I love my work.
No words can explain how thankful I am for the opportunity to make money with my passion.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t experience slow days.
As a full-time blogger, maintaining my productivity at the highest level can be a challenge.
There are always marketing strategies to manage, information to research, competitors to analyze, and content to write.
Yes — blogging is indeed a demanding industry. But with the right mindset and tactics, anyone can keep up with this fast-paced lifestyle.
In this post, I’ll share with you the productivity hacks and habits I’ve acquired through the years.
Let’s get a move on.
Table Of Contents
- 1. Time Management
- 1.1 Identify Your Writing Velocity
- 1.2 Leverage the Ultradian Rhythm
- 1.3 Use Time-Tracking Tools
- 1.4 Track and Eliminate Distractions
- 1.5 Use Your Breaks Wisely
- 1.6 Work on Weekends
- 1.7 Set Effective Deadlines
- 2. Workload Organization
- 2.1 Build a To-Do List with Trello
- 2.2 Always Start with the Most Important Task
- 2.3 Research While You Write
- 2.4 Automate What You Can with IFTTT
- 2.5 Use Proofreading Tools
- 2.6 Capture Ideas with Evernote
- 2.7 Expand Your Research Toolset
- 3. Productivity Habits
- 3.1 Have a Healthy Breakfast
- 3.2 Use White Noise for Productivity
- 3.3 Light Cardio Exercises
- 3.4 Get a Cold Shower
- 3.5 Drink Coffee
- 3.6 Drink Plenty of Water
- 3.7 Try Coworking Spaces
- 3.8 Use Distraction-Free Writing Apps
- 3.9 Reward Yourself
- 4. Conclusion
A smart blogger knows that time is an irretrievable resource.
If you waste it, there’s no way of getting it back.
Since there’s no supervisor breathing behind our necks, some bloggers get complacent when it comes to time management. Consequently, this leads to a plethora of stressful problems, like:
Nope — this can’t go on.
If you want to have a prosperous blogging livelihood, you need to take charge of your time.
To craft a suitable blogging schedule for you, the first step is to understand your limits.
1. Identify Your Writing Velocity
Ask yourself, how many words can I comfortably write in a day?
Plenty of full-time bloggers can consistently output 2,000 to 2,500 words per day. This can be reduced to only 1,500 words as long as every piece is well-polished.
Based on my experience, 2,000 words can take anywhere between four and eight hours to complete. That requires a speed of 250-500 words per hour — more than doable even during lazy days.
Your writing speed then becomes your baseline for your daily schedule, which takes us to the next step.
2. Leverage the “Ultradian Rhythm”
Let’s say you’re writing at 500 words per hour flat.
If you decide to work from 10 AM, you should finish writing a 2,000-word post by 2 PM, right?
Doing so is a guaranteed path to burnout, especially if you keep it up for weeks on end.
You see, humans are influenced by a natural energy fluctuation known as the ultradian rhythm. This means we experience 90 minutes of high brain activity followed by 20 minutes of downtime in cycles.
That explains why you may feel lightheaded after two hours or more of intense work.
The easiest way to take advantage of the ultradian rhythm is to use the 90/30 rule.
It’s simple: perform 90 minutes of uninterrupted work and take a 30-minute break afterward.
With this rule, below is what your weekly blogging schedule may look like:
Of course, you may substitute any task into the 90-minute work slots you have each day. You can finalize a draft, customize a landing page, do some research — whatever you must accomplish at that time.
Also, feel free to tweak your schedule to accommodate your typical wakeful hours. For example, you can start working at 2 PM rather than 10 AM if you prefer working in the evening.
3. Use a Time-Tracking Tool
Got your weekly blogging schedule ready?
Good — let’s talk about how you’ll stick to it.
If you have tremendous self-control, you can probably manage with just a wall clock or your wristwatch. Otherwise, you may use a time-tracking tool like Clockify.
After creating a free account, you can immediately get started on your first project. Just click ‘+Project’ from the dashboard, select ‘Create new project,’ and fill in the necessary details.
Going back to the project dashboard, type in the specific task you want to work on.
Suppose you want to do keyword research for your article before writing. In which case, enter something like “keyword research” and click ‘Start.’
That’s it, you can now accurately track your productivity hours during the day. All that’s left is to make sure you work for only 90 minutes tops and take your 30-minute breaks.
4. Track and Eliminate Distractions
To make the most out of your time tracker, don’t just track your productivity.
Snack times, restroom breaks, phone calls — everything must be logged so you know where every precious minute goes to.
It may not change much at first, but over time, you’ll begin to notice patterns in your workday.
For example, you may think that the 10 minutes you spend on Facebook are negligible. But over the span of five days, that would already amount to 50 minutes of lost productivity.
The same goes for every little distraction you shrug off.
Now that you’ve specified your top time-wasters, it’s time to devise a game plan on how to avoid them.
Here’s the trick: list down the most common distractions you encounter on an average workday. When done, work your way from top to bottom and try to identify their triggers.
To give you an idea, social media breaks may unwantedly occur whenever you receive notifications on your phone.
The fix? Turn off notifications for social media apps or put your phone on silent.
Keep coming up with solutions to distractions and make them part of your daily ritual. To remind yourself, use any note-taking app to jot everything down — no need to overcomplicate things.
Alternatively, try Sticky Notes for Windows users or any similar app for MacOS. It shouldn’t be hard to find free options that you can use for simple reminders.
5. Use Your Breaks Wisely
The steps we’ve talked about thus far focus on what you should do during your productive time.
This time, we need to discuss how you should spend your breaks.
Looking back at your schedule, you most likely have three or four breaks planned. That should be more than enough to help your mind and body sustain their energy levels throughout the day.
It should also accommodate activities that will help you maximize your breaks, like:
- Take a Coffee Nap — A number of studies have shown that consuming caffeine before a nap has positive benefits on a person’s productivity. It’s like a modified version of a power nap — only with a quick cup of coffee added to the mix.
- Get Up and Stretch — Slouching in front of a computer screen for hours can lead to body pain, excessive tiredness, and increased stress. This post from Vegan Dollhouse will show you a few easy-to-do yoga poses that will help you avoid these problems.
- Have a Healthy Snack — If it’s not time for lunch yet, consider giving yourself a healthy treat to stay energized longer. Some ideas include a banana, all-natural peanut butter, some dark chocolate, and yogurt.
- Answer Emails — Rather than writing responses to emails during work hours, do it in one of your breaks. You can also give yourself a pass to check your social media for any messages.
- Read or Watch Something Useful — If you love learning like me, you may check out your favorite blog or YouTube channel for updates. Just be sure to rest your eyes if they feel tired to prevent strain.
6. Work on Weekends
It’s true that lost time can’t be recovered. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make more time for productivity.
Whenever I feel like I’m behind schedule, I choose to squeeze a few hours over the weekend to catch up.
Most of us prefer to get important work done on weekdays and rest during weekends — I get that. But if you really have nothing better to do, consider putting at least an hour to complete a meaningful task.
So, I guess this warrants a few changes to your weekly schedule.
7. Set Effective Deadlines
Despite having a well-planned weekly schedule, you may still be tempted to put off certain tasks from time to time.
Why? Because you think you can always do them tomorrow.
Setting due times for tasks is a proven way of breaking this bad habit.
It instills the sense of urgency and amplifies the sense of accomplishment whenever you successfully meet a deadline.
You can set a reminder on your phone or computer to notify you about an upcoming deadline ahead of time.
Again, no need to invest in a paid tool — any built-in alarm or note-taking app should do the trick.
I, myself, get by with just the built-in “Reminders” app on MacOS.
I also use a free task management app to track deadlines and the completion of projects in the same place.
This leads us to the next facet of productivity I’ll cover in this post.
Learning how to manage your time is a huge leap towards a more productive blogging career.
Feeling in control yet?
Well, you’re about to feel even more empowered with the workload organization tactics I’m about to lay down.
8. Build a To-Do List with Trello
I’m about to unveil a secret:
I use Trello to stay on top of my daily blog management tasks.
Trello is a lightweight yet incredibly useful task management tool. It features a drag-and-drop interface where tasks can be organized into cards and sorted into their own lists.
These lists can then be managed in their own designated boards.
It may all seem confusing when you hear about it. But once you see the tool in action, it’s the easiest thing in the world.
For the sake of this guide, allow me to create a new Trello board called “My Blog.”
This process only requires you to enter a board title, set a background, and modify its privacy settings.
Once the board is ready, you can now create new lists that will help you organize your tasks.
A typical list that I know most bloggers use is a “to-do” list.
If you’re happy with the name of your list, click ‘Add List’ to create it in the active board. You will then be able to add cards that pertain to specific tasks to your to-do list.
For instance, let’s say you want to write an article called “How to Start a Blog.” All you have to do is enter its title and click ‘Add Card.’
In Trello, cards may contain loads of useful information about a task. You can write an elaborate description, create checklists, upload attachments, and more.
A must-have feature is the “Due Date” tool, which essentially lets you set deadlines for tasks. This comes in handy with the strategies mentioned in the previous section.
9. Always Start with the Most Important Task
Getting to know Trello is like an eye-opening experience for me.
After I understood how it works, my to-do list was filled with cards within minutes.
That’s when I realized that I need to refine another skill to be as productive as I can be: PRIORITIZATION.
We all know that writing is only a small part of what we do.
The moment you decided to build your own blog, you assumed a number of digital marketing-related responsibilities. This includes keyword and content research, website design, and social media marketing.
On a busy day, this is what your to-do list may look like:
If you’re like most people, you may want to start with the easier tasks first before the heavy stuff.
While such an approach is totally understandable, it has to stop.
The most important tasks tend to require the most amount of energy in any given day. That’s why you should always aim to prioritize them before anything else.
Trust me — you don’t want to write a 2,000-word post after working for hours on light, albeit less important things.
Sure, you can still get the job done, but chances are the quality of the post will be compromised.
10. Research as You Write
“Okay, I want to grind through a 2,000-word article today, but what if I don’t know certain terms or concepts?”
My response to this question is this:
Just get started.
The truth is, you can’t actually prepare for every single obstacle that will come your way.
The only thing you can do is to begin with what you know and learn on the job.
Here’s a scenario: imagine writing a MailChimp review without much email marketing experience yourself.
After spending time with it, you come across the term “abandoned cart email,” which you have absolutely no idea about. What do you do?
Do you skip mentioning the feature completely? How about rephrasing the description provided by the tool itself?
As a blogger, you have a duty to give your honest take on relevant topics.
Don’t take the easy way out — do your homework and research all you can. If possible, take it for a spin yourself and write from experience.
Otherwise, binge-watching through YouTube tutorials will have to do.
The article may be pushed back for a day or two. But in return, you’re guaranteed to produce a high-quality, authentic piece that your readers will thank you for.
11. Automate What You Can with IFTTT
Wait a minute, writing while doing research?
“That’s another item on my to-do list that I’ll have to check off!”
Fortunately, there is a way to eliminate repetitive and time-consuming tasks from your workload.
With automation, you can focus on objectives that demand your full attention while the little things get done on autopilot.
This is possible with a tool called IFTTT.
IFTTT or If This Then That is an automation platform that can help save time on truckloads of tasks. It’s all about creating pairs of services — one for the workflow’s trigger and another as the action service.
One of the most unique blogging tips I talked about recently is how to use IFTTT to automate blog promotion.
If you want to use the tool right away with pre-made workflows, I suggest you check out my post here. The IFTTT recipes there will help you get up to speed with marketing automation.
12. Use Proofreading Tools
A self-respecting blogger will always proofread their post before publishing it — no exceptions.
It doesn’t matter if you utilize dozens of automated workflows and can invest your full attention into writing. Even the most prolific bloggers regularly make typos and grammatical mistakes.
Under most circumstances, you should read an entire draft one last time to spot mistakes and potential improvements.
However, if you need to proofread an article with several thousand words, you should consider using a proofreading tool.
In the right hands, a proofreading tool will turn an hour of editing into a few minutes of clicking.
Grammarly, for instance, highlights spelling, grammar, and readability issues on an article as well as list down possible corrections. You simply have to look at the alerts panel and click on the suggestions you want to apply.
I wrote about Grammarly along with three other alternatives in this post about online proofreading tools. Don’t hesitate to read it and make your pick based on the in-depth reviews I’ve written for each tool.
13. Capture Ideas with Evernote
Have you ever experienced coming up with an amazing content idea, only to forget it hours later?
I used to get plenty of those moments whenever I’m not in front of my computer. And it continued that way until I decided to use Evernote to capture ideas on the go.
Evernote is a note-taking app that lets you create, read, and manage notes on your computer or phone.
For organization, Evernote lets you as many notebooks as you need for different aspects of your daily routine.
To give you an idea, I use one notebook for everything blogging-related and another one as a private journal.
Notebooks are then synchronized across all devices in your account, so you only need to use one device at a time. You can take notes using audio, video, your handwriting, and so on.
The Evernote Web Clipper is also a useful browser extension that lets you save entire pages. This is useful if you often come up with content ideas as you do research online.
Currently, the Web Clipper extension can capture the entire page, article, or just a screenshot. It also features the “Simplified Article” capture mode that strips away all unnecessary elements from the page.
14. Expand Your Research Toolset
Alright, I’ve already introduced you to Trello and Evernote, which are two of my go-to tools for workload optimization.
Cloud-based tools are amazing if you want to supercharge your productivity as a blogger.
This is especially true if you’re using tools for research— the most tedious aspect of blogging.
To cut to the chase, let me direct you to the compilations I’ve made on top-tier research tools:
- 10 Best Keyword Research Tools (Free and Premium)
- 10 Tested SEMrush Alternatives of 2019
- 9 Tools You Can Use to Track Your Keywords Ranking
The blogging life involves more than just things you do while working.
You must also pay attention to your everyday habits that may affect your performance during productivity hours.
Let me show you what I mean.
15. Have a Healthy Breakfast
Here’s a known fact: it’s hard to run a blog on an empty stomach.
As the most important organ in the body, your brain needs the most energy to function at optimal levels. And guess what — food is your body’s primary source of fuel.
Without a hearty breakfast, I personally struggle to stay focused on an hour of blogging tasks.
It is the most important meal of the day, especially for creative types like us.
Skipping breakfast can lead to a few disadvantages that affect your productivity, such as:
- Loss of Focus — Hunger is a nagging feeling that could result in multiple snack breaks unless fully satisfied. People with low blood sugar may also experience dizziness, shaking, and irritability whenever they skip a meal.
- Possible Weight Gain — It’s not rocket science: no breakfast means increased snacking. If left unchecked, this habit will inevitably contribute to weight gain.
- Impaired Mental Performance — A study published in the Physiological Behavior journal concluded that skipping breakfast affects both your energy levels and memory. The effects may be temporary, but it could still ruin all the objectives you’ve planned for the day.
16. Use White Noise for Productivity
Do you like to listen to music while you work?
I know some bloggers find it easier to concentrate with their favorite tunes in the background. Others, however, find their playlist too distracting for something as mentally-taxing as writing.
If you’re part of the latter group, you may want to consider white noise instead.
White noise is backed by studies as potentially beneficial to a person’s concentration and learning. It consists of random frequencies with the same intensities, which is why it resembles the sound of a humming machine.
Noisli is a free-to-use tool that can simulate white noise along with a bunch of other ambient noises. This includes the sounds of rain, wind, the seaside, and a fireplace.
To be clear, the effects of white noise varies from person to person. This is similar to how music affects people’s productivity in different ways.
But since Noisli is a free tool, I urge you to try it — you have nothing to lose.
You don’t even need to create your own account to use Noisli. Just load up their site and toggle the sounds you want to hear.
If you prefer video over audio, you can also browse YouTube’s massive library of background noises.
17. Light Cardio Exercises
Stumbled across the writer’s block?
Don’t worry — it can happen to the best of us.
If you find yourself struggling to complete a single cohesive paragraph, don’t force it. Get up, head out, and take a walk.
Cardio exercises such as brisk walking is a great way to improve circulation throughout your body, including your brain. With your schedule all sorted out, it should be easy to spend 15-20 minutes to a short walking trip.
You can also choose to write at nights if you prefer a more relaxing experience.
Just a word of precaution: avoid walking anywhere without sufficient lighting. Safety first!
If walking isn’t convenient in your location, then simple stretching exercises should suffice.
The video below by Natalia Leigh demonstrates a few stretching exercises proven and tested for writers:
18. Get a Cold Shower
This next habit is specifically for Master Blogging readers in tropical countries.
If you haven’t invested in good air conditioning yet, try to take a cold shower every morning before work.
You may have done this before but haven’t adopted it as a permanent habit. In which case, you probably already know how grueling it is to work while you feel hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable.
It may not seem like a big deal, but your body actually spends more energy cooling down than warming up. Furthermore, warm weathers can make you unbearably drowsy as your body constantly tries to cool itself down.
In addition to staying cool, a lot of creative people — writers included — generate waves of fresh ideas in the shower.
19. Drink Coffee
Who doesn’t love a cup of coffee to start the day?
As a psychostimulant, caffeine is known to have a handful of brain-boosting effects. It increases alertness, speeds up information processing, and improves your mood for hours.
Long-term consumption of coffee is also shown to affect a person’s mental performance. This, in turn, improves verbal memory and protects against cognitive impairment brought about by age.
Unfortunately, it’s definitely possible to drink too much coffee, which will cause more harm than good.
20. Drink Plenty of Water
While reading this post, do you remember the last time you drank a glass of water?
If not, then you should drink one right now.
A large number of professionals have a bad habit of only drinking water when they’re thirsty. What they don’t realize is that thirst is a sign that you’re already operating with less-than-optimal hydration levels.
In case you didn’t know, 75 percent of your brain is actually made up of water.
By depriving yourself of that much-needed hydration, you are actually hurting your own abilities to perform blogging tasks.
How much water should you drink in a workday?
For as long as we can remember, health authorities worldwide have recommended 8-10 glasses of water a day. This should be adequate for most adults to stay hydrated and maintain mental alertness.
21. Try Coworking Spaces
When people ask about your profession as a blogger, your ability to work anywhere is almost always mentioned.
Undoubtedly, being able to work at home in your pajamas is one of the perks of this career. But over time, the “magic” of remote work eventually disappears.
If you work at home for a period of months or years, you end up thinking about work 24/7. This is because you haven’t set a physical boundary between work and your personal life.
A lot of bloggers and other home-based professionals already realize this.
That’s why the coworking industry is thriving all over the globe.
Put simply, coworking spaces are establishments where freelancers, remote employees, and even startups can do their jobs. It provides what plenty of new bloggers don’t have early in their careers — a professional and productive work environment.
Coworker is an online directory that will help you find coworking spaces near you.
To do this, enter a city, country, or the specific name of a coworking chain you’re familiar with.
Within seconds, Coworker will show you a list of professional coworking spaces along with their rates.
Some of the most desirable features of coworking spaces are free coffee, meeting rooms, and kitchen facilities. You may have to do some digging and comparisons to find the space that suits your needs and budget.
22. Use Distraction-Free Writing Apps
Coworking spaces may help you escape the distractions at home.
Distraction-free writing tools like Calmly Writer, however, can take your focus to a whole new level.
Calmly Writer is a minimalistic, web-based text editing app that only shows words. Toolbars, app icons, multiple fonts — you won’t find any of those here.
As far as formatting goes, Calmly Writer still supports the following:
- Headers 1, 2, and 3
- Bullet Points
- Numbered List
You also have the option to insert images by expanding the hidden menu bar to the left.
23. Reward Yourself
Finally, always remember that humans are reward-driven creatures.
It’s hard to stay motivated if we aren’t reaping the benefits of our labor.
If you think about it, that’s the main reason why a lot of bloggers quit. They took too long to achieve the results they want — eventually depleting their enthusiasm and causing them to give up.
Don’t wait for that to happen.
Make it a habit to reward yourself after completing a day’s work.
This could be anything, from taking a hot bath to enjoying a couple of hours of gaming. Think of an activity that you often daydream about — that’ll surely get your brain’s reward center firing!
You can also check out this post by Bryn Donovan for 50 ways to reward yourself. While she mentioned some big-ticket rewards, most are simple enough to be done in an average workday.
There’s never a dull moment in the life of a full-time blogger.
Of course, each and every blogger has their own mojo for unlocking and maintaining peak productivity. I’d love to hear about your daily blogging routine in the comments below.
Go ahead and share how you keep your gears spinning with other readers. Cheers!
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