We all are to varying degrees.
In fact, I wrote about letting things go just last week.
But while I’m all about taking things off my to-do list, I also know that sometimes stuff just has to get done. So I try to work as efficiently as possible.
Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.
Say it with me now.
So for you time-starved bloggers, try these tips to get more done with the time you have.
1. Use Templates
Don’t reinvent the wheel. For images, save a few templates for pinnable images and collages you make. (Picmonkey is the easiest for collages because they’re done for you, but you can make templates in Photoshop as well.)
For a weekly series or other regular blog post, try this too. For my weekly 10-Minute Touch-Ups, I just copy the content from an already published post and paste it into a new post, then remove all but the basic structure I use each week (intro, subheadings, etc). Then take that shell and make a few new posts and save them as drafts.
2. Pick on a Post or Project
If you have posts or projects that aren’t time-sensitive, work on them a bit at a time. I know I have some posts in my draft folder that are a little more complex than my average post, so I pick at them little by little.
3. Use Your Browser’s Bookmark Bar for Frequently Visited Pages
I have login pages for work apps, a Facebook group I visit often, a direct link to my Google Analytics, and a direct link to my blog’s draft pages since I’m working on another course and visit that page often.
4. Provide Important Advertising/PR Info Up Front
Why waste your time and someone else’s if you never, ever not-in-a-million-years don’t offer product reviews? Sure, some people don’t bother to read your PR/Advertising page, but many will. If you for certain don’t do reviews (or reviews about __), say so on your page. If there’s no way you’ll review a product under $50, just say you review products with a value of $50 or more. You get the gist.
5. Keep a Style Guide
I have a simple Word doc that lists my blog’s HEX and RGB colors, the fonts I use, how I write certain words (e-book or ebook), my bio, and more. By having this in one place, I don’t have to bounce from file to file… and I maintain consistency on my blog. (By the way, I devote an entire chapter to Style Guides in my Blog Design for Dummies book.)
6. Plan Content
Yes, yes, I do teach an entire course on this. But what a kick booty feeling it is to sit down, look at your editorial calendar, and know what to post to Facebook, tweet, or write for your next blog post. You don’t have to plan out every single detail, but planning content ahead of time does indeed save time.
7. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts on Your Computer
I hope you’re past Edit> Copy, Edit> Paste by now, so go further! Keyboard shortcuts will save you LOADS of time. If you use Photoshop, two of my faves: Cmd (Ctrl) + J to create a duplicate layer and, when you’re in a text box, use Esc to back out of the box so you can click another text box easily.
Out of everything on this list, keyboard shortcuts just might be the one that saves me the most time.
8. And Create Typing Shortcuts on Your Phone
Speaking of shortcuts, spend five minutes making some on your phone. For example, when I type “gm” my iPhone, my Gmail address pops up as a suggested word. Easy peasy. I wrote about it on one of my 10-Minute Touch Ups.
9. Read Multiple Blogs Using an RSS Reader
Rumor has it RSS is dead. While that may mostly be true, I do still use Feedly and Bloglovin so I can read lots of blogs without having to visit each site. (Find me on Bloglovin!)
10. Stop “Task-Switching”
Studies have shown multi-tasking really doesn’t work, but we still try to get away with it. Or what’s really more like “task-switching.” Instead of bouncing from one thing to another, try focusing on one task and sticking with it. For help on this see #23.
11. Work in Batches
Instead of doing the same task two or more times a day, do it once but for a longer period of time. Instead of six times a day, try two. You get the idea. Not every task is “batch-worthy,” but some common ones: responding to emails, writing posts, replies to blog comments, designing or editing images.
One thing I like to do is re-size photos in batches. You can use the free version of Fotosizer or do this in Photoshop.
12. Use Canned Responses
Have responses to your most common emails. That might be a “Thanks but I’m not interested” email or a request to guest post on your site (the legitimate ones, not the spammy ones). It doesn’t mean every single response has to be exact, but you can then personalize it (with more than just a name).
13. Create an FAQ Page
If you get the same questions over and over, why not create a page of them? Someone just might stumble across that page and save themselves the trouble of reaching out.
14. Keep Your Files Organized
I consider myself pretty organized, but I’ve definitely been burned by a game of find-the-file. Name your files well and get a system that works. I use folders for purchased photos, post graphics, main blog design graphics, etc.
15. Have Only One or Two Places for Your Ideas
The more you have your blog ideas scattered all over the place, the more digging you have to do to find the ideas when you need them.
I have a Moleskin notebook I keep in my purse for those hand-written notes, and then I use Evernote for the digital ones. That’s it. I used to have more, but decided to consolidate after spending an ungodly amount of time trying to find my brainstorming notes for Media Kit Smash. It wasn’t pretty.
16. Don’t Overthink Everything
Bwhahahaha! I’m the WORST about this, but I KNOW when I do let things go, I finish so much faster. Sometimes you just have to jump in… or at least wade in. But you have to get in!
17. Automate Some Social Scheduling
Not all automation is evil. If you’re interacting in social media – you know, like talking to people – then you’re doing something right. Buffer is my current fave for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and I use Ahalogy for Pinterest (currently waitlisting people).
18. Get Off of Facebook
Seriously, you KNOW this but are you doing it? Facebook is the most unproductive time suck of all time. Do you really need to watch that video with the cute kitten on a unicycle?
If you really have no self-restraint (and don’t feel bad if you’re a sucker for kittens on unicycles), then install an app that blocks sites for a specified period of time. Do a search of “StayFocusd + YOUR BROWSER” to find a popular app that does the restraining for you.
19. Close Your Email App
It may not say “You’ve got mail!” any longer, but every time your email dings, you toggle over like Pavlov’s dog to see what just landed in your inbox. Am I right? Just close the app until you’re ready to spend some time whittling down your email.
20. Make Note of Camera Settings
Take lots of pictures for your blog? Write down your settings for those frequently-taken shots. You can even write down the time of day that works best and which rooms in your house has the best light.
21. You Don’t Have to Respond to Everything
You aren’t going to ruin that PR rep’s day if you don’t respond. If you think there’s potential for a relationship, go for it. But if you’re getting spammy emails or poorly written pitches, just hit delete. You’ll feel much better. Save those canned responses from #12 for the emails that matter.
22. Don’t Publish a Mediocre Post Just to Stick to a Schedule
What if that’s someone’s first time on your blog? Wait until you have something better to say.
23. Try Time Tricks (my favorite is the Pomodoro technique)
Sometimes you have to race against the clock to push yourself into action. My favorite is the Pomodoro technique.
24. Jot Down Thoughts Before You Write
It doesn’t have to be an official outline. And it doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be either typed up or just notes scribbled in a pad. Take five minutes and brain dump, then let that help structure your post.
25. Or, Try Free Writing
Doing #24 might not work, depending on the topic you’re writing about. Sometimes you might find it’s more productive to just write without stopping. Don’t edit, don’t take a break, just write.
Whew! That’s quite a long list, but here’s another tip: you don’t have to do all of these yet. Pick three and work them into your blogging habits. Once those become second nature, pick three more. Before you know it, you’ll be saving time you didn’t think you had.
Leave a comment and tell me one you already do and one you plan to do!