Productivity itself is pretty unimportant. It’s what productivity allows us to do that matters. A productive blogging habit means more posts and more quality, and we all know what that means: more links and more traffic.
Productive blogging can also affect our day-to-day lives. It allows you to accomplish more in less time. That means: more time spent with the people that matter in your life.
Many bloggers, myself included, struggle to balance the needs of this hobby with the needs of our loved ones. Being productive can make that task a little bit easier.
Luckily for us, productivity isn’t complicated: it’s mainly based in common sense. The tough part is in being dedicated enough to change our bad habits and be productive, rather than simply reading about it. This post provides ten simple tips to help you start.
1. Write more than you publish. This seems counter-intuitive, but there’s a compelling reason to write, say, one post a week more than you publish. In a month, you should have enough posts saved up to run your blog on autopilot for a week, or to use on days when you’re feeling unproductive.
Productivity, like creativity, can be cyclical. It’s a good idea to write more than you need when you’re feeling particularly productive, to tide you over on days when you’re not. You might even save up enough posts to take a blogging holiday!
2. Turn off auto-notifiers. Whether it be Twitter, Email or Facebook your productivity will suffer if you’re frequently interrupted. When notified that you have a new message or email it’s hard to resist the temptation to read it as soon as you receive it. This will interrupt your frame of mind. Focus is something you develop over time, meaning frequent interruptions will hamper your ability to focus.
Let’s face it: you’ll never receive a message that can’t wait a few hours. Auto-notifiers are more trouble than they’re worth.
3. Check email less, deal with more. If you only check emails once or twice a day you’ll be able to respond to all emails within 12 or 24 hours, respectively. No-once could fault your for that. They key is to check emails less but process more. A good tip is to keep only emails that require action in your inbox. When you do check your email, take action on all the emails in your inbox until it’s empty. This isn’t a new idea. That’s because it works!
4. Write multiple posts when you’re feeling creative. You need to develop a writing schedule that works with your mental state. Are there certain times of the day or week when you’re most creative? Focus on writing during those times, even if it means writing multiple posts in one sitting. You’ll write better and faster.
If creativity is sporadic for you, make your writing schedule flexible. If you follow tip one and build a safety net of content, you won’t need to worry if, at times, the inspiration doesn’t come. You’ll always be more productive when you’re inspired.
5. Use your feed reader as an all-purpose inbox. A lot of time is wasted logging in to various web 2.0 services, checking statuses, updates and stats. Where possible, add these things to your feed reader. You can subscribe to your inbound links at Technorati, pages from your blog submitted to Digg (search your blog’s URL and subscribe to the feed) and a number of other services. Use your imagination! Then, when you go through your feed reader, you can perform a few different tasks in one go.
6. Process different tasks in batches. Most of us take hundreds of scattered actions throughout the day: check email, check Twitter, moderate a comment, read some feeds, check stats, and so on. This prevents us from becoming focused and tapping into any kind of flow state.
Think of your various actions like driving a car. You won’t drive very fast if you’re constantly shifting gears up and down at random. You want transitions between gears to be smooth and only occur when it’s necessary.
The same can be said for mental states. Processing different kinds of tasks in batches will allow you to focus on each type of task to the best of your abilities. You could read feeds, emails, comments and anything else you can think of in batches.
7. Develop a ‘To Post’ list. Sometimes we spend so much time trying to decide what we should do that nothing at all gets done. Luckily, it’s not too hard to change that habit.
Designate a day where you set out your posting schedule: what you’re going to post about and when. You’ll know what posts you have to write and how long you have to get them done.
8. Keep a reserve of post ideas. Blogger’s block is the arch nemesis of productivity. There are two key things you can do to cope with blogger’s block: accept it and fall back on content you’ve saved, or delve into your reserves of ideas.
It’s essential that every blogger have a healthy supply of post ideas saved up. It will minimize the amount of creative work you have to do when you sit down to write a post. Rather than having to innovate and be original (which can be hard sometimes), you simply have to write.
9. Spend less time reading feeds. You don’t want to spend more time reading other people’s content than you do creating your own. Cutting down your feed subscriptions seems like the obvious answer to this problem, but it could mean that you miss out on important lessons and ideas.
You need to become skilled at quickly deciding which posts will be worth your time and which posts will not. Scanning is another habit that will help you here. Do you want to know the secret to lightning-fast feed reading?
10. Sketch out your posts before filling in the detail. Another important place to save time is on how long you spend writing posts. A key mistake I see bloggers make is trying to write a publishable post the first time through. Trying to go from nothing to perfect is a sure-fire way to have you wringing your hands over every sentence.
One strategy I find works well for me is to divide each post into its key points and write them down. For example, when I started writing this post it only contained the sentences in bold. I fleshed out each point with the following paragraph, then wrote the introduction last.
Dividing each post into manageable chunks and tackling it one portion at a time can help structure your writing and make the whole process less intimidating.
Points to review
- Write more than you publish.
- Turn off auto-notifiers.
- Check emails less often, but deal with more when you do.
- Write as much as possible when you’re feeling creative.
- Use your feed reader as an all-in-one inbox.
- Process different types of tasks in batches.
- Work out a ‘To Post’ list.
- Spend less time reading feeds.
- Sketch posts before filling in the detail.
Over to you
What’s your number one productivity tip?