After taking an impromptu week away from the computer a few weeks ago when things got a bit too much for me, I ventured back to blogging last week sharing the tips I hard gleamed about What to do when you feel overwhelmed. I promised at the end of that post that I would be back today sharing the tips from the next part of my journey. One of the reasons I felt overwhelmed and considered giving up blogging was that I needed a better work-life balance. I decided to do a bit of thinking and research to work out how to find time for blogging and still have a life. So, here we are…
Before I started blogging I did not appreciate how much time it would require in order to try and make a success of it. I’m often stuck between feeling that I haven’t given enough time to blogging that it needs, and haven’t given enough time to the other things in life (family, house, other interests etc.). While I have aimed this post at bloggers, and particularly mummy bloggers like me, hopefully the tips will be useful no matter what your work and life involves.
Tip 1: Blog while the kids are sleeping
I’ve heard and read that many mummy (or mommy) bloggers do a lot of their blogging while their young children are napping during the day. Unfortunately my three have all out-grown naps quite early (before they were two) so even when the youngest has been napping there are other children still needing mummy. My four-year-old goes to kindergarten in the mornings so I like to spend time with him in the afternoons when his little sister is sleeping.
I’ve also found that it doesn’t work to try and multitask any kind of computer work while looking after children. Housework and looking after children can work at the same time… just (even if my two-year-old decided to ‘help’ with the laundry by taking dirty laundry out of the basket and put it in the dryer along with the clean laundry I am putting in from the washing machine!). But when I try to do computer work while the children are playing I end up with a toddler trying to sit on top of my while I’m trying to do the accounts!
So that leaves me with morning and evenings. My husband goes to work at 5:30am so this has been a good time for me to get started. I usually manage to get about 1 ½ hours of work done before I need to get ready for the day and get the kids up. Sometimes one or more of the children wake up before this time and I have to put blogging aside.
The evenings are also a good time to get the computer out. I don’t like to be working too late, though (especially if I am going to be ‘fresh’ at 5:30 am) so I usually only get another 2 hours after the kids have gone to bed and I have finished my chores for the evening.
MY ACTION STEPS:
- Focus on family and other activities during the day and leave the blogging for morning and evening.
Tip 2: Plan Ahead
Since life has a tendency to get in the way it pays to plan ahead so you are not left trying to meet a deadline while dealing with sick children or whatever other emergency, or surprise, has arisen. There are a number of great blog and life planners available on the internet, and I’m still trying to work out what system works for me. Two tools I have found to be very helpful recently are keeping a Bullet Journal and using the CoSchedule plugin.
I started using a Bullet Journal in October last year. Considering I have never been good at maintaining a journal or to-do list system, the fact I’m still going shows how good this system is for me. I’ll say more about my Bullet Journal in a few weeks, if things go according to plan 🙂 but basically it is a place to record what ever you want – to-do list, calendar, notes, plans etc. all in the one place. I’ve found it really helpful for my life planning (housework, meal-planning, appointments, etc.) and also write blog ideas in it too.
I installed the CoSchedule plugin onto my blog a few months ago and just LOVE it. It gives me an editorial calendar right on my blog (or you can use the website) where I can plan my posts and store drafts, and I can also schedule posts to facebook, twitter and pinterest. This has really helped me with social media scheduling but I could utilise it better for planning posts in advance. You can find out more on my CoSchedule Review, or go straight to CoSchedule (if you sign up through my affiliate link I will get a discount on my subscription, with no cost to you: win-win!).
An area I want to plan more for is the ‘down times’ like holidays and ‘blogging breaks’. If I have planned ahead for these times, with posts scheduled (including guest posts and round-ups that won’t take as much time to write) then I will be able to have a break.
MY ACTION STEPS:
- Enter post ideas and planned posts into CoSchedule – they can always be dragged and dropped to different days later.
- Plan ahead for holidays and breaks.
Tip 3: Schedule
Scheduling is a great way to save time and stress when you are juggling a number of obligations. I created routine lists for my daily and weekly household tasks about a year ago and they work really well (most of the time). Because I have (more or less) stuck to them for so long I now know what I should be doing when, and have got into a good routine.
My blogging routine still has a way to go. I have a schedule for when I like to post which I usually stick to. But I haven’t really stuck to a schedule for how I use the rest of my time. I did create a weekly timetable for my blogging activities (editing photos, writing posts, social media, research) but haven’t stuck to it as I’m usually playing catch-up and do what I think is important, so things get missed.
MY ACTION STEP:
- Reassess my schedule for working on the blog and stick to it to see if it works. Then refine it where necessary.
- Schedule some non-blogging activities into my week to give some balance 🙂
Tip 4: Focus
One of the main reasons why I don’t stick to my schedule, is that I am easily distracted – particularly by Social Media. Facebook, particularly, can suck up a lot of my time if I am not careful. I want to interact on Facebook and find articles to share, but the time can easily disappear as I scroll through the posts or get side-tracked reading an article. In order for my schedule to work I need to be more focused and stick to what I have planned.
I also don’t want to be so distracted by social media during the day when I am not working on the blog. However, I do feel the pressure to reply to comments promptly.
Here are some great ideas I have read to help with this:
- Use a timer when on social media so you don’t get sucked in and waste more time than you had planned.
- Create a secret board on pinterest to pin the articles you come across so you can come back to reading them later
- Stop notifications on your phone so you don’t get distracted with social media throughout the day.
MY ACTION STEPS:
- Schedule times for looking at social media and set a timer.
- Create a ‘read later’ secret board on pinterest
Tip 5: Delegate
Delegating is something that I have never been very good at, but it can be really helpful to share the load with others.
I have started to give some responsibility to my children for the daily household tasks (tidying up and setting the table) and plan to increase this as they get older. This not only helps me out but also teaches them about being a responsible part of the team. (More about this in a later post…)
A great way to delegate blogging is to invite other bloggers to contribute a guest post to your blog. This has so many other benefits too, as you make connections with other bloggers and their audience. I have hosted a couple of guest bloggers recently, but would love to make more connections in this way. If you would like to contribute I would love to hear from you!
MY ACTION STEPS:
- Continue to delegate household responsibilities to the children.
- Invite more guest bloggers to Mummy Do It.
So that’s my top 5 tips! What would you add? There are a lot of steps for me to action, so I’d better get on with it!