Want to achieve your blogging goals in 2021? Want to get more done in less time on your blog? Here are 10 ways to be a more productive blogger in 2021…
How was 2020 for you? Did you smash all your blogging goals? Did you achieve everything you wanted to and then some? Did you hit your financial targets? Did your blog grow as you had hoped?
I’m guessing if you are the average blogger, your answer was ‘no’ for at least some of these questions!
So, what held you back? There could be any number of reasons but the one I hear the most is ‘not enough time’.
But is that really the reason? Did you spend every minute, every second of your allotted blogging time working efficiently and productively? Did you maximise every nugget of available time? Or did you spend some of that time dithering, daydreaming and mindlessly checking social media when you ‘should’ have been working?
I think all of us (yes, even me!) would have to say YES to that last one!
The truth is that in a year you have A LOT of time, but all too often that time gets frittered away on time-wasters, daydreaming, just not quite getting down to work, ‘nice to do’ but not essential work and, yes, social media!
But that sad fact is actually a really exciting one, if you flip it on its head! Imagine how much you COULD get done in 2021 if you were MORE PRODUCTIVE? If you wasted less time? If you were more organised and on top of everything?
Here are 10 ways to be a more productive blogger in 2021…
1. Set goals!
It’s all very well being super productive, but productive at WHAT??? Unless you set yourself goals, being super-efficient with your time is pointless. You can be amazingly organised and a whizz at your time management…but if you are doing the WRONG things, you are not being productive!
To be truly productive you must first set your goals. What do you want to get out of 2021? Once you’ve set your goals, you need to work out how you are going to achieve those goals and make an action plan.
Once you have an action plan you can then apply all the other tips in this post to your action plan to make sure you do those things as quickly and efficiently as possible.
READ MORE >>> Goal Setting for Bloggers in 2021
2. Have a content plan
One of the biggest drivers of your goals in 2021 will be your blog content. Publishing the right blog posts at the right time will help your blog grow and help you achieve your aims.
To make sure your blog posts are driving your goals in 2021, you need to plan your content. Look at each of your goals in turn and consider what content you need to create on your blog to achieve that aim.
For example, if your aim is to earn more money from affiliate links this year, you will need to create posts designed to ‘sell’ those affiliate links.
If your aim is to launch a product, you will need to create posts which establish your authority on the topic of your product and which drive sales of your product.
If your aim is to grow your email list, you will want to create blog posts which feature free opt-in offers to encourage your readers to join your email list.
You will also want to consider seasonal opportunities (Christmas, Easter, Black Friday etc.) and ensure categories are balanced (important for SEO purposes!).
Creating a content plan is a huge step towards a more productive 2021! It will allow you to plan when you will publish all these different types of blog posts and ensure you take full advantage of seasonal opportunities.
READ MORE >>> How to create a content plan for your blog in 2021
3. Check email and social media less often
How often do you check your emails and social media? If you are like most people, the answer is ‘constantly’. The problem with this, is it massively affects your productivity.
Every time a new notification pings, you go and check that out. It takes a few minutes to deal with whatever pinged and while you are there, you often get side-tracked by other distractions.
Even if you don’t get side-tracked, it still affects your productivity.
The problem is, whenever you start or re-start an activity, it takes your brain a few minutes to warm up to that new task and get into its stride.
If you are constantly dealing with new notifications, you are constantly having to re-start your current activity, meaning your brain is spending a much longer time than necessary in that warm up phase. A lot more time than it would if you weren’t being constantly interrupted.
Instead of constantly checking your email and social media every time you get an update, check your emails and social media once or twice a day. This takes a bit of getting used to begin with (and a lot of self-discipline), but the rewards are more than worth it.
Not only will you get your blogging activities done much more quickly, as you’ll be distraction free, but also you will be able to blitz through your inbox and social media more quickly and efficiently too.
4. Stop trying to multi-task
On the same theme, stop trying to multi-task! In reality, no one really truly multi-tasks – instead of ‘multi-tasking’ what you are actually doing is flitting between multiple activities really quickly. And guess what? When you are flitting between activities really quickly, your brain is constantly having to re-warm up to each activity every time you pick it up again.
The result is that, far from making you MORE productive, multi-tasking makes you MUCH LESS productive – every activity takes longer, because you spend so much time in that warm up phase.
Instead of trying to multi-task, focus on ONE TASK AT A TIME. Monotasking is the path to true productivity.
Give all your time and attention to just one task, see it through to completion (or as much as you had planned to work on that task for today) and then move on to the next one.
If you are not convinced, try it! You will find you get so much more done in the time available.
5. Only have open what you are currently working on
One small, but super effective productivity ‘hack’ is to only have the tabs and documents open on your computer that you ACTUALLY NEED OPEN to do the task you are currently on. Close everything down.
This small action will ensure you are not interrupted by notifications or distracted by suddenly remembering something you were going to do. Instead you will be able to be FULLY FOCUSED on just the one task you are working on right now.
6. Write an effective to do list
Another way to improve your productivity is to write an effective to do list. Don’t be tempted to have one long list of ‘stuff to do’ which just gets longer and longer, and from which you pick and choose tasks at random.
Instead write a specific to do list for each day. Make sure your daily to do list is short and achievable. You should aim to complete your daily to do list every day.
And, if possible, write your to do list the night before – that way you will be able to hit the ground running each day, rather than faffing around checking social media for the first hour before you get down to what really needs to get done!
Another brilliant hack is to NUMBER your to do list. Make the most important thing on your list #1, the second most important thing #2 and so on. This will cut down massively on that ‘dithering’ time (when you are deciding what to do next), prevent procrastination and also ensure that, even if you don’t have time to do everything, the most important things get done every day.
7. Put it off until tomorrow!
I’ve borrowed this fab tip from Mark Forster’s excellent book Do it tomorrow*. This sounds like a book all about how to procrastinate! But it’s actually a brilliant book about productivity.
One of the killers of productivity is new work that arrives on our desk each day. We have a tendency to get distracted by the ‘new shiny thing’ and feel we are being super productive by stopping what we are doing and dealing with the new task (which is then likely to get interrupted by the next new task and so on). This method of working is likely to result in you starting 10 new activities, finishing none of them and barely touching what you actually had on your to do list!
Instead Forster suggests simply writing down these new tasks on tomorrow’s to do list and continuing with the task in hand. By the end of the day you may well have several tasks to do tomorrow, but crucially you will have finished everything you need to do today.
You can then plan tomorrow, bearing in mind these new tasks which have come in.
Looking at them afresh at the end of the day, you may well decide that they are not as important as you first though, or not as important as other activities that really do need to be done tomorrow.
Having this perspective will allow you to plan a productive day rather than being reactive all the time. It will also ensure you take into account your goals when deciding to do a particular task rather than simply doing things because they are there.
8. Write down every time you get distracted
This productivity tip was a game changer for me! Draw a line under your daily to do list. Every time you do something that is NOT on your to do list, write it under the line. Write also how long you spent doing that activity. For example, it might say:
- Facebook 20 mins
- General faffing/daydreaming 10 mins
- Researching ‘sudden brainwave’ 15 mins
- Checking stats 5 mins
- Reading the news 10 mins
This works brilliantly for two reasons…
Firstly, you will be able to see at a glance how much time you are wasting vs how much time you are productively doing what you planned to do (which in itself is a real eye-opener).
Secondly, you will start to think twice before doing something not on your to do list. The sheer fact that you will have to write it down, will cause you to avoid wasting time. And, if you do get side-tracked, it will be a strong motivation to get back to the task in hand. You won’t want to have to write down a large amount of time next to the distraction!
9. Write everything down that needs to be done
Another thing that stops us being productive is the sheer number of things we hold in our heads. The idea of writing EVERYTHING down is a tip I picked up from David Allen’s Getting Things Done*. His assertion is that the more we store in our brains, the less capacity we have for processing. In other words, the more we store in our brains, the less productive we are.
All too often we use our brains as storage units, keeping all sorts of ‘things to do’ there and consequently limiting our ability to think straight.
Allen’s solution is to ‘capture everything’ – in other words write everything down that needs to be done – however small, however much ‘it’s easy to remember’. That way we free up mental capacity to focus on the task in hand.
Having everything written down also helps you to process those things and make good decisions about what needs to be done with them. We can refer to our goals and decide whether these are activities which are worth doing or not.
10. Create process checklists for the things you do often
We all have activities we do on a regular basis. The best example of this is writing a blog post. This is an activity we as bloggers do week in, week out. But often our regular processes are one of our least productive areas. We kind of assume we ‘know’ how to write a blog post, so we don’t feel the need to write much more down on our to do list than ‘write blog post’.
But actually writing a blog post is a long process with multiple steps. Having to remember each step is harder than you might think. How much time have you wasted dithering about what to do next? How many times have you forgotten to do something vital (set a featured image, create a pin, optimise for SEO, format the headings etc. etc.)?
Creating a process checklist for each regular multi-step activity you have to do streamlines these processes, saves a good deal of time and ensures you don’t have to keep going back into a post as you remember something.
Here is an example of my process checklist for creating a blog post
- Write post in Word, copy and paste into WordPress
- Create recipe card (Easy Peasy Foodie only)
- Edit photos and upload into post
- Create and upload a pinnable image
- Insert all hyperlinks
- Final read through to check for errors
- Set publish day/time, tags, categories and featured image
- Fill in metadata and assign keyword (using the Yoast plugin)
- Fill in the Social Warfare section (from the Social Warfare plugin*)
- Schedule blog post
- Schedule social media shares (using CoSchedule*)
- Write and schedule corresponding newsletter
You process checklist can be in whatever format you like – spreadsheet, pen and paper or app. Whatever you find most helpful!
I use a mixture of Excel Spreadsheet and the CoSchedule App* for my process checklists.
You can use this technique for all sorts of blog related activities, not just blog posts – for example: writing newsletters, editing photos and videos, doing your monthly accounts, creating opt in offers or products, onboarding new customers, etc.
Over to you…
So there you go – 10 easy and effective ways to be a more productive blogger in 2021. I’d love to hear which of these tips you are going to try out in 2021! And do let me know your productivity hacks… what would you add to this list?
Get my FREE productivity guide for bloggers**
How to organise your blogging week
How to blog more consistently (even if you have NO TIME!)
How to write blog posts faster
How to get more done in less time on your blog
10 ways to stop wasting time and actually get stuff done!
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!