I used to have a serious time management problem.
A few years ago, there was 117 hours of work on my weekly to-do list, plus another 200 hours or so of special projects, like updating SEO and reworking my site organization. Given that there are only 168 hours in a week, in retrospect, my goal of getting this all done was unrealistic at best. In 2013, I wrote 306 blog posts, completely redesigned my website and won a Nose-to-Nose Award for Best Bark Blog. By 2015, burn out set in, I could barely focus long enough to write anything, and I almost walked away from my blog permanently. I just couldn’t do it anymore. This all came down to my poor prioritization strategy. I believed that in order to be successful, I had to do-it-all and so I did, most of it poorly.
I had to find a way to make a big impact on my blog without spending all my time on it.
I took a serious inventory of my work and the hours I spent on it. Two things became sparkling clear to me: Everything takes longer than you think it will, and you have less time than you believe. I decided that I could afford to spend 25 hours a week on my blog and still have time to enjoy life, spend quality time with my family, friends and pets and to maintain my home. Cutting my to-do list down from 117 hours to 25 seemed like an impossible task. For a while, I did nothing, paralyzed by the impossibility of it and unsure of just how I was going to keep doing everything in 20 percent of the time. Looking back, the answer was simple: You can’t do it all. And more importantly, you shouldn’t.
The key to success as a blogger isn’t doing absolutely everything the experts recommend; it’s focusing on the things that help you achieve your goals and doing them really well.
We all fall into habits. We start doing things because we think we should or because they were helpful to us when we first started blogging. Every year, as we improve and get better at our craft, it seems like more tasks are added to the list of things we want to complete. A good blog planner helps you focus not on the tasks you do out of habit or because they’re easy, but on the tasks that will propel your blog forward and help you grow. But how do you decide what is important to you and what tasks are worthy of your time? How do you prioritize the tasks that make a big impact?
The key to using your blog planner to achieve your goals then is knowing what your goals are.
Not just saying “I’d like to have 100 more followers by the end of the year”, but really examining what you do, why you do it and what you hope you and/or your readers get out of the experience. No amount of planning will help you achieve your goals if you don’t have a crystal clear idea of what that goal is and why it is important to you. Set only a few goals at a time and focus on them.
Once you have your goals set I use a pyramid system, starting with a goal and then breaking it down into all the supports that will help you achieve it.
Keep in mind, that this is not one-size-fits-all. Two bloggers could have the exact same goal, but if your why is different or your target reader is a different person, your how and when could (and should) be completely different. Lots of us want to increase our traffic, but the reasons we want to increase and the way we can attract more readers to our blogs are not the same.
The “how” tasks that help you achieve a goal should be the backbone of your work list. They should be the first items you schedule time for and the ones you focus on consistently achieving. (Reminder: A To-Do List is a terrible productivity tool. If you want to maximize your time, use scheduling instead.)
Once you’ve made time for those tasks, add in other essential items, like creating new content and maintaining your website.
If you still have time left, start working in some fun things. This is where you make time for joining in community discussions or being active on social media you enjoy, but doesn’t necessarily send you a lot of traffic. This is the time you use to read other people’s blogs. Maybe this time is spent create posts that speak to your heart, but that are outside of your niche. Maybe it’s time spent going on an adventure with your pet. These tasks should be anything you want to do that doesn’t directly impact your goals. No matter what these items are, every time you schedule one, ask yourself:
- How does it help you achieve your blogging goals?
- Is it something that will help your blog immediately? At some point in the future? Are the results undetermined?
- How much work is it? What’s the reward?
- What do I have to give up finding time to complete this task? Is that worth it to me?
- Is it for a network that is well engaged? Will it send you traffic?
- Does it make you money? Does it bring you joy?
- If you stopped doing it, would your blog survive? What if you kept doing it, but did it less often?
Reassess your efforts weekly and monthly to see if the tasks you are working on are helping you achieve your goals.
The tasks that were most important this month may not be the most important tasks next month. Adjust and adapt as your goals change or try new tactics when you are unhappy with progress.
Every blog is going to have different high priority actions and there’s no one formula for success. It’s about staying true to your why, always using critical thinking to determine if the work you’re doing has a reward and not just doing what you think you’re “supposed to be doing”.
How do you prioritize the work you do on your blog and decide what tasks get completed?
Need help breaking down your goals into actionable steps? Download the free Goal Setting Pyramid Printable.
Jodi Chick is a lifestyle blogger from Vancouver, BC (That’s in Canada, eh?) who believes anyone can have a pet-friendly home that doesn’t feel like it’s gone to the dogs. When she’s not arguing with her sassy puggle or snuggling her sweet rescue dog, she can be found in the kitchen, the craft room or on the couch, bingeing on Netflix and putting stickers in her many day planners.