Monday, October 08, 2007

Five Tricks for Efficient Blogging (or Anything Else)

Efficient BloggingYou often hear people talk about how much time blogging takes--I figure I spend as much time at my keyboard as I would with a part-time job. Writing posts, answering emails, coming up with new ideas, promoting products, getting sponsors, staying alive in the community, not to mention reading the blogs I love, it all takes precious time. So how do you become more efficient at it? Here are five tips that have helped me and the great thing is they don't just apply to blogging, they'll streamline any occupation.

1. Know when you're most productive and utilize it. If you know that you're perkiest or most creative at 5 in the morning then get up and get it done then. If you get a burst of energy at ten o' clock, get that ironing done while you're watching the news. Everyone is different but try to work as much as possible with your own rhythms and you'll go faster.

Me? I'm most creative early in the morning so I try (notice I said try) to get up early and blog each morning. That doesn't mean you should call me, I don't talk until 7:30am. Until then only the fingers work. I have friends who like to get up early before their kids get up because that's the only time they can work uninterrupted and get their house in order--before it gets disordered again of course.

2. Do similar tasks around the same time. Because I follow a posting schedule (recipes on Sunday, giveaways on Saturday, lists on Thursday . . . ) I like to write similar posts at the same time rather than switching from topic to topic back and forth. It keeps me focused.

This works with other activities too, for example Friday is my cleaning day when I give the whole house a scrub down: mopping, dusting, changing sheets, watering plants, etc. I know that each Friday morning I'll spend the first half of the day getting the house clean and doing it all at once makes me feel productive rather than picking at it over the course of the week. This also means that for at least one day a week my house is really clean--even if it gets undone the next day--and likewise I like looking at my month and seeing that I already have all my recipe posts written and ready to go. Makes me feel like I'm on top of the situation.

3. Take care of things as they come--don't let things build up. Stay on top of answering those emails, don't let them languish in your inbox until suddenly you have 170 and no apparent means of survival. If you check in a couple times a day and do a quick sweeping you won't get overwhelmed.

Likewise, don't let household tasks linger. Take care of that stack of mail every time you collect it from the mailbox, fold the laundry when the dryer stops rather than letting clothes sit and wrinkle, rinse the dishes and stick them directly into the dishwasher rather than letting it harden in the sink. Skip that middle step of setting something somewhere to await further procrastination and it will save enormous amounts of time.

4. Back up things regularly. Have a time every week when you back up your posts in Word documents or on an external hard drive--or both. Each Monday morning I update the template and generally do blog housekeeping then.

I have other schedules I follow for some of my household tasks, there is a time each month when I pay bills, a time each year I update scrapbooks, clean out our file cabinet and clean out the kids' closets. There's a time each week for my shopping, my washing, my ironing. Just knowing what's coming up gets me more in the mood to do it when the time comes and keeps me from worrying when I will find time to do the chore because I know when I'll do it--I'll do it at the time I've appointed just like I have before.

5. Always keep a pen and paper handy. This doesn't actually have to be a real pen and paper, I often use my handheld organizer instead but the point is to have a way to record your thoughts, ideas and tasks quickly when they strike.

I have paper and pen at my bedside, in my purse, by the telephone, in the car, in my computer table, everywhere and I use them regularly. I'll jot down funny things the kids say, things I'd like to post about, something interesting I learned or saw, whatever it is that I think I might be able to write about.

Of course this works for all other tasks as well. I keep running lists of things I'll need at the store when I go on Thursday, things I need to take care of during the day and then cross them off as they're completed. Whenever you can cross something off your To Do list it feels good. After two months of having "Fix girls' bedroom curtain" on my chore list I finally crossed it off this week and I wanted to dance it felt so good.

Do you have any processes that make you more efficient? Either in blogging or in other areas?

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Have you got your post submitted for the Write-Away Contest? "Things that scare me" is the topic and I'd love to hear what's got you shivering.

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28 comments:

janeywan said...

Great tips. I need to keep only a couple tabs open at a time or things get really scary.

How many tabs can one have open at a time and not forget to do something they were working on. I have unfinished posts, occasionally I forget to send an email and thought I did. Instant messaging while posting a NO NO for me.

crazy working mom said...

Great tips...thanks for the advice!

G's Cottage said...

As always, an excellent post. I do have two exceptions.

One is a shred mail box because the shredder is not in my office and it's more convenient to do it all once a week.

Fold laundry I pull out and lay flat, then fold it during a TV show in the evening.

Nap Warden said...

Those are great tips. I need to get more organized about my blogging. Keep your fingers crossed! Thanks!

Gill said...

I always look forward to your blogging tips! Thanks :-)

la bellina mammina said...

Great tips - thanks! I have pen, paper AND money stashed everywhere - bedside table, kitchen, in my purses, boxes. Why money? Because I'm almost always out without carrying enough cash and I HATE using my credit card when that happens.

Kelly said...

Wow, Michelle. Except for the blogging schedule, I do many of these same things. I especially love having a set time for cleaning, sorting, etc. because it helps to control the melancholic side of my temperament. If I notice the kitchen floor is getting sticky, I don't have to pick up the Swiffer that instant because "tomorrow is cleaning day, so relax."

You offer great advice. As usual.

Dedee said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm needing ways to streamline and I like these.

Leslie said...

This is great advice. My only problem is following it!

JAM said...

Good stuff, and I get inspired a lot when I read other folk's blogs. On any given week someone elses blogs tends to remind me of something in my own life that I had forgotten and I pull out my little molekine and write that idea down.

Many times, when reading at home with a bit of time on my hands I can knock out a few posts back to back, and then put them away and edit them later. Those tend to end up being my best posts, one's that I have time to put away and edit later.

Patois said...

I am amazed at how often I find such great tips at your place.

Mrs. G. said...

It never occurred to me that I might need to back up my blog. Good grief, I know what I'll be doing after work. Thanks for the heads up.

Babystepper said...

Thanks for all the tips. I only wish I were so disciplined and organized.

Is copy-pasting all my documents from Blogger to Word really my only/easiest option for backing everything up? I haven't backed things up on either of my blogs since I started them (over a year now).

An Ordinary Mom said...

170 emails? You are quite the popular person =)!!

Excellent tips. I love following the idea of touching things the least amount of times as possible. For example, when collecting the mail I immediately throw the junk mail away so I don't have to waste time touching it again.

Kacie said...

These are helpful tips! I try to keep a pad of paper in my car, in my purse, and anywhere else I can think of so when I come up with an idea, I won't forget.

And when I'm driving around running errands, I try to map out the most efficient loop to save time and gas.

Daisy said...

I often write posts ahead, and then I can post them quickly and on the appropriate day before I leave for work in the morning.

crazyclarks said...

hello michelle, its lynne clark (christian), thank you for yor recipes, we love them! we made the sweet and sour pork last night, delish!!! sean and tammy told me about your blog, i love it! you are so entertaining! you amaze me, if you ever write a book on mothering, i'll be first in line!

lynnae @ From Under the Clutter said...

Great tips! I have the hardest time staying on top of my email, because I'm such a procrastinator! I really need to just set a time to take care of the email every day!

kailani said...

My biggest procrastination is definitely letting the clothes sit in the dryer. Then I have to go and iron everything which just adds to the to-do list. When will I learn?

jeanie said...

Definitely something I will precis and print out for my own life.

As someone else said, how do you back up blogger effectively?

Joyful Days said...

Great tips, as always!! I look forward to reading your blogging insights, they are so on the money.

Jennifer B. said...

So helpful! Thank you =)

Trixie said...

I especially like the tip about not setting things somewhere until you find a place.

Man, is that a BIGGIE for me. I just have to take care of it later, why not do it the first time the item is picked up?

Thanks for the great reminder.

Trixie

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Great tips. Time is always an issue for me in the midst of three little ones. I have been trying to think through my own blogging time for myself and how to be more efficent and not hop on and off all day...

allrileyedup said...

What I have learned from this post is that I am NOT an organized gal... some day.

Maddy said...

Digital voice recorder in pocket [instead of the scrap of paper and the pen that fails to function when needed] There again that isn't going to help with the 275 emails I need to answer!
Cheers

Damselfly said...

Preach it, sister! I especially love #3.

chelle said...

Great tips!