There are plenty of reasons to blog—but whatever your motive, one thing remains true: you better have something good to say.
There are blogs for just about anything—writing, marketing how-to’s, server maintenance, research, networking—you name it. So taking into consideration all of the things you could blog about and all of the things you want to say, it’s easy to see how productivity sometime falls by the wayside in favor of what I like to call “creative” time. You know, the time you spend debating where to start, brainstorming, or even just trolling Pinterest.
To make sure you actually get to the blogging part of, well, blogging, it’s important to have a productive work style and system in place. Learn to stay on track: Here are seven best practices to improve your efficiency as a blogger.
1. Big Picture, Small Strokes
When it comes to life and blogging, set big goals—after all, you need to know what you’re working toward, or what’s the point? However, don’t get lost in that goal by forgetting to set smaller steps to get there—failing to do this is a sure fire way to get lost in the shuffle and never reach that goal.
Make a point to quantify those steps—not only does it prevent your list from being a simple checklist, but it also makes those steps more meaningful and attainable.
For example, if your main goal is to grow and monetize your blog to a point where it earns $10,000/month, specify the smaller steps that will get you there; those might be things like writing three new posts before a certain date or reaching out by a specific deadline to five bloggers about guest posting.
Not only are you planning how to reach your larger objective, but you’re setting quantifiable, attainable goals within each step that will bring a sense of achievement (and true progress) along the way.
2. Don’t Dodge the Big Fish
Sometimes, it’s easy to focus on getting the most done, rather than the most important.
Why’s it easy? Because it’s an easy way to procrastinate while still getting something done. Prioritize based not on quantity but by importance. Added bonus: since you’re freshest in the morning, you’re more likely to get those big, important items done more quickly and with higher quality. Leave the “easy A’s” for the afternoon slump.
3. Take Notes, Without Exception
You never know when inspiration will strike: make sure you’re ready for it. As I mentioned in my previous article on Business.com, I always carry a notebook with me when I travel—yes, the old school paper kind (what can I say, I like doodling and writing on real paper).
I do go digital, using Evernote on my tablet, phones, and PC, though. I just jot down whatever comes to mind, whether it’s an on-the-fly idea, something from a reading, or reminder for myself to check on something later.
Don’t trust yourself to remember—odds are, you won’t.
4. Don’t Become a Slave to Your Inbox
In this day and age, it’s way too easy to fall into the digital slave category. It starts by checking email daily, then hourly—next thing you know, you’re absentmindedly checking it at family or business dinners. Don’t do it. Set your own rules when it comes to your email.
I still set rules—my big one is that, when I’m working on something important, I don’t check email during work hours. Most emails can wait: there are generally other more pressing things to worry about and prioritize.
5. Improve Your Focus
No one can focus 100% for the 8-12 hours most of us work. Increase your focus and productivity with the Pomodoro technique.
How it works is you set a timer so that you work with full focus for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break; each of the 25-minute segments is a “pomodoro.” After four pomodoros, you take a 15 to 20-minute break. Yes, that does mean that you have 10 minutes of downtime every hour—but better 10 minutes than 20 or 30 when your mind starts wandering. Not to mention that those breaks are great motivators.
Related Article: Tomato, Tomahto: The Only Productivity Technique You’ll Ever Need
6. Minimize Multitasking
Put down Candy Crush while you’re on that webcast.
And stop texting while you’re on hold. Work is work, play is play—make the distinction and stick to it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN has plenty to say on the subject, including that our brains are simply not designed for multitasking. Fact is, for 99% of us, the more we multitask, the less productive we actually are.
7. Don’t Be a One-Man Show
Tempting as it can be to hold every penny close, doing it will kill you. Instead, utilize the talents of others in their specialties so that you can make the best use of your own talents.
Yes, it can be tough to let others into your hard work, but everyone benefits, I promise. Personally, I outsource some of my writing and design work. I come up with the ideas (I know my readers and topics best—not to mention that I know where I want to take my work directionally), but I usually bring in a professional writer to lay down the words a bit more, shall we say “eloquently,” than I would likely do myself.
Also, getting second eyes from someone you can trust helps a lot! I am lucky to have my editor, Lori Soard at Web Hosting Secret Revealed, to support my blogging operation. I know that what I say is important—but so is how I say it—so by bringing on the right team members, I can provide better overall value to my readers (and focus on doing the things that I do best).
Productivity isn’t just about putting your nose to the grindstone and working harder—or even about working longer hours. It’s about working smarter. It’s about giving yourself a break strategically to stay in peak performance and about knowing where to focus when. It will take time to perfect your system, but with practice and some creativity, you’ll get there.