Are you one of those people who can sit at your laptop for two hours, and come out the other side with half a badly drafted post? Do you wish you could be more productive with the time you have, but find that it just slips away like grains of sand through your fingers? Don’t we all! Here are a few simple things you can do that will boost your productivity and help you to blog more efficiently.
1. Do it even when you don’t have to. Even if you have posted something today, and there’s another scheduled for tomorrow – if you have the time, write. You never know what will happen tomorrow; you might find that your usual allotted time for blogging is taken up by a crisis or perhaps you even have some sort of social life. Get as many posts in the bag as you can, just in case.
2. Take notes. Carry a pen and paper with you everywhere; keep one next to your bed; get some sort of notepad app on your mobile. Whenever you hear something interesting or unusual, or you read a good quote, make a note of it. Never allow yourself to think “oh, I can remember that til later” – trust me, you can’t.
3. Have a schedule. I’ve written before about my blogging schedule; having a schedule helps you to avoid that initial “oh crap, what can I write about” feeling. And I usually find, once I’ve flexed my writing muscles writing one of my regular weekly posts, I find it easier to come up with another post.
4. Make a list. Actually, make several lists. List the posts you want to write, the photos you need to take, the reviews you need to write, the sponsored posts you need to write. When you’ve written your lists, prioritise them. Anything that will take you fewer than five minutes, do it now. Ticking those things off your lists will make you feel hugely productive and hopefully give you something to work with for the other points on your lists. Lists also help you to ensure you don’t forget anything – durr.
5. Be strict with yourself. Being more productive is less about working harder than working smarter. Part of that is having a dedicated time to work on your blog. That doesn’t have to be 7-9 every Tuesday, but if you say to yourself “right, I have an hour this evening and I’m working on my blog” then work on your blog. Close that Facebook tab down, switch the TV off and get on with it!
6. Have a ritual. We are all Pavlov’s dogs; by creating an “I’m about to work on my blog” ritual, you can get yourself into the right frame of mind for blogging. That could be having a mug of coffee, sitting at your desk and laying your laptop and notebook out neatly in front of you, taking a walk with the dog. Whatever gets you into that blogging frame of mind!
7. Research all the time. Just because you’re not blogging right now doesn’t mean you’re not researching your next post. And having an idea is half the job when it comes to writing a great post. Reading other blogs, keeping up to date with the news, trawling the gossip columns. Whatever you want to blog about, you should also be reading about. I love apps like Flipboard and NewsWhip but als StumbleUpon and Reddit are great for this.
8. Allow time for distractions. If you have to write a post tomorrow about your day at the theme park, and you know that will involve editing photos, getting quotes from your children, researching the background of the park, editing a video together, whatever else – plan for that. Don’t sit down with only 30 minutes to do a 2-hour job!
9. Write to your reader. Actually spend a little time imagining who your audience is for this specific post. What do they want to get out of it? What do they hope to achieve or learn through this? Writing to that person rather than to “the internets” in general will help you to focus and hopefully therefore work much faster – and smarter.
10. Unplug. So many people walk through town with their headphones on. They get on a train and immediately get out some sort of device for watching a movie or listening to music or just Facebooking friends. It’s nice to have a distraction from what you might see as boredom, but there is a lot of blogging material to be found if you just listen out for it. There are people all around you, all of the time, carrying on conversations. They might sound mundane to begin with – and a lot probably are – but every now and then you will hear something that makes your ears prick up and you know will make an excellent premise for a blog post. If you were listening to your iPod, you never would have heard it!
If you have any other tips for blogging productivity, I’d love to hear them! What do you do to help yourself get the most out of your time?