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Keep Yourself Organized with a Blog Binder

Blog-Binder-2This post on creating a Blog Binder to help you keep organized has been submitted by Julie Bonner from declutter it. I first heard Julie speak about her Blog Binder in passing in a b5media forum discussion and thought it might be something others might find helpful. I asked her if she’d write it up and here it is:

Ever since I started blogging, my mind is always going a mile a minute. I find myself constantly thinking about new article ideas, new monetization models or tips I had heard that I knew would add value to my blog.

Before I knew, it my desk was cluttered sky high with scribble notes and articles I had printed out. I also could not sleep! It was driving me crazy. My mind was so full of ideas that when I would lay down at night, the wheels would keep turning, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel.

It’s ironic that I let my desk and my mind get to this point because I used to help people get organized for a living. That means I’m supposed to be perfect right? Well, I have my weaknesses too, and getting my online businesses “organized” was turning into a real problem for me. I knew I needed a system and quick!

That’s when I came up with what I call My Blog Binder. It’s not a clever title, but hey, it works! Here’s a basic description of what I keep in it and how it helps keep me on track and focused.

My Work Schedule

At the beginning of my binder, I have my work schedule written out. Now for me, this schedule has no times on it, but only subjects. I dedicate each weekday to one subject. For example: Mondays I focus on SEO, Tuesdays I visit new blogs, Wednesdays I focus on building traffic, etc.

These subjects are all separate from the actual blogging. I try to blog everyday.

Staying Organized with More Than One Blog

Instead of having separate binders for each blog I have, I decided to condense them into one. It just makes it that much more simple and easy to use.

Blog-Binder-1-1

I have labeled dividers with the title of blog on it. Behind each divider I have several sheets of blank paper. On each piece of paper I have 1 title:

Article Ideas – This is where I write anything and everything that comes to my mind for an article idea. I am never short of ideas, and if I am having one of those days where I don’t know what to write, I go back to this page. This has helped me through many days of writer’s block.

Must-Do List – This is a list of to-do’s that I need to implement within the next few days. These are things that I do not want to forget about and remember weeks down the road.

For example, let’s say you are browsing through a blog and you notice an “Add This to Your Technorati Favorites” link. You then tell yourself, “I really need to add this to my blog!” So, instead of making a mental note that never seems to stick around, you write it on your Must-Do list. The next time you are working on your blog, you check your list and add that link.

Running-to Do List – This is a list of things you want to implement at some point, but it’s not necessarily time sensitive. For example: playing around with your blog’s colors or possibly looking for a new template.

Blogs to Visit – Within each of my niches, there are a number of blogs that I like to visit. Instead of trying to remember which ones they are, I write them down here and this is usually one of the first things I do in the morning. Be careful to keep this list short. You don’t want your browsing time to take away from your productive work. It is so easy to get sucked into blogland and see 3 hours of your day pass by.

Another option is to add these sites to your favorites folder on your computer. It’s all a matter of preference and what works best for you.

Are you still with me? Good.

Organizing the Great Articles I Read

Have you ever been on someone’s blog, read an amazing article and you said to yourself, “Wow, that was good!”? You then continue browsing, telling yourself you won’t forget that tip? Most of the time that tip has left your brain within 5 minutes and you are irritated that you can’t remember it.

What’s the solution? Print out the article and file it in your binder! I have an excellent selection of articles that I refer back to time and time again. After I print out the article, I hole punch it and put it behind the correct divider. Here are the sections I have:

  • SEO
  • Design
  • Monetization
  • Traffic

This has worked wonders for me and I have even referred back to these articles when helping other people with their blogging woes. When the sections start to get too thick, I will weed out the articles that are outdated.

Keep it Simple

If you decide to create a Blog Binder, I have a few words of advice:

  • Don’t create too many categories. Keep the categories very general at first and as you use it more, you may find more specific subjects to add.
  • Actually use the binder. You may be thinking, “Well, duh!”, but I have been in the organizing business long enough to know that we all have good intentions that slip through the cracks. I leave my binder at my desk at all times. It is usually open and ready for me to flip through or take notes on.
  • Don’t become an insomniac because of your blogging. If you are like me and you find yourself laying in bed thinking of these wonderful, life-changing articles you want to write; get out of bed, open up your binder and write it down. Then proceed to get a restful night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

These tips are obviously for those who still know what paper is. If you are not paper- oriented, but prefer to do everything on your laptop, you can take all this information and apply it electronically as well. Just be sure and keep your computer files well organized and easy to retrieve.

I hope this has helped you in some way on your path to becoming a more focused and productive blogger.

Blog-Binder-1

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dawn says:

    Great idea! I love having hard copies of different articles around and your binder system will be big help in my organizing.

  2. Debra Brown says:

    What a blog-saver! Being new to blogging, websites, and surfing, this binder idea is a god-send. Plus I am an ex-handwriting analyst so writing is still on my list of preferred organizing methods! :) Just had a wonderful organizer come to make sense of 15+ years consulting work. I now have several empty binders who would enjoy a new life as a blogging “assistant”. Thanks for this great tip!

  3. Scott Clark says:

    I’ve utilised a Fujitsu Scansnap scanner to take a bit the opposite approach. This program comes with a terrific digital filing program which interfaces with Adobe Acrobat for OCR/Indexing. Combine this with Copernic Search and RSS Bandit, I’m able to clear my desk of paper. The system synchronizes with my laptop each day using secondcopy (shareware) so I have all of my desk notes and such with me everywhere. I also use Mozy.com backup to transfer the materials to off-site backup. Having this material with me has saved my rear end plenty-o-times.

    The Scansnap takes just about anything without complaining, from postcards to two-sided legal – very tolerant of wrinkled pages and such. It’s one of the few “full circle” systems I’ve assembled that has truly worked start-to-finish for years. I’d be the first to throw it acrsoss the room if it didn’t.

  4. Mark says:

    Great idea! I keep a notebook (you know, the one with pages that doesn’t need a battery) where I scribble all kinds of ideas but it’s not very organised. A blogging binder seems the way to go. It’s always nice to get away from a computer screen for awhile anyways.

  5. nicole says:

    Thanks for a great idea——I love it! I’m still pretty new to blogging, and I’m already finding it difficult to stay organized.
    I will definitely give this a try! :)

    nicole

  6. Trula says:

    This is very helpful. I do something similar on my computer and phone.

  7. Rachel says:

    This was a perfect article for me, i will definately print this out and refer back to it.

  8. I have a little notebook that I have been using to brainstorm for our site. We’ve had our personal baby blog for 2 1/2 years now and just started a blog about a month ago for Baby Blog Addicts.

    I have to admit that until I really dove into it, I had no idea how HUGE and involved the blog world is. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that we need binders to organize our blogs now!

  9. Julie says:

    I posted a comment yesterday, but it looks like it didn’t go through.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their comments. I learned a few things myself from some ideas you all gave.

    I have tried to organize myself electronically, but it never seems to work for me. There’s something about physically writing it down that makes it stick in my brain.

    I once had a client who loved post-it notes. He literally felt like he couldn’t function without them. So instead of trying to change the way that worked best for him, we just tweaked it and created a board where his post-it notes went. We basically organized his post-its. It seemed to work better than them being attached to every surface of his desk. :)

    So as far as organizing yourself for your online businesses, if you do not like to deal with paper, then definitely don’t try to create a blog binder. This idea is for the paper people. :) If you try to change your system and don’t cater it to what works best for you, then the system will fail.

    If any of you ever have any organizing questions, just come on over to my blog, shoot me an email and I will be glad to help you out.

    Thanks again everyone and thank you Darren for the opportunity!

  10. Julie says:

    For some odd reason, I can now see my comment from yesterday. I think I am brain dead or something from all the unpacking. I need a vacation! :)

  11. I spent 38 years in governement offices depended upon three-ring binders. Whenever we got rid of paper we had to make an archival file copy before we got rid of the original. Binders,”six part folders”, files, safes, file rooms, on andon.

    Then there came a thing called the “Interrnet” .. Google is your friend.

    http://www.netvibes.com

    Everything you can put in the binder and more, accessible where and when you are located and … no papercuts

  12. Hans says:

    Thanks for the idea I really like it. But I think there are things that need to be noted and managed online itself. While building my “blog binder” I found that reading and replying to emails was an important aspect of my blogging. So it should be given a specific amount of time and organisation if I don’t want to see myself running over an over on emails.

    Before your “blog binder” idea, I was using Todoist to sort out my daily activity. Now I think I don’t have to drop it permanently, Todoist can still be useful since you can incorporate features to allow you to pin important emails that need consideration. That way Todoist can be used to sort out stuffs that need an online consideration.

    Thanks indeed for this great article.

  13. Razeen says:

    Wow, what a nice article. Honestly, i am very difficult to keep my activities organized and this article is a great tip for me. I must buy a new binder soon….

  14. I love this idea! However, I decided to take the Blog Binder and give it an upgrade so that people who associate with the GTD Cult would be able to use it to its potential:

    http://www.jtdabbagian.com/2007/06/13/getting-things-blogged-the-gtd-blog-binder/

    Hope you don’t mind.

  15. jgodsey says:

    A paper binder, with printouts is completely contrary to organizing internet material. there are many online notetaking software, including tiddlywiki. there are many pc based softwares, azzcardfile.com does exactly the same as your ‘binder’ without paper.

  16. Sam says:

    I just started using Microsoft OneNote to pretty much do electronically what Darren is talking about in this post. For my blog at http://musicbeginnings.com, I have had to do something to stay organized. I found I was running into what Darren described where you have so many ideas running through your head, and you don’t want to forget anything. OneNote has helped me to organize all of this into different “folders” and “notebooks”, etc…

    Sam

  17. I love it! I’m going to print this off right now so that I don’t forget about it ;) Seriously though, it’s true, I always have good intentions when I find ideas on other blogs but seldom remember to go back and actually do something about it. If I print if off, it will serve as a reminder to me!

    Bev

  18. Great article Julie!
    Everyone has there own way of organinzing but we sometimes need a place to start. Great ideas!!

  19. Debbie says:

    Thanks for the fantastic idea. I plan on using this “blog” binder idea for website building and email marketing also.

  20. Thanks for posting Julie’s article on your blog Darren. Organization is a key component to productivity. Although I prefer to organize electronically, Julie’s method obviously works well for her and likely will for most of us as well.

    Organization leads to clarity, which leads to focus, which leads to productivity and efficiency, ultimately leeding to profitability and enhanced earnings!

  21. May says:

    wow! great post!
    certainly gets rid of the pieces of paper, notebooks that get waylaid on the way.
    blessings.
    May

  22. Julie–I’m with you. I’m a paper gal, and after spending so much time online, it’s nice to have something I can flip through and write in. For me it helps to switch modes and get the system out of the computer.

    I’m especially finding a system like this necessary now that I’m managing multiple blogs. It just helps my peace of mind to know that all the little pieces are corralled in one central place.

    Thanks for this post–it’s inspired me to create my own blog binder :-) .

  23. Lorraine says:

    I am loving this post, because it’s exactly what I do! I don’t use a binder, though- just one of those 5 subject notebooks (which I developed a fondness for back in high school). The notebook goes everywhere with me, right in my laptop bag with my MacBook.

  24. ali eteraz says:

    This is the stupidest idea i have ever heard. I have two blogs, page rank 5 and 6 and have been top wordpress blogger on three different occassions.

    Why would any blogger go lo-tech like a silly little elementary school kid, complete with binders, paper tags, and stupid markers?

    I can just imagine carrying this stupid folder around when I go to live blog.

    “Hi, I’m nerdy blogger guy, can someone please help me carry my ugly, white, elementary school folder, god its so heavy. Please, while you’re at it, can you also call me a nerd, and place a Kick Me sign on my back? I really never grew up from fourth grade.”

    A real blogger knows without having to write it down that you have to focus on building traffic, outreach to other blogs, and CERTAINLY doesn’t need to write down his or her ideas (because that is what the draft folder is for). On top of that, there is no need to print articles because that is why God invented delicious. This article has wasted more of my brain cells than the entire four week long Paris Hilton news coverage. Get yourself Firefox, integrate Delicious into it, and then when you have blogged about an article, delete it from your Del.

    And most importantly, never again read declutter blog.

  25. Darren Rowse says:

    ali eteraz – no one is forcing you to use this approach – it’s just one blogger’s way of doing it. I think it’s something that some types of personalities will appreciate more than others. You might be able to keep track of it all in your head or by using tools like delicious – however others work better when they print things out and have hard copies. Does that make them bad people?

    If you read the 73 comments above yours you’ll find that this article did connect with many.

    I’m all for people having their own ways of doing things but your comment is quite rude. Feel free to disagree with the articles on this blog but if you’re going to do so please take the time to remember that there’s another human being on the other side of the post who is simply sharing their story.

    You should think about what impact attacking someone who has the courage to share a little of how they work will have on your own blog. You come across as a snarky elitist blogger – someone who I doubt most people who read your comment will want to read.

  26. ali eteraz says:

    “Does that make them bad people?”

    No Darren; just inefficient, and misguided for they want to spread their inefficiency. I read tech guys to make me more efficient. They usually do. I like posts like this one:

    http://www.matthuggins.com/55-essential-articles-every-serious-blogger-should-read/

    Going paper seemed to me quite a waste of time and resources, thus the snark (which isn’t always wrong; only sometimes, and I only engage in it sometime, not always).

  27. Vero says:

    Great idea, but to echo a few other commenters’ thoughts, paper just doesn’t work our for me. The likelihood of me remembering to carry a binder around all the time is too low, and I need a digital repository for URLs and ideas.

    For that reason, I use Basecamp, which allows me to log in from anywhere, for notes and work-in-progress ideas. For links, I use del.icio.us, for which I have the Firefox plugin both on my home and work Macs. For on-the-fly notes, I use a small Moleskine, but always transcribe notes to Basecamp the next morning.

    Or anyways, that’s the theory of it. We’ll see whether I manage to keep this process up now that I’ve started blogging professionally. ;)

    Very inspirational, and hopefully, a good solution for those who tend to work from a single location.

  28. Matt Heinz says:

    Clever. I also use a binder to help me keep organized (link to how I do it below). I organize most things online, but find that I simply can’t avoid offline organization as well.

    http://mattonmarketing.blogspot.com/2007/01/getting-organized-part-iii.html

  29. Trent Hamm says:

    ali: there are a lot of bloggers that are made more inefficient by carrying everything online. For example, most of my own research is offline. You’re criticizing someone’s creative process without understanding it – what does that say about your own critical thinking?

  30. Zach says:

    I second basecamp =)

  31. Great tips Julie!

    I have a folder in my file cabinet where I put blogging ideas that I have found in magazines, newspapers, etc. I have folders under my favorites for blogs I like to visit and for blogging ideas. I also have folders set up with my email so that I can move things to a folder for blogging ideas and get them out of my inbox. Whenever I’m having a dry spell, I just go to my emails, folder, or blogging ideas that have been bookmarked.

    My system works great for me, but right now it has been neglected some and is getting messy. I need to do some maintenance.

  32. Heidi says:

    I like this idea =) Very creative. It’s not the thing for me, but I really think it’s a brilliant idea =)

  33. Great Tool!

  34. Paul says:

    what a brill idea, i am going to do the same now and get organised.
    Im new to blogging and love information like this, i think you have just made my blogging life so much easier, thanks

  35. Mike says:

    …Paper…pens. What are these things you speak of LOL>

    I am a big fan of staying organized much the same way; with loads of legal pads, manilla folders and stickies. Though I am going to Staples now to get what I need to do this, and go the extra mile.

    Thanks.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] But not only OneNote software, I usually use “old” method, guess what, I still using file paper to write something in little notes. Not to much different like ProBlogger. [...]

  2. [...] P/S:Here is an example of good system for blogging by Problogger: Keep Yourself Organized With A Blog Binder. [...]