• Scott Herring

19 Time Saving Secrets for Busy Bloggers

I guess I'm in productivity hacking mode lately... Michael & I are both lifehackers, so we regularly watch research in personal productivity. We read scientific studies and blogs seeking every edge to get more done in less time. We love being able to share hacks with our friends (yes, you!) so that you can be more productive and less stressed. Check out these 19 time-saving secrets for busy busy bloggers.

1. Do the most important task on your to-do list first.

If you haven’t heard the expression “eat a frog”, learn it, know it, live it. When your brain is in gear and your energy is high, you’ll get more good work done. Do important work (most likely writing!) when you're fresh. It’s number one on this list of time saving secrets for a reason.

2. Map energy levels to your to-do list.

As a corollary to the idea of eating a frog, do maintenance tasks (e.g., social media) when you’re tired. Do important work when you’re up and less important work when you’re down.

3. Plan your three important tasks the night before.

I don't say NO enough, which leaves me with a LONG to-do list - it can be overwhelming. That's why I plan my to-do list the night before. I include the 3 most important tasks (a frog and two tadpoles?). When I get going, I can easily focus on them, which helps me get way more work done. Note, the reason for doing it the night before is that I know where my progress left off, and it's a good low-energy task.

4. Set deadlines.

You create efficiency when you know you have a finite amount of time. As we say in the software world, if it wasn’t for a deadline, nothing would ever get done. If you plan two hours of writing time, you'll be amazed what happens in that period.

5. Work on each task until you complete it.

As a student of "flow", I love to work on one task until I hit the wall (a completed task or barrier that means it’s time to stop). As I've described my workflow for blogging before, I tend to plan, outline, write, and edit on different days. That's a tangible, rewarding flow for me. I can "get 'er done". The results is I get more done in less time, and the sense of accomplishment is far greater.

6. Don’t multitask.

I may sound like a broken record on this one... When you shift your attention from task to task (e.g., writing to email to Facebook), the first task leaves behind an attention residue that can linger for 10 to 20 minutes, which reduces your brain’s processing power (just like your computer when you’re running multiple processes!). The more you shift, the less you get done. Focus. One thing. Finish...

7. Batch similar tasks and do them all at once.

Perhaps you’ve heard that it’s wise to check email twice a day rather than every time a message comes in. Group tasks (e.g., responding to messages or research) so that you can map with your energy level and avoid task-switching.

8. Learn useful keyboard shortcuts.

For repetitive computer tasks, you’ll be faster if you keep your hands on the keyboard. It alleviates reaching for the mouse. Learn shortcuts for your editor (Word/Google Docs) and browser (Chrome/Safari/Firefox). You can even create custom keyboard shortcuts in many popular applications.

9. Turn off e-mail notifications.

Email is a habit you must control. Turn off all the notifications and minimize the number of times you’re interrupted by popups and sounds. It’s like task switching in small doses, causing your mind to wander (“I wonder what Micheal wants now...”).

10. Unsubscribe.

If you’re not reading a newsletter every time, just unsubscribe. You waste time every time you scan your email box and skip over it. Many of the newsletters you read are redundant anyway – pick the best digest in your market or area of interest.

11. Get a password manager.

As a webmaster on dozens of websites, I love LastPass, which remembers your passwords for you. It saves time from fat-fingering passwords and lapsing memory. There are other password vaults - pick one for your budget and preferences.

12. Use Pocket.

Batch up websites and pages you need to review with a bookmarklet program like Pocket. Review the links when you have downtime or during low-energy periods.

13. Save early, save often.

Power outages, computer crashes and other early exits can cost you hours of productivity with your documents. Turn on autosave.

14. Schedule interruptions.

Don’t you love it when you’re writing on deadline, and the old college buddy calls to ask about a basketball game? Neither do I. Use a “Do Not Disturb” policy when you need to get work done. Avoid interruptions by setting boundaries. Let people know you’re slammed during your blocked time and that you’ll catch up later. They’ll understand, and you’ll get more work complete.

15. Set a social media and browsing budget.

Who doesn’t love to look at cool pictures on Instagram or read fascinating blogs all day? You probably know it can be a black hole – what started as an innocent peek becomes an hour. Set limits on your device. Unless it’s your job, don’t waste your best energy on social media!

16. Use the 2 minute rule.

From David Allen's Getting Things Done, if you can finish a task you’re looking at in 2 minutes, just do it. The more times you touch the same item on your to-do list, the more time you waste. Touch it once, if possible – Do, Delegate, Delete...

17. Manage decision fatigue.

Decision making works like a muscle. Each decision is like another rep at the gym. You get fatigued when you make multiple decisions. So don’t make important decisions late in the day!

18. Recap your day.

Review your daily to-do list at the end of your day. Mark completed tasks and schedule follow-ups while they’re still fresh in your mind. It will help you relax in your downtime. As a writer, it's great to leave your work "hangin'". That is, set yourself up with a cliffhanger for the next day.

19. Plan only 75% of your day.

Ah, the best laid plans... Web servers go down, clients have problems, colleagues show up unexpectedly – don’t overbook your day. Allow for mishaps and (pleasant) surprises. If the remaining 25% is somehow unused, you’ll get even more done. And yes, some days, you’ll have 75% interruptions...

Time Saving Secrets for Busy Busy Bloggers

As an aspiring blogger, you need to be productive and efficient. Hopefully you can steal a few of our 19 time-saving secrets for busy bloggers to squeeze more out of your day. We invite you to share your experiences or additional tips with our community – just post a comment below!

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