First of all, I want to thank all of you who voted for Rapunzel in the March Movie Madness tournament going on at Educlaytion. She didn’t make it to Round 3 but it wasn’t through lack of trying on our part. You guys ROCK!
I’m looking forward to the Life List Club Milestone Party tomorrow (I thought it was next week)! My grand prize this time is one of Margie Lawson’s lecture packets for a random subscriber. (You can subscribe in the upper right corner by my picture.) I’ll also be giving a $10 Starbucks card to a random commenter, so I hope you’ll come back and see me tomorrow!
But the MAIN thing on my mind today is TIME. I’m making some career changes right now and that sucks up a whole lot of time, which is second to good health on the treasured commodities list.
I know “time” is on every blogger’s mind, especially those who also write books. We never get that hour of mindlessly surfing the web or staring into space back. In my book, that means I’d better learn to save time wherever possible so I don’t feel guilty when I piddle around.
Here’s some time-related blogging questions I’ve been asked lately:
- How do you post so damn much, Jenny??
- How do you balance writing and social media time?
- How do I cut down the amount of time it takes me to blog?
- How do I get ahead of my blog schedule – I always feel like I’m running behind.
Let’s take these one at a time…
1. How do I manage to post so much?
The honest truth? I write quickly and I don’t do a ton of research. (Shhhh! Don’t tell anybody.)
I use my blog as my “morning pages”: a way to get my juices flowing and to clear my mind for my other writing. It is very rare for me to spend longer than an hour on a post and that includes formatting. Keep reading to see how I keep my writing time at 20-40 minutes.
Techie Tuesday posts take me longer than any other post of the week, but it’s also the easiest one to sub out to experts. When I sub the Tuesday post out, I still have to format it, but I don’t need to format it AND write it. (Plus, Techie Tuesdays are how I give back to all of you, so they will always be worth it to me.)
2. How do I balance my writing and social media time?
I segment it into different parts of my day and I time myself. Yes, really. I’m so forgetful that if I don’t set alarms, I forget what I’m up to. I can get lost in social media for 3-4 hours at a time, which is about all the time I can give social media AND writing together each day. That includes blogging!!
What types of tasks have I set the timer for?
- My time on social media. Most of the time, I try to not exceed 10-12 hours for the week. (That calculates out to no more than 2 hours per day, 6 days a week.)
- Set a timer for your writing time – my current goal for this is 10-12 hours a week.
- Set a secondary timer specifically for blog writing time – I try not to exceed 30 mins.
I have an OXO digital kitchen timer with the ability to time three things (picture to right…you can buy on Amazon). This has been invaluable because I can stop and start it as many times as I want to.
3. How do I cut down the amount of time it takes me to blog?
This is a bonus time-saving tip for all of you that are new to blogging and I’m sure many of you do this already. Use your WordPress Dashboard wisely.
What do I mean by this? I mean keep Draft posts at the ready. On those days when you’ve got no time or energy, you whip one of those babies out!
For example, I don’t do a ton of mash-ups – maybe one a month – but I almost always have one ready. I just try to hold it until it’s really full of goodness (and I have time to format it). Mash-ups take a TON of time, but they’re a great way to give back.
Note for any blogging newbies: A “mash-up” is a post full of links. It’s customary to give them a quick intro. These posts help to draw people to your blog because the bloggers you reference see that hits are coming in from you, so they come say hello. Plus, you are giving exposure to others and helping their blog traffic. It’s a win-win.
Here’s the top of my Dashboard screen from a few weeks back:
You can also get to your Drafts easily from your main Posts screen:
I like the Dashboard better than going to the main posts screen because you can see the first few lines of the post. Plus, it’s right there in my first screen when I go into the admin area for my WordPress blog.
Note: This is one of the main ways Blogger falls down on the job for me – you’ve got to go TO the Posts area to see your draft posts and you don’t get the two-line preview you see in the WordPress dashboard.
What do I keep in my Dashboard?
Sometimes it’s just an idea, sometimes it’s a full-blown post. The titles are just to jog my memory. They almost always change. You probably recognize some of the Drafts from the Dashboard screenshot above since they’ve posted over the last few weeks.
None of that’s the point. The point is that if I come across a link, a quote or a story that fits for a draft post, I can quickly go to my Dashboard and create or update that draft. By the time I’m ready to post something, it will take 20-30 minutes instead of an hour or two.
4. How do I get ahead on my blog schedule – I always feel like I’m running behind.
Some of this is a personal preference. I know people like Lena Corazon who have to get in the mood to blog. I use blogging to get in the mood to write or to empty my brain, so my process is very different from hers.
I also gave up TV at the beginning of last year.
I know some of your mouths just dropped open because TV is how you relax. I have reading for that. All TV was doing for me was sucking up writing time, so I cut it.
Disclaimer: I don’t know if I would have been able to stick to my guns without Tiffany White’s Ooo Factor to give me TV updates, but I have watched zero shows since the beginning of 2011.
Other Time Savers:
Last summer, I wrote a post called Is Your Blog Eating You Alive? which details most of my tricks for combining activities to save time. I was about 3 months into More Cowbell at the time, and I was learning how to juggle everything.
One of my first posts last April was about scheduling your blogs ahead of time on WordPress or Blogspot. Hopefully none of you are missing out on that loveliness.
The first 3-6 months of your blog are a steep learning curve
that you just have to suck it up and get to the other side of.
Now, enough about MY process…yours might be totally different. You might be sitting there thinking I’m totally off base and blogging is just a pain in your patootie. Whatever you’re thinking, I’d love to hear about it!
Are you struggling to balance your blog and the rest of your writing? What time-saving tips have helped you the most? Enquiring minds always want to know here at More Cowbell!