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I've been working really hard to stay on top of my blog organization since last year. Keeping organized was one of my main goals when I re-branded, because before that point (confession time!) I'd always been a fairly haphazard blogger.
Know what I learned? When you get organized about this blogging business, you get spectacular results. As it turns out, maximizing your time so that you're efficient, and keeping with a regular schedule mean that you produce better, more relatable work. And your readers will absolutely recognize the difference and sense how seriously you take the quality of your content!
Today I'm going to share my top five tips for streamlining and organizing your blogging schedule. Five tiny little tips that have made a huge difference for me, and that I wish I had been doing since day 1 of Domestic Bliss Squared.
1. Treat yourself to a pretty, inspiring planner and use it regularly!
This year, I treated myself to a large, pretty planner that lays flat and has lots of space for writing down blog post ideas and planning my time. And it was such. A. Good. Investment. I can't even tell you.
Even when I use my Google calendar, I almost always write down my schedule first. The act of writing things down that I need to accomplish helps me remember them more clearly, and helps get me in the mood to get work done. Plus, knowing I get to go in and use my nice pens and my cute planner is motivating too! And I can take it anywhere (it travels with me in my laptop bag all the time) so I always have it to jot notes down in, if I have a good idea on the go. Which is where they usually happen anyways!
2. List out each day's tasks on sticky notes.
This idea was a continuation of my planner, but has served me well. Each day I sit down to work, I write a list out of what I need to accomplish and when on sticky notes, and stick them to my laptop. This helps me so, so much. It makes it easy to prioritize which tasks need to be focused on first, and if I only have a few minutes to work, helps me see immediately what I can do in the allotted time.
And, at the end of each day I throw away my stickies and just start fresh! It feels good and helps me realize how much I'm accomplishing each day, even when it feels like I'm running around in circles. It's a visual sigh of relief to see my laptop empty of stickies each night.
3. Carry a quality smartphone, and invest in a plan with lots of data.
I'm not going to lie, I actually have an iPad. And a laptop. And you know what? I still do a lot of my blogging on my smartphone. I use my phone for 80% of my pictures, I answer email when I'm in line to do other things, I track my social media and interact with all my amazing readers via my phone. Carrying my phone means that I can multitask efficiently whenever I have a few moments. My smartphone is probably the single #1 most important tool I use for blogging regularly. As important as my phone is, I need to not only have a phone I can rely on, but one that has a ton of data. Like, a crazy ton. When I first started, I used to blow through my data every month in about 10 days.
Recently I got the opportunity to try the Walmart Family PLUS plan, with unlimited talk, text and data (up to 10GB of 4G LTE!) plus a free movie on VUDU (a $7 value) every month, and it was kind of perfect. I bought the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime (for $79.92, on rollback from $99.92 so I saved $20, yay!) with the starter kit ($25) and the phone + the plan make it so, so much easier for me to do that work on the go. I need a lot of data, especially when I'm traveling and working almost exclusively from my phone. And at only $49.88 a month it's completely cost effective for me, too. Plus, if you're going to upgrade your phone and/or data plan, tax return season is the time to do it!
4. Schedule your Social Media time, and limit it to certain hours of the day to keep yourself sane.
This is the hardest thing to do when you're a blogger. Your phone is with you all the time, and you're constantly getting alerts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. And I won't lie to you, every time one of my amazing readers comments or likes one of my posts, pictures or anything else, I pick it up and check it as soon as I can. After all, getting feedback is one of the best parts of my job! But I usually set very specific hours during which I actually answer and respond to any social media interaction. Unless, you know, it's an emergency!
This does two things; it makes sure my family and friends get my attention when I'm with them, and it keeps me sane, man! It also gives me a little breathing room to think about how I want to respond, and prioritize which questions need answers first. Having a specific time set for interacting with my readers helps me make sure I respond to as many as I possibly can and give the comments the attention they deserve.
5. Treat your blog work like 'real' work, and try to minimize distractions. But when push comes to shove, multitask without guilt. After all, this is a job!
My mantra when I sit down to work on my blog is "when you're working, you're working." And no matter how haphazard planning can get, when I sit down to write I take it just as seriously as any 9-5 job. After all, this is my baby, my passion, the business I've built for myself out of my own love, right? As much as I can, I try and minimize distractions, and set aside time to really focus on crafting my content to convey exactly what I want it to say.
But let's be real, I'm a mom and wife with a full time job outside of my blog.
Sometimes you just have to find the time, and that's ok too! That free movie I mentioned above that comes with my phone plan? That comes in really handy sometimes! There are nights when I just need to sit quietly and finish my posts for the week, and 'family movie night' watching a free movie on our SmartTV is a lovely opportunity for that! I've never been the type to be able to sit and just watch a movie without being busy (those of you who can, good for you, but I get too antsy) so family movie night is usually my excuse to snuggle on the couch with my kids and sneak in an extra hour of work.
And you know what? I don't feel guilty about it, either! It's not a habit I want to get into regularly, but I also don't feel bad about showing my kids dedication to a goal, or how valuable it can be to have your own hobbies. As much as it's important to be consistent, flexibility is important too!
I hope I helped you guys out a bit with these tips, and I can't wait to continue to use them to produce better and better content for you all to come back to enjoy!
Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/2n6q6 or your local Walmart for current pricing.