As part of the Time Management series, I wanted to share some productivity tips for bloggers, as many of you asked about this. All of these won’t work for you, but hopefully you can find two or three to implement and save yourself time and effort!
1) Create a Computer Time Budget
Just as I found it helpful to have a time budget for my daily activities, so I’ve found it so helpful to have a time budget for my daily computer times, instead of just saying, “I’m going to spend four hours on computer and blogging work each day.”
I currently have my computer time broken down into the following specific blocks:
45 minutes on substantive writing
1.5 hours posting time-sensitive deal posts
30 minutes on email
15 minutes on Facebook/Twitter
15 minutes on a writing project
45 minutes extra — placing online orders, reading blog posts, extra projects
I don’t always follow these time blocks perfectly. Sometimes something comes up which requires I spend extra time working on a technical issue. Or occasionally I’ll have a conference call scheduled. So I’ll shift some things around in order to accommodate these extra things.
But having my computer time all budgeted out, instead of just getting on and doing whatever seemed most pressing, has helped me to get a lot more done in a lot less time. In fact, some days, I’m able to get everything done on my list — with time to spare!
2) Do One Thing At a Time
I know, I know! Multi-tasking can be a very efficient way to do many things. However, when it comes to most computer work, if you want to get concentrated work done in an efficient manner, you need to shut out all the noise and just focus on one thing at a time.
If it’s your time to email, work on emailing. Go through your emails in order of priority and don’t stop until your time is up. If it’s your time to write blog posts, only work on drafting blog posts until your time is up.
If you’re used to trying to post or email while you have a bunch of applications open and constantly dinging at you, you’ll likely be surprised at just how much work you can get done in a distraction-free 20-30-minute concentrated block of time.
And once you get in the habit of doing one thing at a time, you’ll learn where your fizzle out point is when you need to stop and take a break or stop for the day in order to come back to it refreshed and energized. Personally, I’ve found that I do best by working in 20-30 minute blocks and then rewarding myself with a short 5-minute break to check email or Facebook. If I’m working on an in-depth project which requires a lot of brain power, I’ll often set the timer for 20 minutes and work on it and then set the timer for 15 minutes and worth on cleaning up or doing laundry.
3) Tame the Email Monster
A) Eliminate Unnecessary Emails
-Go into your Twitter account and change your settings so that you don’t get notified when someone follows you.
-Go into your Facebook settings and change your notifications so that you don’t get emailed when anyone does anything but replies to one of your posts or sends you a private message.
-Unsubscribe from all email lists which you don’t actively read the emails and benefit from.
-Turn off notifications when someone subscribes or unsubscribes from your YouTube or email newsletter service.
-Set up a very comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page which answers a large number of questions people routinely email you about. Put this in very conspicuous places on your site including smack-dab in the middle of your Contact page. While plenty of people will disregard this, I promise that it will at least cut down on some of your email load.
-Have a search button in a very obvious place on the sidebar of your blog. This encourages people to search for that post or recipe themselves of emailing in to ask you for the link.
B) Don’t Feel Obligated to Answer All Your Emails
State on your Contact page that you aren’t able to answer much of your email. This frees you up from feeling obligated to answer every email which comes in.
C) Keep Your Inbox Cleaned Out
I shoot for having less than 10 emails in my inbox at all times. If they are in my inbox, it means they need to be dealt with within the next 24 hours.
When I check my email, I deal with emails immediately. I either respond, if I have a minute and only a sentence or two is required in response, I archive them if no response is necessary, or I file them in my “To Answer” file in Gmail if a response is necessary but I don’t have time to respond at the moment. Once a week, usually on Saturdays, I try clean out the entire “To Answer” file so that it’s completely empty.
This system works well for me as it helps me to not be bogged down with a lot of emails not requiring an immediate response in my inbox. And it ensures — most of the time, at least! — that nothing highly important gets overlooked or lost in a sea of emails.
By the way, if you’re going to take the time to answer a question in more than a paragraph or two, consider turning it into a post. Then, you kill two birds with one stone — you answered an email and you wrote a post!
Related: Amy shares more tips for keeping your inbox cleaned out.
D) Set Up Canned Responses
I love Gmail’s Canned Responses feature and I highly recommend using it. You can set up responses for emails you often receive and with a click of a button insert them straight into an email.
For instance, I often receive emails asking for my address or how to start a blog. I have a canned response all set up for these questions, so I just click the appropriate Canned Response and it automatically inserts it and in a couple of seconds, the email is pretty much answered.
E) Enable Send and Archive
This is another cool tool in Gmail. You can change your “Send” button to “Send & Archive”. Instead of having to push send and then go and delete the message, you can do it with one click, saving yourself a couple seconds per email. When you are responding to dozens of emails each day, those little seconds add up! See how to set up Send & Archive here.
I’ll be posting Part 2 on Wednesday. Stay tuned!
**Update: This giveaway is now closed.**
Win a free Windows Phone 7!
Would you like to try out a Windows Phone 7 for free? These phones were just released and Microsoft is giving one away to a reader here this month!
To enter, just leave a comment on this post sometime between today and November 29, 2010. Tell us your favorite tip for getting more done in less time as a blogger or in any other facet of your life.
After November 29, 2010, I’ll choose and notify the winner. See the official rules of this giveaway here.
photos from Shutterstock