When you work from home, it brings entirely new challenges your way, one of which is time management. How in the world can you be productive when you have distractions and other things continually coming up?
The way you manage your work at home time for a traditional job is one thing you know what to work on and when. However, being productive as a blogger is an entirely different situation.
How do you know what to work on each day?
Where should you focus your time?
How do you manage to get everything done on your blog that needs to be addressed?
Time management. That’s how. And not just any time blocking or management tips, but those that work for bloggers – just like you.
When you work a traditional, 9 to 5 job, you know what you have to do each day. Deadlines and people are counting on you to do your work. And, if you don’t, the result can be losing your job.
However, when you are a blogger, there is no accountability. And, since you work at home, you can easily be distracted by the things around you.
As bloggers, we have to learn the most efficient and effective ways to better manage our blog time.
TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR BLOGGERS
To be better with your self-management, you need to change the way you manage your time. That includes using tools and ideas you can use to get the most out of the 24 hours you get each day.
Create a daily blogging schedule
You would not plan a trip without making a plan, would you? After all, you need to know how you will get from your house to your final destination. The same is true with blogging.
If you don’t know what you need to work on each day, you will get nothing done at all. Before you begin your week, determine what you will do each day. When you have a list of projects, you will be more productive with your time.
Create defined tasks
You probably add “write a blog post” to your daily to do list, which is fine in theory. But, if rather than have a single top-level topic, break the action into daily tasks.
Let’s talk about writing your epic blog post, for example. That means you need to do keyword and topic research, create an outline, type a draft, and edit (several times). You need to find the affiliate links you want to include, create an opt-in, and finalize the content.
Once that is done, you need to find the right images and also make your Pinterest pins. Once the post is live, you need to share on social and then promote it to your list.
That’s why putting “write a blog post” on your to do list is not practical. There is too much to it!
Instead, break it into daily tasks. For example, on Monday, you may do your research, outline, and get the first draft typed. Tuesday will be to add the necessary links and to edit again. Wednesday will be getting the images created and added and then hitting the publish button. You may even go ahead and share it on social and to your list that same day.
You can see that when the project has due dates and a timeline for specific tasks, it is more manageable. Your time is better spent as you have details to work on each instead of jumping from idea to idea to finalize and publish that article.
Establish work hours
It’s easy to know when to start and end your day when you work a traditional job. But, when you work at home, it is far too easy to get distracted and just work when you have a few minutes here or there. That’s not an effective use of your time.
When you start looking at your blog as a business, it is easier to set hours when you will work on it and when you will not. If you have a traditional job, it may mean waking up one hour earlier each day to work or staying up an hour late at night. A mom who stays home with her kids may establish work hours to coincide with naptime each day or after the kids are in bed.
It does not matter when you work, but that you have a set time when you do. That way, when the time starts for you to work, you know you have a limited amount of time to get as much done as you can. Doing so keeps you more focused and productive.
Set time limits
In addition to work hours, you may also want to designate time limits to specific tasks. It is easy to get sucked into Facebook’s black hole once you have updated your social status and scheduled content to your page and group.
But, if you only allow yourself 30 minutes to work on Facebook, you’ll get done what is needed and then get on with the rest of the items on your list.
Try the time batch method
One thing that works well is to batch your work. That is where you take tasks that need to be repeated several times on various projects and do them all at once.
Let’s take, for example, your inbox. You may look at your email four, five, or six times a day. Set aside three blocks of time to check your email in the morning, noon, and end of your workday. That way, you are not continually changing focus.
Another way to use this is when you need to make pins. Pinterest wants fresh pins on your account. That means making pins again and again. Look at all the articles that need pins and create them in a single day. That way, your brain is in “pin-making mode,” and you are not stopping and starting that creativity time and again.
Stop checking your stats
We all want traffic. If you are spending hours each day trying to see if you are getting more people to visit your blog, then that is time wasted. Instead, review your stats only once a week and focus your time where it matters more.
Use an Effective Blog Planner
When someone says planner, the first thing that may come to mind is a spiral-bound book. That is just one option. There are printable templates and apps you can use to help you better manage your schedule and time.
If you are old school, the traditional planner might be the right option for you. The Blog Planner is one idea. It is a physical planner designed for bloggers (right down to planning, SEO, blog posts, and newsletters). A planner that works for your needs is key to success.
While this type of planner looks gorgeous, it is not explicitly geared towards bloggers. You may want to invest in a simple blogging planner. A good blogging planner has forms that bloggers need to stay organized and track everything.
When you write a blog post, what all do you need to remember to do? A blogging post checklist would prove helpful, right? Then, there is tracking your income, your affiliates, and your goals. Bloggers also often have to plan their content months ahead of time, so it is on their site at the right time of the year.
As much as paper or printable planners work, that may not be the right option for everyone. Asana is an excellent option for an online productivity planner. The app lets you enter a task, and then you can keep track of everything you need to do to finish it.
If you are a food blogger, you need to find the recipe, buy the ingredients, prepare it (possibly taking video and photos while doing so), shoot the final images, type the post, find affiliates to add, create pinnable graphics, publish, and promote. Whew. That is a lot of things to do for one post.
With Asana, you can add your recipe as a project and then list every task nested beneath it. As you finish one, you can mark it done. And, if you forgot a task, you can add it at any time. It ensures you do everything needed on every job you need to complete.
Have clearly defined goals
Goals are great. They help us know where we want to end up. But do you know what you need to do to achieve them?
You might have the goal that you want to make $5,000 a month from your blog. However, what are you going to do to reach that? What steps must you take to achieve your goal?
A goal is just a bunch of random words if there is not a plan attached to it.
Start with the worst task first
We all have parts of blogging we hate. You may loathe social media scheduling and updates. It could be that Pinterest is the bane of your existence.
Whatever it is, do that task first. That way, it is done as soon a possible. You can mark it off your to do list, and the rest of the day will make you feel more productive and less doom and gloom with that item staring back up at you.
No matter what you need to work on every day, you need to be flexible. Sometimes your priorities will change, which means your schedule will need to adapt too.
You may have a plan to work on a blog post today, but the sick kid means you can’t. You will need to find a way to change your schedule for the rest of the week to make up for today.
There may also be an urgent sponsored post change or request that arrives in your inbox. That may mean swapping items on your schedule out from today to push them off for tomorrow.
Learn from an expert
I’m big on leading by example and learning from those who are smarter than me. I don’t have it all figured out, so use those who have to help teach me.
You should do the same. Find someone who has blogging figured out (usually at least 4+ years of experience). They will be able to guide and help you as they really understand what it takes to blog.
Then don’t be afraid to invest in that education. There are courses and other materials you can purchase to help you learn what you do not know. One idea is the Smart Productivity Plan. For less than the cost of dinner out with your family, you can learn the tools and have resources to help you determine where to focus your time and how to plan your day. It’s a course from a blogger for a blogger.
End each day with tomorrow in mind
One of my favorite productivity hacks is to plan my day the night before. When you wrap up working for the day, determine what you need to work on the next day.
Look at what you have to do, such as appointments, meetings, or other deadlines. Which items do you want to that maybe can get moved to a different day? Never plan a day that makes you feel overwhelmed merely by looking at it.
Plan your detailed daily schedule to know where to start the minute you sit down to work, so you are more focused and productive when you have to work.
Learn how to say no
It is OK to say no to helping at school this week or to go to a family’s home for dinner. When you say no to someone, you are saying yes to yourself.
You don’t need to explain yourself. You don’t need to say more than “no.” Not, “No, I just don’t have time.”
Nope, you can simply say, “no, thank you.” And that is enough.
Work at your peak
We all have the best and worst times of the day. When you are at your best, that is when you will be the most productive. Plan your daily schedule around this time of the day to get more done when you sit down to work.
Turn off distractions
When it is time to focus on your blog, you want nothing to deter you. Close Facebook. Turn your phone upside down, so you don’t see alerts. Stay out of your inbox.
To be the most productive when you have limited time to work, you need to ensure your focus is on your blogging task and not being distracted by apps or other projects.
It is important that bloggers remain in their “zone of genius.” That is the space where you know what you are doing and not wasting time.
For example, there is a lot of technical work that you need always to address when it comes to your blog. It could be updating plugins or even worrying about an error that your site is showing. Rather than spending hours trying to figure these things out on your own, your time is better spent hiring the right IT professional to do this for you.
You may need to hire a virtual assistant to run your social media accounts and monitor email. It might make sense to hire a Pinterest Manager to handle that aspect of your business.
Don’t be afraid to hire or outsource your work so you can focus your time on what you know best.