Image via The Paper Chronicles
If there’s one thing that many of us have in common (especially bloggers) it’s the fact that our to-do list never seems to end. There are simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we’d like. So how does one make the most out of the little time that they have? Here are the tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way that make a world of difference. (Do you do any of these already?)
Keep track of projects in Asana
Asana is one of those things that is so magical, you can’t possibly fathom why they give it away for free. It’s a project management system that allows you to keep track of all your projects in one place, assign deadlines, subtasks, and even delegate items to other team members. I make a different “board” for all of my different projects (i.e “GG” has one board, my clients each get their own board, and each website I write for, another board). I use it to jot down notes for brainstorming too!
Use google calendar
I’m one of those crazy people that will not remember anything if it isn’t on her calendar. It’s a problem. I cannot schedule my life without it. I even had to make Neal get a gmail so we could share a calendar and wouldn’t double book each other for different social activities. I also use it to document what posts are going up when, and what deadlines I have (note, yes, I know this is KIND OF redundant because they are also in Asana, but I like having my deadlines, meetings, girlfriend dinners, date nights, and any other thing that requires my time in ONE place.)
Using different colors to code your types of content is also very helpful, and will allow you to re-arrange things. For example, if “food” posts are the color red, and I look at my schedule for the week and it appears my calendar is bleeding, it’s time to shift some content around! (Take this with a grain of salt, it’s very rare that I actually get my shit together in time to schedule a full week of content, but I’m working on it! That counts, right?)
Block your time
Huge, huge, huge deal. When I block my time, I am 110% more productive than when I do not. It takes a tiny bit of extra effort in the morning, but I promise, you’ll be so happy with the result.
What is blocking your time?
Plan out your day in advance. Assign yourself certain times to do things based on your priorities for the day, and no matter what, STICK TO THEM. Knowing that you only have a limited window to do something will light a fire under your ass like you never thought possible.
Here’s an example of what my blocked schedule could look like on a given day:
You’ll notice that I only allow myself certain times to check my email. This is because email is a black hole and will suck you in and take up hours and hours of your time, if you let it. Also, per the “color coding” note above, you’ll see that each of my clients gets a different color, and anything blog related is gold (shocker!) which makes it really easy to track my time and go back and see how it was spent throughout the week or month (really handy if you’re billing by the hour).
Also, of course, this doesn’t only apply to those who are freelancers. It also works amazingly at your day job, too. Use it for every project that you have, and then schedule in your time to work on your blog. For example, during your lunch break, or before 9am. If your office is flexible with the time that you take breaks, schedule a few minutes here and there to schedule a couple social posts, or respond to a blog related email.
Chances are, if it’s in writing, and on a schedule, it’s more likely to get done!
Use post schedulers like HootSuite
You might not know this, but (on a good day) I schedule my social posts for Facebook and Twitter in the morning and don’t look at them the rest of the day, which allows me to focus my time on the 659 other things that I need to attend to, and limits my distractions so I can stay focused! If you’re really on top of things, you can even schedule your blog posts to go live, and your social posts a few minutes after, by copying your permalink and then just popping it into a Hootsuite drafted post. (I plan to do this a lot during my trip to Ireland.)
Stick to a routine
The best way to get things done is to stick to a routine. Here’s some homework: write down a list of the things you must accomplish every day. Next, write down a list of what windows of time you have available to accomplish those things, and put them in the calendar. Stick to this routine as closely as you can. Running out of time? Get up earlier! Still running out of time? Start whittling down your to-do list. The happy medium is somewhere in the middle 🙂
For example, when I worked at my agency job, my typical routine would go something like this: work on my blog from 6am-8:15am. Go to work at 9am. If I had any free time around lunch, I’d take a break and work on my blog when possible. If not, I’d just stay up later that night. When I got home, I’d eat dinner, and then start working on my blog again (with a glass of wine, or two) until I went to bed. Of course, often times, other things happen that prevent this schedule from going completely smoothly (obviously exceptions must be made to hang out with friends, Neal, events, etc) but 80% of the time, it worked for me.
What tips do you use to keep yourself on task?