Tag: Time Blocking

How to Keep Your Blogging Mojo

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Has it been a while?  Are you plumb out of ideas?  Can’t find the time?  Don’t feel like making the time?

As I step into the confessional I bow my head and say, “Forgive me visitors, for I have sinned, it has been one month since my last blog post.”  Now I could use the logical explanation (excuse) that as a collaborative writer I create dozens of blog posts for my clients every month and yet I can not keep up with my own.  (i.e. The cobbler’s children have no shoes.)  But when it really comes down to it, I struggle just like you do in thinking, What new content can I share?  What questions can I answer?  What can I teach?  How can I best serve? Even with good ideas I still struggle sometimes in finding the time to create and publish the blog, and then drive traffic to it via social networking outlets.

So let’s look at ways to keep our mojo.

Need Topic Ideas?

  • In the past week, what questions have you answered for your clients?  Why not share your answers with the rest of the online world?
  • Have you seen an article in a trade magazine or online that you think needs some clarification or you want to show your clients how they can adapt it for their business?
  • If you were asked to write a How to… article as an expert for an industry publication, what would you write?  Now think in terms of breaking up that content and perhaps elaborating on each subject for a blog series.
  • Use your Facebook profile or Fan page to pose a question and ask for advice, comments or ideas.  Write your next blog on their contribution and your observations.
  • Think about the last speaker presentation you went to.  Are there any thought-provoking gems you want to highlight and relate to your visitors. (Remember to always give credit where credit is due and link back for proper etiquette.)
  • What interesting time saving or business-building concept did you just discover?  By all means, share your excitement and your findings.
  • What are people talking about on the social networking sites?  How might that apply to your audience and your brand?

Need Time Blocking?

  • Knowing that the high click through rates and prime retweeting times are Thursday and Friday afternoons (EST), you should plan to publish at least one post on Wednesday or Thursday morning and schedule your status updates and tweets accordingly to get the most impact.
  • With this deadline, commit to writing a blog draft at least two times a week at the same time each week.  Set that routine and block out that time.  Schedule it like a meeting or conference call and stop making up excuses. (That last part was more of an internal dialogue!)
  • When your creative juices are flowing, don’t step away from the keyboard until you have two blog drafts written.  You know the way you feel when you have written great content?  Keep that adrenaline going by pounding out another one.  (The Real Housewives of Fakeville and their constant bickering will just have to wait!) Can you feel the sense of accomplishment already?

Need Motivation?

  • Because we want to learn what comes so naturally to you.
  • Give us even just a glimpse of your talent so that we too can grow our businesses, our lives and our loves.
  • Share it all! Enough said.

If you still need a nudge, a push, a kick…..a collaborator, I would welcome the opportunity to help you grow your brand.  Creating content and writing comes naturally to me and I want to share it all!  For specifics about my programs, check out:

www.YourVoiceInc.com/BloggingYourBrand and

www.YourVoiceInc.com/StrategicBloggingPlan

Productivity Tools for the Creative Soul, Part 2

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Thank you all for contacting me with your success stories from using the first Productivity Tool in my previous posting.  Time Stamping is a great way to make better use of your time as well as alleviate your anxiety about feeling overwhelmed.

As promised, it is time to really look at the overall puzzle that is your day and your week.  Lists are fine for keeping track of what tasks need to be accomplished, but in order to improve upon my productivity I prefer to supplement my list with a more visual approach.  Our creative brains tend to want to think in shapes and colors and I hope this technique will help you not only accomplish more but also plan your days to maximize efficiency and balance your lifestyle.

Color Blocking: Identifying and distinguishing activities by colors on an hourly or 30-minute block system.

It doesn’t matter whether you use a formal project planning system, ACT!, Outlook Calendar or Day Planner system, my Color Blocking technique will work for you.   I print out my Outlook Calendar and keep it on my desk and I use colored pencils or pens to outline or color in the hours or 30-minute blocks based on how I have used that time.  You can also do this electronically using many different calendar programs, but I tend to have a need for the physical activity of coloring – if only it was practical to use crayons….but I digress (or regress).

The majority of your activities will fall into about 6-8 major categories and by assigning colors to those categories, you will create a daily/weekly vision of how you are spending your time.  It also helps you to determine what adjustments you would like to make to improve on the next day or following week.  This does not require you to make huge changes, just small shifts from hour to hour or day to day that will have a measurable impact on your life.

Here is how I code my activities:

  • Income Generating – Green
  • Business Development – Blue
  • Research/Networking online – yellow
  • Social online – Black
  • Exercise – Red
  • Family and Friends – Purple
  • Errands/dining/commuting/Misc. – Grey

I like the fact that at the end of the day or week I can assess the productivity and balance of my life by quickly seeing how many blocks of green or blue there are compared to the other categories.

Do this for at least one full day/week and then ask yourself:

  • Is there too much of one color?
  • How come I was so busy but yet there is not one block of green in my day?
  • Am I waiting until things slow down before I do more business development?
  • Have I committed enough time to exercise or friends/family?
  • Did I really spend that much time online without any purpose?
  • If I pre-color blocks of time for tomorrow, will that keep me more focused?
  • There is way too much time spent on errands and miscellaneous, what resources do I have that can help me?  Can I delegate or eliminate any of them?
  • If I color in the block for exercise ahead of time, will it make me more committed to keep that promise to myself?
  • What would my ideal week look like if it were represented in colors?  That is my goal and I can get there by just being conscious of my colors.

It is truly amazing how being able to see the completed puzzle can help you readjust the pieces to better fit your lifestyle objectives.  Start Color Blocking today and see your own brilliance.  Please share your feedback.  I would love to hear about your progress.

Productivity Tools for the Creative Soul, Part 1

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“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.”  - Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

When we are stressed or fear that we don’t know how to accomplish something, instead of taking action, we stop in our tracks and put off the process because we believe we need this big elaborate plan before anything can happen.  This provides us with a sense of security as well as allowing us an opportunity to procrastinate the project. This dilemma is commonly referred to as Analysis Paralysis:  The belief that we need to chunk it, prioritize it, mind-map it, or project plan it before we can even think about getting anything done.

Therefore, for Part 1 of this series I am not going to discuss any elaborate plan but instead I will present a simple approach to putting the “process” back into the creative process.

Time Stamping: Next to each of the items you have listed on your white board, to-do list or project plan, write down the estimated time you think it will take to accomplish each activity.  For instance, a portion of your day’s list may look like this:

  • Write blog (1 hour)
  • Research statistics for chapter 2 (1 hour)
  • Follow up with editor regarding Forward (15 min)
  • Write Introduction for e-book (1.5 hrs)
  • E-mail 5 potential new network connections/clients (15 min each – 1 hr 15 min total)
  • Exercise – yoga, treadmill, Pilates, run, gym.  (1.5 hrs)
  • Review Facebook posts (30 min)
  • Post to Twitter in a.m. (30 min)
  • Post to Twitter in p.m. (30 min)
  • Comment on relevant blogs and create link-backs (30 min)

This is a quick way of putting realistic time allotments to each piece of your puzzle.  The benefits of this easy step are:

  • Each time you have only 30-45 minutes before your next meeting, conference call, etc. you can quickly scan your list and see what items you can fit into that time slot and make the most of that short block of time.  You will begin to feel more productive and this will reduce your stress and help you to be more relaxed and creative.
  • You will be less likely to postpone a project when you realize it will only take you an hour or so from start to finish.  Consider how much better you will feel taking action rather than spending hours being anxious and trying to avoid it.
  • You can add up the total times you have allocated and realize that what originally looked like an overwhelming mountain of work is only 6 hours of that day or 35 hours for the week.  This will give you a sense of relief in knowing it is manageable and doable.
  • You may realize in totaling up your hours that you have overestimated your ability to handle every activity on your own.  Although this may be a little depressing at first, it is a perfect time to reassess your list and see what is not critical or what can be delegated or eliminated.

Try Time Stamping your activities for a day or week starting today and watch what happens.  I would love to hear comments on how it worked for you.

The next installment of this series will address the concept of creating a visual representation of how you spend your time.  It is amazing how being able to see the completed puzzle can help you readjust the pieces to better fit your lifestyle objectives.