One of the biggest excuses I hear from people that want to start a blog, but never do is: I don't have time. I frequently reply to this with something along the lines of "Well, actually you do - it's just not a priority for you".
Trust me, I know all about the difficulties of finding the time to blog. I work a full-time job, have 6 kids, a house to keep up, yard to mow, bills to pay, and the list goes on. Like you, my daily schedule is very busy, or at least seems busy.
I decided to start a blog in 2011, and quickly realized that starting and running a successful blog can take a considerable amount of time. Trying to fit blogging into an already busy schedule isn't easy, but I made blogging a priority. Now spend at least an hour a day on my blogs, and often 3-4 hours. You can to.
Interested in how to squeeze out 3-4 more hours a day in your already full schedule? Keep reading.
Make your blog a priority
The most important thing you can do is make your blog a priority.
Ask yourself, where does your blog fit in your list of priorities? Is it more important than the Monday night football? Is your blog more important than spending a few hours everyday shopping for things you really don't need? Is it more important than playing golf every weekend?
I spent a week tracking everything I did and how much time I spent doing it. My list looked a lot like this: Full-time job, kid's sports, home maintenance, watching tv, eating, shopping, hobbies, reading, church activities, sleeping and many other small items. Using my list at the end of the week, I assigned priorities to each of them by asking myself: Which items are really important to me and provide the most value? Be sure to include your blog in this list. A key area to focus on here is: Value. I think you may find that you spend a fairly significant amount of time on things that provide little to no value. Watching television is one that comes to mind.
This exercise showed me that I was spending time on things that didn't provide a great deal of value at all, but I enjoyed doing: things like watching TV, playing video games and surfing the web. I used my list to begin carving out some time for blogging. I marked items I could immediately remove, and also marked items I could "cut back on", like watching TV and playing video games. I also looked at my sleep schedule, and realized that if I went to bed a little earlier, I could get up earlier and use that morning time to get some work done.
As for television, I ended up all but eliminating it. If I watch one hour of TV a week, I'd be surprised. TV is a huge time suck and provides very little value.
Find a dedicated time slot
This is the key strategy that has enabled me to to have 3-4 hours a day to blog. I mentioned above that I adjusted my sleep schedule. I'm in bed almost every night during the week by 10:00pm. I get up at 5:00am sharp, and use the 5am - 8am time slot to work on my blogs and blog design and development business. Everyone is sleeping, so it's quiet and the distraction level is zero. I get a tremendous amount of work time during those 3 hours. For example, it's 6:44am right now as I write this.
But Larry, I'm not a morning person...
That's a an excuse. Trust me, nobody likes getting up at 5am, I certainly don't. But, I've found that once I'm up, have a hot cup of coffee or tea next to me, I really enjoy the quiet and serenity of the early morning and even get the benefit of watching the sun rise, which is often inspiring.
I don't work on my blogs over the weekend, so sleeping in a little on Saturday and Sunday morning is my reward for working hard during the week.
I realize the morning may not work for everyone, but maybe you could take an extra long lunch break and work on your blog while eating. Maybe you could carve out some time mid-afternoon, before heading off to pickup your kids. How about that 8pm - 11pm hour after the kids are in bed? I know other bloggers that use this time slot.
My point is when you allocate the time doesn't matter. What matters is that you do allocate the time.
Set aside a fixed time in your schedule that you will dedicate to blogging. Use that time to it's fullest and do your best to not compromise it.
All work and no play makes Jack/Jane a dull blogger.
I have a number of things I really enjoy, but frankly they don't provide a great deal of value outside of me enjoying them. Number one for me? Video games. I love playing World of Warcraft, but there is no tangible benefit other than making me happy. Personal happiness is important, but you have to find a balance between working (typically things that provide value) and fun. I mean, if you spend all of your time working you will quickly burn yourself out. On the flip side, if you spend all of your time playing, you get nothing done.
I set-up a reward system for myself. I only get to do the things I enjoy, once I complete certain objectives. This may be: spending two hours a day blogging, writing 2 or 3 articles, knocking out 3 or 4 items from my task list, etc. If I complete an objective, I allow myself time to play my banjo, play World of Warcraft or read a good fantasy novel.
Rewarding yourself is a critical step in being productive and enjoying life. Rewarding yourself will help you be productive and find that ever so important balance of work and play.
Look for small time chunks and optimize them
As I started to focus on finding time to work on my blogs, I found I had lots of small little time slots. Running a successful blog involves a lot more than just writing and publishing articles, it involves: handling email, participating in social media, making constant tweaks and adjustments to your blog, reading other blogs, and keeping up with blogging trends. These small items alone can add up to be a large amount of time.
I found that I had available time in unexpected areas. Here are just a few examples:
- Lunch - I generally each lunch at my desk. Normally I would look over a magazine or surf the web. Instead, I now use that hour to check and reply to emails, read over the lastest articles from the blogs I subscribe to, and participate in social media. Lunchtime is an extra 30-60 minutes I get to spend on my blog and eat. I actually enjoy these activities as well, so it doesn't seem like work.
- Sports practice - I found I spent a great deal of time at sports practice watching my kids do stuff that I didn't really care about nor they cared about. For example, the first 30-40 minutes of football practice is warm up exercises. I didn't really enjoy watching my kids do push-ups nor did they really care if I watched them. What they cared about was me watching them make plays. I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could work on my blogs during warm up time? Maybe write an article, respond to emails, comment on other blogs? I purchased an iPad, specially for this purpose. I now check email, participate in social media, write articles and many other activities while at the sports field.
- Waiting - I also found I spent way too much time waiting - at the doctor's office, at the dealership, at the school, getting my hair cut. Again, iPad to the rescue. Now, instead of reading some random magazine or staring at the floor I can be productive. The unexpected benefit of this was that it made the waiting time go by much faster too.
- Commuting - Before I started working from home, I spent about 2 hours a day commuting to and from work. This is a big chuck of my daily time. I started thinking about how I could use that time. I would download podcasts related to my blog's topic. I would listen to these while driving instead of listening to music. I also purchased a small portal recording device. I would often "write" articles in the car by vocalizing them. Then I would later type the article up.
Finding the time to blog
We all have time to start and run a blog. But, you may have to sacrifice a few things to do so. This is where people seem to struggle.
Make your blog a priority and carve out time to work on it and make it grow. Try to think of all the wasted time you have each day, and turn that time into productive time.
The first 6-months of blogging is the most difficult. Spending 2-3 hours a day on a blog that isn't earning a small income or no income at all is discouraging. Been there, done that. Hang in there, and keep at it.
Once you start to earn some income and you see that income growing, the blog itself becomes self rewarding. You'll quickly see that the more time you spend on your blog, the more it earns and as a result the more time you'll want to spend on it.
Wait...you're still here? Get off of here an go work on your blog! Don't have a blog? Well, start one.
Photo credit: aussiegall