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How to Manage a School/Blog Balance

This post was written by Aditya Mahesh, founder of AMBeat.com, a complete resource for entrepreneurs complete with advice articles, start-up profiles, interviews, news analysis, and more.

Common wisdom suggests that academics are always chief in importance. Students, at least those here in the United States, are told time and time again that extra-curricular activities, whether it is a sports team or clubs, always come after academics. Student entrepreneurs and bloggers have a tendency not to follow this rule of thought.

Throughout my high school and college experiences, I have always been more dedicated to and more passionate about my business and my blogs than I have my schoolwork. I was recently going through my Algebra notebook from 11th grade and noticed that for every page of Math notes were three pages of business ideas, future blog posts, marketing strategies, etc. Still, while I always placed more emphasis on my business, I was always able to balance my work with my academics, allowing me to excel in both.

For those of you who are not students, the information in this post is still applicable for balancing a blog/work balance of you blog part-time and work at another job or a blog/life balance if you are a full time blogger.

The key to managing my business work and my school work is time management and planning ahead. It is absolutely vital that you do not procrastinate, because all procrastination does is lead to a great increase in personal stress and a great decrease in work output quality.

Throughout the course of my high school education and now in college, I maintain two separate calendars, one for school work and one for business. In my school work calendar I plot out all assignments that have been assigned and when they are due. Typically, I have as much as three weeks lead time for major papers and projects and know of testing dates at the beginning of the semester. Once I have established my calendar, I plan out my time so that I have a final product completed, whether it is an edited version of my essay or completely developed and analyzed study guide for a midterm, one week in advance. This way, I can ensure that all assignments will be completed in time and that I will not be scrambling at the last minute to get everything done. There are no surprises. It also leaves me a week to take my paper to my professor for additional editing or time to review for a test instead of cramming, allowing me to ensure that I excel in my academic work.

Sticking to this schedule is by no means easy. It requires hard work and dedication amidst all the distractions there are in the life of a student, especially in college dorm life. Yet sticking to this schedule is definitely possible and you will find that it frees up more of your time for recreation. Instead of sleeping in until noon or wasting time pointlessly surfing the web, take control of your time and get some work done. This way, you miss out on nothing, have your work completed, and can still relax or go out at night and during the weekends.

Once you have an academic calendar finalized, it comes to creating a work/blogging calendar and matching it with your academic calendar. You will tend to notice that despite even a rigorous course load, there is still plenty of time for business if you manage your time efficiently. I do the same thing for my business calendar that I do for my academic calendar; make a list of what all I need to get done and when. For example, as a blogger I need to write posts and market my blog so I create an editorial calendar to plan out which pieces I’m going to post when and a marketing plan to schedule when I am going to execute certain elements of my marketing strategy.

I schedule this work into time I have not dedicated as “academic time”. You will see that you begin to develop a routine as with blogging and school the same tasks have to be completed over and over again, whether it be writing posts or studying for weekly quizzes. Over time and with practice it becomes easier.

However, you must take into consideration the fact that there are certain times when you need to spend more time focusing on school and more time focused on business and you need to plan ahead for these times. For example, during finals week I need to be 100% focused to studying for my exams, yet I can’t just let my blog or business sit idle. In these cases, get help from the outside, getting guest posters, paid writers, or pre-scheduling posts. Remember, planning is very important.

While a blog/school balance is definitely doable, you have to be careful how many things you are involved in. There are only 24 hours in the day and you need to rest and take time to enjoy life, so make sure to not overextend yourself getting involved in too many different activities at one time. I have gone both routes, doing a little bit of everything and a doing lot of fewer things and have found that when I focus on fewer activities, I can fully dedicate myself to them and actually accomplish something meaningful. Prioritization is also very important. You have to do some research and soul searching to find what is MOST important to you. Personally, I recommend focusing on academics until your business or blog begins to take off and earn revenues. Even once you find professional success, I strongly recommend staying focused academically and achieving to the best of your ability because I am finding that academic effort and success and constantly opening new doors for me in my personal and professional lives.

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. Robby G says:

    As I always say, the university degree I’m currently getting is so I have something to fall back on if my blog and businesses fail on me. Far too little young people think about starting their own businesses while in school and think that once they get their degree they’ll start making hundreds of thousands of dollars of the bat. Nice blog post and something to keep in mind. Thanks.

  2. Anne says:

    I have learned to stick to a rigorous schedule which allows me to get my work and my blogging done. Part of it is that I’m learning not to obsess over whether or not anyone is reading my blog.

  3. @RobbyG…couldnt agree with you more
    @anne: while marketing is key to the success of any blog not obsessing over stats and metrics is always good

  4. Jhay says:

    It all boils down to time management really. Just like with everything else that goes along with blogging. Once you graduate, you now have your professional career, family life and blogging to juggle and balance.

    So it’s a no brainer at all.

  5. As well as discipline, a lot depends on knowing yourself, understanding your own rhythms. This is where a lot of students struggle. They haven’t been at it long enough to know the ways of juggling it all that work best for them. I’d recommend for example, being experimental about when and how you take breaks. Discipline is a good thing, but if you’re too regimented with your schedule without understands your body’s natural rhythms, you’ll dread it.

  6. Excellent post, personally I have found the college that I have gone to crucial for my ability to write clearly which has played an important role when marketing and blogging. It is nice to be able to communicate clearly and when I write an article to ezine articles and buzzle they have a very high acceptance rate which I feel school has played an important part. You are right though it is difficult to manage a blog while going to school and I have from time to time taken time off school to focus on my online endeavors. Anyway good post.

    Kris,

  7. Tim Smith says:

    Wow! What an excellent article and at the right time! Thanks so much.

  8. Kevin C. says:

    Thanks for this. I go to a rigorous college preparatory school and have to deal with the issue of balancing my education and blogging. I know for a fact that my blog would grow faster if I had more time to spend on it, but my academics need to come first. I think I’m going to commit more time to improving my blog through better time-management skills this upcoming school year. Thanks for the advice!

  9. Evan says:

    I’m in that college blogger boat. Seeing how i started my blog this summer i haven’t had to balance school work with my business work.

    The suggestion for making two seperate calendars is very helpful. I guess i have to learn my routine the first couple weeks of school and how my blogging will fit into it. I didn’t think of this till now.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  10. @Jhay….time management is key…but easier said than done

  11. @Tim, Evan and Kevin: I’m glad you found it useful

  12. @Lifecraft: Thats definetely true…you cant get overwhelmed with all the work you have to do…physical and mentl health is always chief in importance

  13. Time management is really difficult that needs to age to settle down. Your blog post is excellent, no doubt here. However, putting it in practice is something that only a negligible percentage of users will be able to do. I would appreciate a follow up post, whereby you emphasize deep into how to go about achieving time management.

  14. @DomainNameBlog: I think while implementing time management may be difficult, its something that everyone CAN do…I would love to share my time management tips in a future post

  15. Very good, thank you. Two calendars would probably help. Mine has multiple items in each time slot.

  16. Carrie Boyko says:

    It’s interesting that her key point was planning ahead. I keep a planner, just for blogging, where I have a list of potential posts, a calendar to schedule posts and websites to check out for resource material.

    Each day is mapped out with a To Do list that helps keep me on task, not only for my blogs, but also for those I guest write and am on staff for. Without this organization, I’d be toast. Aditya is right on target. That would have been my top tip also. Good job!

  17. Jon says:

    Nice post and applicable to a lot of people I would imagine (myself included). Currently in college and it does get hard managing anything outside of academics when you have 2-3 exams in a 7 day period.

    That’s certainly one of the main reasons I try to keep a good number of blog posts on hand for future publishing or for instances like that where I don’t have time to write a post that day. Or at least keep a list of easy things you can write something quickly about, but still maintain quality.

  18. To start making a blog, is easy
    but to maintain a blog to achieve that what we target is a difficult situation and will become easy if we know the right way

  19. Jessica Who says:

    It’s certainly a great strategy, I just wish that I had it in me to follow something like that. I’ve always struggled with time management, and when I started blogging, it didn’t feel like work so I began pouring lots of hours into it.

    Luckily, I’m pretty smart, so I still earned two A’s last semester, even during the whirlwind of blog posting.

    Calendars are a great idea, though it’s also great to keep in mind that nobody’s perfect. If you stray slightly off the path don’t beat yourself up, just try again the next day.

  20. Manrevo says:

    Great post Aditya. I’m a senior in college now, and finding time to do everything you want as well as maintaining a solid GPA is extremely tough. Like he said, time management is key.

    I found that if you really don’t plan stuff out or get into a routine, juggling both is terribly difficult. I’d find that whenever I’d have to study, I’d get ideas for blog posts and as great as that would be, I’d lose focus on what I have to do NOW.

    But then again, planning things and actually executing them are totally different.

  21. @Jon: Thanks
    @blog and jessica: it definitely takes time to implement but if you keep at it you will eventually find its not all so hard

  22. Andrew says:

    The timing of this post has been perfect for me. I’ve long been out of school but the same principles apply. I’ve taken on a big load recently and have been struggling in some areas to get through each of my daily tasks. Others might have thrown in the towel by now but I know that determination is the key. What I have not been doing effectively of late is planning my time and scheduling down time. I also have been haphazardly flicking between different tasks on a whim, probably more out of desperation to get through it all. As students though, take the advice given in this post and get into a disciplined routine of managing your time effectively. You will need and use those skills to become the future achievers that you are seeking to be and it will be through your effort, determination, and planning that you’ll achieve those goals.

    Thanks for this post, I’m off now to reschedule my calendar, plan some r&r and get stuck into it.

  23. Zemalf says:

    Balancing and prioritizing business with the other activities is very important, like mentioned in the post too. It’s not school for me anymore, but I’ve been struggling a bit finding this balance with work/business and “real life”. I dive deep into anything I start and sometimes it’s hard to surface and take a breather, but conscious scheduling and prioritizing everything has helped me, so I’m getting there..

    And I gotta agree with Aditya here on focusing on education, learning and academics until the you start earning revenues (Not to put down any young highschool-dropout entrepreneurs). And after it all “takes off”, don’t stop educating yourself. Even for those who the standard school-/education system doesn’t seem to work, should not stop learning. Continuous learning is one of the prime reasons that keeps me going..

  24. This is a great post. My brother who is in 11th grade is trying to the exact same thing that you are saying. He is still trying and has not calmed down to smooth sailing yet. I am gonna forward this article to him!

  25. Flat Baby says:

    day for school/work, night for blogs, simple as that :)

  26. Dianna says:

    That’s largely because in this day in age, without a little piece of paper, they assume you’re mentally retarded. Unless you’re making enough money to live off of your blogging, you need to focus on at least getting through high school and university if you want a well paying job.

    Personally I wish I could just skip high school and go straight into learning things I WANT to learn about, instead of what is required by my diploma.

    I’ve slacked off in school for two years because I’m mentally unstable and the school I go to is a very bad school for even the most stable of students. I haven’t been able to go without risking-or experiencing-complete mental breakdown and will hopefully be in a different school (an alternative school) come September.

  27. I’m so impressed with your work! Even though I’m in the working world now, I definitely can use your tips for prioritization re: work and blogging. Amazing stuff – keep it up!

  28. I found that balancing full time school and three part time jobs was actually pretty simple in that I wasn’t invested in the jobs-they were just jobs. Now that I am done with school, I have three focuses: offline work (that brings in the coin), my family, and my blog. I think I can take some of Aditya’s advice and apply it to my situation. Thanks for a great post!

  29. Rob says:

    This post is definitely right. I remember when I first started building websites and slacked off school when I came to realize that English was a big role for my website career!

  30. Frank says:

    I am going into my senior year of college. I too run my own business and am a full time student. It can definitely be stressful and demanding handling school life and business life at the same time. I always have projects for my business that I am working on, but I also have assignments for school. I do agree that managing time on both of these aspects effectively is very smart. I don’t think someone should stop blogging or running their business just because they’re a stuent. You should always do what you love. By doing a little bit each day I think is the best solution to managing both aspects to the best of your ability.

  31. Salman says:

    Hi Darren
    Awesome post I was also stuck up with my college studies and blogging

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

  32. Kayla says:

    Great post, and excellent advice. I found my toughest time is when my blog just started taking off, and I suddenly HAD to keep up with the blog, with school on top of it.

    These are some great tips and advice, I’m still working on my own schedule and time management–hopefully this post will help!

  33. meghnak says:

    WOW! This could not have come at a more apropriate time. I’m finding it extremely difficult to manage both my blogging and schooling. With the loads of homework, tests and exams, time management is not at all easy. But here, you gave some valuable advices which am sure to be of much use to school children like me.
    Thank you for sharing!

  34. Larry says:

    Some adults who’ve been out of school for a while need help to handle classwork.

    A good place to find this is at http://www.yoursuccessinschool.com

    Adult students get help they need to succeed in school when they return. Even students who did well in school years ago need help today with so much information to learn, manage and juggle. Check it out!

  35. @Andrew: Glad I could help
    @Zemlaf: and all eduction does not have to happen in schools

  36. @Deepak: Thanks!
    @Flat baby: Dont forget to sleep!

  37. @Salman an Kayla: Thanks

  38. @Laura and yournontoxiclife: Glad you found the info useful
    @Dianna: I would love to to do that too, but the info. you use in school is useful in the real world

  39. fas says:

    Priority is important. Giving time to both of them is required. Best is to allocate equal time to both to avoid issues. Be obsessed about both equally.

  40. @fas: you cant always give them equal weight…at certain times one may be more important than the other…ie school during exams

  41. Not John Chow says:

    Isn’t time management the answer to our entire life?

  42. As a college instructor, I couldn’t agree with you more about time management being key. It is the one factor that I see consistently in the best students. I’d even say their success has less to do with intelligence and more to do with being able to manage their time.

    The other good thing about using a calendar (or multiple calendars) for planning, is that you actually reach an end of a task on certain days. Rather than always feeling that you should be doing more, if you’ve listed a task for a certain day and you’ve completed it, then you’re done – and you can relax guilt free.

    Great reminder to all of us that we need some structure to our lives. Thanks.

  43. Sean Davis says:

    What a great post. It’s about 5 minutes until 7pm for me and I actually have an online orientation for the session starting early July at DeVry University. At the same time, I’m trying to catch up on my reading of this blog and a few others I like to view daily.

    It’s like this post came at the perfect time because I am about to start this exact balance for the first time here in about a week. I have never been good at planning ahead. However, I have always been a successful crammer and procrastinator (haha). The difference now is that this is the first time I am attempting to do two things that I take seriously.

    I am going to take everything you said here to heart. My blog is in it’s beginning stages and so is my degree, so they are both important to me. I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep them both where they need to be.

    Again, great post.

  44. Aditya … you’ve got some great ideas there for when work or school demands more attention yet you can’t allow your business and blog to slide. I’ve had really good luck with reblogging, guest posters, putting different slants on older posts, and aggregating older posts into synthesized lists. Planning is always key, and knowing a few of these good techniques for time-crunches has kept my butt out the sling more than once!

  45. Good post. Its definitely a challenge to dedicate time to both school/work and blogging/imarketing. But if you want to be successful you need to learn how to effectively juggle them.

  46. teratips says:

    it’s a no brainer at all.
    Want to be a succesful blogger
    http://www.teratips.com

  47. Ryan Freed says:

    I am about to go through the exact same thing as you in this upcoming school year. I was in the planning stages during school, which didn’t take nearly as much time as managing my website. This upcoming year will be difficult and your time management suggestions are great.

  48. @Not JohnChow: certainly
    @Vicki: Exactly the sense of satisfaction knowing you have completed everything is amazing

  49. @Sean: Glad this post was helpful and goodluck!
    @Stephanie: Thanks and hopefuly this post will help you out
    @TrafficBlogger: amen!

  50. @Ryan Freed: Thank you and good luck