Understanding the importance of time management and planning is absolutely essential if you are going to turn your blog into a serious online business
Good time management and its importance when building your blog
The internet is an exciting, thriving hub of digital information and communication – but over the past decade it’s also become something akin to a graveyard… All over the web lie abandoned blogs, once tended carefully, but now left to the oblivion of endless digital purgatory. Blogging is a big commitment, but with the right approach to time management and planning, you can ensure your own site never meets the same fate.
Admittedly, running a blog isn’t easy; a lot of things can be tricky to navigate, particularly to the first time blogger, and there are all kinds of things you’ll need to learn to juggle to make your site work – if there’s one thing we’ve learned from talking to other bloggers, it’s the importance of time management, and that everyone manages their time differently.
What works for one person might not work well for another, and while there are some universal truths and tactics that can be applied, it’s a good idea to try a few different strategies as you find your feet in the blogosphere. As part of our guide to creating your own blog, we’ve collected a handful of some of the things we’ve found most relevant and useful, so feel free to pick and choose a few and see what works best for you…
Work out what you need to plan for
There’s an inherent flaw in planning for blogging: ‘blogging’ isn’t one job. The webmaster has to wear many hats during their time running a site, and to make your blog work for you (particularly if you hope to monetise it) you’ll need to think about everything from content writing to wrestling with plug-ins.
This highlights one of the most important things for the efficient blogger – planning for specific tasks. Need to update the formatting on some of your pages? Plan a specific time for it. Not been giving your social media channels the love and care they deserve? Set aside some time for those, too.
The key is to shortlist the regular tasks – writing posts, managing the site, posting to your social accounts – and dedicating time specifically for these. It’s also a good idea not to bunch too many separate tasks together, so that if that blog post takes an hour longer than it should, you don’t eat into the time you should be spending on something else.
Be flexible – no timetable for everyone
Whatever your schedule, whatever your intention for your blog, and however quickly you work, you need to be flexible. The fact is that for many people, blogging will need to fit in around a job and/or other commitments at home, and the importance of time management doesn’t just apply to blogging.
Everyone’s situation will be unique, and if you’ve come to this article looking for a dummy timetable, we’re sorry to say that we won’t be providing one – and we reckon it would be disingenuous to do so anyway!
Things change, and crop up, and you need to be able to work both with and around a busy working life. As such, it’s important not to just jump online and try to find a template to copy. Instead, work backwards. Start by going through and writing out all of your other commitments, and be generous with time allotments.
If you get home at work at around 5:30pm, call it 6:45pm. Do your shopping on Saturdays? Overestimate how long you’ll spend out of the house. Once you’ve worked out, honestly, how much free time you have, this is when you need to get organised. Which brings us nicely on to:
Don’t just make lists!
Lists are an ancient, time-honoured way of convincing ourselves we’re really organised. They’re also one of the best ways of procrastinating, and a true killer of productivity (unless you are super-crazy-mega self-disciplined.) The problem with to-do lists is that they are just that: to do.
Instead, you need to make a ‘do list’. Every week, work out exactly what free time – realistically – you’ll have. Having done so, make a schedule. Not a list. That’s step one. Make a schedule.
Plan exactly what you’re going to do, exactly when you’re going to do it. Keep as few tasks as possible to one period of work, to save yourself becoming overwhelmed. One task at a time, one time in the week, as many times as you have… well, time for.
Consistency is key
One of the main reasons so many blogs end up on the proverbial scrapheap is because their owners fall foul of a regular issue with blogging: remaining consistent. If your blog is going to steadily grow then it needs steady content, and this is one of the most important things to factor into your time management and planning.
You’ll need to be strict with yourself about how often and how regularly you create and publish content for your blog. This includes social media content, blog content, and anything else such as e-books that you plan to produce.
When planning for this in the early stages of putting your blog together, just try to stay realistic. It’s good to be optimistic, but you want to keep your publishing schedule to something you can maintain. Which brings us onto…
Don’t hit things too hard early on
Blogging is exciting, fun, and rewarding. Chances are, when you first get your site up and running, you’ll want to publish as much content as you can possibly write. Every minute of free time will be spent writing, and you’ll have 10 articles ready to go in no time flat.
While there’s nothing wrong with a little enthusiasm, the issue is that once the initial excitement wears off, it can be tricky to keep that momentum up. Other commitments get in the way, and all of a sudden those 5 weekly posts have dropped down to 1.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with only posting once a week, or even once a fortnight, the issue is that after a surge of productive writing, the sense of burnout that follows can be heightened. The sheer level of production early on, followed by the comparative sense of lack of productivity can be off-putting – sometimes so much so that it feels like you’ve ‘failed’. Which isn’t the case at all.
If you do manage to write thousands of words in one sitting, brilliant. But pace yourself. You’ll want to build an audience who are tuned in to your publication schedule, and you don’t want to overwhelm them with content (you similarly don’t want to starve them of it though!)
Plan writing time and publication time separately
For new bloggers, the surge of elation after completing one of those first few posts is palpable. You’ve done it, you’ve written a blog, and it’s ready for the eager eyes of the world to consume – but while your blog might be ready to go, that doesn’t mean you should publish it there and then.
This is something new bloggers do a lot, and when you’re getting used to things, this is fine. It’s great to get that sense of achievement knowing your freshly written post is up there ready to be enjoyed, but this isn’t really the best way to go about creating your content.
This is one of the ways the importance of time management manifests most poignantly for bloggers. The process of publishing a blog can be, sometimes, almost as time-consuming as actually writing it. Rather than lump these two disciplines into one session of work, try to keep your writing sessions and your publishing sessions separate.
For instance, set yourself the goal of publishing a new article every Friday, but don’t do any actual writing on that day. Make that work session solely dedicated to uploading the article you put together earlier in the week, and instead use one or two sessions of free time elsewhere for actual writing.
This will leave you with far more flexibility, and won’t make publication seem as much of a gargantuan task, and will also fit nicely into a more flexible working schedule. If it turns out your planned Monday evening of writing needs to get pushed back to Tuesday, then things will be absolutely fine – but if you’re writing on the day you plan to publish and something crops up, you’ll have to push back the actual publication day, which can lead to sporadic and inconsistent management of your site.
Many content management systems also allow you to schedule when your posts will go live, so if you do need to reallocate the time you set aside for publication work, then that’s no trouble.
Find your own rhythm
With so many plates to keep spinning, running a blog can turn into a bit of a ‘dance’, and it’s important to find your own rhythm for this. Some people will prefer to work for an entire afternoon and evening once a week, and then do almost nothing during the rest of their free time. Others may choose to work on their blog little and often instead.
There’s no right or wrong, and it’s important to try out a few things and see what works best for you. If you find yourself getting tired or you notice your creativity starts to wane after an hour or two, no problem. Simply reorder your schedule to work in a way that ‘chips away’ at the tasks on your list, rather than tries to tackle them all in one sitting.
If you’re working – you’re working
This one doesn’t just relate to running a website, but any task that requires dedication and focus (fortunately it’s relevant for blogging too!). When you set aside time to work, you need to make sure you’re actually working during that time.
We all go through periods where we feel really productive, and times when we feel like we simply can’t get anything done. It’s important to take note of this, and listen to what our bodies and minds are telling us – if, for instance, you feel a bit sluggish after a meal, don’t use this time to work.
When you do set aside a period of writing, managing, or anything else for your blog, make sure you use this time productively. The average human attention span isn’t actually that long – most of us struggle to work at our best for more than 20 minutes at a time, so bear this in mind, and take breaks regularly. Go for a short walk, make a cup of tea, or just get a bit of fresh air, but return fully switched on and focussed.
If you find that you really really can’t focus and get anything done in the time you’ve set aside, then it isn’t the end of the world. This is when the importance of time management really comes to the fore – if you prepare for adjustments, you can make them. Just make sure you reschedule your planned activities, and try to avoid postponing anything more than once. With that said…
Don’t be scared to break your own rules
Blogging, first and foremost, should be enjoyable. If you’re too hard on yourself, or force yourself to work so hard or so often that it isn’t fun any more, then there isn’t much point in doing it – particularly early on, when it’s unlikely you’ll be making any financial gains from your efforts!
If you need to, break your own rules. It’s your blog, after all. If you’ve tried publishing every week, but simply can’t manage it, change how often you post. Similarly, if you find yourself feeling inspired of an afternoon, don’t feel like you can’t write just because you haven’t planned to!
Make your plans physical
While it might be easier to simply say to yourself ‘I’ll work on my next article on Tuesday night’, this can lead to a loose sense of organisation, and it can be tricky to remember exactly what you’ve said you’ll do, and when you’ll do it. Things can even get forgotten altogether.
As such, one of the most valuable time management activities is to manifest your plans in the physical world. It doesn’t matter which medium you prefer, be it a notebook, calendar, or a digital spreadsheet – the important thing is that when you make plans, you keep track of them.
Try a time management program
With the above advice in mind, this is also one to consider. Keeping on top of your planning and time management can be a tricky task in and of itself, so in order to save yourself working with a lot of spreadsheets or notebooks, and to centralise everything, you could consider opting for a time management program.
There are plenty of these available, both for free and as paid pieces of software, so it might be worth doing a little homework and finding the one that’s right for you. Tools such as these are particularly useful if your blogging endeavours escalate and you start to dedicate more time to your site, as they can highlight areas that are taking up the majority of your time, and indicate which things you should probably show a little bit more love to.
It’s all about efficiency
This might be the most salient piece of advice we can give you when it comes to managing your time effectively: work smart, not hard. Time is precious, and while we often have more to spare than we might think, the way we use that time is utterly vital.
There is so much to running a blog, that it isn’t how much time you spend working on your site that matters – it’s how you use that time. Set yourself small, achievable goals for each session of work, whether that means writing 500 words, or simply uploading a few photos to a gallery.
Similarly, if there are ways you can cut down the amount of trivial time you spend on admin and other pursuits, go for it. It’s good to approach this with Occam’s Razor in mind: if there is a simpler way, it’s probably the best one.
There are so many benefits of efficient planning when it comes to blogging, and the importance of time management isn’t something to take lightly. You’ll see results faster, your blog will grow steadily, and you’ll get that all-important sense of achievement and satisfaction that blogging can so readily provide.
The most important thing to take away from all of this is that it’s about finding balance. Find the strategies that work for you, and work as much or as little as you can manage in the long run. Blogging isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and even the best runners have to do a little training – running your site is exactly the same. Try things, find your stride, set your pace, and you’ll be running for years to come.