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The Curse of the ProBlogger – Time Management and Scaling Yourself Up

I love my work – but if there’s one thing that I struggle with more than anything else it is that I get to the end of each day and wish there were a few more hours.

Time-Managementimage by Erik

It was a couple of years ago that I first said to a friend that I wish I could clone myself because i could fill up my day numerous times – there are just so many opportunities (and demands) and every day I feel like time precludes me from acting on them all. A quick look at the thousands of unanswered emails in my inbox illustrates this perfectly.

In chatting to other bloggers who achieve some level of success I’ve found that this problem is the ‘curse’ of many a ProBlogger.

So today when Chris Brogan write a post on Scaling Yourself I was all ears. It contains great tips not just for bloggers but all kinds of web professionals and it’s really helpful. I won’t regurgitate it all here but much of what he’s written are some of the ‘lessons’ that I’ve been teaching myself – plus there are some that I still need to learn.

I hope you find Chris’s post as helpful as I did.

Oh – and if you have any more tips for overloaded bloggers trying to scale themselves do leave your own tips in comments below.

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. Dave Origano says:

    Hey Darren,

    overseeing everything is one thing, but doing everything is to time-consuming if you ever want to grow bigger. The time is limiting your income actually.

    Hiring a (virtual) assistant can help a lot. And with the current software packages, an assistant can easily take care of 90% of your current tasks.

    For entrepreneurs it’s best to spend their time and creativity on the driving force of the business, the one thing they’re good at and makes their business successful. Cut the rest away by outsourcing it or putting it on autopilot.

    Actually, I write a lot about this subject as it seems every entrepreneur will hit a sort of ‘income ceiling’ at a given time.

    -Dave

  2. Thanks for the link, Darren. I’m hopeful that your audience has even more ideas to add to the conversation, as it’s something that seems to have resonated well with a lot of online creative professionals. It’s funny when we’re all out there trying to figure out what’s important and how to better our productivity, and then we realize that EVERYONE is probably just as much in need of productivity boosts and tips.

    (I mean, I guess Gina Trapani and team know!)

  3. Dan Cole says:

    Time flies when your having fun!

  4. Time management, clutter-free life, simple things, to-do task list, focus and determination. Don’t waste your time with something that will not benefit your blog. Your are like a baseball player with the Yankees…focus on nothing else but your work….your work is your life. Money never sleeps pal, if your not making money someone else is…its a zero sum game…waste your time and someone else is eagerly waiting to take your customers. BE HUNGRY! Stop reading this and get to work!

  5. One of the things I’ve realised is how easy it is to let your time evaporate into dealing with other people’s demands (via e-mail, phone, meetings, interruptions etc.) and how important it is to get into the habit of prioritizing the work YOU consider the most valuable/importatnt.

    I wrote a guest post for Business of Design Online about this – Ring Fence Your Most Creative Time (where I refer to your concept of ‘golden hours’ that you blogged about a while back): http://www.businessofdesignonline.com/time-management-ring-fence/

    That post was part of a series I wrote on Time Management for Creative People – if it’s of interest you can download the whole thing as a free e-book: http://www.wishfulthinking.co.uk/blog/2007/12/03/time-management-for-creative-people-free-e-book/

  6. Mark says:

    Hm…being a newbie, please forgive my ignorance. I wonder – apart from the tax and books, what takes up your time most of the day? Answering comments? Reading other blogs? How many times do you actually spend in front of the computer a day? It’d be interesting to do a ” A life in the day of a ProBlogger”, wouldnt it?

  7. Black Zedd says:

    Well, that’s the main reason Web 2.0 is booming. Aggregators make our life easier. RSS readers shaved lots of time, but theres too many other things to do!

    The way I cure this ‘curse’ is just by limiting the number of activities and communities I frequent. Concentrate on a single social networking sites, community forum etc..and schedule my time for daily break- refreshments, exercise and stuff..

    These breaks are compulsory, regardless how many e-mails left unattended.

  8. Bryan says:

    Making time for a social life is definitely necessary but kind of tough when there’s so much to do!

  9. Julia says:

    Dear Darren,

    Thanks so much for this post! I was just having a lunch-time freak out and somehow you got into my head and recommended Chris’ excellent post. Thanks again!

  10. A Great post. Thanks for sharing it Darren, Im still relatively new to blogging, but already i feel there arnt enough hours in the day to do my web design work, along side blogging. Eventually id like to become a problogger just like you, but in the meantime, tips like the ones Chris have provided are very good indeed.

    Thanks a lot.

  11. Troy says:

    Aggregators make our life easier. RSS readers shaved lots of time, but theres too many other things to do!

    If only you knew how much time I am empowered to waste with RSS :)

  12. Ryan says:

    Besides eliminating the amount of things you do (simplifying!), and keeping your activities balanced (have fun!), I find one thing that helps me more than anything is breaking down my day into time chunks, and assigning only one activity to each time chunk. Instead of going to my desk and saying, “I’m going to write now,” I say, “This next hour is dedicated to writing a post on the separation of duties by time.” I get more done when I have only one task to worry about. Also, the less you switch between tasks the better; i.e. the bigger chunks of time you have, the better; however, I don’t suggest chunks of time more than two or three hours. (Coincidentally, I just wrote a article on this topic this morning.)

  13. Tom Beaton says:

    If only we all had that dilema.

    A problem with virtual assistants is that we like the authors touch. We are here for him. If someone else was doing things would it change how we feel? Things like tax etc can be given to an accountant. No one can interact for you though. If someone emails you they want you, not someone else.

  14. This was unbelievably helpful! I am constantly wishing I could clone myself a few times. (while the real me was out having fun!) Anyhow, thanks for sharing!

  15. That was a very interesting post you linked to. Take out distractions, say no to the less important stuff, Loop closing. Very interesting.

  16. jen says:

    I am by no means a Problogger, but I have two blogs, am a moderator and guest poster on Aussie bloggers, have a four day a week paid job and am a sole parent to a 6 year old boy. I also enjoy photography and catching up with friends amongst other things. I need to clone me, or quit my day job but both are out of the question. In light of all this, I watch far less tv now because of this blogging thing which isn’t a bad thing and – psst – don’t tell anyone – I do some RSS feed reading at work.

  17. Don’t be a profit maximiser. The nature of the internet blogging is that you can always do more, but, you need to keep right balance

  18. There never seems to be enough time to do everything. That’s why I try to find competent people I trust and then delegate like crazy.

    Reading the One Minute Manager really helped me,

    I really gained a lot of my time back when I eliminated a lot of my distractions.

  19. jhay says:

    Time management and self-discipline, two things I must really get control off if I’m ever to recover my blogging ‘mojo’ and those tips from Chris B are just what I needed. Thanks for the heads up!

  20. I struggle with this daily. The worst part is the anxiety I get when I’m trying to go to sleep and I can’t stop thinking about all the crap I didn’t finish yet.

    I know for a fact that I’m not using my time to the best of my ability, but I think I’m going to give myself an ulcer if I don’t figure something out soon.

  21. The best trick I have is to use a timer. It sets a period where I am doing X and nothing but X. I check email only twice a day. I get more done with that artificial deadline than without and it also helps me tackle tasks I hate/procrastinate on. It also gives me a cue so that I don’t unwittingly spend the entire day doing a particular thing.

    Besides that, I’d say get an assistant.

  22. I’m with you Darren – there are never enough hours in the day. I work full time, on top of my blogging, so I only have a few precious hours in the evening to get things done. Weekends are my most productive blogging days.

  23. Black Zedd says:

    @ Troy

    Imagine if you don’t have any RSS reader..you’ll spend up surfing around for updates, which further limit your reach in the web.

    Maybe you should organize a cleanup day for your rss readers..i hardly subscribe to feeds. Only from highly useful needed blogs. That way wen have more time per feeds.

  24. Four Pillars says:

    I try to prioritize my tasks and I don’t worry about trying to complete everything or even “80%” of the things I’d like to do with my blog.

    If a task doesn’t have an immediate benefit (ie writing posts) then I put it on a list of things to do and worry about it later.

    Mike

  25. Terry Finley says:

    It seems to me that blogging has
    become an addiction that may
    have lethal ends, both for the
    blogger and the reader.

  26. I’m the same. No matter how much I get done there always seems to be too much to get done.

  27. Andrew Chen says:

    A blogger may not be a creating writer. A creating writter may not be good at managing its blog.

    I have know people that are very good at writting and they write for different newspapar for a living. They have huge potential to make themself a professional blogger but they just don’t do know how to do that.

    A combination of writting skill and some tech knowledge will make it. The old feshion way to saling yourself up is to keep learning and developing the skills you need.

  28. Roland Hesz says:

    @troy “Aggregators make our life easier. RSS readers shaved lots of time, but theres too many other things to do!”

    Ever noticed that whatever people invents to make something easier it always ends up with “ok, now we can do it in half the time, so we can put 5 times as much other stuff into the remaining half”?

    We never get around to actually exploit the benefits of anything as we are too busy to re-crowd the time frame we just emptied.

  29. jd says:

    I think there’s a few keys:
    - be efficient with things; effective with people
    - model the best (you can learn short-cuts from experts)
    - manage energy, not time
    - play to your passions (this ties back to managing your energy)
    - batch and focus
    - decouple creation from production
    - use checklists for routines (same technique as the air force, Disney, and McDonalds)
    - use Lean engineering practices (and use the Theory of Constraints as your friend)
    - remember Parkinson’s law – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson's_law
    - focus on value over quantity (a vital few can be more impactful than lots of minutia)
    - leverage your network
    - productize yourself where you can

    I think the most important lesson though is to stay balanced:
    - mind
    - body
    - emotions
    - career
    - financial
    - relationships

    If you’re not continuously making investments across these buckets, something is probably off. These buckets also help you make trade-offs.

  30. cheryl klein says:

    I find I am blogging into the wee hours of the morning which is not a good thing. I start at about 10PM and time just flies by and then It is almost morning, I don’t have to be a work at a certain time but my husband isn’t very happy sleeping alone,The problem is my house is so busy kids, my husband works also at home etc I can’t concentrate! Ideas????
    Cheryl Klein

  31. CatherineL says:

    Time is something we could all do with more of Darren. Now, if you outsourced more – it would solve your tax bill problems.

  32. I am a mother, a wife, has a daily work in the city, and is enjoying being a new blogger. How I wish I can do so much in a day but I have come to terms to the fact that I can only do so much.

  33. Charlie says:

    All work and no play makes for a dull life……….i’m building up my online business using James D.Brausch’s Freedom business System (www.FreedomBusinessSystem.com) it automates alot of the repetative work and cuts down alot of the research that I need to do……..try it you may find some time to spend doing…………something else.

    Happy blogging

  34. Thanks for pointing me to a very nice post, D.

    Strange how things work. Just started following Chris on Twitter a couple of days ago, and I put in my planning (important, but not urgent) to find his blog to see what he writes about. And then… here I have a link to great content!

  35. I think many ProBloggers can easily free up a big bunch of their times by hiring a Virtual Assistant to do mundane tasks like replying to unimportant email (which problogger get a lot).

    You can’t clone yourself, but outsourcing is the next best thing…

  36. Barbara says:

    I love to use the WordPress postdate stamp. I write posts when I’m feeing creative, and post date them. This lets me concentrate on our business during working hours, yet gives my readers fresh content. As time permits, I answer comments and visit my favorite blogs.

    I agree with Chris, learning to say “No” is important. Too often we feel obligated to participate, when in fact, we prefer not to.