It’s 3:40 on a Wednesday and by some act of God I am actually finished all of my work for the day. My to-do list is down to “cook dinner”, so with this brief moment of time I thought I would share what’s been on my mind lately.
Oh wait, 17 emails just landed in my inbox…BRB.
Okay, I’m back and here to discuss the #1 problem every blogger has to deal with, finding enough T-I-M-E.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working a full-time job and blogging on the side or if blogging is your full-time job, the endless amount of work to do will leave you wondering where the hell time goes and how anyone finds enough of it to GET SHIT DONE aka GSD.
The truth is, no one has enough time. Coming to terms with the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and one of you is a hard pill to swallow, but you need to just do it. And then it’s time to evaluate those 24 hours and how you can start using them more efficiently.
Having run THM for 2 years now and managing god only knows how many projects with Lee all while trying to be a great girlfriend, friend, daughter, sister and puppy Mom has not been easy. But I also have it good. I remember when I had to keep up most of these things while also working a full-time job and another part-time job. And I know so many others whose roles could go on for days. But no matter how many titles you have, if you’re a blogger you know the struggle to GSD when you feel like there’s zero time in the world.
So after a lot of pondering, inspirational runs, useless time spent scrolling through Facebook, I thought I’d share some of the tips that have helped me GSD and build my blog into the business I want it to be:
Learn Your “Hours”
Learn when you work best during the day. I find my creative capacity to write is a lot stronger in the morning, my energy is highest midday when I’m testing and engagement on social is best in the afternoon. Learn when during the day you are most productive at certain tasks and try to maximize this time as much as possible. So if you write best in the evenings after work, then write in the evenings. If you photograph best on the weekends, then photograph on the weekends. Be observant.
Focus On a Single Task at Once
As bloggers we wear many hats, but stop trying to wear them all at once. I’ve mastered when I’m good at each task, and so I try to tackle a lot of it during my “hours”. I will edit photos for 3 hours before I move onto another task. I generally only test and cook one day a week. Separating tasks preserves the mental energy you end up wasting when you try to switch between different projects. So batch your work as much as possible.
There will always always be more to do. The skill is in knowing how to prioritize it. Write down everything you have to do and then rank their order of importance. From there start with what needs to get done first and maximize how quickly you can do it by slotting it into the hours in which you’ll work best on the project. I can get wrapped up in photographing a recipe for 3 weeks from now when I haven’t started writing my post for tomorrow.
In addition, learn to prioritize your energy. Just because you’re “supposed to be doing X” doesn’t mean it’s worth your mental energy. If your newsletter isn’t yielding results or your facebook posts get no views, stop worrying about them and get working on the stuff that is bringing the love back. Once those things are done you can get working on the areas you’re struggling with, but always start with what’s working.
Remember: Procrastination is Fear
I can easily find myself procrastinating but I was once told that procrastination is fear and I’ve never forgotten it. I procrastinate when I don’t know how to do something, oftentimes because I haven’t thought it through. The best way to tackle your fears is to fully think through how to accomplish the task aka gather your resources. Once you’ve overviewed how to get from point A to point B it’s generally less scary and you’ll feel more motivated to work. So when you find yourself procrastinating, take a few minutes to think through the obstacles and what you’re fearing most about doing the work. It’ll oftentimes be easier than you think.
Learn to Say No
Learn to say no to opportunities that don’t fit, to meetings that waste your time and to people who want your knowledge. Exceptions can be made, but saying no means leaving room to say yes. There’s nothing worse than feeling bogged down in a project that doesn’t feel worth your time or efforts. Listen to your instincts. They will usually tell you to say yes or no.
Oh and as a rule, when I decided to run THM as a business I said no to every single non-paid opportunity. I’ve relaxed a bit on this rule now, but I had to get comfortable with the notion that running a business means turning people and opportunities down from time-to-time. Now I’m a lot better at discerning good partnerships from those that yield little value.
Know Your Limits
You can’t do it all. It’s impossible so stop feeling down on yourself when your to-do list is never crossed off at the end of the day. I used to keep my to-do filled with everything I had to do and whatever didn’t get done got pushed into tomorrow’s list. Truthfully, this kind of made me feel like shit at the end of the day because of course, only 1/2 the list (if that) ever got done. This past year I’ve shifted into a new model of prioritizing my work but within my daily limits. While it’s admirable to think I can write 5 blog posts in a day, it’s just not possible.
Look at your circumstances and figure out what is realistically possible within them and for the love of god, stop comparing your circumstances to other people. I work on THM full-time and while I hustled my little butt off when I was still working another full-time job, I never could have gotten the amount of work I put into the blog on a daily basis these days as I wanted to, then. If you’re not blogging full-time, it’s a slower ride but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile one.
Outsource Your Weaknesses
If it’s within your realm of resources, learn to outsource the work you’re not good at or don’t enjoy. For 2 years I was a solo ship and I certainly paid my dues, but once I was able to bring on a teammate, I immediately searched for someone who could manage the roles I didn’t have time for and didn’t want to do. Jess has been a godsend and reminded me of the importance of building a team. Maybe you can’t pay someone right now, so look to your blogging friends who may have strengths in certain places and weaknesses in others. See if you can swap roles. And then sometimes you just have to invest a little so you can focus your precious energy elsewhere. I don’t know anyone who has regretted expanding their team to allow other people to handle the work they struggle with.
Give Yourself Time Off
And finally, give yourself a break! Every few months I’ll go offline for a week or so. Giving myself the time off makes me more productive when I’m ready to come back. Learning that the internet does not break when I’m not using it was a hugely important lesson. I remember in my first year of blogging how scared I was to go offline for a few days over Christmas. I was convinced that I’d lose all of the traction I’d gained in the previous 8 months. This SO was not the case at all. Your blog is not the be-all-and-end-all of your reader’s lives (even if we all wish they were…), so be more forgiving and allow yourself the break. You will learn to appreciate and value this time.