Blog #15: 10 Ways To Manage Your Blogging Time Better
Before I started blogging, I had no idea how much of an undertaking it would be. I really did not expect the level of commitment, and the time and energy that goes into making a blog. I figured I would have to design it, write some content, publish and promote it... easy! Plus being a stay at home mom, I assumed it would be a fun, side project. Little did I know that it would end up basically taking over my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but I find myself more and more unable to keep up with it. Plus I feel major mom guilt for not spending enough time with my daughter, by constantly being on my phone and laptop.
This problem is not unique to me. I've had conversations with other bloggers who also struggle with finding a balance between working on their blog and their personal/ work life. So I decided to come up with some kind of solution- this list is a combination of ways that I've personally found to manage my time better, and research collected from other bloggers on the same topic. So I hope this list of 10 ways to better manage your time blogging helps you in some way!
I can't tell you how important it is to set priorities when it comes to your blogging to-do's. I used to just write out a huge list of what needs to get done, with no organization or particular order. I would look at the list, feel overwhelmed, and then jump from task to task without fully completing them. Then I realized, there are more important things that need to be done first, so I set priorities on each item.
You can do that by either putting more important matters first on your list or by using your own system, (i.e. color coding, using symbols to signify importance, etc...) Do whatever works best for you! I am a visual person, so I love using different colors to mean different things. If you uses symbols, I suggest having a key to explain what means what, just to keep it simple and clear.
2. Set Time Limits
I have found that if I have unlimited time to work on something, I tend to spend way too much of that time on things that are not that important. An hour can pass before I know it, and all I've done was tweak certain design aspects of my website. This leaves less time for the more important things like creating content. I now know the benefits of time limits.
When I have a blogging task to complete, carving out a designated amount of time to work on it is essential. It helps with the overall blogging/ personal life balance. When that hour is up, I shut the laptop and devote quality time to my family. Rather than half being there, and half consumed mentally with my blog, I am fully present and in the moment. I know how precious these moments are in my one year old's life, and I don't want to miss a minute!
I also think that accountability is key. If you know that you will let yourself get away with working past the limits you've set for yourself, then have a spouse or loved one hold you accountable and tell you when time's up. It's just about knowing yourself. I totally get how you can get wrapped up blogging, and may not want to lose momentum, but if you are truly seeking balance, then being strict with your time is very important!
3. Use A Blog Journal
I am all about journals, and lists. Maybe it's my OCD, but I find it so helpful to get all the stuff in my head down on paper to make it clearer and more organized. So I was delighted when I learned about journals made specifically for blogging! They help you with setting goals (short and long term), organizing and scheduling when you post, what you post, when and where you promote those posts, and so much more. I actually made a printable template of what should be in a blog journal, that you can download for free! Click below to get it now!
4. Avoid Perfectionism
I've mentioned this before in this blog how much of a hindrance perfectionism can be. (See: The 5 Biggest Mistakes I Made My First Month Blogging). I know this can be a hard habit to break, trust me, but if you recognize it, you can work to minimize it's negative effects on your blogging journey! If you are not a perfectionist, then feel free to skip this section and keep reading, but if you are, don't worry! You can learn to manage it and even use it to your advantage! It is harmful when you spend way too much time and energy attempting to perfect every single detail of your blog. It can be a huge time drain when you read, re-read, and then read again, rather than trusting your work or when you obsess about a minor design aspect until it looks JUST right. I get it, grammar and aesthetic are both very important, but at the end of the day, people don't really care that much. I'm not saying that to be rude, I'm just trying to teach you something I had to learn the hard way.
People don't notice the little flaws as much as you think. They look at the overall feel or vibe of your site, and whether the content is meaningful or helpful to them. Also, if you are offering goods or services, what your audience really wants is results. So yes, you want to make sure your blog is as amazing as possible, but when you are putting all of your time and energy into minute details, it's time to take a step back and focus on what's important. Focusing your attention will provide you with more time to work on the things that matter most to you... use your perfectionist tendencies to work for you, not against you!
5. Plan Ahead
When blogging, preparation is key to time-management. Simply by planning for the week or month ahead can save tons of time, stress and frustration. You can be as simple or as detailed as you want. I find that when a blog idea pops into my head, I write it down (on paper on in my notes on my phone) so I don't forget it. Then I order which posts I want to write about and in what order. But I understand that sometimes inspiration strikes, and you may want to start a blog right away while you have a free moment or it's fresh in your mind; That's totally okay! Content is key, so whatever your process is to produce content, do it! You don't have to be so rigid with your planning, as long as you have some sort of a plan.
For example, you may plan to post 5 blogs in the upcoming month, about topics A,B,C,D, and E. If for some reason you are only able to write 4 out of 5, or you want to change the subject of one of the posts, that's fine! Don't beat yourself up for not following exactly what you wanted to do. Be proud of what you did accomplish, and continue preparing for the next week or month. You can even set goals for the rest of the year if you'd like!
6. Use Apps To Schedule Post Promotions
This helped me a lot when dealing with the social media aspect of blogging. I thought that was the area that I had down pat, and it ended up becoming one of my biggest time drains. It is so easy to always be on various social media platforms, because they are right there on your phone, 24/7. Plus the notifications are designed to draw you in, and keep you using the app as long as possible.
I will admit that I have a problem with using my phone too often. It became very apparent when I completed the iPhone update that added 'Screen Time' to my phone's settings. This monitors how often you use your phone, what programs you use the most, and even how many times you physically pick up your phone! I know, technology is amazing! It was definitely an eye opener... I was ashamed to see the average amount of time spent using certain apps, but the good news is you can also set limits! I immediate placed time limits on social media and other various time/ attention suckers. It has helped a lot because it lets you know when your limit is approaching, and based on your settings, does not allow access to the apps after you've reached your daily limit.
So it can be a lot to manage when and where to post new blog promotions. I personally have been using an application called IFTTT to help with sharing one image across multiple platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc...). I just recommend making sure that if you are manually sharing, that it isn't posted too many times. I've had to go back and delete multiple or duplicate images, some of which were automatically uploaded on top of the ones I had manually shared myself. Also check the application settings, because I've seen posts uploaded from IFTTT with no image such as below.
Make sure to check your posts when using IFTTT to avoid seeing this
This allows you to post across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
Some of the services of IFTTT
Another great one that I've recently started using and already love is called "Preview". This manages your Instagram account, and is great for the design and aesthetic of your feed as well as frequency of posts based on the best algorithm to reach your target audience. Another great feature of Preview is the analytics it provides you. You can track performance, as well as find the best hashtags to use and what times to post to optimize your Instagram as a whole. The best part is they are both FREE! (You can always pay to upgrade and get more features if you'd like). This is not an ad or sponsored in any way, I just want to pass on the resources that have helped me the most. The preview app is available on Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. You can access your IFTTT account via mobile or on your computer's web browser.
Services of the Preview app
An example of the hashtag service on the Preview app
Another app that I've heard about countless times from other bloggers is Tailwind, which is an Instagram and Pinterest scheduler. I personally have not used it yet, but am definitely interested in it after learning about how influential Pinterest can be in gaining blog traffic. I actually started my free trial today (no credit card required) and am excited to try out all the features! You can learn more about the app by clicking here to see the official website.
Day 1 of my free Tailwind Trial- Dashboard
7. Take A Break!
Sometimes it is best to step back from whatever you are working on and take a break. I have to remind myself of this often, as I get so wrapped up in what I am doing that time seems to fly by. Get up, stretch, have a snack, shower, watch a TV show... do whatever you want! Just give yourself a bit of time away to clear your head; Then you can return to it with fresh eyes and a clear mind. I truly feel that taking some time away can give you a new perspective that can be immensely beneficial to your blog. Take as little or as much time as you need, as long as it doesn't interfere with any time limits you've set for yourself.
8. Set Deadlines
Deadlines are very helpful in managing blogging time better. Give yourself ample time, but know when you want certain tasks completed by, and stick to that set time frame. Accountability also comes into play here. I tend to procrastinate, in blogging and in life. I always have and still continue, unfortunately, to wait until the last minute to complete things-no matter how important. It is a problem I am aware of and I am actively working on. That is why, when I set a date that something is due by, I feel more pressure or motivation to meet those goals. I also know myself, so I tell my husband about these deadlines so he can hold me accountable and (lovingly) tell me when time's up. You may not need as much help setting and meeting deadlines... hopefully you are a little more responsible than I am! ;)
9. Know How Long Blogging Tasks Take You
This was big for me. I had no idea how long it would actually take to write a decent blog post. I did not factor in the time it took to write, choose pictures, then format and design each blog, until I actually started doing it. What I thought would take half an hour, ended up taking two hours or even longer. If you are new to blogging, you will learn over time how long different content takes to produce; And it is totally dependent on the type of blog you have. If you are a travel blogger, for example, your content is most likely heavily related to photography. Meaning most of your time and focus may be on choosing the right shots and editing them. Learn how long, on average, it takes to do so for one blog; That way you can better map out the time you need to post from start to finish.
You can refer to the following steps if you are in the early stages of blogging:
a) Decide what kind of content you want to create (Travel, Lifestyle, Fitness, etc...) and how long you want your posts to be (short and sweet or long and detailed)
*You can always choose a combination of topics/ blog length.*
b) Determine how long it takes you to produce that content.
-Keep an eye on the clock when working on your blog, and take note of how long it takes you to finish a post.
Example: (these are just estimates)
300 word blog post: 30 minutes to 1 hour
1500 word blog post: 4-5 hours
Choosing/ editing 5 photos for blog post: 1 hour and 30 minutes
c) Plan accordingly
-Use the information you gathered to plan when you can devote time to content creation.
Most likely you will have a combination of various content styles in the different blogs you post. Some may be short and to the point, others may be longer and more informative. While still, some may just contain a photo gallery showcasing a trip you took or displaying various fashion choices. Either way, it is extremely beneficial to know ahead of time what kind of blog you will be working on, and how long it usually takes you to complete said blog.
This is another instance where a Blog Journal can be very useful. Download my free blog journal template below!
10. Use Free Time To Your Advantage
Very rarely, I will find myself with time on my hands. As a mom, it is usually during nap time or after everyone is fed, and the baby has gone to bed. (Like I said, it is RARE- somehow catching up on all the laundry seems like a distant dream!) So I cherish those few moments where I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. I have two choices, I can rest, relax and enjoy myself or I can be productive and tackle the things I have been meaning to get to. I do both. This whole post is about finding balance blogging, but I think a lot of these tips can be applied to finding balance in your everyday life.
It's up to you what you do with your free-time, but I recommend occasionally using it to reach your blogging goals. You may even find yourself being ahead of schedule because you used a free hour you had to upload a quick post or promote older posts. I also strongly believe in self-care and me time (See Blog #11: Me Time: A Mommy's Best Friend) so if you want to use your downtime to pamper yourself or just relax, by all means, do so! Do what you feel is best for you. I can say though, that when I do get things done, I am usually able to relax more; They go hand in hand!
I hope you've found this post helpful in some way!
All in all, I think it comes down to sacrifice. You may have to devote less time in one area in order to focus on/ enhance another. It's up to you to choose where you are willing to make sacrifices, and where you are not. Whether that means less social media, more content creation, or working less hours to move towards your goal of monetizing your blog, or whatever it may be... something's gotta give! If you spread yourself so thin trying to accomplish too many things, you actually get nothing done! So pick and choose where you want your focus to be. Prioritize whats most important to you and set goals to guide you towards those priorities!
If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it! Also let me know what you think in the comments below! Did I miss anything? What are some of your struggles when trying to balance blogging and work or personal life? How have you overcome some of these challenges? I love hearing from you guys! I can't wait to keep creating and growing as a blogger!