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How to find time for blogging

Time managementA reader sent me an email just a few days ago:

Hi, I’m always very busy with job/family and I always neglect my blog. Did you write anything about it? Will you?

I don’t know him, and this is the first time I’ve had an email from him. I’m not sure where his blog is, but I can safely guess a few things:

  • He’s neglecting his blog
  • He feels this is because of the time he spends on his job and family
  • His blog is important to him or he wouldn’t have written
  • His blog isn’t well established yet (or this wouldn’t be an issue)

It’s a common question, and many bloggers have written about finding time for blogging or writing and time management.

But you know what? I’m honored that he took the time to email me and asked me to say something about it, so here we go.

You’ll notice I’ve changed his question around from a negative to a positive. Instead of addressing “neglect” of a blog, I’m addressing how to find time to pay attention to a blog. I’ve also broken his question down into a few different parts, which might reflect some challenges he’s dealing with.

How do you keep up with a blog when you have a job and a family?

I have a friend with three young kids, a wife who works full time, a business, and a house in the suburbs, which means he has loads of grass to mow and a property to keep up with.

He’d have more time for other stuff if he weren’t so anal about cutting his grass twice in opposite directions and making perfect little designs, but he’s not complaining.

Twice a week he goes out skating with a local inline skating group. Sometimes he brings one of the kids, other times not. But skating is important to him, so he finds the time.

How does he do it? He’s prioritizing, which means he’s skipping other stuff he could be doing. The same principle applies to blogging and wrting: if something is important to you, you find the time for it.

How can I get my family to understand that my blog is important to me?

This can be a challenge to many, and it might be an issue with the reader who emailed me.

Here’s the thing: your family may never understand.

But anyone should have the right to pursue a hobby or even pursue the chance of making a business out of a hobby.

If family members resent time spent on a blog, then some negotiation is in order.

Here’s what I would ask anyone in conflict with a spouse or life partner over time spent blogging, whether you’re a man or a woman:

  • Are you pulling your weight with family responsibilities? That includes child care and care of the home.
  • Are you available to your significant other in the relationship? That is, are you keeping love alive and all that good stuff with regular dates, good communication, and a healthy sex life?
  • Are there any unresolved issues or arguments going on in the relationship? If the relationship is unhappy, there’s usually one person (more than the other) expressing unhappiness and a desire to make improvements. If that person sees the other “escaping” in blogging or writing (or anything else), he or she may become resentful.

Long story short, make sure everything is cool and kosher and lovey-dovey (or at least happily status quo) in your family—kids included (they need you, too). Then you can move on toward explaining why some private time spent on your blog is so important to you and that you’d like them to respect it. If they still don’t get it, well, that’s beyond the scope of this post.

Where do you find the time?

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Many well-known bloggers started off working full time with a family while they built up their business via blogging. How did they do it?

It’s almost always about pulling the plug on certain parts of your life to make room for blogging. Or let go of perfection. I can’t speak for others, but here is what my life looks like:

  • I don’t watch TV. I don’t have cable or even a TV anymore (I sold it on Craigslist awhile back since I just don’t use it).
  • I never spend time texting or chatting on the phone. In fact, I have a really lame pay-as-you-go TracFone without texting, not a Smart phone. Why? I don’t have time for it. My friends know how to contact me: email, Skype, or Facebook.
  • I don’t spend much time on social media. As a blogger with a business, I probably should spend a little more well-planned time on Twitter, G+, and LinkedIn. But that’s not where I’m at right now because, when I’m not doing something with my blog, I’m working: doing some editing or writing for a client who found me via my blog or some other aspect of my online presence.
  • I don’t have a big social life. I’d like to do more, but I’m making some sacrifices right now and have been for awhile. Why? I have goals that have to do with my blog and my business. I stay in touch with friends and get out just enough to not qualify as a hermit.
  • How did I find the time to write this post? I just decided to. I’m squeezing it in between dinner and bedtime because it’s important. I’m also working very fast, and I’ll bet I have *gasp* typos. Which leads me to the next point:
  • Even super-perfectionist copy editors maintain sanity by not being perfect all the time. It’s not possible. Cut yourself a break sometimes and just get ‘er done.

My blog isn’t “perfect.” It’s so far from perfect I groan regularly. I have the technology, and I could find the time. But I just have to deal with imperfection sometimes because I’ve had a hard time prioritizing and choosing to use the time that I have (somewhere) to update. (It’s not mobile responsive, for example, and I really need to change up the size of the subheadings. Soon.)

Do I have to post something every day or every week?

No. You can post when you want to, but it really depends on the purpose of your blog and the kind of business you’re running, if any. It’s best to be regular even though I haven’t been. Semi-regular works.

My own goal right now is to post at least a few times a month. I like to spend a lot of time crafting a really informative post, but each post doesn’t have to be stellar. This one isn’t—it’s right off the top of my head, answering a question that I know a lot of people have asked.

I think once a week is always a nice schedule. Plenty of successful bloggers only post once a month, though. Others post daily—I think daily is way too much but it works for them and their readers. It all depends on your goals and the expectations you’ve already set. This blog is pretty new, so as far as I’m concerned, semi-regular is fine for now as I build it up. And since I have a lot of other stuff going on—selling a house, moving cross-country—it’s all I can do right now.

Do you have some tricks I could use?

Carve out an hour here or an hour there. That’s hard for me to do, since I generally like to have a whole afternoon to take my time with something, finish it, and look it over to make sure it’s all done right. But sometimes that’s just what I have to do.

For the purpose of this post, I decided on two hours. How to get a blog post up in two hours?

  • Type fast!
  • Write about something you know really REALLY well.
  • Use an outline. The first thing I did for this post was write out my subheadings. Then I just went back and filled in the blanks.
  • Plan and make lists. What do you need to do on your blog that’s most important? What’s not that important?
  • Break tasks into chunks you can finish in an hour or two. Sometimes it’s hard to not get that instant gratification from a whole job completed, but if there’s no other way to get ‘er done, do it in stages.

The main things anyone has to do to stop neglecting your blog goes something like this:

  • Decide to stop neglecting it
  • Figure out why you’ve been neglecting it
  • Fix what needs to be fixed: work out family stuff, schedule stuff, attitude stuff, prioritization stuff
  • Make time for it by choosing to prioritize your blog over other things that take up time
  • Decide what you can accomplish in the time available

Back to my friend with the family, business, house in the suburbs with a perfect lawn and time to skate with his friends. If he wanted to start a blog, where in the world would he find the time? Suppose it became his passion, something really important to him. What should he do? How could he find the time?

Since he has three kids and a wife who doesn’t want to move anywhere, he can’t do what I’m doing: I’m selling my house and moving into an apartment so I have more time for blogging, writing, business, and everything that goes with it. I don’t have time anymore (or much interest) in taking care of a home, a yard, and a garden. I can buy fresh tomatoes and basil at a farmer’s market.

But what could my friend do? More important, what could you do to make time for your blog? Use your imagination. What isn’t that important to you? What can you cut out to make time for blogging and writing?

And there you have it.

If you have a blog—plus a job and a family—how do you find time? Share in the comments.

9 comments… add one
  • Thank you very much Leah for your post/answer and for your… time! Your analytical skills is amazing and helpful. I wish you the best!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome Alberto! Glad it’s helpful. Now I can see your blog–very nice minimal look. Love the pic you chose for the post “Il pellegrino.” It’s perfect. (I translated the post though I can understand a little Italian 🙂

      A great weekend for you too! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  • My dog who had been my best friend for thirteen years died a couple years ago. I got older and started thinking as people would ask and even offer me another dog that there’s responsibility that goes with most choices I have in life. I had to clean up after the dog while he didn’t as much as flush the toilet for me. I had to make sure his health was okay and that he was fed. That’s when the responsibility part set firmly into my mind. The top question to myself now is, “What do I want to be responsible for?”

    I tried blogging but it seemed I got so little interest that it had a short life. Then I have a group about ‘common sense’ which I might have attracted some readers but I usually had to guess about that as nobody would discuss anything. I have to confess that writing is challenging in a way of struggling to make sense to others so I have a tendency do that until I question myself about what my reason for it.

    From what you wrote I felt like realizing living our own lives our own way has to be a priority. Family responsibilities are in the past but even things like friendships take responsibility and accountability which I strongly think about in my choice making in life. Keeping dreams in front of ourselves has to be important as so much time seems to be fighting nightmares.

    Reply
    • Hey Ken,

      Sorry to hear about your dog. That’s hard, I know. Yes, an animal companion doesn’t usually give much back except a whole lot of love. I’ve lost 3 cats and a dog in the last 6 years, and it does feel like what you say. I have a lot more time now to focus on my goals.

      Anyway, about blogging. It takes awhile to get readers and a following–it was hard for me to drop my old blog and start fresh! But it happens over time. A key thing is to write about things that can help people. Early on (5-6 years ago), I wrote about whatever tickled my fancy; no wonder I had few readers! And yes, writing in a way that others can understand can be challenging. Any good writer knows it’s a learning process, especially at first. We don’t automatically write clearly *for* others rather than what makes sense to us. Lots of practice.

      I agree that “living our own lives our own way has to be a priority.” If we live someone else’s way, who or what are we? In between are compromises and negotiations and giving to others of our time and so on, but in the end, we have to fulfill goals and dreams for our own satisfaction. If we’re not happy, nobody else around us will be. It’s like putting on your oxygen mask first before you help anyone else, you know? If you’re not thriving, you can’t help anyone else.

      Thanks for stopping by. Where’s your blog? Get to work 🙂

      Reply
  • Thanks Leah for the interesting yet useful blog! I am a lazy writer. Sometimes I write 3000 words a day and other times spend a month without writing down a note! Oh I forgot to tell you that I write in Arabic all the time, I am thinking now of writing in English but do not know if I can do that, what are your tips for non English speakers, people who have never visited an English speaking country and can not afford buying books written in English originally this if I claimed my confidence in full comprehension of such books. Thanks once again for considering writing a blog about that!

    Reply
    • Hi Omaima,

      Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for the idea for a post. I’ve made a note to put together some tips for non-native English speakers. Stay tuned!

      Reply
  • Very well put. Blogging after normal work hours is difficult but there are ways to find some time out. Good suggestions here.

    Reply
  • Leah, this is an oldie but a goodie. I only just stumbled across it searching Google for “how to juggle work life and passion for blogging” – you share some great wisdom here. A standout point for me is no blog is “perfect”, I believe personalised yet well written, not necessarily mistake free might be my better approach too. As it’s already difficult with my work and young family priorities. Thanks again, a fantastic read.

    Reply

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