One of my clients was panicking yesterday.
I had just asked her if she was being productive with her time.
She paused and said, “Sue, I’m REALLY busy - answering a zillion emails, reading newsletters and blog posts online, doing SEO for old blog posts, posting on social media, keeping up with my online friends...I don’t have any more time available. How am I ever going to be able to make money blogging when I don’t have any time left?”
I get it. It’s not your fault. You feel like you don’t have any time to spare and you have so much on your plate that it NEVER gets finished.
I’ve felt the exact same way. Just this past Monday, I was knee-deep in it. By 1pm, I had at least 54 emails to answer and this blog post to write.
But I hadn’t worked on anything that would bring in money that day. I didn’t write an email, I had no strategy sessions booked that day, I didn’t network with any other bloggers - I wasn’t doing anything that I teach my clients to do!
I worked 7 hours Monday. If you had watched me all day, I looked very busy. I don’t even think I took a break that afternoon.
But I felt crummy at the end of the day - what had I really accomplished?
Or was I just engaged in busy work?
Busy work is often disguised as productive work, but it doesn’t generate a money-making or vital outcome. And, like eating junk food, it feels good for a bit and it doesn’t give you the satisfied feeling of eating a real meal.
Learning the difference between busy work and productive work can be the ticket to help you make progress each day in your blogging business.
In contrast, productive work directly affects sales, growth, or other targets you have set.
These more productive activities generate leads and eventually, more income. Like Rebecca from Surveyclarity, who is helping people make money via surveys. The more productive she is, the more she makes.
In other words, you need a system that works! Something that lets you push forward on your long-term goals and not just get done what’s “urgent” today.
Yeah, it requires clarity, focus, and some strategic thinking. But it’s worth it. You’ll know you are working towards your larger plan each and every week.
Tip 1. Plan your day the day before. Begin your to-do list for tomorrow, today, so you are ahead of the game.
I’m reading a great book called "Do It Tomorrow” by Mark Forster. He’s a big believer in planning out tomorrow. Here’s an app that keeps you focused on just today and tomorrow called Tomorrow.do.
Tip 2. Jot everything down with abandon, and then revise. Don’t worry about an item’s worthiness to be on the list. Jot it down and decide at the end of the day if it should stay.
Tip 3. Put your list in order. And try to tackle the toughest items on your list first. Usually, you have the most energy in the morning. Doing the hardest items right out of the gate can help your stress and inspire you with your accomplishments.
If you happen to be a night owl, reverse the order and tackle the tough stuff when you have the most natural energy.
Tip 4. Cross off your items as you go. There is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing items off a list. B.J. Fogg from Tiny Habits says you should praise yourself every time you get something done. So, give yourself a high-five and an at-a-boy for getting things marked off.
Tip 5. Use an app like the Pomodoro Timer to keep you off of Facebook and keep you focused on what’s important. Using this technique is one of the first things I teach new clients.
Tip 6. Having a schedule can actually free time up, but one essential way to be productive is make sure you recharge, even for a few minutes, every half hour or so, during your day by taking a break.
Tip 6. Clean up your workspace at the end of each day so it is totally ready for tomorrow.
Tip 7. Set your work hours and stick to them. Even more importantly, stop working at a certain time each day and stick to it. That was a big lesson I learned during my first year of blogging when I was working day and night on my business.
Tip 8. Keep an hour open each day for learning your craft. Whether this is through formalized training, reading, watching, listening or doing, consistent and constant learning is the element that sets others apart from the crowd.
Tip 9. Focus on just one thing at a time. Multitasking (although I used to love it) just doesn’t work with our human brains. Devote some time to doing just one thing and one thing only and see how much more you get done.
Tip 10. Ending the day with a specific bedtime and starting your day with having had enough sleep is a perfect way to have the energy and stamina to make the most of your day. I know that I stay energized by making sleep a priority.
So, Monday wasn’t my best day. That’s ok. Tomorrow is a new day and each day that you give your best and avoid just being busy, you have done all that you can.