If you want more information about the event, check out my introduction post HERE
Be sure to check out all my other Blogging On a Time Crunch Posts here:
Day 1: Intro
Day 2: Time Management (printables)
Day 3: Essential Tools
Day 5: The One with all the Resources
Today I am going to talk to you about time management. And really the title should more about finding a system that works for your. Because everyone has the same amount of time. You can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself.
And in order to manage yourself, to be at your most productive and effective, and happiest, you have to find your sweet spot. Also known as balance.
Find Your Balance
The thing you have to remember is that balance is different for everyone. You have to find what works for you. There is no right way to blog. (or plan, or work, or anything really.) The key is to know yourself, and know how you work best. For example, I know that when I fall into a good groove, I can get a TON of stuff done. I am very process oriented (even if it is just a mental process that I have informally for myself). I have a mental process for my morning routines, for my reading, for my work, for my phone call time with my family and friends, and for my blog. And I like that. I like certainty and knowing what comes next.
But I recognize that won’t work for everyone. Some people like to be spontaneous and fly by the seat of their pants, and not plan out which books they will read, when, or when they are going to have phone call time (every morning and night on my way to/from work), etc. And that is great! Everyone works differently, but my point is that their idea of balance is going to look very different than my idea of balance. And their process is going to be nothing like mine.
As a side note, if you are curious what kind of person you are, and what your behavioral style is, there is a great self assessment you can take called the DISC assessment.
So once I perfected the process for how my blog would work, I can book it and read, and crank out posts, and repeat. Over and over again. And I don’t get tired of it. And I also know that I love to find way to automate processes or save time, and not reduce the quality. That is where my blogging tools come in. But before you can make the most of the tools, you need to know how you work best.
Know what works best for you and your schedule
Everyone is balancing something different. For me it is my job, my blog, my boyfriend and my friends/family. For other people it might be taking care of their kids. Or going to school. Or some combination of all of the above. Some people will have a very flexible schedule and some people won’t. You need to know your schedule.
TIP: Do you have an hour or two block of time that you can dedicate to your blog? If so, set aside an hour or two a day, and try to knock out all of your daily blogging tasks at one time.
TIP: Or do you only have short groups of 15/20 minutes spread throughout the day? (whenever kids are napping, or out of the house perhaps? in between classes?) If so, maybe you need to group your tasks into smaller, and more manageable groups and attack similar tasks on each of your shorter breaks. Doing the same type of task in each mini time block, will allow you to get more done.
However, it’s not enough to know your schedule. You also need to know yourself. I will talk a little bit more about this tomorrow when I talk about the tools that I use, but processes, methods and tools are only as useful as you make them out to be. What works well for me, might not work well for you. I know that I don’t do well with flying by the seat of my pants, so I plan my posts and reading schedule out.
TIP: But if you hate planning what books you will read next month, don’t do it. You won’t end up sticking to your schedule and you will have just wasted time making the list. If you don’t like to plan, then just jump right in on reading the books that tickle your fancy at that moment. And instead focus on pre-scheduling blog posts, so that it doesn’t matter if you want to read 5 books one week and none the next.
So what do I do? I put a blog post up every day, and I read my blog emails every day. I normally do them first thing in the morning, but sometimes I will do them at night if I didn’t get to it in the morning. But like we talked about yesterday, for most of us, just getting a post up on our blogs is not enough. We also want to respond to comments on our own blog, comment on other blogs, chat on social media, and stay current on new and upcoming releases, just to name a few.
So where do we find time to do all of that??
For a long time, I just knew those were things I wanted to do, and I tried to keep up with all of them. But most days I would just forget. I would get busy with school or work and just let it slide. So when I decided I wanted to do a better job of staying engaged with the community, I can up with a process to do just that.
The way that I see it, when it comes to blogging tasks, there are two kinds of people.
1) Those who like to do a little bit of everything, everyday. (comment on other blogs, chat on twitter, check goodreads, research new books, respond to comments on their blog, etc.)
TIP: If you are the type of person that likes to mix it up so you don’t get bored, my method probably won’t work for you.
Try this instead- make a big list of everything that needs to be done on your blog and just randomly pick items from the list, depending on how much time you have.
TIP 2: Group items that will take the least amount of time near the top of the list and items that will take more time near the bottom. That way it will be easy to pick out items. Ex: if you know you are short on time, stay near the top of the list.
2) Those who like to group the same kind of tasks together. Hint: this is the kind of person I am.
I was inspired by daily/weekly/monthly cleaning lists that I found on pinterest
You can also find a PDF version and an editable excel version of my blog maintenance task list in the google drive box I made HERE
Feel free to modify and use for yourself 🙂
I can knock my daily tasks out in about an hour or less each day. Normally in the morning. I will talk more about my daily tasks tomorrow because my secret to getting all of that done so fast is in my automation tools.
Then at night (or sometimes on my lunch break if I don’t have a work lunch) I work on my weekly task. I like to group my tasks together so that I am doing the same kind of thing. I find that I work faster if I do the same thing, otherwise I am always trying to switch gears. Tweet to someone,then switch to bloglovin- read a review, comment on a post, switch back to my blog- comment on my post. It’s too much and I work a lot slower this way.
TIP: I use bloglovin to follow blogs. And I separate them into different folders. I have my favorite bloggers, my similar reading tastes bloggers, my resource bloggers, and then all the rest. Depending on what task I want to accomplish that day, I will start in a different folder of my bloglovin.
Example: If I am looking for books that I have either read or sitting on my TBR (to see what other bloggers thought) I usually start in the folder of bloggers with similar reading tastes with mine.
What didn’t work for me: I used to want to go through my whole feed every 2 days. That was an unrealistic goal for me. I couldn’t keep up, and I would get stressed whenever the posts would start to build up. I had to tell myself that if I got too busy and couldn’t comment on blogs for a couple of days, that was ok. There would still be plenty of posts for me to read and enjoy in a few days, when I do have more time. Remember: You don’t have to do everything, all the time. Just do what you want to.
TIP: I like to split the kinds of posts that I comment on into days. One day for books that I have read, one day for books on my TBR that I am dying to read, one day for books that are completely new to me. I don’t know why I like that, but I find a post I really like that features a new book to me, I want to find more new books. So grouping works for me.Remember: You don't have to do everything, all the time. #BloggingOnATimeCrunch @BookBriefs Click To Tweet
EXAMPLE: I also know that I don’t have time to comment on blogs and reply to comments on my blog every day. So I save all the comments on my blog until Thursday. Then I reply to all of them from that week. I have found that I save a TON of time that way. Before, I would spend about 10 minutes a day replying to comments, but once I started saving them until once a week, I found that it took me about 30-35 minutes to reply to all of them. That saves me, on average, 35 minutes a week!
My monthly task is something that will take a good bit more time. It could take me anywhere form 30 minutes to half a day. Which is why I keep this to a weekend. These are kind of my blog housekeeping items.
TIP: I keep a running list of blog things that need to be done. (need some inspiration? Check out bloggiesta for lots of ideas) These can be anything from making a scroll up button, to redesigning my whole blog theme. Depending on how much time I have on a Sunday, I choose something big or small. Or nothing at all. A lot of Sundays, I choose to do nothing except get my sunday post up. And that works too.
This is not to say that I stick to my schedule every day. I don’t. Some days I will be focused on finding books that are new to me and there will be some posts that catch my eye and I want to comment on that are not about books that are new to me. So does that mean I skip over that post because that is not what I am doing that day? NO! Of course not!
TIP: I don’t let my schedule control me. It is an aid, and when it becomes a hindrance, I ditch it.
I mostly made the schedule in the first place so I could find a method that works for me. I wanted to see how it would look charted out, and how it would fit into my daily life.
The anti-scheduler Tip
But if the idea of scheduling and flow charting to do lists for your day and blog seems awful to you, here is something that you can try that also helps me.
TIP: Spend 5 minutes (or 3 or even 1 minute) at the start of your day to think about the big things that you need/want to accomplish.
When I wake up I normally think about the one or two things I need to get done at work that day, the one or two people I want to talk to, and the things I would like to accomplish for my blog and for myself. Is there a show I want to watch, or an errand that needs to get done? Thinking about it for just a few minutes in the morning helps me get a picture of what my day can look like, and it helps focus me.
wow, that was probably the longest post that I have ever written. Thank you for sticking with it this long. Tomorrow will be shorter and I will be featuring apps, tools and plugins that have saved my blogging life, and taken my blog to the next level (in my opinion anyway.) But I wanted to build a foundation to that, which is why yesterday and today’s posts are such discussion heavy. I think it is really important to first know how you work best and know what kind of time you have to devote to your blog within your schedule before we talk about blogging tools.
Let me know what you think! Do you have a totally different method? I want to know that too! Have any questions for me or some other topic you would like me to address, let me know in the comments below or in the question box at the bottom.
And take my blogging on a time crunch challenge! (details below)
I want to know how you do it all.
So I challenge each and every one of you bloggers to grab the button below, and show us your tips/tricks and best practices for how you make blogging work with your life.
And then come back here and share the link to your post with me. I would love to see it!
Also be sure to use the hashtag #BloggingOnATimeCrunch
If you would like to be featured on the ask a blogger day, or if you have a blogging tips.tricks post or feature, or a tutorial and would like me to include it in the resource list (linking to your blog of course) send me an email. I would love to showcase you and a your blog!