you’ll work effectively and you’ll enjoy the fruits of your online labor, in a major league way.
I’ve been writing for nearly 20 years, as a freelancer for nearly half of them. And I still find it very hard to “turn off” writing at the end of the day.
Part of the problem is that many of us write at home – so the workplace is linked with off-hours personal space. Most of the time, I don’t mind it. I really enjoy this.
I write full time — travel articles, listicles, also videos — and nearly every bit of it is for some online source. So it’s not just for my little lonely non-monetized blog, but others, such National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog.
By necessity, any work that pays gets prioritized. I try to never say “no” to an opportunity. Sometimes that means you get very busy.
Of course some periods of the year are simply quieter than others (winter for example). I use that downtime to research articles ideas. For example, I’m speaking at an event in Lexington, Kentucky this year.
So now I need to figure out something to do for a extra few days, to chase down at least one article to add onto my trip there. What that is, I’m not sure yet. Have any ideas?
I make sure to allow myself to sometimes just research random things — it almost always leads to something. (Sometimes not: I once spent half a day reading about the Byrds. And I don’t like the Byrds.)
Lately I’ve been increasingly worn out by social media lately – it’s sort of a freelancer’s water cooler, a place to mingle with others – so I spent two days just researching “digital noise” online.
I found someone who writes only about “digital ennui” and followed a few fascinating tangents I think I can link with “travel” ideas this year. At the very least, I know I’m not the only one worn out by it all.
If a person is serious about building a successful blog or business AND maintaining a fulfilling personal life, it can be a major challenge to balance this on a daily basis without neglecting either side.
When I look at my life, it seems like every day comes with a unique set of challenges and “situations” that need to be handled with care (and in a timely manner).
When there are multiple issues that need to be handled right now, it’s not always easy to decide which jobs will end up getting done first – but I’ve found that it’s very helpful to know what my ultimate priorities are, and in what order they appear on my list.
If there’s an important event happening in my personal life, I’m not afraid to neglect my blog for a week or two and take care of the people or situations that are most important.
At the same time, when I’m working on a massive blogging project with contributions from several different people (all of whom are depending on me), I need to realize that it’s not just about me – I’m working for the benefit of dozens of contributors and thousands of readers – and I need to take that seriously.
It also helps to communicate these priorities to the people on both sides in my business and my personal life. These people matter to me, and I want them to understand why I’m busy, why it’s important and when I’m going to devote my time to them.
It’s okay to be busy, but I try not to forget that when I say “Yes” to one thing, I’m also saying “No” to a lot of other stuff.
With this in mind, the things I spend my time on need to be very important, because my time is limited and there just isn’t enough room for trivial activities that don’t have a prominent place on my priority list.
My biggest tips to more being efficient and prolific so that I actually have a home life are to:
1. Just put 3 tasks on my to-do list every day
2. Work in 25 – 45 minute increments and take more breaks
I first read about having only 3 things on your list in “End Procrastination and Become Productive” by Justin Albert.
I have discovered that “The Rule of 3” helps you keep your focus on the tasks that get you more traffic and subscribers and to not get in the time suck of social media and checking email.
The best part – you aren’t as tempted to multi-task, o you create better quality work. And you get to finish at the time you want to finish your day so that you can have a life! When you work in 25 to 45 minute increments with breaks, you are converting energy into productive activity.
The body and brain need that break time, according to Jim Loehr. He did studies on athletes and translated that info for entrepreneurs and corporate clients. He found out that energy, not time, is our most precious resource.
And when you have more energy left at the end of the day, you can enjoy your personal activities, hobbies, family and friends.
I begin writing at 9 am everyday and try to end it around 11:30 am.
This has been the biggest improvement in my blogging production. I took the idea from two different books: Essentialism by Greg Mckeown and The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
My structured approach to blogging makes it less stressful and more productive. As blogging is my primary business generation, this focused frame of mind allows me to have more personal time outside of the workday.
One of the biggest tips I can give aspiring bloggers is to plan out everything in advance. I know exactly when I’m going to write and my ideas are even planned in advance. I have a huge Basecamp project with blog ideas just listed out.
These ideas already have long tail keywords tied to them and typically have a couple bullet points to support the idea. In other words, the research has already been done.
Next, I recommend establishing a formula that your posts will generally follow and making a checklist out of it. Here is my pre publish checklist:As you see, that is literally just a list of things I try to do on every single post. The premeditated method to my writing makes sure it takes less time and is higher quality. This affords me more time to do non business activities.
Finally, I do my writing in Textedit. Why? Because the user interface is simple. I don’t worry about editing or formatting. I simply write. This highly structured approach to blogging helps me produce consistent content and ultimately saves time.
As often as possible, I DON’T juggle and don’t separate blogging from my personal life.
One of my favorite things to do is hang out at a coffee shop or bar with strong wi-fi and fellow-blogger-friends and put in work.
I also try to weave stories from my personal life into my blog posts and emails as often as possible.
My “personal life” becomes the source of some of my best writing.
Blogging can definitely take up a lot of time if you don’t have a clear focus or everything planned out for where you want to be in the coming weeks, months and years.
Unfortunately this is where most bloggers go wrong.
It was actually such a concern of mine, that I created an infographic to walk people through the process of what they need to figure out before getting started with their own blog… because at the end of the day, time is more valuable than anything.
To answer the question of how I juggle blogging, business and my personal life… they all kind of go together. In terms of blogging and business, for me they both go hand in hand as I created ZacJohnson.com back in 2007 and focused on building my brand around my name.
As an expert within my niche, I can continually work on new projects or areas, but also build out the authority and exposure for my site in the process.
The key factor here is to create premium content, but also focus on promoting it.
Emphasis on “premium content”. Instead of trying to create fresh mediocre content daily for your blog, just create great resources that you can focus on promoting and getting high quality backlinks to instead.
This can be done through interviews, infographics, guest posts and expert compilation posts like this one.
To sum it up… your blog is in competition with 300 million other blogs on the internet. Try to make the process of spending time on your blog as minimal, yet also effective as possible.
Create great and useful content, then promote it. You only need a few great backlinks and resources to push you past the other 300 million blogs in the search results.
For one, I make sure that I don’t juggle between the tasks. I used to be an arrogant multi-tasker. But now I’ve realised its bad side effects. It just makes me mentally tired.
I batch process instead. And when I am dealing with something, I just focus on that thing alone.
For instance, my mornings used to be for writing. Since that is the quietest time of the day, I read everywhere that it is good to write first thing in the morning. But I have to cook for the day and prep my hubby and son for the job and school respectively. So I found myself typing a paragraph here and stirring the pot there.
Eventually I found myself ending up tired after both of them leave – leaving the rest of my day unusable for any productive work.
Now I just ignore all the advise I got about writing in the morning and devote that day for prepping my hubby and son. Once everyone is off for their own business, I freshen up and sit down at my desk with a calm mind. When I hit Scrivener for writing my blog posts with this state of mind, the words just flow.
My best advice is this: Don’t think about juggling. Think about batch processing. When you have time for writing blog posts, use it fully for that alone. Do not answer emails, do the dishes, or hop on Facebook during that time.
And when you are on a vacation, playing with kids, don’t be thinking about social media promotion or finishing that blog post. Be present in the present. That means a LOT.
Initially you would find this challenging. Your mind will trick you to think that if you juggle you could achieve a lot more. But the opposite is only true.
When I’m working, Scrivener, iTunes and Stay Focusd are my mates.
What make my blogger’s life more efficient?!
The answer is only one, lots of applications and delegating.
I’m a person with OCD and having a blog in this situation can be very challenging, as I often obsess about little things.
For example once I change something in one post I have a need in the back of my head to do the same with the rest of the posts on my blog and you can imagine how time consuming that can be.
It took me a while and many sleepless nights before I have learned to delegate. I have 3 VAs and all of them are responsible for different things so I can sleep peacefully.
But there are things, which I do not feel I can give to my VAs, because people follow me, my person and I’m not sure they can handle some SM like it would be me behind computer and those I take care myself. Like Facebook, Twitter, IG and writing my posts.
I can’t imagine my life without Buffer. I use Business plan, which allows you to schedule up to 100 tweets, and I do that, 3 a day.
I always schedule for a month upfront so I do not have to worry on those days that I travel or just busy with my private life.
I use Iconosquare for my IG profile to track everything I may need to know, all the comments to answer, best time to post, I love it and I rock IG with this great help.
It is a pure pleasure to have such a useful tool on my side.
Facebook is a totally different thing, as I do not have a fan page only my private profile which people can follow and they do, so I do post often from Instagram but except this I just use FB like we all do and it is working for
Things like Google+, Pinterest, Stumble Upon and any other social media platforms, which I do not like and do not want to use myself I trust my VAs with it. They as well use plenty of scheduling apps that are making their life easier such as Hootsuite.
I use several systems and tools to balance my blogging and personal life. For me, it’s all about creating efficient systems, and setting boundaries.
I’m a big fan of working in chunks, or batches, of time. I like to focus on one task for a bit, and then switch things up by doing something completely different.
For example, I may write a blog post for an hour, then do a little bit of administration, followed by social media work, perhaps followed by some brainstorming. I can get things done easily this way without losing too much momentum.
When it comes to maintaining my blog, I do everything I can to make administration a breeze. I have a whole bunch of daily, weekly, and monthly checklists. I just open up my lists and take care of things, one by one. This way, I don’t have to waste time or energy thinking about what I should be doing; it’s all there in black and white.
As far as tools, I love using Scrivener to write my blog posts. It’s a handy way to write and organize posts.
I’m a big fan of the content scheduler, Buffer, because it allows me to schedule social media updates in one sitting. I can literally set it, and forget it.
I also like using the Pocket app. If I come across a bunch of articles I want to read, but am pressed for time, I just save them to Pocket. I can then read the articles at my leisure.
When it comes to setting boundaries, I have a “stop work” time at the end of the day where I completely log off and spend time to rest, relax, and take care of other personal items.
I also find it very helpful to take solid one- or two-day breaks away from my work. Doing so allows me to come back to the blog with a fresh outlook. I sometimes see things I didn’t see before, and this has been quite helpful to me when it comes to running my blog.
Blogging was never a natural talent for me. It’s a discipline I’ve had to develop over time. That combined with all the right tools has helped me successfully juggle blogging with my personal life.
Most recently, my family faced the devastating news of cancer.
Within a day of being told, our personal and business calendar was changed dramatically for the rest of the year!
I went from blogging twice a week to trying to find shortcuts that would keep my blog visible to a waiting audience.
I’ll share with you the 3 automation tools that helped me keep things on track:
Vcita – this online scheduler service started out as a minor player for my business but has since turned into my most useful online tool. At first, I used the service strictly for scheduling appointments with prospects and clients.
I now use it as a simple CRM (customer relationship management) tool.
You can integrate their handy widget with your blog in WordPress, share documents, appointments and messages with clients. It’s a must for any blogger who manages time meeting with clients or team members!
Bufferapp – everyone knows that social media can take up so much time, but it’s necessary if you want to drive traffic to your blog.
The most effective way to balance my day engaging with followers while keeping the content stream filled is by using an awesome social post scheduler like Buffer.
The service allows you to create customized schedules for each social network. Their blog also offers valuable tips for social media strategy.
Since I tend to add links back to my blog posts and other related articles at least a week or more in advance, Bufferapp is great for keeping blog content in front of your audience.
Canva has been a life saver for me in that I can create and share beautiful, quality images in minutes by using their time-saving templates. The sizes are pre-formatted depending on the type of graphic you choose.
Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to a designer, or being tied to a monthly subscription, Canva is free to use and a great enhancement to any blog post.
While it’s important to organize your day and to adopt good habits by consistently creating great blog content, having the right automation tools can make all the difference in boosting your productivity!
9000+ words and I think that should finally wrap it up… we definitely learned a lot about how to make your day more productive.
Those were some of the top expert tips on tools you can use for increasing your blogging productivity.
Now the ball is in your court – share with me which tip/trick do you like the most?
Which tool or strategy did you find interesting enough to give it a try?