If there’s one thing that all bloggers have in common, it’s the fact that our to-do list never seems to end. There are simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we’d like. So how does one make the most out of the little time that they have? Here are the tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way that make a world of difference.
(Do you do any of these already?)
1. Create a project tracking system
Different systems work for different people, so play around with what works best for you. Some people might prefer writing things down on paper, while others prefer an electronic system.
If you’re a paper person, you’ll love this blog tracker that Blair created–it’s an easy way to have a snapshot of everything you’ve got going on, week by week!
On the flip side, if you’re like me and prefer the electronic way, software like Asana will become your best friend. (Blair and I both have a slight obsession with it!) It’s one of those things that is so magical, you can’t possibly fathom why they give it away for free.
Asana is essentially project management systems that allows you to keep track of all your projects in one place, assign deadlines, subtasks, and even delegate items to other team members. I make a different “board” for all of my different projects (i.e “GG” has one board, my freelance clients each get their own board, Blogging For Keeps has another, etc).
2. Use Google Calendar
I’m one of those crazy people that will not remember anything if it isn’t on her calendar. It’s a problem. I cannot schedule my life without it. I even had to make my boyfriend, Neal, get a gmail so we could share a calendar and wouldn’t double book each other for different social activities. (Did I just broadcast this embarrassing fact all over the internet?)
I don’t just use Google calendar for meetings, but I use it as my editorial calendar as well, documenting what posts are going up when, and what deadlines I have (note, yes, I know this is KIND OF redundant because they are also in Asana, but I like having my deadlines, meetings, girlfriend dinners, date nights, and any other thing that requires my time in ONE place.)
Using different colors to code your types of content is also very helpful, and will allow you to re-arrange things. For example, if “home” posts are the color red, and I look at my schedule for the week and it appears my calendar is bleeding, it’s time to shift some content around! (Take this with a grain of salt, it’s very rare that I actually get my you-know-what together in time to schedule a full week of content, but I’m working on it! That counts, right?)
3. Block your time
Huge, huge, huge deal. When I block my time, I am 110% more productive than when I do not. It takes a tiny bit of extra effort in the morning, but I promise, you’ll be so happy with the result.
What is blocking your time?
Plan out your day in advance. Assign yourself certain times to do things based on your priorities for the day, and no matter what, stick to them. Knowing that you only have a limited window to do something will light a fire under your ass like you never thought possible.
Here’s an example of what my blocked schedule could look like on a given day:
You’ll notice that I only allow myself certain times to check my email. This is because email is a black hole and will suck you in and take up hours and hours of your time if you let it.
Also, per the “color coding” note above, you’ll see that each of my clients gets a different color, and anything blog related is gold (shocker!) which makes it really easy to track my time and go back and see how it was spent throughout the week or month (really handy if you’re billing by the hour).
Also, of course, this doesn’t only apply to those who are freelancers. It also works amazingly at your day job, too. Use it for every project that you have, and then schedule in your time to work on your blog. For example, during your lunch break, or before 9am. If your office is flexible with the time that you take breaks, schedule a few minutes here and there to schedule a couple social posts, or respond to a blog related email.
Chances are, if it’s in writing, and on a schedule, it’s more likely to get done!
4. Stick to a routine
The best way to get things done is to stick to a routine. Here’s some homework: write down a list of the things you must accomplish every day. Next, write down a list of what windows of time you have available to accomplish those things, and put them in the calendar. Stick to this routine as closely as you can. Running out of time? Get up earlier! Still running out of time? Start whittling down your to-do list. The happy medium is somewhere in the middle 🙂
For example, when I worked at my agency job, my typical routine would go something like this: work on my blog from 6am-8:15am. Leave for work at 8:40 am. If I had any free time around lunch, I’d take a break and work on my blog when possible. If not, I’d just stay up later that night. When I got home, I’d eat dinner, and then start working on my blog again (with a glass of wine, or two) until I went to bed.
Of course, often times, other things happen that prevent this schedule from going completely smoothly (obviously exceptions must be made to hang out with friends, Neal, events, etc) but 80% of the time, it worked for me.
5. Use the Pomodoro Method
What’s the Pomodoro Method? It’s a method of tackling your to-do list I recently adapted, and it works.
Essentially, you work in increments–60 minutes or 90 minutes (90 minutes works best for me) and then take little breaks in between your increments to do something totally non work related. This can be a 20 minute break to go get a snack, take a quick walk around the office, or a 30 minute break to squeeze in a mini workout, a half-hour tidying-up session, whatever.
What this does is make you hyper-focused on completing your task within the allotted window, then gives your brain a break so you’re super fresh and ready to focus when it comes time to do the next task.
It sounds counter-productive to take so many breaks during the day, but I swear, I’ve never gotten more done!
What tips do you have to keep yourself on task?
Main image via Pink Pot3