Blogging 101

A Few Tools & Tricks That Have Helped with My Blogging Balance

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Why hello my lovely little honey bunny bears! Remember a few weeks ago when I chatted about trying to find my blogging balance as my wish for the month of August? Well, I wanted to give you a bit of an update, plus some of the tools and tricks I have used to help keep my blog life and my real life in a bit better of a balance. Since I am still learning about balance, if you have a good tip or tool that you can give me {and everyone else} I would LOVE to hear from you!

One of the biggest problems I was having in the realm of blogging balance was just dedicating entire evenings 3-5 nights a week on blog stuff, for 1-3+ hours at a time.  Woah.  You’d think with all that time, I would be super duper productive and rockin’ it out, right? Well, I wasn’t. I wasn’t focused.  I would work on 45 different projects, while watching Twitter and Facebook and Instagram while watching Gold Rush {Yeah we are those people. Judge if you’d like.} on TV.  I said I was devoting so much time to my blog, but I wasn’t.  It was empty and unproductive time.  And something had to change.

Solution 1: Create a “Blogging Space”

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I know that I have talked alot about my little work space, but I will tell you it has changed my creative energy so much when it comes to blogging.  Here I am able to be creative, listen to music, write posts, edit pictures …. all without distractions.  This to me, is the biggest: distraction free. When I head up to my little spot, I am mentally preparing to tackle pending blog work.  Since I approach my blog similar to a business, especially when working with sponsors, I treat that when my butt is that chair… I am working on blog goodness.

Now, what if you don’t have a home office? Or can’t pop out and refit one? You are not out of luck! All you need is a space, that you can designate {even if only in your head} as your “blogging zone”.  Maybe clear a corner of the dining room table or use the coffee table in the living room? Create conditions that you can be your most productive at.

Solution 2: Set Aside Realistic Amounts of Time

As I mentioned before, I would spend endless amounts of time on my blog {or blog related fun} each night and it wasn’t productive.  Now, I think ahead to how much time I will be spending on my blog for that night.  For example, here is how my week will look now:

Monday night I spend about 1 1/2 hours writing and setting my posts for the week.
Tuesday is typically a bit quieter and I can spend about 30 minutes catching up, responding to comments primarily.
Wednesday is prepping for weekend posts, so I would need about 45 minutes to write, plus replying to comments and e-mails.
Thursday I prep for my Friday faves, plus polish any weekend posts to go live, about 1 hour.
I set an alarm on my iPhone, and when I am done with the time I have set aside I am done for the night.

Now, I will say that to write posts this quickly or productively you have to have an idea of what you will be writing about. On the days that I don’t have ideas, I might brainstorm, read other blogs, comment on other blogs or draft out some ideas I have milling in my head.

Solution 3: Use Tools

Having a blogging space or setting aside realistic amounts of time can only get you so far.  What’s important is what you do with your time and being kick-butt productive.  Yeah? Here are a few tools that I am started using on a regular basis to make the most out of the time I set aside for blogging.

1. Wunderlist: Wunderlist allows you to keep a running To-Do list from your phone {iPhone and android} to your computer.  Information syncs automatically, so you never forget anything!  Wunderlist allows me to add ideas for future blog posts on the fly, and then think about it when I return to my laptop at home. {I use notebooks too, but this keeps everything in one easy accessible spot.}

 

1  Blog Posts to Write   Wunderlist

2.Buffer: Nadine wrote this awesome post about Buffer, using it to make your social media life easier, not tougher.  I use this bad boy every single day and I am 100% okay with it.  {Check out her tutorial, it’s awesome.}

Buffer   FoundLove_Blog   Buffer

3.  Trying Pomodoro Technique for Time Management:  I was first introduced to this concept of Pomodoro through Nicole’s Weekly Wishes productivity post from last week.  Once I started reading up on this technique, I became very intrigued.  Essentially, Pomodoro is 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break, after four blocks of 25 minutes you take a longer break of 15 minutes.  I want to try to implement it at work, but since my day is nuts-o I’m not sure if I can set a schedule like that, but this is perfect for taking care of blog stuff. {I’ve found other helpful posts about this technique here and here. Check them out!} 

One tool that I have tried on my computer is the Tomato Timer. Essentially you set the time parameters and an alarm goes off at 25 minutes.

Tomato Timer

I’ve also tested the Focus Booster  a bit, which also seems like a good option.

Now, for my iPhone… I use 30/30 app (free!).  Essentially you set different tasks, a time for each and breaks.  When I set aside blogging time, I hit “Start” and then the app keeps me on track for my tasks to complete.   I love that it keeps me on track and boosts my productivity without being tied to a strict schedule.

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What about you, do you have any tools or tricks that you use to keep on track when blogging? I’d love to hear from you little jelly beans!

Now, I want to take the opportunity to introduce you to the lady that introduced me to new ideas when it comes to productivity: Nicole from Treasure Tromp.  You guys, Nicole is the real deal. She is smart, positive, upbeat and she is a blogger I would love to clink wine glasses with.

Treasure Tromp

 

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Hi there Found Love. Now What? readers! I’m Nicole, the gal behind Treasure Tromp blog. My blog started as a way to document my attempts at finding life’s hidden little treasures … and as a way to distract myself from my PhD program in psychology (don’t tell my professors). When I’m not working on research and program evaluations I love to pretend that I am a world traveler, hike and camp, obsess over hedgehogs, and make a mess in the kitchen. Latest adventure? This California girl just moved to South Africa for 6 months with my fiancé! Come stop by my blog to say hello – can’t wait to meet you!

I have to tell you, that I love Nicole’s energy and positive outlook.  This girl is one you want to get to know.  I love she shared a BIG announcement using a pie chart {creative}! Or how she left California to move to South Africa, for an adventure of a lifetime.  I empathize with her stages of long travel, those trips can take so much of even us veteran travelers!  She looks for enjoying life, in big and small moments, like having a picnic in her own backyard. {So stinking cute!}  And Nicole is a brave coffee drinking gal, like drinking cat poop coffee. {No really, she did.}

Nicole, if you could have any super power, what would it be, and why?

Travel through space: From ages 6-14 I thought that I wanted to be an astronomer. and discover the mysteries of space. Although I let go of that dream once I realized that I am not spectacular at physic, my love of space remains. If I could have any super power I would love to be able to travel and explore all areas of space.

 Space travel!?! What?  Nicole is way more brave than I ever was, as kid I was afraid of space travel. Either way, checkout this adventure loving lady and all of her adventures in South Africa!

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  • Belinda, I love this post! I’ve been struggling lately with my time management and I’m going to implement some of these tools to help me out with it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kate!

      These tools have been super helpful in allowing me to get stuff done pretty efficiently. Let me know if they work for you too! 🙂

  • <3 this post! you seem to have it all together 😀

    • Haha! I am still learning how to juggle it all, but tools sure helps!

      • Well sincerely speaking I love your blog and I begin to understand now how you manage it 😀

  • adventuresofalondonkiwi

    I’ve really struggled with balancing too (and I know it’s getting out of control by how grouchy hubby is getting because he is feeling left out). I love the idea of setting an alarm and controlling the time properly.
    Do you find that particular times of the day writing flows better?

    • I find that right after dinner, between 6:30 and 8 I am fairly tuned in for writing. If I set aside that time 2-3 times a week, I can get quite a lot accomplished.

  • Rachel Murphree

    These are great tools, and I love your pretty work space. I find that I need to work on balance too; when blogging time starts to interfere with actual work time, it’s a problem that I need to work on!

    • Thanks Rachel! I LOVE my new blogging space, so perfect to get away and write! I hear that blogging balance is tough for alot of us bloggers, hope some of these tools can be of help.

  • awesome tips, Belinda! I especially love Wunderlist and Pomodoro 🙂 I’ve been tempted to try 30/30 but never got around to it. I think that I’ll give it a try after seeing this!

    • Thanks for the inspiration Nicole!! I love Wunderlist for sure, it is great to capturing ideas on the go in one spot. 30/30 is the only Pomodoro app I have tried, but so far… I really enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

  • One thing I am / will be working on is having a blogging space. This will now have to wait when I get to the US, but it is something I will focus on as I think it will help.

    Thanks for your email reply too, I will be emailing back shortly!

    • Hi Molly! Making a blogging space is such a great way to help establish “blog time” and “non-blog time”. I found that when I was working in front of the TV, I was constantly distracted by other things that I got nothing done. In the office, I can focus on all things blog and get done much quicker.

      Glad you got the e-mail, can’t wait to read your reply!

  • Polly

    I love Pomodoro! I’ll have to take a look at the other app — thanks for the great advice.

    • Let me know what you think of 30/30…. do you use other Pomodoro apps? I am just getting my feet wet, any advice is welcome!

      • Polly

        Ah, just realized 30/30’s only for iPhone!

        I use a similar Pomodoro app — any others with bells and whistles haven’t done much for me.

  • Lix Hewett

    The more I read about Nicole, the more awesome she sounds.

    • Yes! She is awesome, writes wonderful posts and has such a good outlook! Get to know @treasuretromp:disqus, she is the real deal! 🙂

  • Madi

    I am loving your tips and tricks! I wish we could meet for coffee and I could pick your brain… However, you’re a little far away! 🙂

    Thanks for all the information!

    • Please pick my brain! I would be happy to do another post or even VLOG! {I love vlogs, can you tell?} Shoot me an e-mail with questions, and I will work it into a post! 🙂 But I would love to have coffee with you too!

  • Nadine

    I’m so glad that my tutorial was helpful! Buffer seriously changed blogging for me and it made the whole process much easier. Thanks for sharing it with others!

    • Nadine… I couldn’t agree more! Buffer has changed the way I share information and keep track of blogging goodness! Thanks for doing such a good tutorial that we can all link back to! 🙂

  • Cornelia

    Love it! My blogging space is a chair, haha, not too fancy but it works!! I have heard of Pomodoro but haven’t done it – it sounds like a good thing to try.

    • Give it a shot! I’m still figuring it out for work, but I enjoy the concept quite a bit! Let me know if it works for you!

  • I love the Pomodoro Technique and employ it quite a lot at work to get my day to day tasks done. I also think Buffer is quite the amazing app!

    • Now I am trying to use Pomodoro at work, but since I work in an agency where things are always changing…it could take awhile. Happy Weekend!

  • These all seem like such great tools- I can’t wait to give Buffer a try! PS: What books do I spy on your desk?? Sorry to be nosy- I love seeing what other reads people are diving into 🙂

    • Nosy or… #creepy? 😉

      Haha, but now I am curious, too!

      • Hahaha! Okay @kaylischattner:disqus and @chimerikal:disqus… I have a few writing books, for the Blogging Compass series. Writing prompts, etc. But the top book is called “How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World” So good! I can get you the writing titles if you are really interested… {It’s okay to be nosy!I wouldn’t post it if I was afraid you’d ask! 😉 }

        • Hehe, I just saw the word “Hepburn” and had to ask 🙂 I’m a huge Audrey fan!!! Thanks for sharing- I’ll have to look it up!

      • Yeah, yeah, yeah! #thecreepingcontinues

  • What’s the difference between Buffer and HootSuite? I just downloaded HootSuite and am trying to figure it out. 🙂

    • Hi Rachel! The biggest difference is that you set your schedule with Buffer, and then the load the posts to run as to how you set. HootSuite is similar, but you have to select what time you want it to run. I like Buffer because it is a bit more worry free, and simple to use! Let me know what you think…

  • I just downloaded Buffer and really like it so far! I’m also a huge fan of the Pomodoro technique… it works wonders for me.

    • It’s going to take me some time for the Pomodoro, but I see major possibilities in making that work for me. Happy weekend!

  • Thanks for the helpful tips! Greatly appreciated!

  • Those tools look great! I might try to put into play your daily strategies for blogging. I right now write each post the day before or the morning of…which I feel means I’m spending so much time on my computer. It can be overwhelming.

    • You should try Bonnie! I was on a similar schedule, but now I am able to block out time a bit more efficiently allowing me to love blogging even more!

  • Oooh, 30/30 sounds really cool! And I’m glad you have hit your blogging groove! I know a couple of weeks ago, you were feeling a bit overwhelmed and it seems like you’ve done some great problem solving that really works for you! With the cute, focused blogging space to setting time limits so that you enjoy other stuff in your life, you are rocking this blog thing, Belinda. Thanks for sharing all that you’re learning — it’s really helpful! 🙂

    • 30/30 is a really great app, especially for us nutso bloggers! And you are right… I sort of hit an overwhelming blogging wall. I have a better handle on it now, using these tricks and tools…

      I try to rock at blogging… you are pretty rockin’ too! 😉

  • Love it. I use Hootsuite and my husband reads and tests all these types of apps and keep telling me about this pomodoro technique. I’ve tried, but think will now resort to an honest to god timer to keep me in check, which is where the technique originated from in the first place…makes sense!

  • These are great blogging tips. I actually do something similar to the 30/30 app with my grad school homework. I use a kitchen timer to keep track of work time and break time. One hour of work and then 10 minutes of break. It’s simple and works well for me. Thanks for sharing your tips. 🙂

    And Nicole is great! 🙂

  • I love all of these tips! A little over a month ago I finally bought my ‘blogger’ desk and having that along with a set blogging schedule has made all of the difference 🙂

  • Kristyn Carlin

    These are great tips! I have a hard time with blog balance as well. it’s so hard to do sometimes, but these seem to help. I am about to look into Buffer! Can’t wait!

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  • a) I love Nicole.
    b) it took me way too long to realize I was much more productive when I sat at the table to blog rather than getting comfortable on the couch. I am a dummy. the space matters!

  • Jessa Olson

    I love all those tips. I will have to download that app.

  • Shenoi

    Blogging can be a time consuming process, but other easy ways is also there to save time. Dividing the content into paragraphs and points, adding more images and links will helps to save more time while you blog. Bloggers and content writers can use Replicon’s time recording software, which it helps to track the time spent for each article.