The title of this book instantly grabbed me when I spotted it on Amazon a few months ago. I Don’t Have Time to Write – or at least enough time – is a phrase that’s constantly popping into my head, if not being uttered out loud at least a few times a week. Luckily my clever husband checked my Amazon Wishlist and the book turned up among my presents on Christmas Day. It’s a very quick and worthwhile read but if you’re even more strapped for time then I am then just take a look below at the top ten things I took away from it.
I Don’t Have Time to Write is written by mum-of-two Nadine Hill, who’s also a business owner, writer, blogger and speaker – you can see why she’s so busy! As I said, it’s a whizz to read and as a result can feel a bit rushed in places. But that’s partly the point. The book is written using the author’s time-efficient ways of working. It shows that a busy working mum can put the advice given into practice. It’s clearly not meant to be War and Peace. What it does do is offer useful tips and ideas and, if you want added depth, you can go away and build on these.
The book is aimed at all writers but includes separate chapters for bloggers and infopreneurs.
So here are the top time-taming tips I will be focusing on:
1. Always have an end goal in sight.
It’s pretty hard to move forward without knowing where you want to get! Knowing why you are writing – whatever that might be – gives you focus and purpose.
2. Just get started! Get something written down. Create the skeleton and you can flesh it out later.
On a bad day, I can be a big procrastinator but as Nadine says: “It doesn’t matter where you decide to start first, start somewhere and it becomes easier to see where the next logical place is.” It’s true and I do this all the time now – getting the basics of a post written down first then coming back later to finesse.
3. Be careful with multitasking.
Save the juggling act for the low level tasks you can do without thinking, like basic household chores. Don’t fry your brain trying to concentrate on too many different things at once, you won’t do the big stuff as well as you could and it takes so much longer to get anything finished. This may mean you need to prioritise how much you take on.
4. Keep day-to-day life as organised as possible.
Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but by streamlining the everyday stuff you can create extra ‘pockets of time that are spare’. It’s common sense I suppose. Super-organised Nadine suggests simple things like batching tasks together to avoid duplicating effort, using a diary and to-do list (aha!) to keep track of it all and spending ten minutes at night planning and getting stuff ready for the following day.
5. Consider batch writing posts.
Initially this felt a bit contrived but actually it makes sense to take advantage when your creative juices are in full flow and get several posts written at once. It takes the pressure off and these can then be scheduled, meaning if events conspire to prevent you from writing further posts – and a busy mum they often do – you’ve still got something to publish.
6. Capture ideas as they happen.
Keep a notebook (I have one by my bed for midnight flashes of inspiration), save them on your phone, email yourself if you’re at work, try using Microsoft One Note or a similar programme or app on your tablet or laptop. I do all of these. I can vouch for it saving a lot of time (and mental torment) later on when you can’t quite think what that earlier brainwave was! Store up all your ideas then you’ll never be stuck for a post.
7. Keep a rolling list for blogger outreach and prioritise.
“Blogging is a marathon!” says Nadine and unlike a book there is no natural end to a blog. “It evolves, transforms, grows and develops”. As any blogger will know, they also need a lot of nurturing, promotion and outreach. This all takes time – so big blogger pats on the back all round! I always regret that I’m not able to do as much of this as I’d like. At the same time, when I’m online I often find myself distracted by the first thing I see and head off in all kinds of directions (Twitter can be a killer for this!), meaning I run out of time to look at and engage with those blogs that are actually most important to me. So I’m going to give Nadine’s suggestion of a rolling weekly list a go and make sure I spend more time regularly connecting with my favourite sites.
8. Don’t waste time overthinking post comments.
I used to do this a lot before realising it’s always better to go with my gut instinct, that initial response, rather than trying to be too witty or clever. After all it’s meant to be a natural online conversation, not a rehearsed speech. As Nadine suggests, if you have that much to say you’d be better off creating a new post and linking back to the original. Not wasting time also creates more time to visit other blogs, make more comments and generally spread the blog love!
9. If something is hard to write it may well be hard to read too.
So take a break from it. If it’s still not working for you then it’s probably not the right approach or subject matter in the first place so move on. Simple.
10. Have realistic expectations of yourself.
An obvious one but always worth remembering. I often compare myself to others and lament the fact that I’m not the kind of blogger who can turn out several posts a day, or even just one every day. At the moment, with my other commitments, I simply don’t have the time. I’m not superwoman, so I need to learn to relax and recognise the good stuff I can get done. The end!
And if you’ve got any other tips that help you to manage your blogging time I’d love to know what they are.