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Overwhelmed? Put Some Boundaries on Your Blogging

This week we’ve been looking at some of the numerous issues that bloggers have to deal with on a daily basis—particularly those who are just starting out.

It’s little wonder that so many bloggers wind up their blogs so quickly after they start. It’s easy to run out of steam when you’re trying to work on so many challenges at once. Even experienced bloggers tend to focus upon certain aspects of blogging, to the detriment of others—I know I do.

Over the years, we’ve dealt with issues like blogger burnout, or “blogger’s malaise” several times, and looked at burnout in terms of specific issues, like social media.

The one thing I’ve found really helpful as my blog has grown, and required more and more (and more!) of my time, has been to put boundaries around what I do. I explained some of those boundaries in the post How to Be a Ruthless Blogger and Become More Productive and Focussed, so I won’t go over them again here.

What I do believe is that if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things your blog requires of you—all the things you “need” to do, a good place to start digging yourself out of that hole is to set some boundaries. Today. Right now.

You can’t do everything

Accepting that you can’t do everything is the first step toward overcoming that sense of being overwhelmed. The next is to realise that there is no “best” way to do anything in blogging. Don’t worry about what you “should” be doing, and instead look at where you’d like your blog to go in the short- to medium-term.

Then, of all the things you could do to work toward that goal, choose one or two to focus on today, and tomorrow, and perhaps for the week or month. If you keep at those tasks, and track the results you achieve over the week (or month), you’ll probably learn something that you can apply to improve those results next month.

Perhaps one of the tasks you choose to focus on won’t work well at all. That’s fine: if something doesn’t work after you’ve put in a decent effort over a reasonable period of time, cross it off your list and try something else. Forget about that tactic that didn’t work—at least for the moment. You may find that it’s something you come back to down the track. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut your losses where you can, and focus on what works for you and your blog.

By doing this you’ll free up more time to dedicate yourself to particular tactics, and give them the energy they deserve. You’ll also be less likely to spread yourself and your efforts too thin.

Starting points for longer term solutions

While putting boundaries on what you need to do—and what you expect of yourself—today can help you move past those feelings of being overwhelmed right now, as you continue blogging you might find yourself facing other challenges around getting things done.

The Productivity Problem Solver that we put together to accompany our latest ebook, Blog Wise, was designed specifically to address those challenges. It has specific questions around motivation, making time, keeping track of ideas and goals, blogger’s block, and so on, and it provides solutions that our panel of 9 pro bloggers use themselves, to overcome those issues.

The thinking behind that tool is simply that I found that it’s good to have a repertoire of solutions to the most common types of blogging fatigue. If you have a grab-bag of solutions to blogger’s block, for example, you don’t have to waste time worrying about how you’ll solve that productivity problem: you can just reach into the bag and pull out a solution.

Whether or not you pick up a copy of the ebook, I definitely encourage you to develop your own repertoire of solutions to productivity problems, starting today, with solutions for feeling overwhelmed. If you have a trick you use to get past feelings of being bogged down by all you have to do on your blog, please add it in the comments, and help others in the same situation.

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. This was just what I needed to read this week – I’ve been feeling swamped by the demands of 2 very active sites and 1 not-so-active one that I’m trying to write for anyway. With a relatively new (13 wk old) baby and a preschooler at home, I’m about ready to throw up my hands. Now if only I could figure out what to concentrate on . . .

  2. Kari Scare says:

    My best tip to keep from feeling overwhelmed is to write things down. I have an idea book that I will write things in throughout the day. It gets it out of my head and allows me to finish another task I was working on. It also makes my ideas feel safe and like they won’t go into the forgotton recesses of my mind. Related to the idea book is using Evernote on my Samsung tab. This is sort of my electronic idea book. These two tools help me focus on the task at hand knowing that my thoughts and ideas are safe there. I also write in a prayer journal almost every day. Getting stuff out of my head and onto “paper” has been the best way I’ve found to keep from getting overwhelmed.

    • I love how you handle things Kari. I also recently started using Evernote and I was actually very surprised by how much just jotting things down took some ideas off your own mind and releases energy to work on something that might need immediate attention.

      I have been thinking way too long that “I would like to” implement the prayer journal and must just actually do it for once and keep at it. This way you can also track the results in future as well which is great.

      Between all the ideas, designing, writing eBooks, interacting with interesting people, being active, thinking “I can do it all” – this post was really something I needed to read Darren. I think I have to agree Dionna above that with being relatively new in blogging and being online as I am, the trick is to figure out what to focus on as clear tracking of past results just doesn’t exist yet. So I think at first focusing on what you “think might work” by following people that do achieve a good level of success is a good place to start.

      Thanks Darren; enjoyed the thought!

  3. Bumby Scott says:

    Darren, Great article. I have been blogging for a little over 2 years, and am finding that I am in that funk. Uninspired funk. Your articles, have been of a great help to move me past those times. I know that the funk will lift. I just need to do the next ” write ” thing.
    Thanks.
    Always Bumby

  4. Great tips! Another helpful way to keep your self blogging is to take one broad subject and write a long and thorough post and then break it up into several smaller posts. Voila! You have a week’s worth of content. The key is to key your topics interesting and timely. If you enjoy what you’re writing about then chances are, your readers will too!

    Lauren at Volusion

  5. Cheryl says:

    Take it one day at a time and be as flexible as possible. Sounds simple, but it is easy to get excited about what comes next.

  6. I think one of the biggest challenges for new bloggers is feeling overwhelmed about WHAT exactly to blog about! With so many wonderful and interesting possibilities out there, it’s easy to want to try to do it all, which is a recipe for burn-out, for sure. Walking one (or maaaaybe two) focused paths is a more manageable way to keep a blog going consistently and with new content.

  7. Taking frequent breaks helps me Darren.

    Pulling back helps you observe and release overwhelm, which occurs when you set up few boundaries. There will always be tons to do, but if you learn how to release low energy emotions, you soon learn that moving into effective acts with a calm, confident vibe achieves much more than sprinting through the day like a chicken with your head cut off.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • I have to agree Ryan. I think it might even be you that wrote a post one day about when you are creating content, especially written content; it’s always a good idea to take a break from it as soon as you’re done and then get back to it a little later. “Let it breathe” I like to think.

      I found that this gives me renewed energy and sometimes a slightly different approach to the same article that I have written before. 99% turning out to be for the better!

  8. I personally have a list of “must do” tasks for my blog which vary slightly based on the day of the week, and a list of optional tasks. All of them have a time limit. I can spend a maximum of 25 minutes a day on Pinterest, I can spend a maximum of 1.5 hours on writing a blog post, etc. I found this is pretty useful as it means I can set the timer and forget about everything else that I have to do except what I’m working on right now. It also keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. I have to do everything on my list before I can go back and spend any extra time on things I want more time with – and when I’m short on time I don’t waste it, or regret spending it, on things that are less important.

    I’ve really been enjoying both this series and the comments on the posts. I really like Ryan’s tip today about taking regular breaks – I just realised that I’ve been sat at my computer for about 3 hours without a break so now I’m going to go and do something active!

  9. Eddie says:

    This was an excellent post, Darren. I find myself at times spinning around in my own head so much that nothing gets accomplished. It is nice to know that we are allowed to calm down our tactics and intentions a bit in order to set the building blocks for the future.

    Thanks for this post. It really helped.

  10. Steve Rice says:

    This is great advice, Darren. I realized the importance of this principle after less than a year blogging. I wasn’t burned out idea-wise, but I was wasting a lot of time with stuff that wasn’t producing results. So I decided to focus on 3 major content platforms in order to connect to my audience. I also decided to use social media only to communicate more effectively with my platform as it grows. This keeps me focused on producing great content and stops me from wasting time trying to milk traffic out of social media. I focus on what I’m doing and on making connections and the rest falls into place.

  11. IamNTB says:

    Here is my suggestion:

    1. Set up a schedule based on the amount of time you have for each day (2-8 hours)
    2. Prioritize each task that needs to be accomplished and put a percentage of time you want to apply towards it such as:(10%, 20%, 40%)
    3. Divide the amount of task percentages into the total time available
    4. After you have used up the set amount of time, move to the next task regardless of completion
    5. If you have completed a task early then you can use the extra to go back at the end to finish anything not completed until your total allotted time is used up

    For starters you can use a cooking timer or even an alarm on a phone but there are other resources available such as the task reminder in outlook.

  12. Taking breaks and being flexible is what helps me. I agree with IamNTB setting up a schedule is crucial.

  13. Warren says:

    I have a habit of adding to much to my daily list, and then if anything “extra” comes up, or one of tasks isn’t cooperating and being stubborn I start losing focus and it gets even worse from there.

    The best thing I’ve found is to either limit the volume of “To Do’s”
    or if that isn’t possible or in your nature, try tackling one problem at a time before moving on.
    Also close down those distractions! :)

  14. Daniel says:

    Very insightful post, Darren.

    I already hit “Bookmark this page” after the first few lines.

    Without a doubt, having some strategies to fall back on whenever we are overwhelmed or underwhelmed(loss of motivation) is something that will hold us in good stead, in times of need.

    What I have noticed is that, sometimes when we have little time to spare, we can actually get more done(we are motivated to make the most of our time).

    Yet, often having too much time on our hand, we can end up not getting as much done(We can lose our motivator).

    I also like what you have said about focusing on one thing and trying to become proficient in that area.
    Rather that fiddling around with endless tasks(skills–learning) yet not really having a proper grasp of it.

  15. Irfan says:

    One who blog seven days a week and one who blog two days in a week are both get same response and are somewhere satisfied with what they do actually. It’s not just we put some boundaries but to take care of what we are actually working on and to continue with all your expect.

  16. This past week I had 5 blogs. I had to cut off 1 of them, stop, and focus all my time determining which blogs I had left, redefine their purposes (they are all different niches {Christian leadership, Christians ministry, Christian hip-hop, and Christian business} and three of them promote the main blog {Christian leadership in the realm of business, ministry, and hip-hop}).

    So what I did this past week was sit down with an open calendar of the whole year, determine which blogs I would work on, what day I would work on it AND what day I would post that work. I had to determine how often and how many times I wanted to post in a year, break that down into months, weeks, and the time of day (to draw the most traffic from social media).

    I also had to determine the time of the day I would work on each blog post, do several posts to have content ready weeks in advance (sort of in series format), and determine a time to stop regardless if the posts where finished before the allotted time or not.

    So far it has been working for this first week and a half and less stressful for me.

    Thanks for the post! Sharing this!

  17. Rose L. says:

    How do you post your URL on Your Space and other sites so others will pick it up and post it on their sites?

  18. Jonathan says:

    I thought this was excellent and practical advice. At first I found myself and still at some points not focusing my efforts. However, now I write a short to do list and cross off the items as I accomplish them. I am intentional on keeping my list realistic and not lie to myself. Thanks or the advice.

  19. Barzrul says:

    This is a great article and guide on how to take care of the new bog. I’m looking for something like this to help me go through my initial time. Thanks Darren.

  20. I have problems writing our blog because it it based on one subject.
    I don`t know if this is a problem for others but i struggle to find topics without repeating myself.
    maybe i should vary my blog away from Bathrooms occasionally.
    Is this a good idea, should your blog be about various subjects?

  21. Interesting points again. I like the idea of putting these boundaries as you have mentioned them. Accepting the fact that we have limitations is a valuable step. Focusing on a particular goal at a time is extremely useful. Thanks for the advice.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Travel Marketing Platform

  22. Marie Wiere says:

    This is great advice: to put boundaries on your blogging. I just started blogging a month ago and the scope of what you can do is vast and its easy to get overwhelmed, particularly when you’re balancing blogging with work, family and school.

    Like one of the other commenters Kari, I carry around a little notebook to jot down ideas. This is really helping me avoid writer’s block, as at present I have 12 ideas for future blog topics. My challenge going forward is to learn to write shorter blogs from time to time, so i’m not spending as much time writing one post.

  23. I swear that my spiral really saves me, because I have to force myself to take breaks and when I get an idea, I just write it in my spiral and continue with my “break.”

    I also think it’s important to avoid taking on more than I can handle – I’m tempted to jump on every new opportunity, but I’ve learned to say “no” and have found that directing people to my media kit prevents people from taking advantage of my limited time. If they’re serious, then we’ll work together and I get a pay check, if they’re not, then they move on and no one is offended.

    LOL

  24. I’m definitely at the point where I need to outsource some tasks related to my blogs, planning is key though. Try and plan as much as you can, it will make you more productive.

  25. It is amazing how blogging burnout plagues the newbies and the pros alike. We all share the same pain of those dreadful period when things get dry. Reading this post reminds me again of that fact that I am not alone. That there are times when I have to get the job done although I don’t feel like it. Thank you for sharing this article. It makes me feel that I am not suffering alone.

  26. Serena says:

    I have found that if I get an idea for a blog, I can write a DRAFT version, even if just the basics, and come back to my drafts list as and when to develop the ones I feel inspired to post. In this way, you don’t forget ideas and you don’t feel overwhelmed because the ideas are safely out of your mind and recorded..