Running a blog can require a lot of time, and most bloggers have only a limited amount of time available. Good time management can make these few hours very productive. Time management concepts are nothing new, but bloggers face unique challenges that demand a specialized approach to the subject.
In this article we’ll be taking a look at a few general time management principles and covering a few ways that they can be applied by bloggers. I hope that you find a few ideas to implement into your own routines.
Time Management Fundamental # 1 – Prioritize
As a blogger you will always have multiple tasks that are competing for your time: writing new content, responding to comments and emails, reading other blogs, educational pursuits, commenting on other blogs, marketing and advertising, statistical analysis, SEO, and the list could go on.
If you’re not careful you will find that all of your available time is gone and you still have important things that need to be done. Your work as a blogger will be ongoing, and that is why you need to have a method to use your time efficiently.
To start with, you should have specific, measurable goals that you are committed to accomplish with your blog. Some examples would be the number of new clients you want to find through your blog, a dollar amount that you hope to make by selling ads, the number of unique visitors and page views you want to attract, etc.
Determine Action Steps to Achieve Your Goals
Once you have your goals in place you will need to determine what actions of events can give you the opportunity to achieve these goals. For example, if one of your goals is to attract a certain number of new clients you may decide that a good way to accomplish the goal is to add some new content (show visitors your knowledge and expertise) and to develop a special offer for your RSS subscribers.
Write Down a To-Do List
The action steps that are going to help you achieve your goals can be written down on a to-do list. The to-do list helps you to remember your priorities and keeps you focused on actions that will lead to achievement of your goals.
This process is very flexible. You can create daily, weekly, monthly, or on-going to-do lists, but your goals should always state a specific date of achievement. The idea is not to limit what you can spend your time on, but rather to maximize your time.
Time Management Fundamental #2 – Plan Ahead
Know Your Most Productive Time of the Day
Most of us have a particular time of the day when it’s easier for us to focus and get more accomplished. Likewise, most of us have times of the day when it’s difficult to focus. Try planning your activities accordingly so that your most detailed and complicated work can be done during your most productive hours.
I remember reading a post from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger where he said that his normal routine is to go to a coffee shop on Monday mornings and write about five posts for the week. This is a great example of effective time management.
Creating new content for your blog posts probably requires more focus and attention than your other blogging activities. Make sure that you plan ahead to free up some quality time to produce your best content. Other tasks like responding to emails and reader comments, or reading other blogs can be done at times when you may not have your best focus.
Always Have a Few Posts on Hand
Part of planning ahead is to understand that certain interruptions and difficulties are bound to occur, and they could prevent you from being able to complete everything that you have set out to get done. Consistently providing new content is important to build a successful blog.
If you plan ahead and have a few completed posts saved for times like this you will still be able to provide quality content to your readers, despite the interruptions. One thing to remember here is that any time-sensitive posts or anything related to current events should be posted right away, not held back.
Schedule Certain Activities
Many bloggers, myself included, have a tendency to constantly check statistics. While it is a good idea to check your stats regularly, you may be able to save some time by only scanning through the stats on a daily basis and then scheduling to do a more detailed analysis once a month.
The example used earlier with Darren writing several posts all at one time is another example of scheduling. What tasks do you routinely do that you could schedule more efficiently?
Time Management Fundamental #3 – Work Smarter, Not Harder
Use a Blog Editor to Post to Multiple Blogs
Bloggers who write for multiple blogs will benefit the most from these types of blog editors, as they allow you to work on more than one blog without the need to visit the site and log in. A good bit of time can be saved in this situation by using a blog editor. Personally, I have been using Qumana.
Have a Specific Time Dedicated to Responding to Reader Emails and Blog Comments
If you respond to each reader email and comment as they come in, you may be wasting valuable time. In most cases you’ll be able to get these tasks done in less time by doing them at a specific time once per day.
One approach is to set aside some time at the end of the day. This way you will still be responding promptly, but you will save time by doing it all at once and not breaking the flow of your other activities.
Take Advantage of Automated Services
There are a number of automated services that can help free up more time for bloggers:
Comment Email Responder WordPress plugin:
If you’re using WordPress this plugin will send an automated “thank you” email to readers as they place comments on your blog. This is a great way to let readers know that you appreciate their participation (and it will encourage repeat visitors) without spending any time.
Akismet plugin for WordPress:
Deleting spam comments will take time every day. WordPress users can use Akismet to automate the process. Akismet is remarkably good at catching spam without blocking legitimate comments. It’s a big time-saver.
Most blogs automatically ping search engines when they add new content. If yours doesn’t, sign up for a FeedBurner account and use their PingShot service. You can select search engines that you would like to ping each time you add a new post. This is much more efficient than manually pinging.
SEOmoz’s Search Engine Ranking Checker:
This tool doesn’t completely automate the process of checking your search engine rankings, but it does let you see your rankings in a several search engines at one time, which is much faster than going to each search engine.
Haloscan’s automated trackback service:
WordPress users have a built-in trackback service, but Blogger users should consider using Haloscan to automate the process. It’s a free service with several different features.
Know Your Strengths
With limited time available, know your strengths and capitalizing on them can help you to be more productive. This is especially true for blogs that have more than one person contributing. In this case each person should have the time to do what they do best, whether it’s write, design, marketing, public relations, SEO, social media marketing, etc.
If you’re a one-man show and there is an area of blogging that you are particularly struggling with, consider paying someone to help you in that area. You may be better off spending some money but gaining a lot of time to put your talents to work.
Use an RSS Reader to Stay Up-to-Date with Other Blogs
This one should be a little bit obvious to bloggers. Using an RSS reader will prevent you from needing to visit a lot of sites to get the latest information.
If you’re already using an RSS reader one time-saving idea to consider is using two accounts – one for your blogging and business-related feeds, and one for your personal feeds. Sometimes you may intend to be working and be distracted by a new post from a feed that is completely unrelated to your work. You can avoid these interruptions by keeping a separate account for your personal or pleasure-related feeds.
I hope these points have given you some ideas that you can put to use. I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas that I have missed, please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions.