How to find and make time to blog

24 April

“How can I find the time to write a business blog?” This is the top question I get asked by business owners who know that their business would benefit from writing one. I totally get this question; I’ve run two businesses since 1998. Time management is something that I struggle with daily! This year though, I’ve made a huge effort to look at how I spend my time. Just like you, I get overwhelmed with ‘busy work’; battling ‘inbox zero’ or getting distracted by mind-blowing Twitter links. Here’s the best thing I learned this year – if you make something a habit, it is much more likely that you’ll keep it up. In this post, I’ll tell you about my latest 30 day habit challenge along with some resources to help you manage your time.

how to make time to blog

I watched a Ted Talk by Matt Cutts – Try something new for 30 days and loved the idea of really committing to something new to see how you like it. I wrote about it back in August 2013 and pushed the idea to the back of my mind. You see, I wasn’t totally committed just yet šŸ™‚ More recently I came across the online programme SeaChange by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. The timing was right, I was looking for ways to simplify both my work and personal life. 30 days seemed totally manageable and I was ready for a challenge. The suggested habit for April is Mediation but I’m already a regular meditator so I decided to jog every morning for the month of April.

This involves getting up at 7am and climbing into my jogging gear. If you knew what a challenge early mornings are for me, you’d know that I don’t do much talking at this time of the day. But here’s what I found – I committed to doing it and it became an established routine. I’m already on day 24 and feeling great about myself. Here’s some other things I discovered:

  • I was really hard on myself at first because I couldn’t run very far. I constantly compared myself to those nimble joggers who passed me by with ease! I was uncomfortable because I hadn’t ‘mastered’ the skill. This is what I felt like when I started blogging first. We need to ease up on ourselves and allow time to learn something new.
  • Brain chatter is HUGE when you are jogging (Or is it just me?) “I’ll keep going to the next post and then I’ll stop”. As the post gets nearer… “I’m exhausted, I can’t go another step without stopping for a rest”. I learned to tell that voice to shut up and told myself another story instead; “You can do this, you feel fine”. It worked. Tip number two; ignore (or be understanding of) the negative voice that tells you that you can’t blog or don’t have time!
  • And there were lots of positive results too – I discovered how quiet the world is outside at 7am! I’ve slowly built up to running non-stop for 18 minutes in 24 days. This challenge has made me totally hooked on choosing and having new experiences.

So, committing to writing the blog is the first big step. Well done if you’ve got to this stage. Next you need to have a clear plan of action. The clearer you are about your customer and content, the more succesful your blog will be. This is something I can help you with in one-to-one or small workshops.

Here is a tip to get you started. Experiment by setting yourself regular times to write or brainstorm ideas for your blog. The Pomodoro technique might be fun to try out. It’s an application that is based around a 25 minute timer. The idea is that you block off this period of uninterrupted time to focus on doing one task. No distractions are allowed. You’ll soon see how many times your attention wants to wander in just 25 minutes. You may need several pomadoros to complete a task. Setting a time limit, is a great incentive to get your ideas down on paper or screen.

Finally, I recommend that you take Claire Burge’s‘short test on ‘Time Organisational Styles. You’ll discover how you manage your time at work. It’s a brilliant eye-opener for discovering where those lost hours go!

So, are you going to challenge yourself to start a business blog? What could you achieve in just 30 days? Remember, you can keep your blog private to start. I’m here to help answers any questions you might have – leave me a comment, email or give me a call. I’d love to hear from you or chat about how I can help you launch!

Personal Kanban ā€“ What will you do today?

5 August

Be honest! Is procrastination preventing you from starting a great business blog?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed and wish you could get advice on how to manage your time better? I’ve been feeling like that myself recently but I’ve had a light-bulb moment in the last week. I want to tell you about it because it has to do with overcoming procrastination…

My husband Ben is always recommending ideas or books on stuff that intersects our worlds; [his] computer geekery and science + [mine] creativity and business. His latest suggestion was a book called Personal Kanban. Apparently, his IT team use a version of the technique to manage ongoing agile projects.

I seem to have huge ‘to do’ lists. I’m great at writing them. I have lots of fun with highlighter markers! But the hardest bit is putting it all into action. Where do I start?

Are you like this too? Maybe it’s because we now spend so much time online. There are so many distractions. We just need to decide how we can best spend our time doing ‘actual stuff’!

The best light-bulb moments can be summed up in a couple of sentences. Apparently there are only two rules to Personal Kanban: Visualise your work and  limit your work in progress.

The rules of Personal Kanban by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry
The rules of Personal Kanban; a book by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry

The ideas in this book were a revelation to me. Once you have a clear visual view of what you need to do, it’s much easier to see the steps. The key thing though, is to outline all of the steps involved and then limit that to a small number of actionable, daily ‘Doing’ tasks.

The book is full of brilliant ideas which I’m going to be using! My favourite aspect is that all of the plans are written on post-it notes and placed on a wall or whiteboard. There are three basic columns; Ready, (work waiting to be processed), Doing (work-in-progress) and Done (completed work). This is an active ‘to do’ list, with items moving towards completion.

There’s many more great ideas in this book but I’m going to leave you with a quote from the authors  to get you thinking;

Hours, days, weeks of our lives vanish into the ether. Precious time we’ll never recoup because we aren’t paying attention to what we’re doing, we’re just endlessly and mindlessly doing. By visualising your backlog, your work-in-progress, and your completed tasks, Personal Kanban rewards you for recording the good work you’ve done and knowing what comes next.

Do you have tips on getting things done? Please leave me a comment below. And if blogging is one of the new things you’d like to do for your business, I’d love to connect with you. You might prefer a one-to-one session or a small group workshop. And if this is something that’s still in your ‘Ready’ list, you can sign up by email to hear about my upcoming courses!

I highly recommend this book. You can find out more about Personal Kanban and purchase the book via the website. let me know if you read it

Just say hello

13 December

How many of you think that the internet is a cold and impersonal place? You might be surprised to discover that some of your online business interactions can feel more real than your personal ones! Just say hello!

Once you start blogging, you realise how brilliant and easy it is to chat with people anywhere in the world. Most people want to share ideas and help each other out. That’s what it’s all about.

Lately I’ve been watching lots of videos and podcasts. I think I take in information more easily through listening rather than reading. Every Wednesday I tune into April’s (Blacksburg Belle) ‘Wednesday Wisdom‘ video series. She offers great tips for creative business owners.

Last week April spoke about how to deal with information overload. This really stuck a chord with me. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed by the amount of brilliant stuff I am discovering online. I currently use Google Docs to file away links so I can come back to them later. I categorise my content under different headings. I wanted to ask April about techniques for following up and making use of this saved content.

I  left her a comment on her blog and guess what? She chose my question as the theme of this weeks video. And she bravely attempted to say my name. That left me with a lovely, fuzzy, cyber-connected feeling! Thanks April.

Your Question Answered: How to Organize Your Notes from April Bowles on Vimeo.

April has some great tips in this video; some of which I’m already implementing. She’s given me the push to experiment with Evernote. It sounds like a great application for organising content. Once I’ve got to grips with it, I’ll write a review about using it.

I’d be interested in hearing about how you organise your saved content or tips on general time management! Leave me a comment; I can’t promise to make a personal video for you but I’ll respond with friendly words.