1. Use a timer – I bet I’m not alone in saying managing social media is the biggest time suck in being a blogger. I have my list of tasks – liking, following, commenting, responding – and I sit down with my coffee each morning to complete it. But it never fails, morning coffee turns into lunch and I find myself sifting through recipes on Facebook and posts in Tweetchats. I finally got a handle on my time spent on social media with the Be Focused app. It lets me set a timer for each social media profile and buzzes (loudly) when my time is up. I’m getting pretty disciplined at clicking out of the screen when the alarm sounds. I generally allow about 10 minutes per social media platform in the morning – and having a very specific task list ensures I get through most of my list.
2. Batching – Every time I read an article on blogging “how tos”, batching is mentioned. Batching is the process of categorizing all of your work by type, and setting aside time to complete that category of work. For example, our tasks include writing, scheduling social media, writing guest posts, pitching partners, etc. I’ve learned to silo my work into these categories and set aside a large chunk of time to do the work, uninterrupted. For example, I set aside one entire day, usually Tuesdays, to do nothing but write. I don’t clutter my desktop with open tabs, I don’t get sucked into social media, and I avoid multi-tasking. I block off about 3 hours one afternoon a week to research article topics and another 3 hours to write pitch letters. It definitely helps to get into the mindset for a task when you compartmentalize your time.
3. Put it in your Pocket – My biggest stumbling block in being productive on my blog is paralysis analysis. I constantly read and research best practices for blogging, building subscribers, increasing social media followers, optimizing posts, and everything else that goes along with being a blogger. I’d find myself in that old 80/20 rule, only I was spending 80% of my time doing research and only getting 20% of my work done. So here’s how I solved this problem. Whenever I come across an informational article I want to read, I save it to another must-have app, like Pocket, which lets you read content offline at another time (it’s especially great for airplanes since you don’t have to be online). Flipboard is also great for this. When I’m sitting around at night, I pull out my iPad, open Pocket, and read some of the articles. I catch up on other articles on my phone while I’m waiting at doctor’s offices, standing in line at the grocery store, or other down times.
4. Make use of down time – I live in Los Angeles so I spend a lot of time sitting in traffic. Oddly enough, I do some of my best creative thinking while driving (and in the shower). I’ve found that the dictation feature on my phone is great for ‘writing’ new blog posts – I use the “Notes” app. I tend to write like I talk, in a very conversational tone. So when I’m writing a blog post about a recent destination I visited, I like to pretend that I’m telling the story to a friend by dictating it into my phone. I then email that Note to my email and make updates and corrections.