This post is Day 9 of the 28 Day Blogging Breakthrough Challenge. You can chat about the challenge on social media using the hashtag #BloggingBreakthrough. Click here to view all of the challenge prompts. I'd also like to welcome Alice from Wooden Window Sills who has written today's post. Her blog is full of lovely things celebrating what life is really all about.
Building a structure into your day is an important and useful habit to become accustomed to, and if blogging is factored into that, even better. As part of the #BloggingBreakthrough challenge so far, I sat down and really thought about what I wanted my blog to be this year. This involved where it had come so far in 2015, and also where I want to make improvements, inspiring me to write a list of Blog Goals for 2016.
You may notice that right at the top of the list is “blog more regularly” – something that in my fledgling first nine months of blogging I have found difficult to grasp, with some weeks posting nearly daily and others only once. Having usually planned a whole bunch of great posts, not only does this push your schedule back, the sporadic nature can be irritating to your followers and also appear erratic.
Therefore this year on Wooden Window Sills, I'm determined to design (and more importantly stick to) a regular calendar, both for blogging and more generally in life. Don’t know where to start? That’s exactly what Day 9 of the #BloggingBreakthrough Challenge is here for!
How Do I Start?
Firstly, use some of the pointers given on days 1-8 of this challenge. Trust me, they will be amazingly useful. For blogging in particular I especially refer to Day 4 on planning your editorial calendar, and equally, yesterday’s Day 8 on writing lists. Because ultimately, the key to organization is both of these things – planning when you’re going to do things, and making lists of what you want to achieve.
I tend to use three calendar systems in my day to day life, and the beauty is, you may choose to not use any of them! The main thing here is finding what works best for you, so that it fits into your life and is easy to stick to.
What System Do I Choose?
To start, think about what style suits you.
Do you sit at a computer all day? Use an online calendar that will keep everything in one place and send you pop up messages at chosen times.
Spend a lot of time on your phone? Download a free app such as Evernote or Todoist, both of which allow you to categorise your tasks, write to-do lists and set deadlines.
You could combine a main wall or online calendar with a smaller notebook, or buy a segregated folder like the ones you used to use at school with different sections. A chance to break out the felt tips and colour co-ordinates? Yes please! There’s also a whole host of great apps online that are designed specifically for making your day to day life easier. Many of these are free and can be downloaded onto an apple or android device.
Whilst covering your desk in post-its may feel like the simplest option at the time, things can often get missed or forgotten about, and when you have a lot to remember, the clutter can feel daunting.
So you’ve chosen a platform for productivity – what’s next? I find the best way to start thinking about everything is to categorise the sections of your life you need to organise. For me, these categories are usually work, blogging and life admin. These broad categories then filter down into smaller topics. For instance, I've shown you a basic idea of tasks I might have in one day and where I’d set myself reminders.
Each of these tasks is currently compiled into a series of tools – my Outlook calendar that I use for work and personal events, a hand written to-do list on my desk at work, my editorial calendar for my blog which I write in Excel online and save on Onedrive, and a notes and reminders app on my phone for to-do lists, shopping lists, things to remember, key codes to rooms at work and so many other things.
How Do I Make It More Efficient?
The best way for efficiently using your time is to plan each day around the time you have available.
It’s also important to set yourself targets.
Do you usually spend three hours in front of the TV editing photos and end up not paying much attention to either? Concentrate fully on the task and give yourself an hour to get it done. Two hours gained = bingo!
Need to pop to the post office in your lunch break at work? Think ahead about what you’re having for dinner and pick it up on your way back. The time you’ll gain after eliminating needless repeated journeys will amaze you.
Things to Remember
- Everyone is different – what works for me, may not work for you, so try a few different tools and stick to one that fits in with your life.
- Be flexible – we can plan as much as we like, but sometimes life gets in the way. Don’t stress about tasks that took you longer than expected or an unplanned interruption in your day. Prioritise the things that are most urgent and find some time later on that week to catch up on the bits you missed.
- Schedule time off – if you’re anything like me, the list of things to do can sometimes feel endless. But it’s really beneficial to take time out every single day and just do something for you. Whether that’s making a start on a new book before bed, having a long bubbly bath rather than a quick shower or listening to your favourite music and cooking up a treat in the kitchen, taking time out will help beat off the stress of the day and you’ll start again feeling refreshed and energized after a well-deserved break.
1. Think about the type of system that would work best for you – it needs to be visable, easy to access and meaningful.
2. Research other productivity systems you might not have used before, they could save you a lot of time!
3. Plan your next month as it stands today, schedule in anything work related, blog related and all the fun things coming up on your social calendar too. Breaking bigger tasks down into individual time slots each day will help make the whole thing come together and seem less impossible. A great saying my granny always uses is “you can eat an elephant in bite sized chunks”, and this I feel really applies to today's task.
Remember to take some pictures as you go along and tweet me with your progress using the hashtag#BloggingBreakthrough. And if you’ve got any questions or you’re struggling with anything, feel free to get in touch!
TO GETTING A BREAKTHROUGH WITH YOUR BLOG
How do you plan your day? What are some of the biggest things you can take away from this post?