Some people play video games, some love sports, others are into art.
I happen to love blogging and everything about it.
Before I started this blog, I’ve always felt like a “master of none.” I dabbled in many things but never thought I’m “good” at anything. Blogging has changed that for me. Blogging helped me get out of depression, it helped me find that spark and passion in life, it helped me learn so much, not just about myself, but about life in general. Not to mention the beautiful relationships and connections I was able to make through blogging.
One of the questions I’ve been getting quite often, throughout my years of blogging, is how I manage my time while blogging and working full-time. Today, I’m finally sharing some of my tips for managing your time as a blogger, but I’m also letting you know that in order to get results, you have to put in the work.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME AS A BLOGGER
Batching is especially useful when it comes to your blog photos, but also when it comes to free-writing your posts (which we’ll talk about in a minute). Scheduling a few hours during one day a week to take photos will save you a lot of time and… frustration. If you love to work with natural light, then you know that there are days when the weather just will not cooperate. I can’t tell you how many times I had a few awesome posts written, but couldn’t publish them because I either didn’t have time to take any pictures because I came home late when it was already dark outside, or it was way too dark and gloomy to shoot anything decent. Photo batching is the answer (stock photos are a great option here, too, if photography isn’t your thing).
While I love working with natural light, I sometimes just don’t have any time to take my photos- that’s where I reach for my studio lighting. There are nights when I take blog photos at 2.00am- which has been the case during the last couple of months post my accident. One, I struggled with sleep due to my injury so rather than tossing and turning, I’d try to do something semi-productive, and two, after a whole day of sitting at a desk at work, all I dreamed of was lying down, rather than jumping around with my camera. If you’re interested, all of my studio lighting/photography equipment is listed in this post.
Point is, this whole time-management thing is not, like many things in life, a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You have to adjust it to your own schedule, lifestyle, and needs. Two things that are essential for batching are a schedule, and a system. Come up with a system for creating your blog posts, so that you can follow the same exact steps each time you create your content. Then, take a look at your calendar, and schedule in the time for batching your content.
Automating as much as you can, will save you a TON of time. When it comes to promoting your blog posts and articles, it’s very easy to get lost a little and let it take up a lot of your time. The good news is, it doesn’t have to! You don’t have to be “everywhere” all the time. Find which content promoting tools work best for you and your blog, and focus on those. For me, this happens to be Pinterest, which takes me about an hour a week to automate. I spend one hour, every Sunday, scheduling my pins, and don’t have to worry about my Pinterest schedule for the rest of the week. That way, I can spend my precious time focusing on something else.
I also am very particular about my blog images, and pretty much always follow the same technique when editing them. To make photo editing easier, you can also use presets or create your own Actions in Photoshop, which makes editing photos SO much easier.
This is a big one when it comes to managing your time as a blogger and staying productive. I tell you guys all the time that I am one of those people that get distracted very easily- especially when it comes to my blog work.
Here’s how it goes sometimes: I go on Pinterest to look something up or check out an interesting article I saved for later, which is relevant to a blog post I’m working on at the moment. Then, I notice another cool pin and think “oh, this article looks awesome, let me save it to one of my boards.” After that, I get sucked in and start randomly adding pins to my posting schedule. Next thing I know, 30 minutes have passed and I haven’t finished my blog post. The exact same thing happens with email, blog comments, etc.
This is where time-blocking comes to play. I schedule blocks of time to complete certain tasks, ranging from editing photos, checking my email, down to things like doing laundry or cooking dinner. To help me stay on track and hold myself accountable I use a tool like this one. If I see that I have “tackle your inbox” scheduled for 7.00pm, I set my cube timer for 30minutes, and read and answer emails for the next 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are up, I move on to the next task.
Yes, I know that to some this may seem a bit too OCD-ish, but you just gotta do what works for you, and this happens to work perfectly for me.
Will this work for everyone?
Probably not. For instance, I don’t have kids, so I obviously don’t know what it’s like having to juggle taking care of children, working and blogging on top of everything else- I can’t help you there, sorry. I do, however, do most of the housework, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, working full time, taking care of my family. If you add my easily distracted mind to that equation, things can get messy sometimes and I can easily find myself being busy, while not necessarily doing anything productive. Which brings us to…
BEING BUSY vs. BEING PRODUCTIVE = TWO DIFFERENT THINGS
When in addition to working, going to school, taking care of your family, cooking, cleaning, you also run a blog, you can’t afford to waste time. Most of us don’t have the luxury of working with unlimited time, which means that you have no other choice but to choose what you devote your time for, wisely.
Taking an hour to write a list of things you need to do is not really being productive.
Creating a list isn’t enough.
Planning your goals isn’t enough.
You actually have to put the work in. Allow yourself to only check your inbox twice a day, answer comments once a day. If you have only about an hour of “free” time in the evening, you have to prioritize and ask yourself, which task is most important to complete? If you try to answer comments, edit a blog post, while also checking your email, you’re not giving any of those tasks your full attention. Remember that just because you’re busy and find yourself doing several things at once, it doesn’t mean you’re being productive.
Every great blog post should start with multiple drafts. Sometimes, when writing, the most difficult part is actually getting started. I know from my own experience that even when you’re really excited about a certain topic or something you want to write about, writing doesn’t always come easy.
Starting with a VERY rough draft transformed the way I write blog posts. I start with a topic, ask myself “what do I want my reader to walk away with?” and just free write. Usually, this involves writing down a few main points I want to make, turn them into headings, and then elaborate under each heading. My first drafts usually look super messy, as I basically just write down everything that comes to my mind at the moment. Literally, just writing down random words. Once my rough draft is complete and I have an idea what I want my post to focus on, I then edit, add text, change my title, proofread, add relevant links. I then create another rough draft for the next post, and the next. That way, when I finally have some time to sit down and write, I already have an idea what my post is going to be about, and about what points I am going to make.
Let’s say you want to write about organizing your wardrobe, just as an example. Start with a blank page and then:
Write your title: “Organizing Your Wardrobe”
Think about some of the points you want to make, like:
- Get rid of your old clothes or pieces you no longer wear
- Separate your pants + skirts + shorts
- Hang your dresses by color
- Use coordinated hangers
Starting with a rough draft like this one is simple and easy. Save your post as a draft and you can come back to it later and elaborate on each point, change your title, focus on SEO, add relevant links, link to some products you mention, add images, etc.
If you struggle with writing intros to your posts, try writing them last. Of course, this won’t apply to every single one of your blog posts. Not all blog posts will be involved, require some research and multiple edits. Now and then, when writing, we have that incredible rhythm where we just can’t stop writing and yes, it’s awesome whenever that happens. Words come easy, you’re done with your post in 30 minutes and are ready to publish it. When you do work with limited time though, you can create a bunch of these rough drafts, save them, and work on them whenever you have time. That way, you won’t find yourself sitting down at your desk, thinking “hmm… so what do I want to write about today?” Also very important: always keep a long list of blog posts ideas written down somewhere and remember to write them down as soon as they come to you.
EVALUATE YOUR TIME
Again, we come back to the being busy vs. being productive, thing. Do you ever have those days where you feel absolutely exhausted, your mind is racing, you feel tired, drained and yet… you didn’t really get much done? Keep track of what you do during the day. What is the first you do when you get home? Do you turn on your TV? Pointlessly scroll through your Instagram feed for an hour? Look where your time goes- do some tasks take you way too long to complete? Maybe you waste a lot of time focusing on things that don’t necessarily bring any results?
I also find that doing certain tasks at the same time and day during the week, helps you get into a habit of getting shit done. For me, this looks something like this:
- Monday mornings I write my weekly schedule and a to-do list
- On Tuesdays, I free-write a bunch of posts and save drafts for later
- Wednesday night I usually batch-edit my photos
- Friday afternoon I do all my cleaning after getting home from work so that I can get as much blog work done during the weekends
- Saturdays I do laundry and grocery shop for the week.
- Most of the time, Sunday mornings are reserved for taking blog photos.
Of course, this schedule tends to change a little from time to time. Once you assign those tasks to specific times and days of the week, it becomes like second nature and you find yourself being a bit more organized and having more time.
REMEMBER THAT TIMING IS NEVER RIGHT
I used to be THE biggest procrastinator out there, especially when it comes to blogging. It’s something that pretty much all perfectionists struggle with. If I didn’t like a photo I took, I wouldn’t publish a post. There were days where I’d spend HOURS rearranging, re-shooting, re-editing pictures, just to finally give up at the end of the day. Talk about a waste of time!
There were other things I would always put off- starting a newsletter and focusing on growing my mailing list, scheduling my Pinterest posts, developing my own photography style, learning more about Photoshop. I always thought “well, I just don’t have enough time” or “I first need to learn more about this or that.” The truth is, timing is never right. The best way to learn how to do something is to… well, start doing it. You don’t have to know everything, before trying something new- you will learn along the way. And that, to be honest, is probably one of my favorite things about blogging, you just never stop learning.
BUT… DO YOU HAVE *A LIFE*?
Here’s the truth: managing your time isn’t always easy. In the past, I had other bloggers ask me: “How do you do it? How do you find time to do it all?”
Well, the thing is, I don’t do it all.
Some weekends I sit locked up in my home office, while Mark is downstairs watching football. I sometimes say “no” when someone asks me to grab dinner or go out for a drink. But that’s because I’m the happiest when I’m staying productive. I love working, I’m a huge homebody, but at the same time, I do not enjoy sitting around and doing nothing. I love spending every free minute of my time working on my blog. Not for one second, do I feel like I’m making some kind of sacrifice because running this blog brings me so much joy and it’s incredibly rewarding. This doesn’t mean that I never have fun, or that all I do is blog and work. It’s all about knowing where your time goes and not wasting it on things that don’t matter or don’t bring results. If you’re incredibly passionate about something, you will find a way and time to do it.
I’ve had some readers tell me that they feel like a failure because they don’t get to post as often as they want, or because they don’t feel like they’re as successful as other bloggers.
We all define success differently.
Two, you shouldn’t be focusing on what other people are doing. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t have time to write a blog post because life has gotten in the way. Once you start feeling like you’re forcing yourself to blog, when it becomes a chore, that’s a sign that it’s time for a small break. Don’t ever allow yourself to lose that passion because, without it, you lose authenticity, and, as blogger, that is one of your most valuable qualities.