[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]
How do you find the time to blog? This is a question I get asked frequently. People assume because I work in digital marketing that I have more time to create content and to a certain extent that’s true. But, like all small business owners, I still have a tightly packed schedule and blogging is just one of the things I have to do in a week.
At least once a year I hit a blip. It can last for weeks, sometimes months. At these times I struggle to fill the pages of my blog. Sometimes I let it lapse for weeks, sometimes even a month. It’s my goal to avoid this happening.
The first thing I need to do is identify why all of a sudden I can’t find the time to blog. Usually, it’s down to two factors:
- I run out of inspiration – I could have had 100 ideas last week but this week they all seem bad. This is my mind working against me. It wants to do something else so it starts lying to me. It starts telling me my ideas are bad and that I can’t write.
- I begin to wonder if it’s worth it, is this really a good way to spend my work time? I’ll be doing a whole show on this in the coming months.
When these two doubts set in I find excuses not to blog. I find it hard to find the time even though I’ve managed to keep to a strict blogging schedule on a far busier schedule in the past.
If you can relate to this, either for your established blog or if you are struggling to get started this week’s podcast is for you:
Listen below and discover tricks that will help you find time to blog:
Set your goals
The truth is there actually isn’t enough time to do everything we want or need to. As a small business owner, you have a bundle of responsibilities. From sales and marketing to bookkeeping and cleaning. You also need to nurture your non-work relationships with friends and family. We have a tough job balancing it all.
If you are going to be a successful and consistent business blogger you need to ask yourself why you are doing it? You need to find your own motivation. You may have started because a web designer or mentor told you to but this isn’t enough to sustain your interest. You’ll need to define your business goals and how your blog can help you achieve them.
Here are a few suggestions, do you:
- Want to become well known in your field?
- Want to get your website ranking better on Google and other search engines?
- Want more press coverage?
- Attract new customers to your website?
There are many other goals you can set. Spend a bit of time defining them and what achieving them would look like. Now you have your motivation.
Monitor your time
We all have to do lists but if that’s the only way we are managing our time we’ll fail to get some tasks done. I do manage to blog consistently but other items do get pushed down the list.
If we want to find time to blog we need to assess how we are currently using our time.
To monitor, start with your to-do list. Map out your tasks for the day and assign each the amount of time you think it will take.
Now to the right of your list add a column. When you complete a task write in this column how long it actually took and write down any distractions. Did the task take longer because there was a phone call? Because you were surfing Facebook? Be honest, this timesheet is just for you to understand how you are using time. If you did spend 10 minutes in a Facebook loop record it.
After a week or two of keeping your time sheet you’ll have a good idea of how long tasks actually take. The next step is to map out your week into chunks. Allocate days and times for specific jobs.
For example, I have allocated Monday morning for content creation and Friday for creation and inspiration. By sticking to these times I’m allowing more time during the week to work with clients.
You now know how long it will take to write your blog posts so you just need to find a chunk of time every week to do it. When that day and time arrives make sure you switch off your phone, push notifications and be sure not to make any appointments.
Write something every day
You may have allocated a time for your blog but that shouldn’t be the only time during the week you think about writing. You are probably already writing every day. I’m sure you send at least one email, quote or proposal?
If you want to write faster and better look at every email you write, could it be improved? Is your message clear? Will the recipient be interested enough to read it?
If inspiration strikes during the week don’t put it off because it’s not your allocated time. Scribble it down in a notebook or in the notes application on your phone.
Take time out
If you are struggling to write do something else for a bit. Sometimes putting your mind into a different space will inspire new ideas.
Earlier this week I was working on a big presentation. It had taken me much longer to put together than anticipated and I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Eventually, I decided I needed to get some sleep so I left it and went to bed.
What happened next will be familiar to a lot of you. As soon as my head hit the pillow I found the solution. I knew exactly how to change the presentation from OK to good. I switched on the lights, made a few notes and slept like a baby. It was only because I’d stopped thinking about the problem that I’d found the solution.
Set a timer
If you find yourself going off schedule, or if you have exceptionally busy days use a timer to keep you on track. I’ve found this helpful in the past. I look at the time I’ve allocated, set my timer and work like the clappers to get the job done before the bells chime.
There’s something about working against the clock that keeps me motivated.
Finding the right frame of mind
I’m sure you’re familiar with the sensation you feel when you don’t want to do something. You feel drained, uninspired and everything seems to be sinking towards your toes. Working when you feel like this is painful.
Here are a few things you can try to conquer that sensation:
- Vigorous exercise – I like to cycle but when there’s bad weather a dance around the room to my favourite Hot Chip tune does the trick. If you can get your heart pumping you’ll feel ready to take on the world afterwards.
- Music – I often forget the power of music, I know not everyone can work with music in the background but for some reason, loud dance music can boost my productivity. Perhaps I should move my office into a night club.
- Remember your successes – Look back to something you achieved in the past because of the effort you put in. Maybe you ran a mile, baked something cool, learned a new skill. Think about how that made you feel. If you can remember that good sensation you’ll want to feel it again and getting that blog post done could be the thing that triggers it.
The worst thing you can do is sit in front of your computer and expect a blog post to happen. Instead, plan your next months worth of content (at least) now. Come up with titles and outlines for these posts and add them to a calendar or diary.
Now when you sit down to write the hard work is done, all you have to do is type.
If you aren’t measuring your progress towards those goals you might end up in the situation I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You will find yourself wondering if you are actually achieving anything with your blog.
The metrics you measure will depend on the goals you set at the beginning. Measuring them on a regular basis, I do it once a week, will help you understand the effect your blogging is having. You’ll also be able to identify what’s not working and adjust your strategy.
There is one thing you can do straight away to help you find more time for blogging and that’s monitor your time.
Start working on your to-do list now, write down the amount of time you think each task will take and keep notes on how long it actually took and what stops you getting it done in time.
This time next week, when you listen to this podcast, look at your time sheets and start working on a weekly plan.
If you’ve been following my challenges or if you have done something on your blog that has worked well I’d love to hear about it. You can leave me a comment below, tweet me @spiderworking or snap me @spiderworking.
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