Never Have Enough Time To Blog?
Day 20 of the A-Z challenge.
T is for Finding Time To Blog
If there’s one thing that unites book bloggers – whether they’re seasoned operators or newbies – it’s the feeling that there’s never enough time.
Not enough time to write content. Not enough time to respond to comments or join in social media conversations. And never enough time to devote to reading and commenting on other blogs.
You get into a pattern where you promise yourself that you will get your head down and write a post today. Only to find it’s bedtime and you still don’t have it done. Maybe you never even started.
It’s not easy keeping up to date with blogging. Especially if you are doing it while also holding down a demanding job or caring full time for a family. I can sympathise. There were some occasions before I retired when I wouldn’t have the energy or the time to do more than the very minimum on this blog.
Even now, it’s a challenge to find the time in between exercise classes, walking groups, and volunteering. Every day my backlog of reviews gets longer and blogging tasks are left undone.
In Search of Solutions
How do other bloggers deal with this challenge? Good organisation seems to be the key.
In my recent article How To Be An Organised Blogger, Linda from Linda’s Book Bag and Shelleyrae from Book’dOut explained how they use calendars and spreadsheets to stay on top of review commitments. The solution used by Karen from Kaggsy’sBookishRamblings is to write multiple posts in one day.
What about some of the super bloggers whose output is vastly superior to mine. Could I learn anything from them about finding more time to blog or speeding up the time it takes me?
Most of what I found was a lot of “blah blah” that could have come straight out of a self-improvement manual on time management. The advice was essentially: identify your priorities, allocate the majority of your time to those priorities and stop or reduce activities that are not priority.
Nothing to disagree with there. But nothing that was hugely helpful either.
Only a few tips really stood out from the dross.
1. Batch Process Your Main Tasks
This was the advice from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger . He describes “batch processing” as a fundamental change he adopted several years ago in a quest to become more productive.
Before making this switch, I would sit down to blog and find myself going through a whole day flitting from one thing to another…. but not really getting much done. I’d write an intro to a blog post, then jump onto Twitter, then talk to another blogger about a collaboration, then go back to the blog post, then moderate some comments, then jump on Facebook and then…. well you get the picture.
I definitely did “get the picture” because the behaviour he describes mirrored my own.
I began to carve out longer chunks of time to do the most important tasks in ‘batches’. I’ll often set aside half an hour to do social media for example (instead of popping into Twitter 20 times a day, I might spend a longer period once a day). Email is similarly something I try to do in batches, similarly I tend to read other blogs via RSS in batches etc.
2. Keep A Note Of Content Ideas
I really like this suggestion from a technology site in Hong Kong. It’s a challenge sometimes to think of ideas and topics for blog posts that go beyond book reviews
Having a list of ideas to hand can avoid those awful times when you know you should write a new post, but you’re staring at a blank page hoping inspiration will strike.
Your list of ideas doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be anything that comes to mind when you’re in the shower, or when you’re out walking or driving. Don’t worry about fleshing out the idea initially – just capture it on your phone, in a notebook. Probably best to avoid the back of an envelope or a receipt though (I always lose those bits of paper).
3. Remove Distractions
From Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger.com comes advice to turn off your mobile phone when you’re writing. In fact you can go even further and turn off anything that could be a distraction: television, email and social networks. Removing distractions means you concentrate 100% on writing that post.
4. Use A Timer Or Set A Deadline
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Here’s one that a former manager of mine used with her daughters when they agonised over their homework assignment.
It’s perfect for procrastinators and people (like me) who can take hours to write one post. All you need is a kitchen timer.
Say you think it will take you two hours to write your post. Set that as your deadline. Make a commitment to have it finished by that time.
Turn the timer on for one hour and 45 minutes and get writing. When the timer rings, you know you have 15 minutes to wrap everything up. The key here is discipline.
If you don’t happen to have a kitchen timer, there are plenty of stopwatch apps you can get for your phone or device.
Do These Tips Work?
I’ve been trying out a few of these ideas in recent weeks.
The batch process technique used by Darren Rowse clearly works well for him. But he’s a professional blogger. I wasn’t sure whether it would work equally well for non-professional bloggers – people like you and me.
It’s definitely worked well for one of my key daily activities: reading and commenting on other blogs.
I used to fire up Feedly (this is the news reader I described in my recent post on How To Keep On Top Of Book News ) multiple times a day. I’d hop around, commenting just on one or two posts before recalling I was meant to be doing something more pressing. Now I look at my feed just once or twice a day. The total amount of time I spend on blog reading/commenting is about the same, but I seem to be able to read more and comment more.
“Batch tasking” didn’t work as well with Twitter however, probably because it’s such a fast moving platform. When I changed my habits so that I checked Twitter only once or twice a day, I missed a lot of interesting material. So I’m still checking it several times a day – hence no time saved.
How about the most time-consuming element of blogging: writing content?
As much as I’d like to write more than one post in a day, I don’t see that happening any time soon. But I now have a notebook with blogging ideas and as soon as this A2Zbookblogging challenge is over, I’ll be delving into those. I’m also pushing myself to set realistic deadlines for completing a post.
I’m not claiming victory yet, it’s far to early to do that. But I’m reasonably happy with the small improvements I’ve already noticed. I’ll come back in a few months and let you know whether I’ve been able to stick to these good intentions.
What Do YOU Think?
What time saving activities have you implemented? Share your tips here. I’d love to hear if you have any other suggestions on how to shave time off blogging activities.
27 thoughts on “Never Have Enough Time To Blog?”
Great tips! Especially agree with #2!
The key to blogging as far as I’m concerned is to focus mainly on what and when:
1. Being a bookblogger means that I have an obvious topic to post about. I tend to alternate a review with a discussion, although not rigidly. So that usually means I have a spur to getting on with reading! Luckily I have the leisure and I make the time to read.
2. At the moment I post every other day. It’s important to keep a regular pattern of posting unless one blogs for oneself and isn’t fussed about satisfying an audience. Ii have varied the frequency — it used to be certain days in the week, or every third day — but these days I schedule for a set time in the morning. 6 a.m. of a morning in the UK is evening on the other side of the world from the UK and also catches night owls in the New World. Scheduling also gives me a deadline to work to and introduce late revisions before the piece goes live.
I’m not slavish about my blogging patterns — I do topical rants, and also go off topic or resort to weak humour — but I do love doing posts, for the creative satisfaction but essentially for the conversations which often stem from them. Now, what was the question again? 🙂
I’m definitely a dyed-in-the-wool batcher. For example, Thursday is my Email Day. I’ll check my email once each morning, anything urgent that must be dealt with immediately gets done, then everything else waits ’til Thursday. I get it all done in one hit, my inboxes go back down to zero, and it doesn’t nag at me or suck me in on other days because I know I have that block of time coming up to deal with it. I’m also big on the deadline-setting, mostly because of a really resonant lecture from my psych undergrad about Parkinson’s Law (tasks expand/contract to fit the amount of time you allot to them). If you say “I have two hours to get this done”, it’ll usually take you pretty much bang-on two hours. If you say “I have three hours to get this done” about the same task, it’ll take three. I’ve found it to be inevitably true about just about everything!
I worked with a Vice President who every day got his in box down to zero. He relied an awful lot on other people to keep copies of those emails!
I’ve never managed to do it – even though I know the theory about touching something just once, I am really bad at sticking to the advice. Consequently my in box today had 600 plus messages. You galvanised me to go through some of the older ones and either file or ditch….so now I’m down to a mere 400….
Hey, that’s progress! 😉👍
Now I just have to keep this up…..
I set myself deadlines. I sit in front of the computer and think : I have two hours to write this post. And I cut myself from emails, Twitter…It’s something I do at work too, to be more efficient.
I do a bit of batch working too like:
– read other bloggers’ posts in batches. I could read them on my phone between other activities when I’m not at work but then I have issues with commenting because I always need a dictionary at some point. It’s better for me if I read other blogs on my computer with another page open with my online dictionary.
– I prepare the “shell” of the post soon after the book is read or when I’m too tired to think and write. I prepare the title, the categories, the tags, upload the book cover. It helps wrap the post up later.
– I take notes of what I want to say after I’ve finished the book. Often, I’m too tired at night after a day in the office to sit in front of a computer, AGAIN. Taking notes by hand in a notebook is easier, so that’s what I do. Sometimes I handwrite my billets too. (on the train, in a café…)
Finding the time to blog is definitely one of my biggest challenges – I’d love to devote more hours to it, but it’s difficult to juggle along with everything else. I’m definitely trying to batch process my tasks more, particularly when it comes to reading other blogs and using social media, which I find can distract me a lot during the course of the day. Keeping a list of ideas at the back of my planner is also very helpful. I really love your suggestion of setting a timer for writing a post – I’m going to be trying that next time (along with turning off my phone) as I can imagine it would really work for me. Thank you, as ever, for the inspiring and genuinely useful content! This A-Z series has been a godsend for me.
yep it’s a juggling act and one that changes depending on focus. The publisher I write for doesn’t even have a twitter account so I don’t need to hang there (anymore).
It certainly is a lot of work if you try to do everything that is included in SEO but I think there are some elements we can follow without too much effort,
When I did A2Z a few years ago I knew I would not be able to produce a blog a day. I began researching and creating the content several days in advance so that all I needed to do each day was to copy/paste already prepared content into WP, then add previously book marked illustrations and links.
I have also developed a rough daily routine which begins with emails. These includes notifications of new posts from blogs I follow and comments on mine which I deal with in that session. I sometimes come back to that in the evening. In between I do my chores in and outside the house and do some writing.
Currently my weekend walks in the garden are dealt with Sunday morning – taking the pics, cropping where appropiate, then posting them to WP with appropriate words.
I wish I had been as organised as you Frank and began doing the research and preparation much earlier. I tried an A2Z challenge last year for a different blog but gave up after 10 posts – you’d have thought I would have learned my lesson this year 🙂
You do seem very structured in your approach. I bet that takes a lot of stress away
When I started blogging, I had no intention of keeping a schedule, no idea how much time I’d end up devoting to it and now I have no idea how blogfgers with full time jobs plus young children keep producing regular quality content. I take my hat off them.
I have no idea how they do it either Susan. Many of them are even doing far more than I am. I somehow thought that in retirement I would have more time to devote to the blog but so many other activities have emerged that I want to take advantage of
I also tend to read and comment on other blogs at various times during the day. I enjoy it as a break from other activities, but it can be a distraction. It makes sense to dedicate a block to that.
I sometimes get inspired and write more than one post in a day, but that is rare. I don’t know if I could manage to do it on a regular basis. For professional bloggers obviously it’s a different story.
Thanks again for doing all this research!
checking other blogs is indeed a good activity to do in between some higher intensity activities – you can;t keep those up all day 🙂
I do 1 and 2. I do 1 particularly for blog checking and commenting. I decide that I’m going to spend the next hour on this, then I sort my blog emails on blogger or subject to catch all those posts or comments I may have missed. It works well for me. You already know that I use the Notes App extensively to store ideas. I have a folder for my blog and then for my ongoing posts – Monday Musings and Six degrees – I have a note for each that I just add to. I remove the Musings ideas as I do them so the Note doesn’t get too long!
I don’t use social media consistently – I see what Twitter notifications come in occasionally and check them, but I decided long ago that I really can’t afford to follow it consistently. Same with FB. I do though check Instagram more thoroughly – mostly when I get up and maybe later in the day – partly because my daughter is active there so it’s a good way to keep up with her. It’s averagely useful for book stuff!
As for distractions. Hmm … the distractions I choose to have don’t really bother me. If they slow down the post writing that’s the decision I choose to make. If I don’t want to be slowed down, I avoid them. I don’t usually have my phone right next to me when I’m writing posts so I don’t see the notifications arrive (and, anyhow, I usually have the sound off so I don’t hear them arrive.) I do get some notifications on my laptop, but not so many. I don’t find them too intrusive. I like notifications on my mobile devices but not so much on my laptop which I use differently.
I reckon it takes me way more than 2 hours to write most reviews, but using a timer could be a good idea to tighten that!
I should really follow your practice for six degrees which always creeps up on me as a surprise (I often don’t remember it’s due until I see other bloggers’ posts coming through!).
I’ve all but given up on FB – I am in loads of groups but rarely get to check on them.
I’d love it if I could do a post in 2 hours…..
I would too Karen.
Batch reviewing works for me when I can manage it, though part of me would always prefer to review a book at a time when I finish it. The content ideas is a good one, because I always think I’d like to introduce a little more contrast – which is why I do book table posts and occasional hauls (not so many of them right now…)
i would try it though I never seem to have a day when I could devote just to writing content…
I think it’s a good tip to designate a certain time period each day for social media interaction. I have developed a pattern of reading and interacting with blogs first thing in the morning, I check Twitter midday (mainly I live by notifications there), and I engage with Instagram in the evening. If I do get on IG during the day, it’s just to check notifications. I do respond to blog comments as they come in throughout the day.
One tip I can add is to make some blog templates! Or…..copy an old post and use it as a jumping off point or template for new content….I do this for my end of month wrap up posts and TTT posts and #6Degrees posts, etc. the trick here is to edit carefully so that you’re not leaving a reference to the old month! This has been a huge time saver for me!
I love the idea of setting a timer! When I was teaching, I often encouraged students to use that trick for homework completion (When parents complained that it took all evening to complete homework)….I had them set the timer for 5-10 minutes and work as hard as they could….then set the timer again for a 5-10 min break….and repeat until homework was done.
Also, using a bullet or numbered list is a huge time saver when creating a blog post. You wouldn’t want to overuse this, but an occasional post in this format is a nice break from writing all the words, sentences, and paragraphs!
Keeping notes for future blog posts is also a great tip! For instance I look ahead at the TTT topics and start a note in my phone app to start jotting down titles that fit the topic…by the time it’s time to write the post, all my thinking/planning is usually done! I’m already making a list of ideas for a summer post!
Thanks for the great ideas and discussion! I’m eager to read more tips in the comments!
Yes, good point, Carol. I copy old posts fairly frequently – particularly my Six degrees, awards announcements etc. It’s a great help.
I blogged for a year before I figured out I could do that!!!
It makes a lot of sense to do that if you have regularly recurring topics.
I like the idea of carving out a routine time for specific activities – morning for blog interactions, lunchtime for Twitter for example. You’re giving me something to think about in terms of my own daily routine (or lack of it!)
I’ve never done templates until now – it’s certainly helped with some of the A2Z postings that I can pick up a previous post and know the images are in the same place and the headings are the right size and colour – saves so much time.
Promoted by you and Sue’s good practice I have now started a note for 6 degrees – within 10 minutes I had already noted the books for the link. That is the most time consuming element for me so a victory already!!!
Yay for time saving tips! 🙌