(This post was originally published on Next Level Blogging as a guest post)
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How long does it take you to write a blog post,
from concept to publishing?
(Count only the time you’re actually working on it or actively thinking about it.)
Got a number?
While it can seem like a simple endeavor to conceive the ideas, write them down, edit a little, and publish, you know there’s much more to it than that:
- Content concept
- Writing the first draft
- Change this, change that
- Breaking it into digestible word groups
- Choosing headers
- Finding images for both the post and the featured image
- SEO considerations
- The snippet
- Re-thinking your headline
- “Preview” in WordPress (you cringe)
- Tweak it until it’s just right.
All told, maybe 3 to 5 hours go into it before you publish. Your mileage may vary, though I did run a Twitter poll that bears that out.
Content Production and Time Management
Every blogger’s story is somewhat unique, but in the end, we all manage time, try to maintain a fair work-life balance, and keep the content going.
If you’re someone who’s pouring out a few posts a week, you’re putting a lot of time into blogging. How are you managing to get everything else done while you blog?
- I’m guessing you’re not
- You’re a wizard at time management and productivity (in that case, please share your secrets to getting it all done in the comments below!)
So, for those in the first group, let’s talk about that.
What is Productivity?
Productivity is efficiency – how efficient you are at completing a task. It’s not necessarily getting more things done each day. That’s throughput.
Productivity is more about consistency in getting important things finished.
The key there is important things. These are the things that your daily time budget must focus on.
According to Time magazine, “experts say that the secret to reaching peak productivity is to change the way you define and look at time”. The article goes on to quote Laura Stack (productivity speaker and founder and CEO of Leadership USA) as saying “Productivity is about the results you were able to achieve in the time you spent.”
Does life really work that way? Can we actually employ methods to reach peak productivity?
Yes, we can, with one caveat – we’re human. Sometimes we’re going to fail.
Are you going to beat yourself up over it? (NO is the correct answer).
We will have bad days, don’t dwell on it.
Remember the phrase in the “Tubthumping” song from Chumbawumba?
“I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.”
There ya go.
Chaos and Time Management
In employing methods to enable productivity, remember that we are dealing with managing chaos.
Modern life is chaotic.
A real-life example of managing chaos is having the unfortunate displeasure of stepping in a pile of fire ants. It’s easy to do in places like Florida. Been there, done that.
Suddenly your feet and/or legs are overwhelmed with itching and burning and hundreds of little problems stinging you.
Time management is actually chaos management. You can’t keep up. Suddenly you have to put it all away and stop the overwhelming sting of non-productivity.
Just keep that framework in mind as we discuss ways to manage time and to blog productively.
Productivity and Process Methodology
When I’m not blogging, I‘m a full-time Project Management Professional (PMP), credentialed through the Project Management Institute (PMI).
We use a methodology to manage and deliver projects called PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge). It covers 5 phases of a project’s life cycle:
- Control (Monitoring and Controlling)
What this says is that each project has a start and an end, plus a series of events that occur in between.
If you think of a blog post as a mini-project, you can see how they follow a similar flow.
As a Project Manager, I have to walk through these phases with every project.
As a blogger seeking to improve productivity and time management, you and I can follow in the same way.
You decide “I have an idea for a great blog post!” You, as the sponsor of that idea, think it through and approve yourself to move into planning.
Here you plan how you’re going to produce the post.
“I need to get this out in 2 days, and I know it’ll take me maybe 4 hours from start to finish”. Already you realize that you need to devote about 2 hours a day to the task, but as a smart project manager (think “time manager”), you add a little reserve to that and carve out 3 hours each day.
In terms of productivity, you start to figure out how you’ll do that, considering all the other things you need to do in those two days.
It’s now time to execute your writing plan.
Make sure you have your task list for the day and prioritize it in your head or write it down. A whiteboard is not only a good tool for this list but it can be a little therapeutic as well!
4. Control (and Monitor)
This is where you employ SEO, insert headings (H1, H2, etc), control the length of sentences and paragraphs, rinse and repeat proofreading, select images, determine which plugins to use, ensure in-content hyperlinks open up in a separate tab, etc.
At this point, if you are comfortable doing so, you could actually publish the post.
I say this because even though the “Preview” within WordPress is usually good enough, having a look at the post in several actual browsers can help you control the look and feel BEFORE you shout, “It’s done!” on social media.
It also gives it a little (really little) time to get recognized by the search engines.
At the end of this phase, you can do any final sanity checks, even repeating steps within Control.
One important piece of time management in this phase … walk away.
This is a perfect chance to walk away from your darling and look at it tomorrow. A fresh set of eyes will reveal things you couldn’t have seen when you said, “I’m done”.
Fix them (tomorrow), then PUBLISH!
This borrowed process will help you tackle content creation productively and lends itself to time management.
18 Powerful Time Management Tips That Increase Productivity
1. Build A Simple Content Calendar
Get ahead of the pressure wave and plan out when you’ll deliver your content with a blogging and social media posting schedule. Use Hootsuite, Tailwind, Later or other scheduling tools to get your content out there when planned AND save your self time later by scheduling with these tools ahead of time.
Related to this, set quarterly or monthly goals for your blog – that keeps you focused on topics that support those goals. “Parking lot” other ideas that come to you until your next goal-setting cycle.
2. Work When You Can Actually Produce
If you are tired by a certain time each day and know that you won’t catch a second wind, avoid working on your blog during that time. Each person’s situation and schedule will be different, but the idea is to carve perhaps 30 to 60 minutes out of the day when you have “more than half a brain”. This is the time you can use to actually produce content, update your plugins, or read helpful information you find online or via email list subscriptions.
3. Use A Cloud Service For Drafting Posts
This is helpful if you are not tied to one machine. More popular choices are Google Docs, Sync.com, DropBox, iCloud, OneDrive.
4. Outsource Some Tasks
Delegation is a key tenet of time management.
If there are others that can do a good job writing or proofreading, get them involved. This could be through a friend or relative, a “gig” on Fiverr, using a high school or college intern, having other bloggers do guest posts on your blog, or hiring a virtual assistant.
However you approach it, find a reliable helper and take the load off your shoulders, at least temporarily.
As bloggers, our creative juices are always flowing. Keep a Post-It pad or notebook ready for your ideas.
6. Just Write!
Postpone the editing until much later. I’m notorious for this… TONS of typos as I free flow the thoughts.
7. Ground The Hummingbird
We all flit from one place to the other. This breaks concentration and destroys productivity.
Reduce the time you spend checking PayPal, analytics, email, and social media.
8. Create Rules For Yourself
Here are two of my favorite time management rules:
- As soon as you have a task in mind, throw it on a cloud-based calendar. Open the calendar and place tasks in empty areas, then slide tasks around and move non-key ones off to other days. That way you get the most urgent ones done first but don’t forget the rest.
You will actually find that after moving a task around a few times without taking action, you delete it – it was never that important in the first place! The beauty of this tip is that you capture as many things as you want, but you get to them at the right time!
- Use the Snooze – If you have Gmail, you may know that they’ve added a snooze feature. This works great to postpone emails you aren’t ready to delete but don’t want cluttering your inbox. Set the date and time it should reappear and move along in your day.
If you use Outlook, simply setting a Reminder for the date and time you want it to get your attention does the same thing. I use both Gmail and Outlook, and this works like a charm.
9. Batch Your Time
Batch time to read accumulated emails rather than nibbling your time away checking constantly. As you go through the bigger batch, use the snooze as necessary.
10. Block Specific Calendar Time
Block off specific lengths of time to work on tasks and stick to it. Avoid interruptions and do not deviate from the scheduled activity. When time is up, put it down.
11. Minimize Alerts
Turn your phone’s sound off or set the alert to buzz if you MUST know there is activity.
On the iPhone, set some key Contacts to “Emergency Bypass” and associate a specific tone with those Contacts. That way if there’s someone you absolutely must allow to break through, that tone will tell you it’s them.
You can also set specific ring tone and notification sounds for your individual contacts on Android to accomplish the same thing.
12. Lengthen The Tether
Keep your phone at a distance, perhaps in another room. Plan to check it at lunchtime for example, and keep your morning free.
13. Change Your Tactics
Adopt a different approach to time-saving.
If you are just going faster, multitasking, or skipping things altogether, you are pretty much using “productivity coping mechanisms.” These focus on getting the most tasks done but aren’t particularly effective at saving you time.
Change the way you approach things. Do something once instead of repeatedly. For example:
- FAQ pages – Frequently Asked Questions don’t have to be dealt with repeatedly when you gather them up and answer them on a single web page.
- Chatbots – They are a little robotic, but they can really help guide site visitors to useful areas of your blog. You can even use them to streamline customer interaction with your page on Facebook. I use and recommend ManyChat for that!
14. One And Done
Find the little (I mean little) tasks that are important enough to do, but are basically mind clutter.
Select several tasks that you could complete in one minute, and slam through them. Little effort, big results!
You’ll feel better for this and not be encumbered by task gnats!
15. Relationships Productivity
Many people tie blogging and something comforting together. If you can create that relationship, you may actually be more productive.
For example, having some coffee or tea (a warm and comforting experience) while you blog can help get the creative juices flowing.
16. Look For The “Uh-Oh”
Plan ahead and foresee where you could get stuck.
17. Arrange Tasks To Fit Your Energy Level
For example, blog when your mind is fresh or when you need a welcome break from the daily grind; vacuum the floor when you have physical energy and blog when you need to sit and create.
18. Use Thunderbird or Gmail
Thunderbird and Gmail allow you to group many email accounts into one interface. No need to log in and out of several websites or programs.
Plus, you won’t miss any important emails by forgetting to check your many accounts regularly.
Given the way the world works sometimes, we are constantly challenged to keep up.
Let’s get real, we’re human.
We blog for the love of it and we strive to put out the best content, but we also have lives.
Some of us are blogging as a side hustle, some are doing it full time. We can strive to optimize productivity, but we cannot totally perfect it.
Today equals tight schedules, cell phones, social media, on-demand TV, all competing for our time. There is plenty of productivity guidance out there but surprisingly much of it comes from another age, where factories were the subject of study.
This article sums it up well:
“…don’t beat yourself up for staying plugged in, juggling tasks and managing the chaos of life and work. Each person can find their own ways of doing so as efficiently and happily as possible, without needing to heed advice that is often better suited for another era or another world. Each person can find their own ways”.
Hopefully, I spurred you on to action and helped you toward more productivity and better time management. Now I’d like to hear from you.
What are your thoughts on productivity and time management?
Leave us your comment below and share what works best for you.