This is a guest contribution from Pooja Lohana.
Let’s face it.
As a blogger, you have a knack to find just one more task that needs to be done. Now.
Then there are times when you just don’t feel like doing that pesky little task – the more you think about it, the more you imagine the worst, and the more you procrastinate.
No matter what your situation, here are 15 productivity hacks that really work, well if you only try them.
And the best part? You don’t have to follow through each one – pick the ones that best resonate with you and run with it.
Let’s get hacking.
15 Quick and Easy Productivity Super-Hacks for Busy Bloggers
1. Use email templates
As a blogger, I receive a ton of email each day. Some are from readers thanking me for a post. Some even have a specific question that needs answering.
Depending on the type of email you receive, you can create templates so replying doesn’t take too much of your time.
For example, if I receive a “thank you” email, I acknowledge their reply with a simple two-sentence email.
If it’s a question-email, I flag it using Gmail’s red exclamation flag to answer at a set day in the week.
All my email is filtered to one Gmail address, so I don’t have to keep checking countless inboxes (and avoid those cPanel logins too!)
Last but not the least, if you write a lot of email templates, stick to the 5-sentence rule.
Why 5 sentences? According to Guy Kawasaki, less than five is usually too curt for a response, and more than five wastes time. I agree.
Of course, not all my emails are 5-sentence long. However for templates, that strategy works like a charm.
Oh and one more thing – try turning your email window off in order to focus better.
When I keep my Gmail tab open in the background, a notification pops up each time a new email arrives.
Bam… There goes my focus down the drain.
I’ve since decided to turn off any distracting windows and only kept important tabs open. Over time, it has saved me hours.
2. Create an editorial calendar
Unless you’re Seth Godin, there will be days when you don’t have anyting to say, or don’t have the time to come up with a stellar topic idea.
The solution? Create a simple editorial calendar so you’re never short of ideas. Old-school 2-column excel sheet will do. Or you can go fancy-pants and try an app like Gather Content.
If the idea of a calendar sounds too stifling, try keeping a log of ideas in your WordPress backend.
That’s what blogger Sarah Wilson does – at any point, she has about 20 draft posts ready to be used. When inspiration strikes, she creates a simple draft and works on them overtime until they are ready to launch. Neat, eh?
3. Re-post your evergreen content
You don’t have to produce epic content every time. Dig into your archives to find “evergreen” posts – the type that stay fresh and timeless from season to season.
Examples of an evergreen post:
- Long list posts
- Collaborated posts
- Tutorials and guides
Since evergreen posts tend to be long, you can break them into smaller chunks and repurpose them as a PDF report, an audio freebie, or a Slideshare presentation.
Get creative and post new bite-sized, snackable content for your readers. This is especially a great hack for those slow days when you’re too busy to post on your blog or social media.
4. Automate sending out your content
Following up from the last hack, a smart strategy is to create a series of email autoresponders or teaser emails for your old blog posts.
That way, even if you don’t have anything new to say, you stay at the top of your readers’ minds and new subscribers on your list are fed with good content.
5. Take the shortcut to mobile-responsive
Did you know that 82% people use mobile phones to check emails these days? What’s more, 42% of your subscribers will delete your emails if they don’t show up well on their phones.
Bloggers, clearly it’s time to go mobile-responsive with your content.
But you don’t have to go on a template-designing spree or hire external help.
Email marketing service such as GetResponse offers ready-made one-click responsive templates, so you don’t have to worry about how your emails show up on a smartphone or tablet, therefore saving you a ton of time.
6. Unsubscribe ruthlessly
I have a simple rule – if more than 30% of my incoming email is announcements and newsletters from other people’s lists, I go on an unsubscription spree.
Of course, with Gmail’s Promotions tab, life has become easier and I don’t have to necessarily do that any more.
But still, if you’re a lover of clean inbox and don’t read a lot of e-newsletters, try Unroll.me to unsubscribe a bazillion times faster.
7. Use If This Then That
IFTTT lets you “put the internet at work for you”. Basically, it’s an app to automate your online life.
You can set trigger events that are based on cause and effect relationship (if this, then that). The events + triggered actions together form IFTTT “recipes”.
As a recipe example, once you add a new article to read in Feedly, you also have it saved in your Dropbox folder.
IFTTT supports many “channels” such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, Bit.ly etc. that you can use in your recipes.
8. Don’t be afraid to delegate
Back when I started as an entrepreneur and blogger, I wanted to do everything to perfection.
I thought no one else could do all those tiny tasks on my list better than I, because no one understands my business as much as I do.
Turns out, there are people who want to help you. For example, if you hate composing and scheduling a month’s worth of Facebook posts, there’s someone out there who loves that and is a pro at it.
Remember, you can’t go at full speed 24/7. Decide which tasks really need your attention and which ones can be outsourced. That’s a sign of a real superman – after all, he needed a sidekick too, right?
9. Do a Pomodoro
You’ve probably heard of a Pomodoro. It’s a simple productivity technique where you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. Since you “only” have 25 minutes to work, your brain can focus 100% as it creates a sense of urgency.
I use the Pomodoro Productivity app which has some neat settings to increase or decrease break times and sound settings. It also nicely syncs with your Google calendar to get a visual warning when a Pomodoro overlaps with an appointment.
10. Try Awareness
Awareness is another free and unique app that will play a Tibetan bowl “ding” every hour. It’s a gentle reminder to take a 5-minute break and get off that chair.
11. Use Awesome Screenshot
If you’re like me, you want to take multiple screenshots for every post you write.
Awesome Screenshot is a super-helpful app that sits as a Chrome extension and can save you a ton of time.
12. Manage your stuff with Trello
I’ve only recently started using Trello, and kicking myself because I’m so late to discover it.
You can create Trello cards for your to-do tasks, ideas you want to implement or known issues to be solved. You can track progress of each one as you go.
You can also use it for your editorial calendar.
Here’s an example of a Trello in progress.
13. Slam multitasking
Because it doesn’t work. Period.
One study even showed multi-tasking led to a loss of productivity by 40% because participants had to keep switching between tasks.
14. Chew gum
This one’s a weirdo in the list, but chewing gum leads to alertness and reduces occupational stress too.
15. Eat a banana
According to UCLA, a banana is great brain food that brings 25 grams of glucose (optimum) to your blood stream. Glucose is great to keep that active, productive, switched on state when you need it the most. Go bananas!
You now have 15 super-hacks – some are easier than others. Now it’s your turn to take your pick.
Go, apply them and be a rockstar.
I know there are more super-hacks that I’ve missed. What’s your favourite?
Pooja Lohana is a freelance writer, ghost writer and online marketing mentor featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. If you’re an aspiring writer and want to become self-employed, create wealth and live a better life by launching your online writing biz, steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home.