A guest post by Alisa Fleming
Often a food blogger’s days are bogged down with to do’s, gadgets, commitments.With so many electronic conveniences at your fingertips, you expect an increase in productivity. But more is just more, sometimes.
Fortunately, I’ve taken my productivity back. I feel good about what I’ve accomplished. In fact, people just can’t believe what I get done. (Read to the end to find out. I’ll give you a hint: I post daily on GoDairyFree.com.)
Here are four tips on how I increased my productivity:
1. Don’t Power Down. Hit the Reset Button
Discussions of taking a hiatus are constant in blogger communities. All I can say is don’t do it. Unless it’s truly a hobby that you don’t care about returning to, time away can hurt. I’ve watched many food bloggers get used to a break. Before they know it, one month turns into a year. When they try to return, they discover many things about the game have changed.
Instead, take a day or two off each month to reset. Don’t check your emails, don’t pop on social media. Completely detach. Get outside, spend time with family, cook just for the fun of it, go shopping, or take in a movie at an actual theater. Do anything that is more physical than mental to give yourself a true detox.
The day after, resist the urge to jump into work. Spend the day brainstorming and planning. Write down your goals and ideas. Sort them, prioritize them, think realistically about when and how much you can fit in and schedule. Underestimate what you can get done, but keep a list of extras, should you have time to accomplish more.
2. Accomplish More with Micro Tasking
Those big goals for the week or month are great. But what happens when you write “Do sponsored post,” and by the end of the day, the recipe is ready, you’ve taken beautiful photos, yet you’re not done with the post? If you’re like me, you may feel a little defeated.
The solution is simple. Stop making those weekly or monthly goals your daily goals.
Each morning, I make a detailed to-do list of micro tasks for the day ahead. It always starts with what I know I can accomplish, like “make bed,” “unload the dishwasher” and “take probiotics.” It’s also a great reminder list! I add daily work duties like “schedule Facebook shares” and “reply to priority emails.” Then I take any projects that I’d love to tackle that day, and I break them down into micro tasks. That way, a sponsored recipe post might look like this:
- Brainstorm recipe ideas
- Make grocery list and shop
- Do first recipe test
- Do second recipe test
- Take photos of dish
- Write sponsored post.
Even if I don’t get the full post done in that day, I can cross off three, four, or even five to dos, which makes me feel great. I recognize my accomplishments, giving me motivation and helping to keep my productivity up.
This micro tasking also helps when I’m feeling overwhelmed. People find it hilarious when I tell them I put “make bed” on my daily list. But many years ago, when I was overcome with anxiety and felt almost paralyzed in terms of productivity, I read that tip. I was desperate, and thought, “Why not?”
That one little doable step let me nestle into a neatly-made bed every night. It also helped me take control of my life. It keeps me grounded and lets me know that I am getting things done. Micro tasks follow the “one foot in front of the other” approach, allowing you to grab things that you can manage right now and build up to the bigger things.
3. Go Low Tech
At blogger conferences, I’m quickly reminded just how old school I am when it comes to work. I actually embraced the Internet, programming and technology several years before most. But unless it adds more minutes of productivity, I’m not interested in the latest and greatest tech.
I have tried apps for planning, virtual reminders, and other tech tools, but putting pen to paper is the only thing that really engrains something in my brain. I handwrite all of my lists and have an at-a-glance calendar on my desk which keeps important things at the forefront. I still use reminders and alerts, but my productivity soars when I use technology for producing rather than organizing.
I do all of my work on a desktop computer, not a phone or tablet. I have a powerful netbook that’s easy for travel, but in my office there’s a docking station with a big monitor, full-size keyboard, and mouse. This set up cost about $150 and has paid for itself many times over in productivity. I can manage Instagram 10 times faster on my computer than I could on a phone.
4. Schedule based on peak performance
Decide which tasks take the most brainpower, and how much time you should spend on them. Then schedule accordingly. If you’re best in the morning, don’t immerse yourself in social media and emails before noon. Use the morning to focus on your next book, brainstorm ideas, or create your next great recipe.
Plan to do busy work, like emails and finances, during times that you are typically less creative and energized, but can power through tasks. For me that’s often after lunch.
Finally, enjoy social media when you are more relaxed and perhaps not as mentally sharp. I typically put in a half hour of social media in the morning, as my brain wakes up with a big mug of tea. Then I put in an hour or more at night while watching TV. It’s a little mindless and can be entertaining, so it fits right in with my downtime. I use schedulers like Tailwind for Pinterest, Hootsuite for Twitter and Instagram, and Facebook’s own scheduler for ensuring my social shares are spread throughout the day.
It Works, Trust Me!
By instigating the tips above, I finally finished my second book. In fact, I’m almost done with another one and have a fourth started. I’ve also completed two ebooks, I post daily on GoDairyFree.org, I work as a writer and editor for a magazine, I enjoy ongoing contract work with about a dozen brands, I average an hour of exercise per day, and my husband and I have started traveling (for fun) again.
Today my daily micro list has “check destinations for airline miles” and “walk to the park with Tony” on it. You can bet I’ll be accomplishing both of those.
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Alisa Fleming is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, an Associate Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free publication, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. Keep an eye out for her two new dairy-free books, to be released in 2018.