If there’s one thing we’re all strapped for it’s time. Time to do this. Time to do that. And on top of an already busy life, we’re bloggers trying to find time to write, to get noticed, to make money. Whatever your reasons for blogging, I’m pretty sure you have uttered “I need more time” out loud at some point (even if no one was around to hear it).
I don’t profess to have all the time in the world. But over the past year, between blogging and my part-time gig and now writing a book, I’ve learned a few tricks to find time out of thin air. You probably already know a few of these. But hey- a reminder never hurts.
So whether you’re trying to find more time to complete a particular project (at home or blogging-related) or just find more time in general, here are a few ways to find some coveted minutes from your day:
That’s right. Get up, step back from the computer, and walk away for a while. Sometimes we get stuck on a project, a blog post, or something else and we spin our wheels fighting with it. Instead of greco wrestling your productivity, stepping away can clear your head and maybe even bring you that word or idea you were grasping for. You may even have to sit on something overnight. I do that when I have something big to edit. I have to step away from my writing, let it clear my head and only then can I do my best at self-editing.
When you sit back down you’ll feel a little refreshed and work more productively, saving some precious time.
Just make sure you actually come back. That’s kinda important.
Get Up Early
I used to roll my eyes when people mentioned getting up early in an article. As if! Pfft! Phooey! I’m a night owl and I love sleeping in (which with kids is about 7 am and 8 on the weekend if I’m lucky). However, as I’ve been writing Blog Design for Dummies, there are some nights I’m not sitting down to write until 9:30 or 10 pm and I’m flippin’ EXHAUSTED.
Consider getting up early from time to time. Set your coffee pot to automatic timer so a fresh pot is ready for you. Grab a cup and savor a few glorious minutes to yourself. You don’t even have to be peppy, just slightly awake. Then get to work! I’ve found I can write wayyyy faster in the morning without any distractions or tiredness from the day hanging over me. The morning getting-up-early tiredness seems to wear off a lot faster than the oh-my-gah-what-a-day evening tiredness.
Give Up Something
We all want something for nothing, don’t we? If a day suddenly became 27 hours then I’m sure we’d all rejoice. But that isn’t gonna happen. *cry*
Finding more time in the 24 hours we have is about making choices. That means you might have to give something up. Give up watching TV, be content with a slightly messier house, go out to eat so you don’t have to clean up dishes (or keep it a one-pot meal with paper plates).
One thing I gave up was making my kindergartener’s lunch every day. Even though my hubby and I both do this, I found that letting him buy lunch 2-3 times a week helps with freeing up time during the week.
As I’m writing this book, I let go of responding to emails in a timely manner. GASP. If you were to email my Momcomm email address, you’d receive this out of office reply:
Well, hi! While I’d love to respond right away to your email, I’m currently holed up (with food and water) writing my first book, Blog Design for Dummies.
Being in writing-editing-deadline mode, I go in and out of hiding as I meet each deadline (like one of those whack-a-mole things). If I don’t get back to you in a few weeks, please feel free to ping me again or @ me on Twitter.
I still think you’re awesome.
In my writing hole,
At least, I’m letting people know, right?
You don’t have to go all out and starve yourself from all the things you love and need to do. Even giving up PART of something can still free up time for you. For example, you really don’t HAVE to respond to pitches you receive if you’re going to say no. Companies don’t expect everyone to respond. Be selective about those you respond to (like there’s potential to do other projects). Make choices and DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. No one cares as much as you do, I’ve learned.
Shut Down Social Media and Your Email
(as if you don’t know this)
Do I really need to tell you this? We all KNOW we should get out of Facebook, Twitter and even close our email when we’re working on something. But we don’t always do that, do we? Next thing we know, we check everything from each notification and tweet to every email ding and text du-du-dup!
Exercise a little self-control (I know it’s hard!) and stay away from social media and email when you’re trying to get work done. All of those toggles from screen to screen, a quick Like here and a little tweet there add up.
Stop having FOMO (fear of missing out) and gain a little willpower. You’ll have some time back into your day immediately.
Eat the Frog
I learned the concept of eating the frog many, many years ago as a marketing director. What in the world does it mean? It simply means this: do the thing that’s causing you the most angst and GET IT OUT OF THE WAY. If you had a frog sitting before you that you HAD to eat, wasting time fretting about it or ignoring it doesn’t change the fact it has to be eaten… so get it over with! (Don’t ask me WHO’s making you eat that frog. I didn’t make this metaphor up.)
Doing the most painful thing first (at the start of your day, when you sit down to blog and so on) is surprisingly motivating. Instead of dreading to do “that thing,” you knock it out first then move on. Your mind and even your body get fueled with the feeling that you accomplished something. Then you seem to magically work smarter, harder, and save time in the process.
You don’t have to be a hero. Make choices. Set priorities. Say yes to the things that matter the most.
Your kid doesn’t have to go to EVERY kids’ birthday party in his class. Stick with the friends he or she knows the best.
You don’t have to fulfill every Pinterest fantasy.
You don’t have to volunteer for EVERY single thing at your kids’ school.
You don’t have to accept every pitch that comes your way.
When it comes to blogging, I realized in order to move forward, I had to say no to things. I turned down a review here or an opportunity there because I was busy building something BIG… Content Brew. I turned down money and clients because I knew I had something big brewing (dangit, a pun!). Sometimes saying no is a path to a much bigger yes.
Don’t be afraid of that two-letter word.
Plan, Plan, Plan
One of the first business seminars I ever went to was about project management. That was over 10 years ago and I still remember one thing the facilitator said:
Ten minutes in planning saves hours in putting out fires.
Ain’t that the truth! If you’re short on time, put a little effort in planning. Planning out your content calendar (*cough* Content Brew *cough*), plan your meals a week or two at a time, plan, plan, plan.
Of course, don’t get in the trap of planning so much you don’t get anything done (um, I’ve been there). But planning in the areas of your life that take the longest amount of time saves time in the long run.
Anything else to add? What tip resonates most with you?