A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was overhauling my time management strategy. And believe it or not, things are getting a little better.

I have integrated my email and my to do list, which saves a lot of time moving information around my computer. And I have consolidated my work calendar and personal calendar so that I don’t schedule any more interviews during date night with my husband.

But it takes time to switch how you do something. And a certain level of self-confidence, too.

This reminds me of when I played professional beach volleyball. I was always working on something new — like being able to make my jump serve hit the left line of the court. But there was a saying, “Don’t practice in a game.” Which means, “You miss a lot while practicing, so don’t do it when it counts.” In fact, when you do something you don’t really know how to do in a game situation, you do it worse than you would do it if you were in a practice situation.

This is all true for work, too. The culprit of my time management situation is how much time it takes to write a good post and run a blog in general. But as I learn to manage my time as a blogger, there is no non-game time because I post almost every day. So I find that I have the stress of trying to do a jump serve I can’t really do, in a well-attended game situation.

What I find myself doing a lot is second-guessing myself about what matters on my blogger to-do list. How often should I link when there’s a blogger I like? How often should I comment when there’s a post I like? Do I need to chill out?

The problem with second-guessing oneself — in blogging and in volleyball — is that it wastes time and destroys focus. When you have a clear plan, you don’t second guess as much.

This weekend I’m going to do what everyone should do when they start a new job: Get very clear on what is important so you know what to-dos you don’t need to do. Instead of worrying all the time about the blog, I’m going to make a list of my blog priorities, and create a new blog schedule.

And I’m going to get some more sleep.

My husband tells me that last night, in the middle of the night, he said to me, “Wake up, wake up. Don’t you hear the baby crying?”

And without waking from my sleep, I said, “Yeah, yeah, okay. I’ll link to his blog in the morning.”

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12 replies
  1. Josh Tolle
    Josh Tolle says:

    Not that I know anything about running a blog, but have you thought about writing entries ahead of posting time and going back to them after they’ve sat for a time to edit and refine? The only reason I think along those lines is because it’s advised for fiction writing by Stephen King in On Writing. Of course, I wouldn’t expect that you’d leave entries sitting for his prescribed six weeks, but maybe for a day or two. It might be difficult to get that far ahead of your posting schedule, but if it makes the stress of writing less, then it might be worth it. Again, I don’t know anything about running a successful blog, so I might be completely off base here.

    All of that being said, I think you do a magnificent job. There have been a few of your posts that pissed me off, but the intelligence and skill of the writing keep me coming back. Please keep up the good work.

    * * * * * *

    Josh,Thank you for your comment.  I like that you can turn Stephen King into a blog advisor. Really. It’s good advice. Since I was a columnist for seven years before I was a blogger, I have learned to let things sit for a couple of days. What I’m not as skilled at is being a community moderator. For example, I have written and rewritten this comment to you three times, trying to get it right.

    And here’s why: When a post pisses you off, why don’t you comment? The joy of this blog is the conversation. The conversation will be way more fun when you start letting everyone know what pisses you off :)


  2. Emily
    Emily says:

    Sounds like a superb approach, and I agree with Josh about the magnificent job you do. I have an item on my to-do list, too, to create a blog plan, but I’ve been avoiding it because my blog is driven in large part by the news, and I can’t decide whether a plan is even possible. Mostly, though, I’m just a little afraid of it, and I also doubt my ability to stick to self-imposed deadlines. I suppose an alternative is to set aside certain hours for blogging every day and then stick to them.

    By the way, how long before you can recruit the baby to help you with blogging tasks? :-)

  3. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    For me much of the appeal of blogs is their spontaneity. Their “authenticity” (or apparent authenticity) comes from the fact that they don’t look over-polished or over-rehersed.

    I know the good bloggers like you put more behind-the-scenes time and thought into blogs than is necessarily obvious to the average reader. However, there is probably a danger of looking too slick — like some blogs from magazines or marketing divisions of companies that I’ve read once and not again since they didn’t seem like “authentic” blogs.

    So, I guess I’m saying with blogs perhaps you shouldn’t “sweat the small stuff” such as how often to link to someone else’s blog. Link when it fits. Keep the blog real. You’ve done so well thus far, why change? why stress?

    Happy Friday.

  4. Alice Bachini-Smith
    Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    I’m really glad you liked that post of mine. I’m also really glad you wrote this post with useful alternative approaches than second-guessing one’s blogging, because I need those ideas too. This is one of the most useful blogs I’ve ever come across- I can’t imagine why anyone would get pissed off by your posts, they’re so darned helpful. Weird.

  5. Tom Morgan
    Tom Morgan says:

    Glad to hear that your time management strategy is working well for you. Perhaps you can share with us in a future blog about your secrets for merging to do lists and e-mail as well any other tips for mastering techology so that it serves us instead of us serving it.

    You obviously give 110% to all facets of your life which means you face the struggle of maintaining balance in your life. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R Covey is one of my favorite books / courses that helped me decide what is important in my life and schedule accordingly on a weekly basis.


  6. Eric Wong
    Eric Wong says:

    I agree that there is s fine balance between doin good research and thinking for a post and making the post spontaneous, like someone said, you have been doing a good.. in fact great job so far… is there any particular reason you need to change? By the way, I have been reading many of your old posts and I think you have been improving in quality while maintaining the spontaneity of your posts.. I always look forward to your next post.

    * * * * * *

    Thank you, Eric. I actually don’t think I want to change anything — just get faster at making decisions about community and then sticking with those decisions. For example, I spend way too much time deciding who to link to. I need to just link and be done with it. I also spend a huge amount of time poking around the blogs of people who comment here. I do not want to stop doing it, but I wish I had a faster way to do it — a faster way to gather the information.


  7. PunditMom
    PunditMom says:

    Wow! I didn’t know you used to be a professional volleyball player! Very cool!

    Thanks so much for the link and the kind words. As for your topic, I struggle with all of this too. Where will it lead? To something? To nothing? Why am I compelled to spend all this time on the blog? Am I following the bloggers’ etiquette rules of linking?

    As with other things in my life, I, too, am trying to cut myself some slack.

    And let me know when the baby has a blog … I’ll do a link!

  8. Sharon Sarmiento
    Sharon Sarmiento says:

    Hi Penelope–that’s hilarious (the part about “I’ll link to his blog in the morning”).

    It is extremely impressive to me that you post so frequently and that your posts obviously involve a lot time, research and development. I know that the word on the street is the more posts you can do the better, but for the most part it seems like those super-prolific bloggers who post daily are doing much shorter, less involved posts than you do.

    It usually takes me a good 2 hours minimum (and sometimes several days) to come up with a finished post. I research, write, edit, edit, and edit some more, then post, then edit again even after it’s posted.

    It’s incredibly time consuming, then to also have the expectation of posting almost daily, managing comments (which is one of the funnest parts!), and also commenting on other blogs–it’s like the blog is a second job or something! I can’t keep up, so, like yourself, I’ve had to re-examine my blogging habits and make changes.

    Suprisingly, the changes I’m making are more psychological than strategic. I’ve started questioning my own expectations of myself regarding how often I should post, how long a post should be, how perfect it should be, and how I should show my support for other bloggers. I’m also doing a mental shift and telling myself not to even attempt to be perfect with the blog and to not take things so seriously.

    Your idea to come up with blog priorities and a blog schedule makes a lot of sense. I look forward to hearing what works for you!


  9. paul
    paul says:

    Stumbled upon your blog and just wanted to add my little bit about your writing. From just sampling your posts and the comments left, you do have a lot to offer in advice and I plan to see how and if it can help me in my life. If you get around to it, check out mine as I beleive there is some good stuff there and some very not so good! I personally enjoy blogging as a way to put my thoughts down as I try to improve my life while at the same time possibly provoking some kind of social commentary. I find that blogging is a good way to get our world down to village level in the hope we can make it a better place.

  10. Charlotte Alston Legg
    Charlotte Alston Legg says:

    Inspiration is hard to corral, to articulate, and to keep coming day after day. Blogging is about transmitting your inspiration. Then it’s up to us to integrate it and disseminate to others who’ll do the same.

    Do you have to blog every day? I don’t – despite how much I think I should or how much time I spend thinking about what I want to say. I’m so in tune with that inspiration, I’m scared of it turning into fast food.

    Your posts land at a very useful intersection of inspiration and daily bread. Please say more about your blog “to do” list, what is on it and how you prioritise.

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