Welcome to the For the Love of Blogging series at Carrots! I often get emails and comments asking about various blogging-related things, so I thought it would be fun to answer some of them right here on the blog as a little on-going series. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful! If you have a question about blogging, feel free to leave it in the comments and I may be able to answer it in a future For the Love of Blogging post.
Other posts in this series:
- It’s Your Blog, You Set the Tone
- How to Create Great Images for Your Blog (Without Learning PhotoShop)
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear about blogging is about time. How does a busy mama find time to write? To be honest, that’s a huge struggle. Especially as a homeschooling mom with three kiddos five and under, find the time to blog is very difficult. Very difficult. But I’ve found a few ways to sneak in the time.
Get up at the crack of dawn. The tricky thing is that my kids also wake up at the crack of dawn. Baby Gwen thinks 4:30am is party time and after 6am the “big kids” (age 5 and 2) start asking if they can get out of bed and start the day (the answer is no until 6:45am). So it’s very likely that even if I get up at 5am, the house is already too busy to get any focused work done. So, my trick is to throw on some jeans, a t-shirt, and if it’s a really rough morning, some red lipstick to lift my mood and drive to Panera for a cup of coffee and an hour of computer time while my husband Daniel gets breakfast going for the kids.
Use nap time to write and ignore the laundry. I don’t do housework during nap time. Ever. I feel somewhat justified in this decision because our house is adorably tiny and if I try to empty the dishes or start the laundry, I’ll wake up the sleeping kids with the noise. So I plop down on the couch and write/respond to emails/read comments/do social media, etc. I insist that all the kids nap, even my oldest who is five (he’s the sort that really needs a nap to handle the afternoon). And even when he grows out of naps, he will have quiet reading time in his room. I need this time to mentally recharge. I might take a nap with the big kids if they need extra help winding down, but never do I tackle housework. That can wait.
Write after the kids go to bed. About once a week I’ll sneak out after nursing Baby Gwen to sleep to work on blog stuff. I’ll go to a local coffee place and write from 8pm-10pm. I can help Daniel get the kids ready for bed, but he handles all of the “Can I have some more water?” “My pillow case fell off!” “Is it morning, yet?” that we hear for the first hour they’re in bed so I can work uninterrupted.
Take time during the weekend. When Daniel is home on the weekend, I usually sneak out either Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon to get some writing done while he take the kids on a run or hangs out with them. This is my biggest block of time (usually 2-3 hours) that I get to write during the week and so I try to get as much done as possible.
Don’t try to write when the kids are around. This always ends up going poorly. If I open my laptop, suddenly all three kids need something. They want my attention and so my work will be constantly interrupted. I’ll be unproductive and frustrated and get easily irritated. This really isn’t fair to my kids. It’s fine to post a photo to Instagram or briefly answer an email during a free moment, but something like writing a post or answering a bunch of comments isn’t going to turn out well. I’ll have spent an hour snapping at my kids AND not accomplishing anything.
Have a plan. There are a million and one things I can do when I sit down at the computer. So I HAVE to have a plan about what I need to accomplish with this or that hour block of computer time or else I’ll have spent it on a facebook update, one email which reminded me that I need to order something on Amazon, which reminded me that I wanted to write a post about books, which reminds me to take a photo of the book I’m reading for Instagram, which reminds me that I wanted to read a few pages and then POOF! The hour’s gone and I didn’t really get anything solid done.
Work in batches. Need to sit down and write a post? Start writing until your block of time is over and get as much done as you can. Need to respond to comments? Sit down and do a huge batch of them at once. Need to clean out your inbox? Answer and organize as many as possible without getting sidetracked. Need to engage in social media? Go ahead and schedule posts for the day or week. If I don’t hold myself to this, I jot down a post idea, answer one comment, delete a couple of old emails, and then get lost scrolling through Instagram. Again, didn’t really accomplish much of anything.
Focus on the priority. A reader asked what do I do when I have limited time: write a post? Or respond to comments? That’s tough, but I usually choose to write the new post. Then when another chunk of time is available, I go back and respond to comments. In my opinion, it’s better to get some new content up (if you can only choose one thing). However, I do think responding to comments is really important. If someone takes the time to write a comment, I’d like them to get a personal response. Sometimes (like on the Stitch Fix post) there are just too many to tackle and I think readers understand. But especially if someone has a question, I try to respond within 2-3 days.
Procrastinating? Do something else. Sometimes there’s an email that I know requires a long, thoughtful response. If the time isn’t available to address the email or comment, sometimes I just get stuck and don’t do anything because I don’t have time to do that ONE thing. I’ve recently learned that I need to tackle other tasks if I’m procrastinating. Sometimes this means that when readers email it takes me a couple of weeks (sometimes more! Eek!) to get back to them. But, they always get a thoughtful reply and I spent a good deal of time crafting my response.
The Internet doesn’t stop, but you should. Facebook and Twitter will still be moving along no matter how much time you spend of them. Use your time wisely and then step back and live your life. Take a breath. Don’t burn out.
And this is really the essential thing: My husband helps me get time to write.
Honestly, without Daniel’s support for my writing, it would be impossible to post as frequently as I do. I think that truly is the main key. My husband makes the time so that I can pursue blogging because he knows that it’s something that I love.
During certain seasons of life, there just isn’t as much time to be had. When we have a newborn waking up all night, we take turns letting each other sleep in so that we don’t collapse into a pile of exhaustion. So those early morning blogging sessions at Panera aren’t happening for awhile. The blogging suffers and I miss it, but there really are times when there is nothing you can do but take a step back and try to keep your head above water. Then you start having time again once survival mode is over.
How do you make time to write or pursue your passions? Do you have any blogging questions to tackle later in the series? Share in the comments!