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Blog Wise Tip 3: Plan for Productivity

Given all the tasks that can crop up on a blogger’s to do list, it’s no surprise that many of us struggle with task planning and control. Even the big-name bloggers we interviewed for Blog Wise grappled with these issues.

Having realized the negative impacts of stress on her productivity, Amy Porterfield has adopted a range of tools—from physical calendars to Google Docs—that help smooth her daily workload, and make sure she gets everything done.

Importantly, she actually uses these tools: she told us that she discards any that don’t really work well for her. In this way, her task and time management tactics are constantly evolving to suit her personal preferences and her changing workload and goals.

Gretchen Rubin has found that having a clear desk, and an uncluttered workspace, helps her to feel calm and in control. “Outer order contributes to inner calm,” she said. “And I used to think, ‘well, it doesn’t really matter if my desk is messy, because I can find everything.’ But now I’ve really keyed into the fact that I feel calmer, my mind feels more orderly, when my stuff is more orderly.”

Bloggers who work at home with families obviously face a particular set of planning challenges. Both Heather and Darren explained the value of sitting down at the start of the week—perhaps even on a Sunday—and looking at the work-life schedule to see what’s on that week.

Darren also takes the opportunity to speak with his wife about the family’s plans, so that he can schedule in the things he needs to do as a dad, as well as a blogger.

Heather says Google Calendars have been a “life-changer” for her. “We’ve hooked up all of our calendars onto Gmail,” she says. “And so my assistant has a calendar, my husband has a calendar, there’s a home calendar, there’s a me-work calendar, there’s a me-exercise calendar, and all of those are synced together on my phone so that I can look at my day.

“And I can make a change, my husband can make a change, and it immediately updates on my phone so that I know what to be prepared for the rest of the day.” Heather adds that while things don’t always go to plan, “It’s having all the other days go smoothly that makes that one or two days off the rails doable.”

Finally Leo, who blogs without either goals or plans, also feels that “I definitely am more in control of my life now than I ever was before.

“Blogging made that possible,” he adds.

How much do you plan your blogging—and how much do you leave up to chance? We’d love to hear your take on planning in the comments.

Tomorrow: how structure helps productivity.

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Taline says:

    I also was having a difficult time with managing my to do list. Between my 3 days/week job, taking care of my 15 month old, cleaning, cooking, laundry, errands, giving my husband attention, finances, keeping up with my friend, facebook, twitter…etc

    I then found a method that worked for me. I use the “notes” on my iPad to get organized and I set a time limit on blogging. This has helped me out a lot. No matter what, I will not dedicate more than two hours a day unless I have some more down time to my blog. It has helped me stay on top of everything in my life, not just my blog :)

  2. Pat Machin says:

    That was a timely reminder – I’d got a bit sloppy over planning. Thank you.

  3. bbrian017 says:

    Hi Georgina , I talk to my wife all the time! I have to bounce ideas of someone so like Darren find myself doing the same thing. I also wanted to talk about Google Docs! I’ve been managing my business using note pads and Hotmail e-mail drafts. Now I use Google Calendar, docs and a few other of their applications. It’s all synced with my mobile device it’s amazing! To get the most out of our time we have to ensure we are being most efficient and Google docs has helped me get close to where I want to be. It’s helped me manage Blog Engage so much easier but I’m still facing many issues with time management.

  4. Carlos Ramos says:

    Recently I acquired an agenda to schedule the posts and activities I have to make and organize it better to still do manage to make my other non-blog related tasks.

  5. I find like Gretchin that I work better with a clear desk. Sometimes I grab my laptop, some big headphones and my iPod and sit on the end of my bed to work – it’s a change of scenery without actually going anywhere!
    I have one tip to add to Darren and Heather’s plan your week in advance advice – plan your blog in advance too. If you know you’ll have a very busy day plan for a short post/no post, and when you have your post titles already sorted being creative isn’t anywhere near as difficult.

  6. Yaisa Hagood says:

    For some reason, I still have not fully embraced technology to get myself organized. I still have a day planner which I use to write everything which is on my desk. I color code certain activites to help keep my organized.

    • Georgina Laidlaw says:

      Yaisa, you’re not alone in your hesitancy to embrace technology for productivity—many of the bloggers I interviewed were in the same boat :) It’s about finding what works for you, though, and I also have a physical calendar :)

  7. Jon Loomer says:

    As a father of three and a business owner who works from home, this really resonates with me. Structure, organization and routine are a major struggle, but things I am very determined to fix. And to see that it’s not just a “little-guy-me” problem — these very accomplished people in my field deal with the same thing — is helpful.

    I also appreciate reading their solutions so that I can add to my arsenal.

    Next up… Google Calendars.

    Thanks!

  8. I also love having a clean desk, and I use a combination of my Google calendars and my BlackBerry tasks app to stay organized and planned both for blogging and life.

  9. Okto says:

    ” having a clear desk, and an uncluttered workspace, helps her to feel calm and in control” I think I need to try this since my room (where I used to be writing for blog) looks like a wrecked ships :D

    Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Judy Caroll says:

    Hi Georgina,

    One thing I really love about task planning is that it gives me the peace of mind of knowing that I’ve made a feasible plan of action and that my goals are attainable. It greatly reduces my stress quotient;) Thanks for sharing.

    Best,

    Judy

  11. Samantha says:

    Sadly, I’m so busy writing web content for other sites, that I forget to plan time for developing my blog. This sounds awful but when I see traffic moving from one of my sites to my blog, I remember that it’s time to dust off cobwebs and get some content together.

    In terms of productivity in writing content in general, buying a netbook was the best thing I could have done for myself. It fits in my gym bag. I can hide it in my purse at my day job. When I have that extra 40 minutes between a cardio class or a meeting, it makes finding time that much easier.

  12. Yeah I have the same problem here, Until I decided to install AwesomeNote on iPhone and sync it with an online account. That’s helps me a lot to remind of something that i haven’t doing yet

  13. Andrew says:

    This is a topic that is always top of mind for me. I’m often away from the computer during the day so my phone has become my personal assistant. I use evernote to capture thoughts such as blog ideas. I write them down or use the voice note feature if I’m in the car.

    I then pick a couple times during the week to sift through any new ideas and prioritize them. I use freedcamp (a free basecamp alternative) to track all my tasks. These bi-weekly organization sessions help me to ensure that I’m working on the highest priority items.

    It’s a constant struggle though. Creating systems for organization is a must for me. I unfortunately don’t have the same rigid system for writing. Any tips for staying productive (specifically with blogging) when your time is fragmented and inconsistent from day to day?

    • Georgina Laidlaw says:

      Ooh, that’s tricky :) My time’s fragmented too, but I’m always (prettymuch) at my computer … somewhere. I do find, though, that fragmented time encourages you, by necessity, to focus on what really matters—what’s really important to you—and get that done. I’ve also taken to squeezing little jobs (like responding to blog comments…!) in here and there as time allows. Making the most of those littler chunks of time can make a big difference to the amount you get done, and the level of quality you do it to, when you have a bigger chunk available.

  14. Audra Perry says:

    I am new to blogging, but in my life in general, the most important thing for me is to make peace with myself. Sometimes I need a to do list; and sometimes a to do list is counter-productive because I feel trapped by it. I used to frown on my lack of consistency and wonder what was wrong with me, or wonder why I had lost my motivation. But now, I recognize that I go through cycles, where my productivity style actually changes. As long as I’m in tune with that, I’m always more productive whether I’m entering every little thing on my calendar, or flying by the seat of my pants. And so far, that approach has also held true for my blogging.

  15. Ehsan says:

    Yeah Google calender also changed many peoples life. I’m also agree with Amy Porterfield.

  16. I work 5 days a week and it beomes tough to do justice to blogging sometimes. I have set up schedules like days in the week I ll definitely be blogging and rest of the days will do link buildings.For eg this week. tuesday/thursday and Saturday,I am definitely blogging.

  17. Have a clear desk sure helps and also a multi accessible calander like google calander or evernotes where I’m able to sync data over various mobile platforms.

  18. I agree with Dominique on having a clear desk! I cannot work unless I have a clean workspace. If I’m facing a busy day with many different tasks, I absolutely must plan out each section of my day to tackle each one. Feeling overwhelmed is my downfall. Breaking down an overwhelming amount of work into easier-to-digest pieces helps me get things done.

    Also.. Google Calendar pretty much runs my entire life, personal and professional.

  19. Syed Akram says:

    People without plan are plan to fail, PERIOD!

  20. SBanik says:

    Thanks a lot for posting this article. The information provided in it has given me a good idea of how to channelize my time while writing & posting blogs that too without any over planning.