Did you miss Aby’s awesome session at #BML17 or just want to soak up more of her tips on how to be productive and effective without spending more time? Get ready for 2018 with her lessons here for smashing your goals.
As bloggers we always say we haven’t got enough time. We throw spaghetti at the wall and hope that some of what we’re doing sticks. We do ALL. THE. THINGS. But often we are not able to pinpoint the return on investment that those things actually give us. It can look like other bloggers are getting all of the opportunities, while we are working hard and feeling as if we’re not benefiting the way we should from our efforts.
When I talk to bloggers, the most common complaint time and time again is this ‘lack of time’. I have an issue with this and think what we actually lack is not time but focus.
Everyone has 24 hours in a day and it’s all about choices and the decisions we make as to how we use those 24 hours. Do we choose to focus on the important things, which will make a difference and move the needle in our blogs or do we aimlessly scroll Facebook and waste those precious pockets of time? Everyone has different demands on their, often already stretched, time but even if you only have 10 minutes of time a day to work on your blog, you need to use that time to focus on the one thing that will help to move your blog forward.
How to get motivated each morning
If you find your motivation at a low, come and join me every week day morning at 8am GMT I’m live over on my Facebook page with my Facebook Live show Wake Up & Shake Up – 5 minutes of motivation for Mamapreneurs. I share behind the scenes of my blog biz and give you a daily useful, actionable challenge that will help you to move your blog forward.
The myth of multi-tasking
Back to time… Multi tasking has long been heralded as the epitome of efficiency. However, in reality multi-tasking means we’re doing lots of things not very well. What happens when we multitask? We’re juggling multiple tasks and constantly have to context switch; get into the groove of the new task. This switching can also lead to distractions, for example, I need a link which is on my mobile, I pick it up to get the link, get distracted by Facebook, see an unread email, remember I needed to comment on someone’s post, then put the phone down 20 minutes later and immediate realise I didn’t find the link I needed in the first place. Sound familiar?
If we’re doing two tasks in a certain block of time, we assume we will be spending half the time on one and half on the other, but this is not the case. When we switch between tasks we lose 20% of the time and of our focus adjusting to the new task. Instead of the split being 50/50, it’s 40/40 on the tasks and 20% lost.
As you can imagine all of this lost time adds up. Every time you add another task into the mix you add on another switch and lose another 20%. So for three tasks (we would assume 33.3% of time and focus on each task) we now have two switches, so immediately lose 40% leaving only 20% for each of our three tasks. How many times have you gone back and forth between tasks? If so, you will lose even more time to refocusing.
Want a real life example? Say you have 2 hours when the kids are at school to work on your blog. You set yourself a goal of 5 tasks to do in that time.Two hours is 120 minutes and doing five tasks means you will have four 4 switches. So immediately you know you will lose a whopping 96 mins to switching. Out of your two hours this leaves you 24 minutes of focused time for your five tasks…… do the maths people! 4.8 minutes per task.
Chances are you feel busy during that two hours, but in reality the amount of focused, productive time is a fragment of the time block you had at the start.
In reality how do you focus?
The best way I’ve found to focus is to set 90 day goals. This system is from International Performance Coach Todd Herman. It will help you set goals you can actually achieve, not ones you set, don’t achieve and then feel bad about! Why 90 days? This is the horizon past which we will lose motivation and focus. Past this point we are not motivated to action. It’s important to decide on your yearly goals, but don’t focus on the detail past the next 90 days. This way we stay motivated, agile and can change/adjust our plans if necessary.
If you’re struggling to know what to focus on need to move your blog forward. Head over to my Blogging Roadmap quiz, which will pinpoint where you currently are and provide stacks of resources to help you move onto the next step.
How do you use this system to your advantage?
Step 1: Make goals
Think about where you want your blog to be in 12 months’ time. Then decide on 8-12 annual goals (these are outcome goals). These need to be specific, relevant and measurable. Increasing social media followers might be a goal, but it’s not specific or measurable. Increasing Twitter followers by 20% in 12 months is specific AND measurable.
Step 2: Think quarterly
The next step is to divide your annual goals into one of the four quarters of the year. Maybe one goal fits well into the first quarter of the year (Jan-March) or maybe one of the goals needs your attention all year round, in this case divide the end goal by four and add a portion to each quarter. For example, launch a free challenge might just fit into the first quarter. However, if you want to grow your Twitter following by 2,000 followers then you won’t achieve that in one quarter. Therefore it makes more sense to split it up into 500 follower increase in each quarter.
Step 3: What are the steps along the way?
Think about all smaller things you have to achieve in order to hit this main goal. Reverse engineering these smaller goals will make sure you achieve your annual goals. For example, increasing those Twitter followers. Break these large (outcome goals) into the tasks needed to achieve the larger goal (these smaller goals are your performance goals). For example, these goals might be to increase the profile of your Twitter account with your audience, to use your email list to grow your following, to use your content, increase your scheduling, collaborate with other Twitter users.
Step 4: Attack process goals
Break it down further into the specific tasks needed to reach each of these performance goals. These are called process goals. Staying with our Twitter example, the process goals (which are the ones you put on your to do list) would be things like, set up Twitter cards for your top 5 posts. Do a #FF every week. Use social oomph (*affiliate link) to schedule tweets. Add a call to action to follow you on Twitter to your top 10 posts. You see these are the specific tasks you can put on your list and tick off. They WILL move you towards your goal.
So, you have good intentions & then real-life happens….
You start working on task A, the next day you do task B, the next C, the next D, then E. You have good intentions, then the scattergun approach starts kicking in and you think at the start of the 2nd week, ‘Oh I haven’t done A for a while’ and do that, then task G catches your eye. You watch a webinar or read a post and think ‘Oh I need to do that’ so you start on task J. Say one task needs 4 blocks of time for you to complete and by the end of the month you’ve been super busy and have had busy month, but you have not fully completed any one task.
You can blame your lack of focus and Shiny Object Syndrome. How do you combat this? Never fear task blocking is here!
Start task blocking
Let’s take the same tasks and a fresh month. Again let’s imagine it takes 4 blocks of time to complete a task and now let’s focus. We’ll do task A on Monday, again on Tuesday, and Wed and again on Thursday and it’s then completed. By Friday of the first week we can make a start on task B. Another 3 focused days working on B and you can tick that one off as well. So, by the end of the 4 weeks, working the same number of hours you will have achieved 5 tasks.
‘I can’t just focus on one task I have other things that need doing daily’
We ALL do, again you just need focus and a structure. Maybe you’re creative in the mornings. If this is the case you might decide to work on your creative projects in the mornings each day and THIS time is your task blocking time. Then in the afternoons you might still be focused and work on the one thing, but it will be an hour on emails, an hour on social media or however, it looks for you.
Setting goals, failing goals?
Are you stuck in a cycle of setting goals, then not completing them? Then you definitely need to start implementing the 90-day goal-setting system and use task blocking. Always think, ‘What’s the one thing I can do right now to move my blog forward’. Focus on this ‘One Thing’ and put pin in rest, until you NEED to use it.
You can even implement this with learning. There’s so much information out there, so many wonderful tutorials, podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts that we can learn so much from. However, this can actually stall us and prevent us from taking action. Instead of trying to consume all of the information, think about your next step. If you’re trying to grow your email list, then you need to focus on learning more about email lists. If anyone has written an amazing post about creating images or starting a podcast, you may want to learn about them but you don’t NEED that training/information right now. Save the link in Evernote or Asana and come back to it when you need it.
As you can see, moving your blog forward WITHOUT spending even more time on it. It’s all about mindset. You need to have a greater degree of clarity around what you want to achieve and more mental resilience to not get distracted by ALL. THE. THINGS you ‘could’ be doing and focus on what you ‘should‘ be doing. If you don’t switch your mindset, all the time-saving hacks in the world won’t make a difference.
More great resources
Do you want access to some cool planning pages, which will help you set your goals and break everything down? They’re free! Get them here.
Fancy getting more stuck in? Join my FREE 5 day 2017 Wrap Party Challenge. We will assess your 2017 blog performance and work together to create an awesome plan for 2018. I have virtual party bags for all attendees too! Last year was so much fun. You can join the Challenge here.
Home page photo: Elena Kharichkina, Shutterstock