This guest post is by Timo Kiander of Productivesuperdad.com.
I know a blogger who tries to do everything he can to make his writing career successful. He posts multiple times a week on his own blog, writes guest posts for others and spends a lot of time researching affiliate marketing. On top of all this, he is creating his first info product.
Of course, there’s social media too: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn… he feels obligated to be everywhere, on every platform.
As if this wasn’t enough, his email inbox is full of compelling info product offers and they all claim they will change his life if he acts on them now.
My blogger friend works so hard, but when he looks at his blog stats, he collapses completely. Hard work has yielded barely any new visitors and only a couple of measly subscribers to his list.
Is it any wonder he’s ready to quit blogging?
Filling the glass with too much water
Do you see what’s going on here? I bet that, as an observer of this scenario, it’s very easy for you to see the problem: the blogger I just described is trying to do too much at once.
But let me ask you: is this blogger anything like you? Because we are often so blind to our own situation that we fail to recognize the entire picture.
Just like a glass will overflow as you try to fill it up with too much water, the same will happen to you, my blogger friend. The difference is that in your case the overflow means burning out—and as a result your productivity will decrease dramatically.
With too much to handle at once, there’s another negative side effect: you lose your focus completely.
Even if you think you’re getting the right results and you think you’re moving in the right direction, you’re going to be shocked. Most of the hours you’ve spent on your blog have been a waste of time.
Being afraid of the unfair advantage
There is something that has been sold to most of us and the marketers have done a good job at making us believe it: the unfair advantage (and fear as a bonus).
How many times has a marketer or another blogger told you that you have to do a specific thing or buy a certain product to succeed? And if you don’t do as you’re told, then those who do buy the product or implement “blogging tactic X” will have an unfair advantage.
It’s quite natural to want to avoid being the outsider. Have you ever thought to yourself, “No way am I going to give others this advantage and struggle myself—I’d better join the tribe or I’ll be doomed with the rest of the average Joes.”
I know that I recognize it myself when I look at the statement above. That’s the main reason why I have spent thousands on info products and blogging tactics that I didn’t use and which were actually steering me off course.
There is actually a term for these kinds of thoughts. It’s The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). You are afraid to be an outsider because you think you might be missing out on something very important.
When you take the concept of FOMO and apply it to blogging, the scenario described near the beginning of this article starts to make sense; you want to do everything because:
- someone told you to (“I have to be part of this group, otherwise…”)
- you are afraid to let go of something (“If I let go now, I will never become successful.”)
- you’re afraid to be an outsider (“I don’t want to be an ‘average person’ while others are successful.”).
It’s no wonder you’re stressed out and overwhelmed: you’re trying to move forward on too many fronts, yet your blog is not getting any more popular.
Pressing the reset button
To move from chaos to clarity, you should start limiting both your mind and your actions.
“Limiting?” you ask.
Yes, limiting. The problem with your current overwhelming and stressful situation (and lack of results) is that you’re trying to do too many things at the same time because you are afraid that you will miss out.
But if you limit your mind and your actions, you will exclude the unnecessary stuff, thus seeing your destination again. In the process, looking at those stats is not very scary anymore, because the figures have improved. In fact, you will begin to look forward to checking the stats!
When you decide to let go of the unnecessary, you are kicking your FOMO’s butt. The feeling of liberation as you sit back and let others rush to buy that $1000 course is unbelievable.
Reclaim your enthusiasm and clarity
If you’re overwhelmed and confused, it’s time to put yourself back on track. Try these steps to get rid of FOMO:
To decrease the amount of “shiny object syndrome” exposure you get through email (and to clean your inbox at the same time), use online application called UnRoll.me (please check out their FAQ page before you join).
UnRoll.me lets you unsubscribe from multiple email lists at once—it’s a great way to prevent your inbox from filling with clutter. Unsubscribing from multiple lists is very easy and you can feel the relief as soon as you do it. Just stay with those subscriptions that you truly like to follow.
2. Take a critical look at your goals
Cut down the number of big goals to a minimum. For example, trying to be a social media maven and PPC wizard at the same time may not be the best strategy.
Instead, choose the one thing you would like to be spectacular at, roll up your sleeves and start working. That old pearl of wisdom is still true: the more you do something, the better you become at it.
3. Take a critical look at your current projects
Look your project list. How does it look? Do your current projects truly support your big goals?
For example, I mentioned already that I dropped my plans to build niche websites. Instead, I’m focusing on guest posting to grow the audience of my blog.
While I’m concentrating on building my audience, I’m not going to be creating products or developing services. Although they have their place, they are not important right now—I want to have the right audience first.
This is exactly what you should do too: if you have even a bit of hesitation about whether a project should be on your task list, then consider freezing that project until a later date.
4. Apply the 80/20 rule
Everyone seems to be talking about the 80/20 rule at the moment. They’re asking what it is and why it’s a great way to increase your productivity.
The main principle behind 80/20 is that focusing on 20% of something brings 80% of your results. A classic example of this is that 20% of your clients bring you 80% of your sales.
So how do you apply 80/20 to blogging? Well, since you’ve now got your big goal in mind and decided which important projects contribute to that goal, it’s easier to see the tasks that will help you complete those important projects.
In my situation, I’m focusing on guest posting, building my email list and interviewing people in my niche. That’s my 20%. I feel super-focused since I can concentrate on a few choice activities and I don’t have to hustle around doing too many things at once.
5. Neglect the fear
Make a bold decision to let go of everything that becomes a burden. Once you have defined your goals, projects and your 20% actions, you are on a road to becoming a happy and successful blogger.
Whatever you do, ask these questions: “Should I be doing this?” or, “Is this action contributing to my goals?”
Whether it is spending time on Pinterest, buying yet another ebook on Google domination or trying to create a logo for your blog, keep asking yourself these questions. If you answered “no” in your mind, then listen to your inner voice and let go of them.
Finally, dare to be different and stop following the herd. For example, I decided to stop doing SEO on my blog almost completely. I’m also spending much less time on social media in order to focus on my 20% activities.
Getting over the fear is not easy, since you will feel that you are going against the flow. But doing certain blogging-related activities differently is also very liberating. It also cuts down stress and leaves you with more time to spend on the important things.
6. Outsource the small but important
Outsourcing may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
First of all, you don’t necessarily have to hire a full-time virtual assistant, but you can still get certain time-consuming tasks done very easily.
I regularly use Fiverr, whether to hire proofreaders, designers, or voice-over artists for my videos. Although I haven’t been happy with the results all of the time, I still think it’s a great resource for getting small tasks done.
Another way to outsource is to ask your family members to help you. For instance, my wife does some of my proofreading work and this has the benefit of not having a fee. You also have the advantage of knowing the person you work with very well. These two methods can help you reduce your workload quite a bit.
Do you limit your blog for success?
Over to you: what limitations do you use to improve your blogging productivity? How are you handling this overwhelmin situation? Do you feel your limitations have brought you blogging success?
Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.