You 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?
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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