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Blog Wise Tip 4: Choose a Structure that Works for You

All the bloggers we spoke to as we researched Blog Wise had an opinion on structure.

Even those, like Matt Kepnes of NomadicMatt.com, who doesn’t blog to regular schedules, noted that they had particular times that were good for certain work tasks, and particular times that tended to be less productive.

Matt, in balancing his desires to work and to experience the destinations he travels to, puts time limits on his daily blogging tasks. “The Internet, blogging, it’ll take as much time as you can give it,” he says.

“I force myself into boxes to work … to limit the amount of time I’m working.” He finds this the easiest way to stay productive.

Jeff Goins, of Goinswriter.com, takes the concept a step further: he’ll create a good “context” for that time, to make the work more enjoyable. He explains his rationale like this: “I have to do something I don’t want to do, so I’m going to create the most enjoyable context possible. I’m going to listen to music, I’m gonna drink coffee, and I’m gonna sit down and I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna set aside this much time to do it.”

For Jeff, it’s not necessarily about hitting a milestone or goal within that time; it’s just about doing the work itself—about getting something done.

For the full-time bloggers, chunking time as part of the daily schedule was important. “That way I know how I’m going to spend my day,” Amy says.

She explains that this helps her prioritise tasks, and know if she has time to step away to do something a bit more inspirational or extraordinary.

While Leo’s a full-time blogger, he also practices a No Goals philosophy. What does that mean for the structure of his day? “When it’s unstructured, [the day is] really a huge, open container that you can do anything you want with,” he says. “I mean, you can fill it with anything.”

As he explains how that works to boost his productivity, he warns against the pitfalls of being too wedded to structure.

“When you’re structured, it just ends up being frustrating,” he says, “because you don’t always meet the structure that you set… if you had a structure that you had planned, and it doesn’t go according to that plan, then you’re messed up.”

Does a loose structure work for you? Or do you prefer something more prescriptive? Share your secrets for structuring your blogging workday below.

Tomorrow: managing distractions.

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. Ben Norman says:

    Funnily enough I wrote a post about this the other day. I need targets to aim for to motivate me, i.e a posting schedule, but can’t easily force myself to work on something specific at a set time. Because of this I’ve started to try and follow a rigid posting schedule or two times a week, without the need to force the creative juices at set periods in the day. When I’m not feeling in a writing mood I can always find something else productive to get on with.

  2. Jack Martin says:

    “When it’s unstructured, [the day is] really a huge, open container that you can do anything you want with.”

    I really dig that. I can’t fly quite this wildly, so I set aside 3 planned and perfected moments each day to take care of the essentials, but I like going into the day knowing I’ll have plenty of time to spend doing whatever I think are the most important tasks.

    Great stuff. Thanks.

    • Agreed. One of my favorite quotes in the blog. It’s so optimistic.

    • Alex says:

      sounds amazing, I wish I had this kind of freedom during the day. I do feel like when I have a free day, weekend, holiday, something like that, I am able to accomplish so much. I like the idea of having 3 goals for the day though, it is good to keep it somewhat structured.

  3. I find that I have to have a structure to work, maybe this is because I have a job and studies on top of blogging, but I find if I leave all my time open then absolutely nothing gets done. But on the other hand once I’ve done all of my necessary tasks and I have open time I’m often really creative and productive.
    I also like creating a nice environment to work in, somewhere comfy to sit with plenty of (natural) light, good music, some snacks and a drink and I won’t move for hours and I’ll get more done than I’d ever believed possible.

    The other thing I do because I have a job is take a shower as soon as I get home from it – this gives me some time to clear my mind and feels like starting the day again, rather like when I was a child and had to change out of my school uniform as soon as I got home. I’ll be interested to see other people’s schedules.

  4. Bryan says:

    Because I’m new and learning so much, a loose, by-the-seat-of-my-pants structure works really well for me. If someone leaves a comment that turns me on to some aspect of blogging that I haven’t yet explored, I’ll go off on that tangent, especially if I feel like it’s filling a reader’s need.

    It might cost me a bit of productivity, but I get more of rush out of my blogging that way.

  5. When it comes to my blogs, I enjoy the freedom of flying by the seat of my pants; but even in flight, I find that I need a little structure. I’m the author of three blogs, I work with affiliates, and I’m a Life’s Abundance rep and here’s my typical week:

    Mon-Fri – I work during my commute to and from work, catching up on emails, reading blog posts, and promoting affiliate products; during the day, I write down ideas in my spiral (see my YouTube video reviewing Blog Wise) and anything else that I don’t want to forget.

    Saturday is a rest and Sundays are my work days – this is the day when I get my writing for the week done

    Of course I’m jump online in the evenings or during the day here and there, but I try to stick to the above schedule as much as possible so that I can have time to decompress from it all.

  6. I can relate to many of these anecdotes. If I don’t set aside specific blocks of time for very specific tasks, I’ll just do a little o’ this and a little o’ that, and before I know it my ADD has set in and at the end of the day I haven’t gotten very much done at all.

    Sticking to a pre-determined schedule, and more importantly, walking away from the computer when I told myself I would, results in me being a more productive and a happier person. Blogging is a fun job, sure, but you can burn out faster than you can say higgly-piggly when you take something fun and turn it into your job.

  7. Glynis says:

    I prefer a loose structure. When I try to manage my time too closely, I get frustrated and feel overwhelmed. One thing I have done recently is that I have given myself a day off each week. I feel refreshed the next day and I feel more productive.

  8. Guy Hogan says:

    I like a loose structure since I’m retired and have all day to blog.

  9. Jeff Goins says:

    It’s all about what finding what works for you. Thanks for sharing this, Georgina. It was a fun project to be a part of.

  10. Sari Grove says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if people could only show up to work when they actually had something to contribute?

  11. Great tips. Create a sense of professionalism by producing skillful work that are polished and concise. When you carefully craft your sentences, you establish yourself as a professional. Lastly, you will continue to hold your client’s interest if you constantly strive to make them happy by your work.

  12. Daniel says:

    For me personally, it’s about getting the balance right.

    I think it is better to have a schedule, though, to also not become to obsessively concerned if we do happen to miss a writing session. This also applies to doing site related SEO, as this can also chew up a great deal of our time.

  13. Even my “unstructured” time is structured, I seperate my day into 4 sections (might be changing it to 5 soon), one section is always planned for “nothing and everything”. Basically time to catch up on projects or start new ones.

  14. I guess even with 2 kids under 2, I still have to create some sort of structure; actually without it I wouldn’t be able to get anything done. So I put them to bed early and use the rest of the night to get my work done and update my blog.

    I don’t always feel like writing those times but I do it anyway because if I don’t get it done then, I won’t be able to do it again for the next 24 hours. I suppose that is motivation enough.

  15. Sarah Kolb says:

    I always love seeing how other people deal with blogging and staying on track with posts. Personally, I like to split my time up so that I have at least a couple days a week to just write freely. Then, the next day, I’ll revisit what I’ve written. If it’s all over the place, I’ll split it up into logical pieces and work on those as individual posts. I find that equal time structured and unstructured time seems to keep me going and on track!

  16. I try to keep a regular schedule of writing posts every week and it seems to work for me.

  17. Georgina Laidlaw says:

    Hey, great comments—thanks so much for sharing your schedules, guys :) It’s very interesting to see specifically how you handle the “daily grind” ;)

  18. Anne-Sophie says:

    I don’t really have a structure for my days. I know what I want to have done by the end of the day, but that’s that. I am not sure if I’m working against myself here, but it seems to be going quite well. I am super productive, but still don’t feel chained down by a system that limits my creativity.