Blog life can be rough. You’ve got social media dinging every few seconds, posts you need to write, a newsletter due yesterday and a whole library full of tips, articles, eCourses and ebooks you’ve bookmarked to get to “later”. Time management sometimes may seem like a lost cause.
Along with those never-ending to-dos, you may be a mom so busy that some kind of angelic orchestra may literally sing (or shout…) “Halleluiah!” if you find yourself with even a minute of “free” time. Relaxing showers may have become a thing of the past. Manicures seem like a long lost relationship and your hair hasn’t unwound from that bun since the third trimester.
In this moment, you may be questioning if there is any way to actually do life (handling all your children and husband’s infinite needs) AND manage a blog. Ha! That idea could seem as far-fetched as traveling in a magic pumpkin wearing a conjured gown while counting down till midnight.
What if I told you that this idea IS NOT some fairy tale?
12 Insane Time Management Hacks For Bloggers
I used to be a project manager, so when I started a blog I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult of an undertaking. Boy, was I wrong. All the to-dos and things I desired to tackle just seemed to keep piling and piling up! I felt like a hamster just running my little heart out and going nowhere. I even left blogging and burnt out completely for a long stretch of time.
But I wasn’t a quitter, so I pulled out my project management hat and asked many other bloggers for their best time management tips. I also asked them how they managed their blogs overall. I looked for systems to help me do all of this. Could I dump all of my goals, to-dos, calendar etc. all in one place?
In the past, I’ve used management software in the past like Trello, Asana, Basecamp and more that don’t come to mind a the moment. Only a good system would help organize all the chaos but I found that none of these were customized enough for what I wanted to do with blogging. Organization and prioritization were key ways to dig out of that overwhelming pile of blog related tasks.
I wanted all those to-dos laid out in a digestible, goal-driven way and be AHEAD of schedule! I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing my goals every single day.
In the end, though a lot of hard work, I found out exactly how to do this.
ALL the answers to those questions from top bloggers (as well as some great hacks from my project management background) are included below!
1. Have the right system
At a previous company, I had put together an entire system for management in the form of a Google Sheet. Sounds crazy, right? Not if you knew the depth of what Google Sheets can do with drop-down tabs, conditional formatting, date data validation and beautiful multi-tab system that allows you to have everything ALL in one place. That may sound like jibberish but in lamen’s terms, it simply means this system is completely customizable to your blogging needs.
As a previous project manager, when people ask me time management or blog management tips, I always tell them to start with the right system. This is because I honestly believe having the right tools for your blog is fundamental to success.
Trying out all those management systems lead me to do something I’ve done for other companies: create my own. I showed this tool to other bloggers in a private group and I was absolutely shocked at the response. People told me: “How can I have this right now?” and “take my money!” How humbling!
Since then, I’ve opened it up for download with a private Facebook group. People have told me:
“This is better than Asana.”
“This is the best thing I have purchased this year.” (at the end of December)
Concluding this point, I would advise you to seriously consider the Blog Management Tool to help you organize your blog right now and have the ability to prioritize your goals in a digestible way.
2. Set the right goals and prioritize them correctly
If you know your blog goals, then you will understand which tasks you need to do on a daily basis. Your goals help you create a roadmap to your blog’s destination. Your tasks help you get there. Don’t know what your blog goals should be? We can fix that right now.
- Start with three big-picture goals and list them by importance/priority (shown in the yellow title bar above on The Blog Management Tool). This will be the driving reasoning down to your daily actions. Make sure these three big-picture goals are broad. Examples: drive more traffic, increase income, blog more consistently, work on my email list and/or all 4.
- Write out all the to-dos, ecourses, books, tasks and everything you can think of that you would love to do with your blog. This may be a long list!
- Categorize each of these to-dos into one of those three big-picture goals. For example “Write more pillar blog posts” would help accomplish the #1 BLOG goal above, so I categorized it as such. Analyze each to-do and organize it under the big-picture goal that this to-do would help accomplish.
- Prioritize each to-do within those categories. This may take a little bit of time to narrow down, but it is an important step to know how to assign them to your quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. You can also put some of those tasks or goals aside if you don’t think you will be able to get to them this year.
- Assign what you can accomplish but try to work on all three of your blog goals per quarter which is a three-month segment (Quarter 1= Jan, Feb and Mar, Quarter 2 = Apr, May, June and so on). On the Blog Managment Tool (picture below), the first step is taking those top priorities under each category of tasks/to-dos and adding them to quarter 1, take the second three and write them under quarter 2 and so on. Next, write out which goal will be your focus for the first month under each category. Follow this by writing in goals per week and then copy and paste in tasks.
You will have all your blog goals per month for the whole year!
This will help you hone in (with extreme precision) on your giant blog goals.
3. Make sure you stick to tasks on a daily basis in the order of your top goals
Last night I was up till 12 am trying to make a .gif work. I skipped my usual morning (priceless) blogging time from 5 am – 7 am because I was so tired. Today, I am kicking myself because this .gif was not under my weekly priorities nor was it something that would highly benefit my blog goals. It was purely something I wanted to try and I thought it sounded more fun than the tasks I had assigned myself yesterday. Talk about a dumb, “Oooh shiney!” distraction.
But now that I’ve organized my goals like in step 2, I have found I give into distraction to a shocking degree. Laying out these goals have helped me really target what I need to get done in such a focused way. I have had days this week where I felt like shouting to the mountain tops because so much got done. I couldn’t believe it! All because I stuck to my daily tasks that derived directly from my top goals.
4. Chart your free time and organize your tasks accordingly
One of the statements most people seem to make when it comes to taking on tasks or large goals is, “I don’t have enough time.” This is a good point and not many of us have the luxury of time. The first step is to take an honest look at your schedule. Some people call this a “time budget” and others simply, a “timesheet”.
I was one of those people that felt like I had no time in the day. With a seventeen-month-old, another business, cleaning, cooking etc. I felt like I had ZERO time. Then I filled out this timesheet and was pleasantly surprised. Others have been too!
In order to really understand where your productive time is, download the worksheet and block in where you spend your time. Create blocks of time for everything set in your daily schedule: sleeping, eating, work, breaks, when your babies usually sleep etc. Find gaps of time.
5. Create a doable (and somewhat flexible) schedule
Plan out a schedule that is optimal for your blog goals. Though keep in mind, it may not be easy to go “cold turkey” and suddenly change your current routine. Work towards getting into a routine and starting those positive habits. For example, it took me a few weeks to be able to consistently get up at 4:30 or 5 am! The Compound Effect has been the best book I’ve read so far on how to create habits! It was truly a life-changing read for me.
My schedule as a busy mom:
(In case this helps some other blogging mommies!)
Right now, I wake up at 4:30/5 am and only do a few things before I sit down at my computer: pop in my contacts, throw up my hair and put on my clothes I picked out. I quickly make coffee and toast, drink a glass of water and have my daily multivitamins while looking at my schedule.
I take that golden, precious morning time to do what I need “focused” time for. This is usually writing because the house is quiet and I listen to instrumental, calming music as I write. During my little one’s mid-day nap, if I am not exhausted, I continue to write or tackle another blogging task. In the evening (after our little one goes to bed at 6 pm and we eat dinner) I am close to dead, so I usually do technical stuff that requires zero brainpower like editing pins, formatting blog posts, and scheduling. Here and there throughout the day, I’ll check social media, respond to comments and network, though I only do so a couple times a day for a short period of time. Spending time with my little one right now is a priority over being on my phone.
6. Utilize proven time management techniques!
1. Choose your most productive, focused time to write. For me, this is mornings. Some people may be night owls or notice that their most creative hour is during a different time of day. Pay attention to when this time is for you.
- Turn off all distractions
- No social media
- No phone
- Play instrumental music (it helps me!)
- Open a window on your computer just for writing (so you aren’t tempted to check social media or email)
2. Batch content. This technique has been a lifesaver!!! When I started blogging, the idea of writing multiple blog posts a week sounded crazy! Especially with mom life. Now, I batch blog post writing, photo editing, proofreading, formatting etc. This means when I sit down to write, I: look at however many blog posts I want to write that week (right now it’s two), choose topics for each of those posts at the same time, then finalize the titles altogether, outline them, write each one and so on, in batches. Lifesaver.
3. Try the Pomodoro Technique: Lifehacker has a great article on this system. This technique basically states that blocks of time with short breaks make you much more productive than sitting down for hours and trying to hash things out. There are two increments of time that seem to be most popular:
- 52 minutes, 17-minute break
- 25 minutes, 5-minute break
Set a timer and try these out for yourself.
7. Write down blog ideas wherever you go
Many bloggers do this! Michelle Shroeder-Gardner, an extremely successful blogger recently did an interview on the “Do You Even Blog” podcast. She said she has a place on her phone where she constantly writes blog post ideas. “I have a few hundred,” she told the host. Have a place where you are able to write out inspiration, ideas and blog posts. This way, when you sit down to write, you will never be stumped! This actions will help you be much more productive when creating posts and writing.
8. Write ahead of time!
Have an editorial calendar (like the picture below from The Blog Managment Tool) and try to be two months or more ahead of time on that schedule. I know that may seem crazy to you right now but hear me out! Optimally, I would even advise you to be three months ahead. Why? Because when life happens, you can work back up to three months, rinse and repeat. Being this far ahead with content allows you to be creative, have breathing room, plan things out and overall, it paves the way for a better blog-life balance.
Personally, when I was going week-to-week, creating blog posts a few days before publishing day, I became frantic. It was stressful, the quality of my posts were terrible and I burnt out.
Some people may have the ability or personality to go at blogging in a casual way but in my experience, most people do not. Plan ahead. Seriously.
9. Have a set amount of time for responding to emails and networking on social media
As bloggers, part of our main objective is to really connect with our followers. Chatting with readers is sometimes the absolute BEST part of blogging!!! I love talking with people and connecting to them. The downside is many of us could spend an entire day (or more) just devoted to replying to comments, emails, and personal messages or networking with other bloggers. In fact, some days I would rather just do that!
But, if we spend so much time on replying and networking, we’ll leave no time for some of our main objectives. Schedule time out of your day to reply to your followers. Maybe this is a half hour in the mornings and a half hour in the evenings. Then, a couple times a week in the evenings you can really take your time on those email replies.
The key is to plan a set amount of time and not to be distracted by the “ping!” all day long.
10. Target your social media platforms with a plan
For new bloggers, I always suggest to be a part of three social media platforms (after they’ve established consistent content) and be the bomb at one to start. Take ecourses or read ebooks on how to properly utilize these platforms to the best of your ability in order to drive traffic. Depending on your focus and goals, each blogger will have different time management requirements for social media. I would suggest getting educated from top bloggers on the platform you choose and use the right tools. My top recommendations:
- Facebook: Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing
This is the ebook for Facebook. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents recommended it, and since her Facebook following and group is the bomb, I had to take the plunge. I highly recommend this purchase if you want to understand how to utilize Facebook.
- Pinterest: Pinteresting Strategies
If you’ve searched Pinteresting strategies, you’ve run across Carly’s ebook. I took note of it when I started looking how to up my Pinterest game and wanted to find the best strategy. This ebook was popping up everywhere. It seemed like every blogger recommended it. So, I had to check it out! It’s all about manual pinning and it is a fantastic read. I thought I was pretty Pinterest savvy but I learned a lot about how Pinterest selects your pin to rank higher than others and more. Solid reading!
- Boardbooster (to schedule your own pins) and Tailwind to tap into a giant network of other bloggers and tribes, so you can easily schedule other people’s pins. (Tailwind also schedules Instagram like a boss). This is IF you aren’t into manual pinning or don’t have the time.
- Hootsuite: It’s free! This is an awesome free tool to schedule your social media.
11. Outsource & host guest bloggers
If you find yourself overwhelmed with tasks, don’t forget that you can outsource some of your work to a VA (virtual assistant). Virtual assistants can do a number of tasks:
- Comb through your blog posts to utilize proper SEO
- Manage your editorial calendar
- Promote your blog posts (current and past)
- Reply to comments on your blog and social media
- Research keyword ideas and list ideas for new blog posts
- Comment on other blogs to network
- Research opportunities for you to guest blog
- Screen emails and reply to them (if you choose)
Host guest bloggers to your site to ease some of your workload. Make sure to really promote their post. A good rule of thumb for guest posting is to allow up to three links back to their blog, no affiliate links and have a word count minimum (along the same lines as your regular posts). You may even add some of your own comments (called out) in the post!
12. Stop participating in infamous blogging time-wasters
Okay, so we’re all guilty here. I have been really working on this lately after my new goal schedule but it can be difficult! See if you are doing any of these time-wasters and check yo-self before…you know where I’m going with this…
- Social media skimming
- Reading email
- Checking your phone
- Saying yes to “opportunities” from other sources that seem amazing but do not align with your top blog goals and/or will eat major chunks off of your extremely valuable time. How much is each half-hour worth to you as a blogger? To me, fifteen minutes feels like freshly unearthed gold. I jump at it hungrily! I need this time to blog!
Time management recap
- Have the right system like The Blog Management Tool
- Set the right goals and prioritize them accordingly. Start with your giant overarching blog goals and narrow them down to your daily tasks in order to really achieve them. Again, The Blog Management Tool has a couple pages created just for this because it’s so important!
- Make sure you stick to tasks on a daily basis in the order of your top goals. Try to rein yourself in and work efficiently on tasks that are a priority in order to accomplish your big blog goals.
- Chart your free time and organize your tasks accordingly. Download the time worksheet above, plot out your time and use it like gold. You are worth a lot per hour! Your time is extremely precious.
- Create a doable (and somewhat flexible) schedule. Plan out a schedule that is optimal for your blog goals. Work towards getting on that schedule and starting those positive habits.
- Utilize proven time management techniques! Have focused writing time, batch content and try the Pomodoro Technique.
- Write down blog ideas wherever you go. Jot down ideas in the notepad on your phone or whatever works for you.
- Write ahead of time! Have an editorial calendar and try to work towards having 2 – 3 months of content. This allows for creativity, breathing room and a cushion of “emergency” blogging posts in case you are unable to blog for a period of time.
- Have a set amount of time for responding to emails and networking on social media. Plan a certain amount daily like once in the morning and once at night for a half hour.
- Target your social media platforms with a plan. Tap into other blogger’s successful plans like Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing, and Pinteresting Strategies. Utilize the best tools for help with time management: Boardbooster, Tailwind and Hootsuite
- Outsource & have guest bloggers. Hire VAs to outsource your work and/or host guest bloggers to minimize the posting workload.
- Stop participating in infamous blogging time-wasters: checking stats, scrolling through social media, checking email, checking your phone, and saying “yes” to opportunities that are great but don’t align with your blogging goals.
In the end, make sure you have a proper system and goals set up in order to lay the foundation for an easier day-to-day. Honestly, it will change your life! Also, don’t forget to budget time to promote other blogger’s work. Being generous and giving back will help grow your blog, make your blogging life happier as well as spur you on to better tackle your blogging to-dos.