*Updated: October 28, 2022
Ask any blogger what they’re working on and they’ll usually respond with a laundry list of items that are required to keep a website running: writing, coding, photography, branding, promotion, social media management, and networking. While some bloggers and small business owners will keep all of this organized with a running to-do list or checklist, you may want to ditch your to-do list for other methods. Why? Let’s find out…
Advantages and Disadvantages of To-Do Lists
There is no denying that the average blogger or small pet business owner has a to-do list a mile long. The sheer number of tasks that are supposed to be completed each day is immense and it seems the so-called experts are adding more all the time. Whether blogging is your full-time gig or your side hustle, the fact is: there aren’t enough hours in a day to even begin to tackle all of the things you think you should be doing and so, your to-do overflows.
Some things get accomplished because they’re fast or easy or you just can’t put them off any longer. Others stay on the list so long that they ultimately get forgotten and discarded in a pile of good ideas and unfinished projects that you just never got around to.
The truth is that a to-do list can be a terrible productivity tool.
Sure, crossing off finished tasks comes with its own sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, but who hasn’t spent the day working on your to-do list only to look at the clock, realize you’ve spent hours, and still feel like you haven’t really achieved anything important?
The harsh truth is that your to-do list is only going to be as effective as your planning, preparation, and mindset when trying to use it. If you have filled your to-do list with busy work that isn’t moving your blog, website, or small business forward – then it’s not helping you at all! On the other hand, a master to-do list that is used in conjunction with other scheduling and planning efforts may help to keep some people on track. To decide if it’s right for you or not, you need to start by understanding how you work and if a project to-do list can help you to optimize that.
If your to-do list productivity level is low and you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to ditch your to-do list and try something new!
Productivity Over Busyness
Our society has this weird tendency to be in awe of busy people. Being busy is a badge of honor that proclaims us to be better adults than those around us. People assume that because you’re very busy, you must be getting many important things done.
This is false.
Ticking a lot of items off your list isn’t necessarily productive. Productivity is about getting the best possible result with the least amount of effort. One of the biggest disadvantages of a to-do list is that it gives you the illusion that you’re being productive when really, you’re just being busy! If you want to be truly productive and start crushing your blogging goals, you may need to ditch your to-do list and start scheduling your time instead.
Get More Done By Scheduling Your Time
Time scheduling is a trick used by some of the most successful people in the world. Millionaires, CEOs, Olympic athletes, and more all use scheduling to ensure that they are focusing their time on what matters to them most.
It’s a proven fact that an uncompleted to-do list can be a powerful demotivator. We are more likely to remember all of the interrupted or uncompleted tasks than we are to remember what we have accomplished, leaving us feeling as though we are getting nothing done. Plus, most people struggle to differentiate between urgent tasks and important tasks. For example, responding to blog comments in a timely fashion is an urgent task, but it’s only an important one if your responses generate more engagement from your community.
Ditch Your To-Do List with These Productivity Tips
Plan Time Specifically for Projects
Decide how much time you are able to spend working on your blog and when you are going to commit to working on your blog. If you plan to work on a task “when you have time”, it might never get achieved. If you plan to work on it Saturday at 2 pm you stand a much better chance of completing it. Try to set aside time to work on your blog when you feel you’re at your best.
Schedule Necessary Tasks First
Schedule time for tasks your blog cannot survive without. For most people, this boils down to two tasks: create content and maintain your website. Schedule time every week to work on those items.
Prioritize Tasks Based on Your Goals
Prioritize the things you want to do by how effective they will be in helping you meet your goals. If you want to increase engagement, you might decide that responding to comments is the best use of your time. If your goal is to increase traffic, creating images for specific social networks might be a better way to go. If your goal is to generate income, you might spend your time pitching brands or working on your affiliate programs. Decide what blogging tasks are essential to you. No two blogs will have the same outlook on which tasks are most important, and that is OK. We’ve all got to decide what is essential to us.
Be Realistic When Estimating Timelines
Decide how long you need to spend on each of those tasks to get the desired results. Be realistic and make sure you plan to give yourself enough time to complete the task well. It’s better to do a small number of things fantastically than to do a large number of things kind of ok. Allow yourself a bit of extra time in case a task ends up being more complicated than you expected or if you run into technical difficulties.
Treat Scheduled Tasks Like an Appointment
Once you know how long to spend on each item, block that time out in your planner and treat it like you would a meeting or appointment: Pick a time, show up and do the work. This is an appointment with yourself and your business. Don’t let yourself downplay the importance of that!
Reduce Distractions and Focus on the Task at Hand
At the scheduled time, sit at your desk or work area. Focus solely on the task at hand. Put all your energy into completing the one task that you are scheduled to work on and complete it well. Resist distractions or other tasks that might pull you in. Where possible, eliminate or reduce distractions to improve your productivity. For example, if you have a high-energy pet you may be able to keep them busy with engagement toys while you get your work done.
For longer work sessions, consider using the Pomodoro Technique.
Take Time to Review and Make Adjustments
Regularly schedule the time to review your efforts and determine if the tasks you are focusing on are achieving the desired outcomes. If they aren’t, reassess what you’re doing, brainstorm other ways to achieve that goal, and try again. Try new approaches and experiment with what works best for you, your work style, and your environment. Don’t be afraid to try something that doesn’t work – that just means you are one step closer to finding what does work for you!
You’re not going to get it all done. There are too many things and never enough hours. But respecting your blog or business, scheduling the time to nurture it, and sticking to that schedule can help you focus more on the things that can impact on your traffic, your engagement and your income.
Did you ditch your to-do list in favor of a different approach to productivity? We would love to hear about your process in the comments!
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.